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Rukmini Rasiah of Yogaville: Iron lady with a flower heart
- The Dhananjayans

September 17, 2023

Rukmini Rasiah
Rukmini Rasiah

Rukmini Rasiah, affectionately addressed by all of us as 'Amma Rasiah' was a colossus of a dynamic personality. Short but gigantic intellectual with sharp crystal clear convictions of a rare quality. A woman of substance, she lived up to 105, a phenomenal achievement indeed for a Srilankan repatriate in the USA.

Swami Satchidananda, Padmarani Rasiah-Cantu, and Rukmini Rasiah
Swami Satchidananda, Padmarani Rasiah-Cantu, and Rukmini Rasiah in front of the Lotus, during the 25th anniversary of the Fine Arts Society of Yogaville

Though her illustrious son Dr. Jeyaraj Rasiah and daughter Padma Rasiah are our direct disciples learning, teaching and performing Bharatanatyam, we became more close to Amma Rasiah only after meeting her in the year 1988 when we were invited to visit Satchidananda Ashram, Yogaville, Virginia (USA). Uprooting from her earlier service at the Master's feet of Swami Satchidananda in Colombo, she opted to continue her humanity service at the same Swamiji's Integral Yoga Centre in Virgina. Under her able leadership and management, the Yogaville Fine Arts Society let the door open to a world community to Bhaarateeya Samskaar through our classical performing arts such a Bharatanatyam, Sangeetam and other fine arts.

Yogaville has a global community following a righteous path of Sanathana Dharma reinstated by Swami Satchidananda encompassing or embracing all in oneness. Thus fine arts became an integral part of the Integral Yoga Ashram. The main pillar being Amma Rasiah, her daughter Padma Rasiah (Canto) fulfilled her vision and mission helping her throughout. Our 1988 meeting triggered an idea of conducting a summer Gurukulam camp in this divine precinct of Yogaville blessed by Swamiji. This was a beginning of a long and successful journey of twenty-five years of Gurukulam camp ably managed by the dynamic iron lady Amma Rasiah. Both Shanta and I became her obedient children and ran the summer camp with thumping success. But for Amma's meticulous and most efficient administration of managing and integrating hundred and more children of a global community (majority of immigrant Bhaarateeya), the Yogaville Gurukulam summer camp would not have been a trendsetting adventurous undertaking to bring about a drastic cultural awakening in the USA, especially among the Bharateeya community.

Rukmini Rasiah with The Dhananjayans
Rukmini Rasiah with The Dhananjayans, daughter Padma Rasiah and grandson Kannan Rasiah

Amma was a violinist and her sensitivity to classical music was evident when we chose items to teach and perform. She would always guide us and give valuable suggestions. She was a total Srikrishna devotee so no program would be complete without a Krishna song. The Ashramites held Amma in high esteem, visited her in her trailer home every day and attended to her daily needs. Her siblings settled in different parts of the world and visited periodically and kept her going emotionally and physical fit till the end.

While the summer camp was in session during June / July / August, Amma's elder daughter Raji Akka gave her a helping hand; all the same the youngest daughter Padma took the major responsibility keeping her hale and healthy, nursing her beloved Amma in the finest of comfort. Kudos to Padma for practising her karma yoga as a dutiful daughter. Amma Rasiah will remain in our hearts forever like a beacon light!!

(Rukmini Rasiah passed away on 27 August 2023, at the age of 105 at her daughter Padma Rasiah's residence in Richmond, USA)

A tribute from the Dhananjayans, Founders of Bharata Kalanjali, Chennai.

For all the years Amma Rasiah made the Dhananjayans' gurukulam run, we sent many of our students all the way from California to experience a month of total dedication to natya. It gave them a tremendous push in focus and inspiration, to live in a divine atmosphere, and to fall in love with my own teachers. She had her hand on every aspect of the camp, and expended her energy into every corner. Her life is a lesson for us all.
- Katherine Kunhiraman (Sept 18, 2023)

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