Board of Directors & Advisors

Founder of the World Yoga Community

Dileepkumar Thankappan (Guruji) - Founder, President & CEO

Dileepkumar Thankappan, internationally known as Guru Dileepji, was born into an interfaith family in Tripunithura (known as the capital of Cochin Kingdom), Kerala, India. Guruji is a humanitarian, ordained spiritual guru, yoga master, monk and interfaith minister, registered wedding officiant, kirtan & bhajan singer, musician, dancer, sportsman and a martial artist. Guruji was a spiritual traveler from his young age. In his yogic life journeys, he met and learned from self-realized Himalayan masters, saints, honored yogis, Sidhas from South India, artists, alternative medical doctors and healers. He had the great privilege to interact with international spiritual grand masters, religious and community leaders including Avaduta H. H. Jagatguru Shri. Prabhakara Sidha Yogi, Avadhuta Sidha Yogi Poonthura Shree Thakkalaswamikal, Paul Muni Bharath, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yeti, H. E. Mor Polycarpose Geevarghese Metropolitan, Dr. Dat Pathe, Acharya C. R. R. Varma, E.N. Sreepathy Embranthiri Gurukkal, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Mother Teresa, Swami Chinmayananda, Rabbi Dr. Joseph H. Gelberman, Swami Mridananda, Swami Chaitanyananda, Yogiraj Rajan Menon, Swami Vishnudevananda, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Chidananda, A. K. Shivaram, Shadow Gopinathan Master, Sathya Sai Baba, Yogini Indira Devi, Shri. Krishnamacharya and in addition to Jagatguru H. H. Swami Bua Ji Maharaj (lived over 120 years) whom Guruji lived with and took care of his last days in New York City and received countless blessings. Guruji conducts classes, workshops, satsangs (gatherings), events and festivals related to yoga, interfaith dialogue & harmony, universal spirituality, indigenous issues, global culture of peace, art-music-dance, alternative medicine, meditation, global citizenship, universal oneness, gender equality and other sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Guruji has received numerous religious titles and awards for his community service and humanitarian activities. 


Since 1999, Gurji has been traveling around the world, meeting with global leaders, and forming partnership with individuals and non-profit organizations including NGOs from the United Nations, UNESCO, and other governmental bodies from different nations. Guruji was one of the main yogi started the "International Day of Yoga" celebration movement in India (1991) and United States of America (1999). Guruji organized the 1st World Yoga Festival in New York City, in 2000. In 2005 & 2006, Guruji went to Argentina and met all international yoga association leaders and proposed to celebrate yoga day as “International Day of Yoga” on June 21st. Guruji organized World Yoga Festival at the Consulate General of India, New York on June 23, 2007, in order to make a mass movement around the world. On June 21, 2009, Guruji signed the agreement with Portuguese Confederation of Yoga to support the global movement of International Day of Yoga in Lisbon. In 2010 & 2011, he asked yoga masters to organize conferences in their own countries and that created the cause to make the International Day of Yoga. On October 2nd, 2014, Guruji met Hon. Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs of India at the United Nations HQ in New York and discussed about the “International Day of Yoga” project and requested to remind Indian Prime minister about the project. All the major spiritual yoga masters proposed the idea of the yoga day to the Government of India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a big step and organized the movement at the United Nations. The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 11 December 2014 and supported by 177 countries and announced June 21 as the "International Day of Yoga. Guruji believes that we all are part of the divine universe and we all are sisters and brothers of this divine universal family. Additionally Guruji strongly believes that "YOGA" is a universal practice and everyone have right to practice with out any discrimination.

