Book release: Nirmalam -The genius of S Sarada
December 17, 2005 Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai
Text: Lalitha Venkat
Photos: Chella

December 25, 2005

NIRMALAM: THE GENIUS OF S SARADA is an offering of love to a great teacher. Published by Anita Ratnam for Arangham Trust in celebration of Kalakshetra guru S Sarada's 90th birthday, Nirmalam was released on Dec 17, 2005 after the lec-dem by Dr. Sunil Kothari, at the 25th Natya Kala Conference.

How did the book come about? During her years at Kalakshetra, Sarada teacher has drafted a syllabus and method teaching Dance Theory, and devised a method of writing down Bharata Natya in notation form, followed now in Kalakshetra and elsewhere. She was the first person to write a book about Rukmini Devi and her dance-drama productions; she has edited the matter for all the 24 dance dramas presented by Rukmini Devi along with the Pundits S Venkatachala Sastri and Adinarayanan Sarma. For her immense contribution to Bharatanatyam, Sarada teacher has not received the recognition and honors that she deserves. Her devoted friend and companion G Sundari (a fellow Theosophist who was a member of Kalakshetra's Executive Committee for a number of years and also assistant editor of the Kalakshetra Quarterly) suggested the idea of the book to Anita Ratnam, who acted as the catalyst in getting the book done.

G Sundari
Narasimhachari, G Sundari, R Yagnaraman, Anita Ratnam

Compiled and edited by Anita Ratnam in consultation with G Sundari, this book contains a foreword by Anita, Sarada teacher's articles and quotes, her advice on Bharatanatyam, as well as tributes paid to 'Peria Sarada teacher' by scholars, dance teachers, dancers, dance students, musicians, friends and well wishers from all over the world - those who have interacted with her over the years.

During the making of the book, Chennai witnessed only 3 cyclones where whole streets and houses were flooded, with frequent cuts in electricity. We were also in for the fourth cyclone, but it tantalized us for 4 days by hovering at 350km from Chennai. Fortunately it decided to change course and spared us, and the book could be released on the scheduled date!

The function started with guru Narasimhachari singing 'Kala Rasika Sarada' written in Sanskrit by Kamakshi Subramaniam, that beautifully sums up everything about Sarada teacher. Following a brief speech by Anita Ratnam, G Sundari presented the copy of the book to Mr. Yagnaraman, Secretary, Krishna Gana Sabha. Despite her spontaneous contribution to Bharatanatyam, S Sarada has not received the recognition she immensely deserves, said Sundari teacher, urging all the artistes and gurus present to work towards it. The first step has been taken, so miracles could yet happen.

G Sundari gives book to Karaikudi Subramanian
G Sundari, Sunil Kothari

Sarada teacher was unable to attend the function because of her frail health. The earlier evening, when presented with the first copy of the book, she smiled and was in good spirits, and took great pains to sign a few copies.