Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Yato hasta-stato drushti, yato drushti-stato manaha!
Yato mana-stato bhavo, yato bhava-stato rasaha!

Where there is hand- the eyes follow, where there is eyes- the soul follows!
Where there is soul- the expressions follow, when there is expressions- the audience enjoys your performance!

Bharatnatyam is a 2000 year old dance style and comes from the state – Tamil Nadu!
Throughout my life I’ve enjoyed dancing and watching performances and especially classical dance recitals!

And throughout my life I ran behind some degrees and study portions which I never was interested in the 1st place! How much time I wasted pursuing a so called career which always failed to touch my soul!

July 2009, I don’t know what was in that morning, but I headed straight to Kalaangan – one of the major institutes in Margao and Goa providing art facilities!

“I want to enquire about the Bharatnatyam dance classes!”
“Who is it for?” The lady at the register asks!
“It’s for me! And I want to find out if you have a full time Bharatnatyam course here!”
“ No ma’am. I am sorry. We just have classes twice a week!”

Well! That was the answer I got from every institute! What’s wrong with these people? I wondered? Isn’t there anybody in today’s age who wants to pursue dance or music full time? Is it worth being only a part time/ hobby activity?

Why are we Indians going crazy about this 20th century invention called “ jobs?”
Is that all we study for and live and die for? A job?

Well! Coming back to the issue at hand, I was adamant! Somewhere in me there was this urgency….. Janaki, you’ve already wasted so much time!”

I urge the lady to inquire with their boss, Mr. Talak and call me back in case there’s some provision like that!

2 weeks pass by.......

And then 1 day, the lady calls back. “Would 4 times a week do for you ma’am?”
“What time?”
“Any time you want!”

The next day morning at 8 am, I go to Kalaangan. The area is a residential, but as I’d always seen in my earlier visits, there were no small girls and their mothers waiting, there was no crowd. There was no one! But the classroom was open, I go in to find another girl, almost my age ( or younger?) waiting there reading some books! She looks up at me, “ Janaki?” ……. “ hmmm…Yes!” “Hi! I am Lalan, your dance teacher!” . I have a good look at Lalan! She’s shorter, thinner, younger looking than me! “These people sent one of their students to teach me or what?” I wonder in my head!

“Is this the Bharatnatyam class?” Lalan and I turn back to see another girl, our age!

This was Hazel, my dance class colleague, and my teacher Lalan- is a MA in Bharatnatyam!

“Oh? So you have a degree in that too?”
“Of course! Our teacher, Dr. Suchetatai Chapekar from Pune is a Ph. D in Bharatnatyam!”

Why the hell nobody told me about this when I was growing up? Why did people only tell me about engineering, medicine, and law?

Our classes began; the 1st few months made the class a torture cell! Bharatnatyam involves a basic bending position of the legs called “ Ayata” – and that is extremely painful because we are not used to bend our legs in regular life! unlike Kathak which is done standing. Bharatnatyam also involves full body movements- movements of hands, legs, neck, waist- full expressions and jumps!

Everybody at home kept asking me, “You are not going to continue, are you? look at you, you cant even walk now-a days! It looks like someone beat you up!”

And I thought- after all, maybe, this isn’t made for me!

And then 1 day, Lalan told us she was going to perform in Mardol for a function there. so I thought I should really go and see what my teacher dances like! The program was to start at 12. ( at night) it started at around 1.15am.

And then the program finally started. My teacher came on the stage!
I’ve seen many classical dance recitals till date- but none like Lalan’s- she was fantabulous! The next 15 mins I’d forgotten all about the various pain locations in my body- all I knew was- I want to learn how to dance from this lady, and some day- I want to dance like her!

A whole lot depends on your teacher! It is said “ guru is like brahma- the creator, guru is like Vishnu- the protector and guru is like maheshwara- the destroyer of all evil within us. And so ,Guru is parabrahma- the ultimate reality. And to such a guru, I bow!”

Today- Lalan, hazel and I make a wonderful team! I wait for every morning, to go and learn something new from Lalan. I find it extremely difficult to wake up early, coz I sleep very late at nights- I like it that way. Hazel wakes me up with a ring . when we meet up- we have a 5 min chat- all of us laugh, and share some life story and then dance with our mind and soul in it!

Yato hasta-stato drushti, yato drushti-stato manaha!
Yato mana-stato bhavo, yato bhava-stato rasaha!


  1. Wonderful! Cant believe its the same you who used to hate Sanskrit during school days, you have actually opened your post with a subhashita! Hats off to Lalan! :)

  2. thanx! we have a lot of shlokas in bharatnatyam!
    i wished u cud c her dance!

  3. Hi janki,
    this is Uma(Di's frd)....
    u r a woderful writer, i m addicted to ur blog(but actually i used to hate reading)

    in this GURU thing i found a small mistake, nd dnt mind dat i m pointing it out....its d date.
    i guess it should be july 2008 ri8?

  4. @ uma: thanx 4 reading my blog n thank u for pointing out d mistake. i'll make d changes!

  5. hi...excellent way of writing...

  6. hey this is one of the best posts ive read of yrs janaki...excellent..


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