Friday, March 6, 2015


Rukmini Devi Arundale was one of the main pioneers to revive,re-vitalize the classical dance form 'Bharatanatyam' and enhanced its status to be approachable to all classes of the society.Until those days Bharatatyam was known as 'Sadir' and used to be performed  by 'Devadasis' only.She contributed so much for the revival of this dance form and  by removing erotic elements (certain movements,gestures and expressions) from it completely raised its status.She redesigned the dance form's costumes,Ornaments used,the accompanying musical instruments etc and earned new life for this style of dance.
She was born in Madurai to Brahmin  parents Neelakanta Sastri and Seshammal on 29 February 1904.She learnt music from childhood but dancing was not allowed for her community till then.The family moved to Chennai because of Job transfer of her father and there she met British born theosophist and educationalist Dr.George Arundale  and they got married in 1920.She traveled along with him to many foreign countries and returned in 1928.
She became the President of the All India Federation of Young theosophists in 1923 and the President of the International Federation of Young Theosophists in 1925.During these period she got chance to learn about Russian ballet.
She happened to attend a Bharatanatyam dance program at Chennai and she determined to revive it. She learned this art form with out considering the protest of her community members.She became successful to give  'Sadir'  an overall change and determined to establish an institute to promote Indian artistic and cultural heritage especially 'Sadir' which came to be known as 'Bharatanatyam.
Rukmini Devi Arundale along with her husband succeeded to establish an institute as International Academy for arts in Chennai in 1936 and renamed it as 'Kalaksetra' in 1938.She invited exponents of dance,music and other arts to train the students.She choreographed and brought on stage dance-drama taken from popular Hindu epics like Ramayana and was successful to stage stories like 'Sita Swayamvaram,Ramayana,Sabari Moksham,Kumara Sambavam,Usha Parinayam,Gita Govindam' and many more.
Her Institute 'Kalakshetra' became a deemed university and exponents like 'C.V.Chandrasekharan,Yamini Krishnamurthy,Leela Samson' etc got trained in  this institute.
She was Vice President of International Vegetarian Union for 31 years.She

worked for the Prevention of cruelty to animals and was Chairman of Animal welfare Board of India.She served as Member of 'Rajya Sabha' for two terms.

She was recipient of several awards including 'Padma Bhushan from Government of India' in 1956.She got Sangeet Natak Akademy award in 1957 and Sangeet Natak Fellowship in 1967.She was given 'Kalidasa Samman' from Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1984.She received Honorary Doctorate from Wayne State University,USA., and many other awards and recognition.
Rukmini Devi died on 24 February 1986 at Chennai,Tamil Nadu.

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