Board of Directors

Lemuel Patole (Anandji) 

Pandit Lemuel Patole known as "Anand" was born in Sholapur, India. He is an artist, musician, cartoonist, writer and spiritual leader who took sanyasa from Osho Bhagavan Rajneesh in 1974. He studied art in Mumbai for four years and two years at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He did a solo art show of his paintings at the United Nations head quarters in 2009 and at the Church Center for the UN in 1964. His book “COLORFUL LINES OF MY MEMOIRS” was published in India in 2001 and CDs on the Apostles' Creed, Christian worship in Hindu ritualistic manner, "Coming of the Monsoon Story” on Tabla drums are on the Internet. Twelve Paintings on “THE APOSTLES CREED” through the Eastern Eyes for the National Council of Churches in New York, 1970 and first artist ever to do in series. He participated as special guest from India in summer camp program for young school children across the US in 1970 -75 through United Church of World Ministry. He regularly shows his paintings at the JM Gallery on 57th street in Manhattan.  Anandji participated in LINE-ART, Belgium (2000), EUROPE ART, Geneva, Switzerland (2001), ART EXPO, New York Coliseum (1977), INDIAN PAINTERS GROUP SHOW, at the Consulate General of India, New York (1978), INDIAN PAINTERS GROUP SHOW, Jacob Javits Center, New York (1992), he presented solo art show at the Consulate General of India, New York (2015) and he is regularly presenting his art work at numerous festivals in New York City.   He performed Tabla with professional musicians visiting New York. He was a guest speaker at the “Man of the Month lecture program” for the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, India in October 2016. 


Judith Koeppel Steel  (Judima) 

Reverend Judith Koeppel Steel known as "Cantor Judy” was born in Berlin, Germany on February 19th 1938. She is an ordained interfaith minister and registered wedding officiant. In May of 1939 her parents, Josef and Irmgard Koppel, along with her grandfather, Jacob Koppel booked a passage on the SS St. Louis. After they arrived in Belgium, her family chose to go to France, and they settled in the Southern part of France in a little town called Nay in the Basses Pyrenees. In September of 1942, the French police took them to a camp called Gurs, which was run by Nazis. Judy never saw her parents again. She found out from a book by Serge Klarsfeld that they were taken to Auschwitz and died there. She was taken back to Nay to the home of the Enards, and spent the next four years (1942-1946) as a French child. In August of 1946, She had to leave her beloved French Mom, Eletta, who had taken care of her for four years. She came to live in New York City with her aunt and uncle and their sons. She arrived in NY on September 9th on a ship called Athos ll. She was drawn to the songs of Israel and found much joy when she sang them. She did many fund raisers for Israel and many Jewish organizations, and was especially drawn to the Chassidic music. In 1976, She met Rabbi Dr. Joseph H. Gelberman, who invited her to sing at his synagogue, and she soon became the cantor of the New Synagogue in New York City. She was the personal secretary and assistant to Rabbi Gelberman, who was the pioneer of the Interfaith Movement in North America. She was a founding Member of “All Faiths Seminary International” (AFSI) and served as the registrar from 1999 to 2010. She has travelled extensively as a speaker and singer for many organizations. It was her experiences in the Holocaust as a survivor that inspired her to unite those of many faiths in love and joy.  

 

Sajith Kumar Nair 

Sajith Kumar Nair is a first generation Keralite serial entrepreneur based in Staten Island, New York, United States. Sajith graduated in Physics from the University of Kerala in 1995 and after completing a Post-graduate diploma in Computer Science, he pursued MBA in United Kingdom. In UK, Sajith completed a Diploma in Economics and Statistics from London School of Commerce and MBA in International Business and Finance from Northumbria University, New Castle, UK. After performing various roles in Serono, HSBC UK and Bank of America, USA, Sajith embraced entrepreneurship in 2007 by setting up Global IT Associates in New York. Sajith went on to create two more organizations (Global Life Care Services and Direct Texting . com. In the last eight years, Global IT Associates has grown into a multi-million dollar company and has created a name for itself by offering state-of-the-art Software products and Services to its clients including several Fortune 500 clients. The clients are well-respected corporations including BT (UK), Capital One (US), KPMG, Goldmansachs and Ericsson. Under Sajith’s able leadership, Global IT Associates also built the Direct Suite of products and platforms for Social media marketing. Sajith is also the Vice President of Indian American Business Association, a non-profit organization that acts as a platform and disseminates information to and among businesses that are looking to grow and expand from India to the U.S. and vice-versa.  

