Why My Gurukul?

Elaborating on her gurukul, the chief patron has this to share:

Call it a spiritual awakening or my articulation of unconditional love, I have always believed dance is not an aesthetic expression of art but a necessity. It is sadhana for the body, mind and soul in which resides the god of my higher understanding. It is a continuing dialogue with my inner self. I have for long felt dance is the ultimate expression of emotional therapy, in a world full of stress, violence and urban angst. It is with this philosophy in mind I have decided to give birth to a unique and empowering Gurukul and ballet centre that will transform 500 of young children who have been deprived of parents, love and material well-being. Even while honing my skills as a classical dancer I have had a burning passion to empower naturally talented young children of Uttar Pradesh belonging to the age group of 8 to 15. I have always dreamt that these young minds need to fire their imagination and train their bodies and minds to become internationally renowned kathak dancers.

Kathak is on the cusp of cultural change and it could be set up in either Naimisharanya, 94 kms from Lucknow, or in Shravasti, in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. We are setting up a Gurukul and kathak ballet centre with a difference. Instead of the shisiya or disciple reaching out to his Guru we are instead going to the districts of Uttar Pradesh, to spot talent among the poor and less empowered. We actually want to reach out to those strata of society, which has the talent and the dreams, but not the wherewithal to realize their true potential. After much careful thought, we have decided to provide yeoman service to society by identifying 20 orphanages in as many districts to spot 500 most deserving students and make them kathak exponents of the highest order. We have a lofty philosophy behind the kathak gurukul that we are about to set up. It will be a fine blend of tradition, showcasing the best in the Ganga-Jamuni tradition that Lucknow has been famous for. As for adopting the gurukul concept, we wish to fuse the rigours of ancient learning in India along with moderninternational researching techniques

Why Naimisaranya?

Since Naimisaranya could be the possible location for the Gurukul, it assumes cultural significance that is hard to live down. According to records, Naimi?ara?ya was an ancient forest mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas. It lay on the banks of the Gomati River (in Uttar Pradesh) . It lay between the Panchala Kingdom and the Kosala Kingdom. The whole narration of Mahabharata took place at Naimisha forests, during a conclave of sages headed by sage Saunaka, who gathered for a sacrifice to the cause of world peace. In this conclave Ugrasrava Sauti narrated the entire Mahabharata, the story of the great kings of Bharata dynasty to Saunaka. The central part of this story was the history of Kauravas and Pandavas and their battle at Kurukshetra known as Kurukshetra War. In this forest, the famous Shaunaka rishi, who also wrote the shlokas in praise of Lord Shiva, chanted all the verses of the modern day Mahabharata, which was written by sage Ugrasravas Sauti, in one breath. Earlier mention of Naimi?ara?ya is found in Ramaya?a. The colophon of yuddha-kanda (sixth) of Ramaya?a mentions that Lav and Kush, the sons of Ram narrated the epic by Valmiki in the Naimi?ara?ya in His Ashvamedha-yajna.

Or Shravasti?

The other possible location is in the heart of Buddhism, in a district in Uttar Pradesh called Shravasti. According to ancient texts, Shravasti was a city of ancient India and one of the six largest cities in India during Gautama Buddha's lifetime. The city was located in the fertile Gangetic plains in the present-day district of the same name, Shravasti, that belongs to Devipatan Division of Uttar Pradesh near Balrampur, some 170 kilometres (106 mi) north-east of Lucknow. Earlier, it was a part of the Bahraich district, but the latter was split due to administrative reasons. Shravasti is located near the West Rapti River and is closely associated with the life of Gautama Buddha, who is believed to have spent 24 Chaturmases here. [1] Age-old stupas, majestic viharas and several temples near the village of "Sahet-Mahet" establish Buddha's association with Shravasti. It is said that the Vedic period king, Shravasta, founded this town.

Principles of Gurukul Kathak Centre

The gurukul kathak centre will be based on the following principles

  1. Self-control
  2. Development of body, mind & aesthetics
  3. Generation of social awareness
  4. Integral development of personality through dance
  5. Propagation of ethics and virtues in our young artistes
  6. Preservation of knowledge and culture.

Talking these aspects into consideration, we feel the necessity of laying the foundation of a gurukul that is also a residential hostel, where students not only learn but also imbibe the rigours of the Gurukul life in order to become established artistes. Once they have gone through this rigorous guru-driven process, they will emerge as cultural leaders. As a result of this, our centre will become theleading centre of kathak in the international arena.

We envision a gurukul where we will have 500 disciples who will ensure get a healthy and holistic environment. Here students will get all facilities for teaching, learning and also sports. The Gurukul will also have gurus drawn from different streams who in turn will live and teach in a real-time environment

Salient Features of Gurukul Kathak Centre

The gurukul kathak centre will be based on the following principles

  • Our centre will be a confluence of dance, music, instruments, theatre and music.
  • IN order to translate our dream into reality we plan to set up 9 halls in the shape of Kathak (hastamudras, 9 Rasas or Navgrala
  • The central hall that will be in the shape of a kathak dancer sitting atop a flowering lotus.
  • The gurukul will also house a state-of- the-art auditorium that will open into an amphitheatre.
  • The residential quarters for the disciples will include two-seater rooms.
  • It will have a dedicated kitchen and dining room and will have presentation rooms and a well-endowed library
  • We will have a live and vibrant research centre that will be in the shape of a ghungroo and tabla where high-level research on kathak as the best means of emotional therapy will be established.
  • There will be a Cultural Research centre wherein international fellows will stay on the campus and conduct research on inter-cultural communication.
  • These in-house scholars who will look at the international dimensions of kathak as a dance form.
  • Every year we pledge to conduct 6-8 workshop with the help and support of international exponents