Rukmini Devi Arundale

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Rukmini Devi Arundale (Nilakanta Sastry)

Birthplace: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Death: February 24, 1986 (81)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Immediate Family:

Daughter of A. Nilakanta Sastry and Seshammal
Wife of George Sydney Arundale
Sister of Nilakanta Sri Ram; N. Yagneswara Sastry; N. Subramania Sastry; Padmanabhan Sastry; Visalakshi Johri and 3 others

Managed by: Harsha Viji
Last Updated:

About Rukmini Devi Arundale

Rukmini Devi Arundale was an Indian theosophist, dancer and choreographer in Indian classical dancer form of Bharatnatyam, and also an activist for animal rights, animal welfare and vegetarianism. She is considered the most important revivalist in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam from its original 'sadhir' style, prevalent amongst the temple dancers, Devadasis, she also worked for the re-establishment of traditional Indian arts and crafts.

Rukmini Devi features in India Today's list of '100 People Who Shaped India' [and was named by the magazine as 'Czarina of Dance']. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1967.

Her father, Nilakanta Sastri, was an engineer by profession and a scholar, and Seshammal was a music enthusiast. Deeply influenced by the Theosophical Movement, as a follower of Dr. Annie Besant, upon retirement, Nilakanta Sastri shifted to Adyar, Chennai where he built his home near the headquarters of Theosophical Society Adyar. It was here that young Rukmini was exposed to not just theosophical thought but also new ideas in culture, theatre, music and dance, and later met prominent British Theosophist Dr. George Arundale, In 1920, they got married, shocking the then-conservative society. Post marriage, she travelled all over the world, meeting fellow theosophists and also forging friendships with educator Maria Montessori, and poet James Cousins.

[(from another source)... Marriage ceremony was performed by Alladi Mahadeva Shastri, grandfather of Sarada Hoffman.]

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, near Chennai.

Rukmini Devi was nominated as a member of the Indian Parliament's Council of States, the Rajya Sabha in April 1952 and re-nominated in 1956.

In 1977, Morarji Desai offered to nominate her for the post of President of India, which she turned down.

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Rukmini Devi Arundale's Timeline

February 29, 1904
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
February 24, 1986
Age 81
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India