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Tribute To A Mentor

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

I would like to begin this year on a happy note by sharing something that my professor Dr. Shakuntala Manay said to me.

She went through my holistic nutrition course that I have built and spoke about the necessity of something similar, to be included in syllabi of nutrition courses today. She was especially appreciative of the holistic and wholesome approach towards health.

This compliment from her is very valuable for me as she is one of the biggest authorities on Nutrition Science in India and beyond. I grew up studying her textbooks and was fortunate to learn all my basics from her - each class was precious. Her love for the subject, the flair with which she delivered lectures and her determination to ensure that each one of us digested all her teachings was special, to say the least. I attribute my love and passion for the subject to her. She taught me to look beyond just food & body in our journey to health. She sowed the seed of spiritual health and the crucial need to bridge the gap between pure science and spiritual life. My upbringing, her teachings, and the extensive learning time I spent at SVYASA have all contributed to my holistic understanding of the body, the mind and how health can be achieved. Not to forget, my mentor Arun Sarmaji adding the concept of Natural Hygiene which cemented my understanding of the subject.

Besides subject matter, Dr. Manay made it a point to teach us life lessons in every class for which I will always be grateful. I want to share one of them. At that age, I had some personal issues that I was not coping very well with and was looking to escape from. She advised me to not run away from situations, events or people and that avoiding problems is futile. Such situations will arise throughout your life, she said. She stood by me and helped me through a difficult time. It gave me so much grounding and courage not just to face that issue but all the challenges in my life. Respects to all my teachers and professors who made me what I am today.

I take this opportunity to invite all the new graduates & postgraduates in Nutrition to understand Nutrition in a holistic way and start their own practice in their local areas. As far as I am concerned, a nutritionist’s/dietitian’s major job is in prevention of diseases. There should be a holistic nutritionist at every street corner catering to the needs of the local community and helping people correct their food & lifestyle and work towards promotion of health and prevention of diseases.

My mission is to educate and empower people to make right choices about food and lifestyle leading to vibrant health for themselves and others around.

Dr. (Mrs.) N. Shakuntala Manay, formerly, Head of the Department, Food and Nutrition, Smt. VHD Central Institute of Home Science, Bangalore has B.A. (Home Science) from Mysore University and M.S. (Home Economics) from the University of Southern Illinois, USA. For her research in Home Science Education in the light of Sri Aurobindo Philosophy, she was awarded the Ph.D. from Osmania University, Hyderabad. She has taught Food and Nutrition to undergraduate and postgraduate students for over 35 years. She has conducted several workshops, authored the book “Foods - Facts & Principles”. Her current interest in Food is from the point of view of its role in Spiritual Health.

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