About Ashok

About Ashok Nalamalapu
  • Ashok Nalamalpu

Ashok Nalamalapu was born and raised in a small town in South India and came to the US in 1987. From humble beginnings, he has worked diligently and pursued many avenues of personal development to build a successful life and give back to the community. That hard working mentality shows up in how Ashok goes after what he wants. Even at the young age of five, he chose a new name because he did not like the one his parents had given him. Knowing of the great Indian Emperor, Ashoka, whose name means “no sorrow,” he chose Ashok.

Ashok’s personal mission is to serve and inspire others, which he does as a speaker, writer, kirtan leader, entrepreneur, community leader, and host and facilitator of spiritual events. Yoga, meditation and devotional chanting (kirtan) are Ashok’s main passions, and he is dedicated to sharing these transformational practices with others.

Raised in the Hindu faith, a golden thread of spirituality and devotion has been a central part of the tapestry of Ashok’s life since childhood. He currently identifies as a universalist, embracing all faiths as valid paths to realize the Truth.

Ashok believes his spiritual practices and optimism have helped him overcome many challenges and shape the person he is today. In 2000, he lost his voice completely for a year. Specialists told him he would never speak again. When Ashok heard this, he fainted at the thought of never being able to speak with his two young daughters. With the help of yoga and surgeries, he slowly did regain his voice, and is grateful to be able to speak and sing with ease.

Meditation

Meditation has had a powerful impact on Ashok’s life. At a Vipassana Meditation Retreat in July of 2009, Ashok meditated 11 hours daily for 10 consecutive days. No talking, No glancing. No gestures. No writing. He was surprised by how the outer silence opened his awareness to inner sounds. This transformative experience of the deeper sounds and sensations in his body fueled a commitment to meditate two hours daily, which he did for three years. He has continued with a daily practice, and notices that his days feel “off” if he doesn’t start them with 30 minutes of meditation.

At that same meditation retreat, Ashok was inspired to make a meditation center available to the people of Maine. In 2010, he founded Sadhana, a nonprofit spiritual center. Sadhana’s mission is serving all to realize happiness and cultivate compassion through spiritual practice. He gave both financial support and countless volunteer hours over a period of two years to establish Sadhana, along with the help of the community.

Kirtan

Through Sadhana, Ashok hosted a number of nationally-known kirtan (devotional chanting) artists in Maine. It was a costly endeavor that he could only do occasionally. So, out of a desire to increase awareness of kirtan in the local community and provide easier access to this spiritual practice, Ashok decided to learn how to lead kirtan himself.

Leading kirtan was a commitment that arose from his devoted heart, rather than any musical gifts or experience. In fact, Ashok’s family and friends were quite surprised to learn he was singing, as it had not been a part of his earlier life. His focus, diligence and commitment have paid off in a steady improvement of his musical skills. He has been playing harmonium and leading chanting since 2011, singing in a traditional Indian raga style, and studying with Indian classical musicians and Jai Uttal.

Ashok’s kirtan ensemble is called Swan Kirtan. Learn more about chanting and Swan Kirtan here.

Speaking

Ashok is passionate about speaking and inspiring others, from individuals to large audiences. He has spoken nationally and enjoys serving as a Master of Ceremonies at all the major US yoga and chanting festivals. Read more about his speaking and emceeing here.

Writing

Ashok never thought he would become a writer since English is not his native language. Nonetheless, he has written many articles and also poetry over the years. When he lost his voice, writing became the primary avenue for most of Ashok’s communication. It was also the only way to fulfill his desire of sharing what he was learning in his continual pursuit of personal development. You can find links to several of Ashok’s articles here.

Work History

After earning a degree in chemical engineering, Ashok worked for three years in India, nurturing a dream to come to the US. He saved money to buy a plane ticket and arrived with only $100 dollars in his pocket. Over the next 3 years, Ashok worked hard to put himself through school, earning an MS in Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1990.

After working as a consultant for IBM and a few other companies in the north east, Ashok moved to Maine with his family in 1996. It was a rough several months of transition with many unexpected incidents. In addition, the project he was working on got cancelled due to a company, and he was let go. With a 1-year old daughter at home, he did not want to travel long distances for the work that was easily available in other states. So, inspired by a commitment to his family values, Ashok worked from a room in his attic to start his own Information Technology consulting company, iCST. iCST provides IT staffing and software testing, doing business in India and the US.

Ashok was selected as Maine’s Minority Small Business Person of 1998 and the #2 Small Business Person of 2000 by the US Small Business Administration. In addition, iCST won the Maine Governor’s award for business excellence in 2001.

Traveling is his hobby, and he enjoys a sight-seeing adventure to a new country almost every year. South Island, New Zealand and Santorini, Italy are two of his favorite places on the globe so far. Ashok is a devoted and loving father to his two young-adult daughters, and enjoys hikes and walks on the beach. He is most at peace when he is engaged in a spiritual practice of meditation, yoga or kirtan.

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