Friday 16 June 2023

Article - Kalakshetra administration failed the Founder's vision - VP Dhananjayan

This refers to the timely and explicitly introspected article by Anjana Anand in the Sruti Magazine ('Kalakshetra - Time for introspection,' Point of View column, June 2023 issue), which should be taken seriously by the institution and its administrators. Institutions like Kalakshetra are the pride of the nation, hence the Bharat Sarkar should give them special status and not to apply the rules and regulations applicable to government offices and organisations. This is where Rukmini Devi differed from the Government and rejected the offer to give the institution the status of 'Deemed to be University' in 1963/64.

Under the government appointed administrators, Kalakshetra lost its credibility as an integrated wholesome art institution envisaged by its founder Rukmini Devi and her immediate associates like Sankara Menon and others.

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  1. What Is Kalakshetra’s Future?

    I was fortunate in childhood to attend a school in rural Pennsylvania still run by the founders, who brought their philosophy and vision with them into the classroom. Later, fortunate again to join Kalakshetra where some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century still held prominence, and guided us with firm love and absolute commitment to upholding the dream that had inspired Rukmini Devi to manifest that dream.
    Throughout all my years with Kunhiraman, the stories of his own childhood, playing with the children who later became among the most prominent in their respective artistic fields. I knew most of them, and now watch as we all grow old and die off, one by one.
    I agree with how much of that vision has been lost since that sad day in 1986 when she had to finally let go. It is difficult in a changing world to hang onto ideals that look to many to be impractical, even primitive. India is changing, not always for the better. At every turn we lose treasures of the human spirit that can never be preserved or replaced. The impractical courses in weaving and painting, sad to say, even music; are these disciplines so archaic that they should not have support in an institution that was established to preserve and nurture them?
    Government leadership is notorious for losing the thread. Plowing across our modern world, with little care for what should be protected; once we lose our traditions we may not get them back. My world now includes exposure to several ancient civilizations, balancing unsteadily in modern surroundings that constantly threaten to unseat them. I have seen how things get lost forever. When the government insisted on bringing in unrelated supervision that had not grown up with the dream, ignoring the stalwarts who had been a part of Kalakshetra since early childhood, they committed the first mistake. They could have given the needed support, while encouraging the continuation of so many elements that made Kalakshetra the most unique center for traditional arts, in an environment where the artists would not need to compromise constantly just to survive. It was in their hands to do that. But they didn’t.

    Katherine Kunhiraman

  2. The article by Dhananjayan is timely, relevant and crucial to the survival of greatness of an institution. The colossal dimensions of Kalakshetra can never be measured or fully understood as it was really one of the unique institutions founded, guided and carefully nurtured by the great visionary, Rukmini Devi Arundale. When there are so many eminent alumni who are famous cultural exponents in their own right, it is absurd to exclude them studiously and push in names of others who may not have the least idea about the greatness of this institution. As Modiji is interested in preserving the best of Indian history and culture, I appeal to him through your column to please try and restore the sanctity of this great institution which richly embodies both our history and culture.
    - Laxmi Subrahmanyam