Hema Patankar is a founding member of the Board of Directors who previously served for ten years as President on the Board at Vedika since its inception in 2008. In addition to serving as a leading partner in developing Vedika’s faculty, advisory council and international relations, she was a Founding Editor of Vedika Vani, Vedika’ international online newsletter, and has taught introductory Sanskrit courses at Vedika.
Australian by birth, Hema is at home with Indian culture and society, speaks Hindu and Marathi, and has a passion for the preservation of India’s sacred heritage.
Prior to Vedika, Hema was the Executive Director of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, where she directed the successful ongoing development of a traditional Vedic school where one of the eight most endangered branches of the Vedas is preserved. She secured two grants from the Ministry for Culture in India for the preservation of Vedic schools. She also directed the development of the world’s largest online collection of Sanskrit texts and videos that document rare Vedic rituals performed by traditional masters. Hema managed an international dissertation fellowship project and brought two texts on the non-dual philosophy of Kashmir to publication.
During her earlier years in India, she led extensive scriptural research, translation, documentation and editorial projects related to traditional spiritual texts and oral traditions of India. She taught and directed an international group of singers and musicians in authentic recitation of Sanskrit hymns and traditional devotional songs in Indian regional languages and performed worldwide for mental and spiritual upliftment. She also wrote and edited articles on the poetry of the saints of India.
Hema brings to Vedika her Gurukula lineage and a lifetime of study, practice and service to Vedic sciences. She is an alumni of a traditional Indian Gurukula, where she began living according to the wisdom and practices of Ayurveda, Yoga and the Vedas, including daily recitation of Sanskrit hymns, from the time she turned 20. She studied the songs of the poet saints of India with traditional masters and singers.
Hema has served the broader field of Ayurveda through active membership on the Board of Directors of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) of America, where she was Chair of the Educational Standards Committee. She also served on the International Education Working Group for the Department of AYUSH in India, which is India’s governmental body for traditional Indian medicine systems, including Ayurveda and Yoga.
Hema is proud that from the start, Vedika has taken the lead in teaching Ayurveda as an awakened lifestyle, at a time when many were trying to redefine Ayurveda as a strictly medical system. Hema feels inspired by how Vedika always presents Ayurveda in its deeply spiritual context, showing at each step how it is naturally interwoven with the Vedic sciences.
Hema loves seeing students lit up and renewed as they make this knowledge their own. Vedika’s unwavering commitment to community service is also a source of pride and inspiration to Hema.