Shanker Pillai comes from humble beginnings, and a religious and traditional family background. His greatest influence in life has been Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, as well as his parents and teachers. Even as a student, he was inclined toward service that benefits others.
During his college years, in 1956-57, he met Pujya Gurudev for the first time, who had arrived as a keynote speaker at a university event. As an NCC cadet, Shankerji was posted as an orderly in the home hosting Pujya Gurudev. He was riveted by his personality, appearance, and overpowering presence.
After ten years of residence in Chicago, in 1977, he received a call from someone he never met and was asked if he wanted to be part of the committee inviting Swami Chinmayananda for spiritual discourses. He agreed, and as a founding member of a Malayali cultural organization, also invited Pujya Gurudev to lecture in Chicago. After this, Shankerji became fully dedicated to Pujya Gurudev and Chinmaya Mission.
He attributes the changes in his habits, thoughts, and outlook to Pujya Gurudev and the Vedantic teachings and understanding gained through Chinmaya Study Groups.
As President of Chinmaya Mission Chicago, he has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of the four Mission hubs of the Badri ashram, Yamunotri ashram, Springfield, and the new ashram soon to come up in northwest Indiana.
Because of his extraordinary devotion and selfless service to Pujya Gurudev, Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda conferred on him the title of ‘Acharya’ in 2009. Acharya Shankerji continues to serve as the president of CM Chicago and a director of CMW, conducts Chinmaya Study Groups, and administers various programs and events at the Badri and Yamunotri ashrams.