Advisors

K.L.S Bhushan Esq. (Raj - Brotheroneness)

Raj Bhushan known as "Brotheroneness" was born in a small town in Mysore, Karnataka, India. Those days his family was treated as a low cast Hindu family, who grew paddy for living. He was not good in studies and was aiming for simple village life. His brother brought him to USA at age 20. Switched career from Accounting to Law and become a US Immigration Lawyer, he is helping Refugees & families. In USA, he experienced college life & was exposed to multi-faiths & Diverse cultures. Facing many challenges (loss of family members, layoff, house fire, flood damage from hurricane sandy) in his life has made him to grow spiritually to make Godward Journey - True aim of Life. Sathya Sai Baba entered his life in USA in 1979 and changed his life forever. Sai Baba blessed him with in an Interview in May 1980 & re-programmed his life. He married to a Sindhi women from Pakistan for 34 years and they have 3 children and a grand child. In this Life's Journey, Sathya Sai Baba inspired him to share his messages "Oneness of All" (Swami always addressed everyone as Divyatma Swaroopalala - Divine Embodiment of Love) & his teachings "LOVE ALL & Serve All. Respect for All Religions. Help Ever, Hurt Never". "Raj has dedicated reminder of his life to do his part to help to unite all the the people in the world".


Kathleen Regan (Saraswatima)

Rev. Dr. Kathleen T. Regan Is the Dean of the All Faiths Seminary International. She holds a BA in Fine Arts and Psychology, and a Master’s in both Studio Arts and Secondary Art studies.  She passionately spreads the philosophy of interfaith, “We are all One,” bringing together people of all religions and beliefs while respecting their various paths, finding joy in realizing our common spirit. Her life’s work is spent in homage to Rabbi Gelberman, one of the most revered luminaries of our time who was the founder All Faiths Seminary International where she was a graduate of the Minister, Master’s, & Doctorate programs. Further, she dedicates her life to joyously creating a culture of peace through the practice and teaching of art and yoga.


Lygia DeCastro (Grandmother)

Bishop Lygia DeCastro known as "Grandmother" is an elder from Native American tribe, Brazil.


Susana Bastarrica

Rev. Susana Bastarrica is a former United Nations International Civil Servant, an Interfaith Ordained Minister of the New Seminary and an evolutionary inter-activist. She's the Founder/Organizer of The Vigil for Peace and Ecology. She has been instrumental in expanding the vision of the Central Park Bandshell Vigil for 16 years through cultural interaction and education for Global Peace. 


H. H. Swami Ramaswarupananda Saraswati (Swamiji)

Swamiji born in Orissa, India. In his early childhood, he joined at the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. Swami was the personal secretary to the H. H. Chidananda Saraswati who was the pioneer for the yoga movement and interfaith gatherings around the world. Swami travels extensively in different nations and propagate the vedic teachings of India. Currently Swamiji settled in Utterkashi near the holy Ganges river in Himalayas.


Amitava Chatterjee (Amit Chatterjee) 

Amitava Chatterjee known as "Amit Chatterjee" is an internationally renowned sitarist, guitarist, vocalist and composer who was born in Calcutta, India and living in the United States since his teens, he has gained a reputation at being equally adept at modern Western musics (jazz, funk, blues, rock and pop) and North Indian Classical music. Amit has performed and recorded with luminaries from a wide range of the musical spectrum. He worked as guitarist and vocalist for Joe Zawinul for 11 years, and also performed in international performances of Zawinul’s symphonic masterpiece “Stories of the Danube” and is featured as a soloist on the recording of the work on Phillips Classics. Other stellar musicians with whom Amit has worked include: Peter Erskine, Jim Beard, Victor Bailey, Manolo Badrena, Badal Roy, Eric Johnson, David Liebman, The Netherlands Metropole Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Czech State Philharmonie, Mike Clark, Michael Wolff, Nitin Sawhney, Trilok Gurtu and many others. He has been on several American Grammy nominated recordings. Presently Amit continues performing as a special guest with artists throughout the world, as well as with his own band “Amit Chatterjee Alliance.” He has recorded five CDs of North Indian Classical Music. 

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World Yoga Community Inc.

206 East 31st Street, #13A, New York, NY 10016, USA

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