A saga of faith and struggle driven by the conviction that all human beings deserve the highest quality of life.
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa (former name Madhusudan S) was born in 1956 in Nagercoil, India. A passionate student of science during his pre-degree days, he was selected by the National Talent Search Program, which is widely regarded as the most prestigious and difficult examination in the country. He completed his B.Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT-Bombay in the year 1981, and next enrolled for the M.Tech program. Having found the path that answered his deep quest for the Absolute Truth, right after his days at IIT-Bombay, Madhu Pandit Dasa dedicated his life to serving the mission of Srila Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the Worldwide Hare Krishna Movement. He has over three decades of selfless work behind him.
"Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa has made great achievement in the field of education by providing meals to lakhs of school children. He is a unique personality and no matter how much you praise him, it is not enough".
– His Holiness Sri Sri Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Matha, Udupi
"After Srila Prabhupada, it is Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa who managed to run the institution of ISKCON successfully. He is a scholar himself and also a civil engineer. Through his engineering skills he has given a modern approach to Krishna Consciousness. He is a great example to how certain fields can be modernized with the help of technology.
Additionally, he has taken up the task of free food distribution. Lakhs of children are being fed daily through the Akshaya Patra programme which is implemented with public-private partnership. If not for this programme, many students of government schools would not have had the opportunity to pursue their education.
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa is spreading the message of Krishna and Bhagavad-gita through different programmes. He has travelled all over the world and propagated Krishna Consciousness. My best wishes to him and I hope that many such programmes will be conducted successfully under his leadership".
– Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari , Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala
A Visionary Organizational Leader
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa has demonstrated his ability to build organizations of excellence in the non-profit sector, and is held in high esteem for his contribution to society in humanitarian, cultural, and spiritual spheres. He has been instrumental in conceiving and implementing many social initiatives that impact millions of people in India, giving them a better quality of life. Besides his achievements in the social sector, he has evolved innovative ideas in presenting the ancient cultural ethos of India in a modern, scientific and technological context.
The first few years after leaving IIT were dedicated to the challenges of his internal spiritual self-development, guided by the teachings of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
A temple for Sri Sri Radha Krishna
In 1988, the Government of Karnataka allotted 6.5 acres of a rocky abandoned hillock in Bangalore to set up a cultural complex. Being dissatisfied with what the commissioned architects were proposing for the cultural complex, he took upon himself to design the complex according to what he had envisioned. Soon he also started organizing efforts to raise funds for the construction of the complex.
The next ten years unfolded an unprecedented scale of development on the hillock, now called the Hare Krishna Hill: the design and construction of a colossal cultural complex, mobilization of support and fund raising to the tune of Rs. 38 crores (Rs.380 million or $ 9.5 million) and recruiting and training nearly 100 full-time dedicated members of ISKCON. The monumental Cultural Complex was inaugurated in 1997 by the then President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma.
Today the temple of Sri Radha Krishna built on the Hare Krishna Hill is one of the most popular cultural and spiritual centers, which has become a landmark destination in Bengaluru. Starting with practically nothing, from a meagre two-room rented premises in Bangalore, he built and led a team of selfless volunteers in what can be considered as one of India’s largest fundraising efforts in the 1990s. This cultural monument was set up at a cost of over Rs. 40 crores on a seven-acre plot, nestled in the heart of Bangalore City.
In 1994, he initiated an integrated social development project for the benefit of the rural people of Mysore and Mandya districts. A model, prototype organic farm based on natural and earth-friendly farming methods along with an internationally accredited farmer-training center has been setup in the 110-acre land on the banks of river Cauvery in Srirangapatna.
The primary purpose of this is to establish self-sufficient farming communities. The farming techniques employed are traditional and organic to promote pro-environmental agriculture. Hundreds of farmers are deriving inspiration to adopt environmental and soil friendly agricultural methods researched and disseminated scientifically from this model farm. Rural women are trained in this farm in the practices and methods of organic farming. This farm is also supporting hundreds of farmers during the transition from chemical to organic farms. Many neighboring farms have successfully converted into organic farms.
