15th Naatya Adhyayana Gurukulam, Yogaville Virginia USA  
by a special correspondent 

August 26, 2003 

His Holiness Sri Swami Satchidananda who attained samaadhi last year was a true connoisseur of classical art and his contribution to the promotion of true Indian art and culture in North America cannot go unsung. Apart from reforming people through his integral Yoga institutes all around the globe, he had taken great interest in promoting Indian classical arts, especially Bharatanaatyam and Carnatic music. As part of his great mission of service to humanity, he established the Fine arts society in the Yogaville Satchidananda Ashram.  And entrusted the divine work to his ardent devotee Rukmini Rasiah and her dedicated daughter Padmarani Rasiah, an accomplished Bharatanaatyam artiste.   
Swamijee commissioned The Dhananjayans of Bharatakalanjali, Chennai to conduct a real traditional Gurukulam training camp in 1988 and it became a trendsetter in the US to enhance the standard of teaching and training in Indian classical dance and music.  Fifteen years of successful summer camps is certainly an epoch making venture where international community of students and teachers gained discipline, devotion and dedication - the three 'D' formula - enunciated by Swamiji to obtain a spiritual dimension to the dance. 
The success story of the annual event of this unique Gurukulam camps owes a great deal to the steering person Rukmini Rasiah (Amma Rasiah as every one address her) – an 85 year old lady of a divine caliber.  Every aspect of the camp and welfare of the participants are meticulously planned and executed, with no complaints whatsoever from the parents or visitors.  With a very comfortable dormitory accommodation, well balanced nutritious vegetarian diet (cooked and affectionately served by Valli Gopal who also teaches Music, Raji Wallooppillai, Sundaram supported by other dedicated Ashramites), excellent health care facilities, this unique residential camp serves as beacon light to all such organizations. Apart from all these physical facilities, the beautiful and clean environment adds to the charm of the learning atmosphere.  This is not an exaggeration, considering the fact that the camps have been conducted successfully, continuously for the past fifteen years, the same students wanting to come back, additionally bringing new enrolments year after year.  In the last five years the camps had to be extended to accommodate the teachers and advanced Bharatanaatyam dancers who wanted to learn under the Dhananjayans. 

This year the first camp started on 5th July and there were almost 30 inmates including beginners to advanced level of students. The classes were classified according to each individual standard and need for solid foundation was insisted upon, irrespective of the students' style of Bharatanaatyam training. The Dhananjayans always hammered on the minds of students that there are only two styles of Bharatanaatyam namely 'good and bad’ dancing.  They grilled into the young minds that quality should not be sacrificed for the sake of quantity. On the final day presentation, Dhananjayan addressed the parents and the large local community assembled in  "Ananda Kala Mandir" hall and emphasized the need for these children to devote more hours of practice and seriously pursue the learning with proper understanding of the nuances of language, theory and Indian cultural ethos.   
Presiding over the function Swamiji's great devotee Amma Kidd (wife of General Jack Kidd) gave an enlightening speech saying that true classical art elevates the mind and anything that touches your heart can only be called an art.  She said having seen Padmarani performing Bharatanaatyam for several years now, no other dance touches her heart as much as the powerful communication of the art of Bharatanaatyam. She also spoke of how she fell in love with Bharatanaatyam after watching the Dhananjayans dance in the Charlottesville University in the year 1987. 
She told the students not to fall prey to modern stuff in the name of innovations or creativity, but practice the spiritual in art and elevate the mind through spiritual entertainment. Only through such kind of art can we bring peace to the world.  General Jack Kidd awarded the course certificates to the participants. 
The parents and the large crowd could not believe their eyes when the children presented in an informal way, what they learned in the three weeks camp, and the standing ovation they received was the testimony to the training they received from the Dhananjayans and Padmarani Rasiah. 

The second camp started on 27th July and concluded on 9th August.  There were only eleven participants including four teachers from different parts of America.   

Each of them had their experiences to share with others and their tears and chocking voice of praises showered on the Dhananjayans was really testimony to the ever lasting values in life they imbibed from the Yogaville Gurukulam. 

Nalini Chellaram from Gibraltar, who is an artist (painter) in her own rights gave away the course certificates.  She delivered an inspired speech for the benefit of the camp participants and said how art made her life fruitful and satisfying. Whether one makes it a profession or mission in life, classical arts enhance the beauty of human life. Her eloquent speech touched the hearts of all gathered for the final day presentation on 9th August.  The items presented were awesome (as the Americans say it) and the participants themselves choreographed a couple of items, as part of their learning exercise in the Gurukulam.  

2004 Gurukulam camp dates have been announced. First camp for juniors and seniors from July 4 to 25 and Advanced course from July 26 to August 9. Since there are requests from teachers, there may be a third session from 8th to 15th August exclusively for them. Interested Bharatanaatyam teachers and performers can contact  Padmarani Rasiah Canto  at  Email:  prcan2@hotmail.com or FAS@yogaville.org  
Telefax: (434) – 969 - 3210  
Address: Satachidananda Ashram, Yogaville, Buckingham, VA. 23921