The Master – disciple concept has existed in every civilization since many centuries. The hierarchal flow of knowledge and skills is like a river swelling with every drop of water, rain and tributaries. The flow makes its way through valleys, gorges and difficult terrain and lends the goodness of its water for the benefit of people regardless of their ingratitutde, greed, selfishness, colour, religion and other such trivial considerations. The word GURU literally means noble, expansive, vast and all-inclusive. The disciple is called Vidyarthi or Shishya. The words indicate the purpose of life, a disciple who is to garner pearls of knowledge, skills and values from the Master, the Guru. The role of Guru is not only to teach the immediate subject at hand but to mould and fashion the student as a potter would prepare and shape a vessel into which can be poured the wisdom and Knowledge of a magnificent tradition.
Dance in India has never been looked upon as mere physical activity, rather as a living experience in which the rainbow colours of mystical insights, poetic vision, civilisational history, philosophical concepts, music, iconography and individual interpretations merge to span the firmament of Aesthetic Experience. The body is the instrument but not the player. Therefore, it is never surprising to see an Indian dancer of the traditional genre dancing much beyond the accepted age as understood for Ballet or Modern contempory dancing. Then the dancer vanishes, only dance remains. And this stage has been called the ultimate experience of enlightenment or SATORI, NIRVANA, ANANDA, ECSTASY.
The sumtotal of this wisdom takes us back to the collective wisdom of many millennia. Dancing and singing are the shortest and easiest ways to Self-Knowledge. But it is the Guru who shows the way and leads on the path until the disciple has found his direction and has developed the strength to walk on.
Prof. and Mrs. U.S. Krishna Rao
Prof. U.S. Krishna Rao of Bangalore and his talented wife Chandrabhaga Devi, learnt Bharata Natyam from the late Vidwan Minakshi Sundram Pillai of Pandannalur. They have trained a whole generation of young dancers. Among their prominent pupils are Smt. Leela Bhaskaraiah and Sonal Mansingh.
Dr. T.N. Ramachandran
Dr. T. N. Ramachandran is an eminent scholar of Natya Sastras and archeology. His twin interests have enabled him to interpret and explain the 108 Karanas listed in Bharat Natya Sastra and identify them in the beauteous sculptures of South Indian temples.
The late Guari Ammal was perhaps one of the last and the greatest of a centuries old illustrious line of Devadasis. Among the host of her illustrious students are Bala Saraswati, Rukmini Devi and Sonal Mansingh.
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra comes of a family of traditional Odissi teachers and dancers, with centuries of association with this ancient temple dance. Winner of Sangeet Natak Academy award for 1966 in Odissi, he has toured India and several foreign countries. He has been running concentrated courses in odissi at New Delhi. Among his noteworthy pupils are Sanjugta Panigrahi, Kum Kum Das and Sonal Mansingh.
Shri Jivan Pani