Indian classical dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale led the revival of the Bharatnatyam dance style and started the Kalakshetra Foundation in Madras (now Chennai). She was also a theosophist, and the British co-founder and president of the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant, was a big influence on her. She was born into a wealthy Brahmin family in India. As she grew up, she learned about dance, music, and Indian culture. Her father was a member of the Theosophical Society, so it wasn’t long before the young girl did the same. The traditional society she grew up in was shocked when she married a fellow theosophist, the British Dr. George Arundale. She went all over the world with her husband to meet other theosophists and talk about ideas. She became President of the All-India Federation of Young Theosophists because she was so involved in theosophical activities. When she met the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, she became very interested in ballet for the first time. She was so moved by the Russian that she wanted to learn more about traditional Indian dances. She started learning Bharatnatyam and eventually started an academy of dance and music. She was very important in bringing Bharatanatyam back to life and making it known all over the world.
Early years and childhood
She was born on February 29, 1904, in the Indian city of Madurai. Her father, Neelakanta Sastri, was an engineer and a scholar, and her mother, Seshammal, loved music. Theirs was a traditional Brahmin family from the upper class.
Her father was very involved with the Theosophical Society, so Rukmini was introduced to it at a young age. She also learned new ideas about culture, music, dance, and theater because of the group.
She got to know Dr. George Arundale, a British theosophist who was close with Annie Besant, and they became friends. In 1920, when she was only 16, they got married.
Rukmini Arundale’s Career
After she got married, she traveled all over the world and met many inspiring people, like educator Maria Montessori and poet James Cousins.
In 1923, she was elected President of the All-India Federation of Young Theosophists. In 1925, she was elected President of the World Federation of Young Theosophists.
In 1928, when the famous Russian dancer Anna Pavlova was in Bombay for a show, she met her. Then they both went to Australia on the same ship, and over the course of the trip, they became friends.
Rukmini decided to learn ballet after seeing Pavlova dance. She worked with the dancer Cleo Nordic for a while. Pavlova later told Rukmini that she should focus on learning traditional Indian dances, so Rukmini turned to Bharatnatyam.
She first learned the dance from “Mylapore Gowri Amma,” and then she learned it from “Pandanallur Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai.” She started learning to dance when she was almost 30, but she worked hard at it.
In 1935, at the “Diamond Jubilee Convention of the Theosophical Society,” she sang for the first time in front of a crowd. Within a year, she and her husband worked together to open Kalakshetra, a school for dance and music in Adyar, near Chennai.
At first, the Bharatnatyam dance was called “sadhir” and was thought to be dirty. Rukmini was a big part of changing the dance style, giving it a new name, and making it known as a serious art form all over the world.
She added things like the violin to the music, designed costumes and jewelry, and put in place set and lighting design elements, which gave the dance form its modern look.
She worked with famous dancers, classical musicians, and scholars to create dance dramas based on Indian epics and mythology, such as “Sita Swayamvaram,” “Sri Rama Vanagamanam,” “Paduka Pattabhishekam,” and “Sabari Moksham.”
She also fought for animal rights and cared deeply about all living things. She worked with a number of groups that helped people and was also a member of the Rajya Sabha. In 1962, she was in charge of setting up the Animal Welfare Board of India.
She was a strict vegetarian because she loved animals and worked to spread vegetarianism in the country. From 1955 to 1986, she was the Vice President of the International Vegetarian Union.
Awards & Achievements
In 1956, she was given the Padma Bhushan, which is the third-highest civilian award in India, for her work in the arts.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama, gave her the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Award) in 1967. This is the highest honor that Indian artists can get.
In 1968, the Animal Welfare Board of India gave her the “Prani Mitra” award for her work as an activist for animal rights.
Personal History and Legacies
When she was young, she met Dr. George Arundale. Arundale, who was 26 years older than her, fell in love with her right away. The age difference and the fact that Arundale was British made her family very against the match.
In 1920, she went against what most people thought was right and married him. Their marriage was good, and her husband gave her advice and helped her reach her professional goals. They didn’t have any kids.
She died in Chennai on February 24, 1986, when she was 82 years old.
Estimated Net worth
Rukmini Devi Arundale is one of the most popular and richest politicians. According to our research and information from Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Rukmini Devi Arundale has a net worth of about $3 Million.