October 4, 2022

Shashi Khanna on her son Nithya Shanti

A touching and noble gesture done by her during this Diwali, made her son write a post on the social media and that went viral. It was about inviting the family of her house help for dinner with them during the special occasion.

It was also a gesture that interested Mums and stories to know more about the rare mum and son as it is not common to find grown up children, especially sons acknowledging a mum’s gesture or attitude as a learning, influence or inspiration.

Shashi Khanna is the director of Nithya Shanti foundation. She shares her journey with Mums and stories on letting children be as they choose to be when they grow up.


Her son at the age of 23 announced his decision of becoming a Buddhist monk and she feels that was a tough decision to be accepted by her.

Today her son Nithya Shanti is an internationally known spiritual leader, writer, educator and happiness coach. His team organizes joyshops in the country and outside to facilitate people and enable them to learn to adopt a more conscious, joyous and loving way of being.

“Nithya who was earlier known by a different name, completed his MBA from XLRI and then decided to ordain as a Buddhist Monk. When he told us that he wanted to ordain as a Buddhist Monk, I could not understand it. I thought, he should be with the family, helping us like a normal son. I could not understand his calling and was very upset. He was 23 years old then.

Two years later, I visited him in his monastery at Thailand. There I experienced the atmosphere of pure joy and bliss present in the monastery. I then understood that my son was on a journey which can bring lasting happiness.

Nithya Shanti has started Nithya Shanti Foundation, an NGO and the vision of the foundation is to awaken a culture based on wisdom and joy by encouraging dialogue and inquiry into what is real happiness and sharing timeless principles and practices for personal and institutional transformation. I have been helping the foundation from its inception. Its message of spreading happiness is something very close to my heart.

I did my doctorate in physics from IIT Delhi. I moved to Management Training and Organization Development helping both profit and non profit organizations. Studying human behavior and helping people and organizations grow and develop has been my passion. I was lucky to have parents, who let me follow my dreams. When I joined IIT Delhi to do my PhD in physics, there were very few girls doing PhD.”

I believe in what Khalil Gibran says:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Shashi further adds, “The foundation is guided by Nithya Shanti’s philosophy of being present and grateful in every situation and seeing everything that happens as a lesson for our growth and enlightenment.”

The story would be incomplete without knowing Nithya Shanti’s views. He is a spiritual guru and a coach who used to be a monk too. In another part of his life he has also worked in the human resources and corporate strategy.

Nithya Shanti, says, “My mother has been a beautiful influence in my life. She had the courage to put me in a “free progress” school where there was no curriculum and we were encouraged to learn based on our own curiosity. She also trusted me and allowed me to follow my heart. It was hard for her to accept my decision to become a monk at the age of 23, yet she gave me her blessings to do what gave me happiness. She has instilled in me the values of integrity and compassion through her quiet and loving example.

It has become fashionable in our times to blame many of our problems on our parents. A lot of youngsters are influenced by current attitudes of individuality and rebellion to anything they perceive as traditional and therefore old fashioned. Certainly our parents, specially our mothers deserve a lot of recognition and appreciation for the countless sacrifices they make to support us all our lives.

If we ever draw up a list of the things our mothers have done for us since our birth and what we have done for our mothers, it will be immediately evident how profound this debt of gratitude is.

The Buddha once said that the debt to our parents is so great that it cannot be fulfilled even if we carry them on our shoulders and care for their every need our entire life. The only way this debt can be paid is by practicing the Dharma and through our example encouraging them in cultivating generosity, virtue, clarity of mind and wisdom.”

Mums and stories is thankful for this special mum and son who shared their thoughts with us.

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