February 24th, 2017
Image Source: Kalakshetra
A stellar career
Rukmini Devi an Indian theosophist, choreographer of Bharatanatyam, animal rights activist, and a member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
Dancing was restricted to her as she belonged to a high caste but she didn’t only learn it – she also established Kalakshetra, an academy for dance and music located in Chennai. It is now a 100-acre deemed university under Kalakshetra Foundation.
Her father who was very keen and interested in the Theosophical Movement moved to Adyar, Chennai upon retirement, where he built his home near the headquarters of the Theosophical Society Adyar founded by Dr. Annie Besant. It was here that young Rukmini was exposed to not just theosophical thought but also new ideas on culture, theatre, music, and dance. She later met the prominent British theosophist Dr. George Arundale. Arundale later married Ms. Rukmini Devi.
Activism in the Legislature
She was later nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha in 1952 and re-nominated in 1956. She worked and spent a lot of her efforts in upholding animal rights and prevention of cruelty against them. She was instrumental in setting up of the Animal Welfare Board of India in 1962 and remained on board until she demised. She also promoted vegetarianism.
She has won awards and people’s hearts
In 1977, Morarji Desai offered to nominate Rukmini Devi for the post of President of India, which she humbly denied. In 1994, the Indian Parliament recognized the Kalakshetra Foundation as an institute of national importance. Google honored Rukmini Devi on her 112th birthday with a doodle. She was honoured with various national and international awards such as the Padma Bhushan (1956), Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Prani Mitra, an honorary doctorate from Wayne State University, Kalidas Samman, scrolls of honour from the county and city of Los Angeles.
The Logical Indian remembers Rukmini Devi’s career with much respect and admiration. Her conviction to stand up for the right things, her love for art, her leadership, her courage to break stereotypes, and her life itself serve as an inspiration to all of us.
Author: Utkarsh Pandey