Thadhiginathom - Part 19
- Zakir Hussain
English translation: Dushy Gnanapragasam
July 30, 2020
(Reproduced with permission)
Learn, even by begging
Education and experience both sharpen one's mind. Of these, education is when you study and understand the thoughts of others starting at a young age. Experience is when you put to practice in your own life what you have studied. That is why in Tamil, it is said, study even if it means begging for it. Those who were able to record their thoughts by putting pen to paper were called 'creators'. Those who learned it were considered 'educated'. The ideas exchanged through words formed the relationship between the creator and the educated. The educated were not compelled to accept the ideas written and the creator was not compelled only to write down ideas that were acceptable. God does not care to check if anyone is worshiping him. And the devotee does not pause to verify if god accepted his prayers. If these two thought processes meet each other at a single point, that becomes the moment of bliss. This will also apply to a leader and a follower both of whom have accepted a common vision. The purpose of pious devotion is to reach this state. Until then, one must continue to learn. A society that encourages learning should also confirm that those who learn establish themselves among the learned. Only then can the education of a society be accepted as a reflection of its collective experiences. If not, it will lead to a state where the learner spoiled the text he was learning and the singer spoiled the song he was singing.
Chitra akka looked at me again only after the show ended in Pune. My cheek was red with her fingerprints; you could have measured the size of her fingers from the marks. I also had a fever because of the shock. I have been beaten hard by my father's hands and sometimes by sticks, warning me not to dance. But this was the first time I got hit by Chitra akka. We sat for a while listening to Ustad Zakir Hussain's tabla and returned to the hotel. No one had noticed I had a fever until then. But everyone came to know of it that night. Chitra akka and Visweswaran athimber came to the room I was staying in. "I'm sorry da, Zakir" said Chitra akka. She herself sat there and gave me ice water fomentation for close to two hours. The next morning's show was at the Indian Defense Academy. She took me to see the Army doctor there and I received an injection and medications. Chitra akka spent a lot of time with me over the next two days causing everyone else to focus their attention on me as well. Because of me, no one was able to tour the sites or enjoy themselves otherwise. The fever relented after three days and I returned to normalcy. I was able to participate in Chitra akka's other programs with enthusiasm.
As soon as we returned to Madras, akka went abroad with her troupe. In those days, it was rare that she would stay in India for as much as a month at a time. She constantly flew around the globe for dance recitals. Since I was made in charge of the library at her house, I started reading whenever I found free time. Whenever I came across an unknown English word, I would use the dictionary to learn it. If I was unable to understand by referring to the dictionary, Chitra akka's father Padmanabhan would explain it to me. I attended classes three hundred and sixty-five days a year. One of the students who studied along with me in those days is the famous medical doctor and Dravidian thinker, Dr. Ezhilan. Another was his brother Dr. Muthazhagan. In later days, these two - along with their brother Jagan - learned dance from me at the classes I conducted at their father Mr. Naganathan's house. Their mother Shanthi Naganathan - who voluntarily resigned her post as a professor of economics - wished for her three sons to have their arangetram. Due to the fact that they had to focus on their education and due to the lack of time her wish would not come true. Everyone in that family was an atheist. However, they never criticized my devotion to Andal. They were such cultured humanists.
Two of the prominent dancers today learned from Chitra akka at the same time I did. They are Dr. Vijay Madhavan and Dr. Lakshmi Ramasamy. They both later earned doctorates through their hard work and have been producing many student dancers.
The daughter of another famous personality started learning dance with me but stopped. She is actor Sathyaraj's daughter Divya. Mr. Sathyaraj attended my arangetram as a special guest and delivered a rousing speech earning him the praise of many. I'll write about it another time.
I was taught education along with dance. I studied without regard for day or time. The subjects of history, spirituality, and biographies helped me reshape my life. They gave me a new dimension and renewed confidence and led me to fulfillment. Chitra akka never failed to learn and to portray her learnings in her dance. She was well respected by many artistic and cultural leaders and learned scholars for this. Therefore, you too should learn well.
For a successful dancer, dancing is only twenty percent of what it is. The other eighty percent is completed by such things as knowledge of literature and history, cultural awareness, behavior, management of the stage, and individuality. We will now look at two great events where Chitra akka exemplified this.
(July 29, 2020)
To be continued...
Zakir's dairy is interesting to go through. I am sure many naatyam practitioners are reading his jottings. I wish he uses the term naatyam instead of 'dance' . It is high time every one changes to naatyam or Bharatanaatyam.
- Naatyaachaarya V.P.Dhananjayan (July 30, 2020)
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