One of the seven purposes of ISKCON is to systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and educate everyone in the techniques of spiritual life, in order to check the imbalance of values and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
Under Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa’s guidance, ISKCON-Bangalore has been presenting the treasure-house of spiritual knowledge to the children and youth through various programs.
Cultural Educational Services
One of the major initiatives in this direction is the Cultural Education Services (CES). Started in 2001, CES specifically aims at enhancing values and life skills in children through culture-related activities. It enables children to imbibe sociable and constructive traits for character advancement, by providing a rich cultural and values-based experience.
FOLK (Friends of Lord Krishna)
FOLK is another transformational program addressing the needs of the youth. Every Saturday and Sunday, over 1,000 youngsters make their way to the ISKCON temple for an enjoyable evening of spiritual classes, music, dance, and prasadam, i.e., delicious food offered to Lord Krishna.
Feeding Over 1.7 Million Underprivileged Children Every Day as of July 2018.
In the year 2000, Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa started addressing the issue of supporting education by introducing the national mid-day meal program through the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
Sparked by an informal chat on a typical Sunday morning in the temple with Sri Mohandas Pai and Sri Abhay Jain; Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa soon worked at leveraging technology and philanthropy towards the cause of alleviating class room hunger and malnutrition among the school going children across India. He used his IIT skills to design and setup the first centralized kitchen facility to prepare meals for 30,000 children every day. Thus was born the Akshaya Patra program.
It began in the year 2000 as a scheme that fed a mere 1,500 underprivileged children. In less than a decade, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program had become one of India’s best conceived, technology-intensive social sector initiatives. It is a strategic intervention in the education of underprivileged children, providing unlimited free, hygienic, and nutritious meals every day. As of July 2018, this program reaches about 1.7 Million children in 14,173 schools across 12 States in India.
The growth of the Akshaya Patra Foundation demonstrates Madhu Pandit Dasa’s organizational ability to bring together the best talents in technology and innovation, principles and practices of corporate governance, corporate donors, individual donors, and the government into the social sector. Madhu Pandit Dasa’s vision is to scale up the Akshaya Patra Program to feed 5 million underprivileged children in India by 2020.
Awards & Accolades
Padma Shri Award: On the eve of the nation’s 67th Republic Day (2016), the Government of India conferred upon Madhu Pandit Dasa the prestigious Padma Shri. The award has been conferred in recognition of the distinguished service rendered by Akshaya Patra for the children of India.
Nikkei Asia Prize 2016: The award ceremony was held on 29th May, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan and as the Chairman of Akshaya Patra, he received the award. As part of the prize, The Akshaya Patra Foundation has received 3 million JYN along with a certificate by Mr. Naotoshi Okada, CEO of Nikkei Inc.
The recipient of ‘ICAI Gold Shield Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting in the NGO sector’ conferred by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for five consecutive years 2008-09 ― 2012-13, and conferred `Hall of Fame’ for its transparency and accountability.
Innovative Presentation of Ancient Indian Heritage
Madhu Pandit Dasa’s vision was to showcase the rich Indian heritage through epic tales from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, utilizing world-class presentation platforms such as 3D animation and theme parks on the lines of Disneyland.
The India Heritage Foundation’s first project was Little Krishna, a state-of-the-art 3D animation serial depicting the childhood pastimes of Lord Krishna. Reliance Big Entertainment Pvt. Ltd’s BIG Animation studio joined hands with Madhu Pandit Dasa’s team to complete the 13 episode serial, with a production cost of over Rs. 50 crores.
Krishna Lila Theme Park
Currently Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa is working on setting up an Indian Heritage and Culture Tourism Park. The Krishna Lila Park will be built in Bengaluru on a 75 acre plot, at an estimated cost of over Rs.750 crores. The Krishna Lila Theme Park is a magnificent cultural complex being set up on Vaikuntha Hill, a 28 acre hillock on Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru South. The theme park will become yet another important cultural and religious tourism destination in Bengaluru.
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir
Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is a grand temple complex that will be set up in the holy land of Vrindavan at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The temple will be dedicated to spreading the glories of Sri Krishna and His transcendental abode at Vrindavan, as taught by Srila Prabhupada, all over the world. This project, conceived by Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, will be the tallest temple structure in India, with a height of 700 feet and a footprint of 5.5 acres.