Rukmini Devi Arundale(1904 – 1986)
“I was very intuitive from an early age. I responded to people just as I responded to art – through an inner feeling which is difficult to explain. I just felt some things were right and some were not…”
- Rukmini Devi was born on 29 February 1904 in Madurai of Tamilnadu.
- She was the first woman in Indian history to be nominated a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- Rukmini Devi Arundale was an Indian theosophist, dancer, and choreographer of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, and an activist for Animal welfare.
- The most important revivalist of Bharatanatyam from its original ‘sadhir’ style prevalent amongst the temple dancers, the Devadasis, she also worked for the re-establishment of traditional Indian arts and crafts.
- She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.
- In January 1936, she along with her husband established Kalakshetra, an academy of dance and music, built around the ancient Indian Gurukul system, at Adyar, at Chennai. Today the academy is a deemed university under the Kalakshetra Foundation.
- She also became very close to Annie Besant and helped her with her work.
- She went on to become the President of the Theosophical Society after Dr. Besant’s passing and Rukmini Devi herself was an active member of the Theosophical movement.
- She gave her first performance at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Theosophical Society in 1935.
- Theosophists hailed her as the World Mother, to her family in Kalakshetra she is Athai (paternal aunt).
- Keenly interested in animal welfare, she was associated with various humanitarian organisations, and as a member of the Rajya Sabha, was instrumental for the legislation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and for later setting up of the Animal Welfare Board of India, under her chairmanship in 1962.