Fine Arts Society
“The dancing foot, the sound of tinkling bells,
The songs that are sung and the varying steps
The forms assumed by our dancing Gurupara
Find out these within yourself,
and then shall your fetters fall away.”
Swami Satchidananda was an enthusiast and supporter of Indian fine arts. He said, “From Vedic times, art in India has been spiritual, developing and flourishing in the precincts of temples, aspiring to reflect the divinity of human beings through their creative faculties; thus, it is regarded as Yoga and as a means of Self-realization.”
Toward this end, he integrated these fine art forms into his first Ashram in Kandy Sri Lanka, and later at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, Virginia by establishing the Fine Arts Society. He also wanted Westerners to be exposed to and gain an appreciation for the classical dance form, Bharata Natyam. So, in the early 1980s, he invited Mrs. Rukmini Rasiah and her family to relocate to America and move the Kandy Fine Arts Society to Yogaville. In 1984, the Fine Arts Society of Yogaville was inaugurated. Its aim was to encourage the fine arts of music, dance, and drama among people of all nations with respect for the various traditions and cultures of the world. Its further mission was to affirm the unity of art and spirituality and to promote peace, good will, and harmony through the arts. Through its classes and programs, FAS has achieved its mission and continues its service today.
Mrs. Rasiah’s youngest daughter, Padmarani Rasiah-Cantu, an accomplished Bharata Natyam artist, became the artistic director of the FAS. Integral Yoga International sponsored a European and North American dance tour for Padmarani and her brother Dr. Jeyarajan in the early l980s to wide acclaim. For over 30 years, Padmarani has been honored as a selected artist with the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
In 1988, the Sri V.P. Dhananjayans, world-renowned artistes and directors of Bharata Kalanjali in Chennai, India, were invited to give a lecture demonstration in Bharatha Natyam at the FAS in Yogaville. There was such a tremendous response from those attending, that the Dhananjayans were invited to return that summer to conduct a residential camp in Bharata Natyam for young students who were unable to go to India but wanted to study with the finest Indian dance masters. Originally planned as a one-time program, the FAS was literally flooded with requests for this program, particularly from parents of Indian children being raised in the USA who wanted them to maintain the link with their cultural heritage.
Through Mrs. Rasiah’s efforts, this Natya Adyayana Gurukulam became an annual program for 25 years, and a new performing arts hall was built to house FAS classes and programs. Kavita, Meera, and Anjana, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Pathmarajah of Lancaster, California attended the Natya Adyayana Gurukulam for many, many years. On reflection they offered that, “The Camp has instilled in us the importance of discipline in controlling our senses and serving the world with love. Our teachers have invoked in us a deep devotion, and have impelled us to dedicate our actions and enhance our devotion and dedication through selfless service.”
Aims of the Fine Art’s Society:
To propagate the Fine Arts of music, dance, drama, and others among people of all nations, races, and creeds, with respect for the various traditions and cultures of the world.
To affirm the unity of art and religion.
To promote peace and good will and emphasize harmony in its highest sense within and without.
Inaugurated in 1984, the Fine Arts Society embraces, as its students, children of all nationalities, races and religions. Regular classes are conducted in Bharatha Natyam in Richmond and in Yogaville (on request). Our students are invited to perform in cultural events at various schools, colleges and universities. The Society’s annual dance recital is one of the most enjoyed events by all. In addition, artists of all traditions and cultures have performed by invitation. Imparting knowledge, the ecumenical way, the Society endeavors its best to uphold its aims and affirm the unity of art and religion through music and dance.
Bharatha Natyam, is an ancient form of Indian Temple dance. Unique, Eternal and Universal, it is one of the most subtle and graceful styles of dance art in the world. Born within the precincts of the temple, Bharatha Natyam uses the rich repertoire of Hindu mythology as a fine medium of expression. This highly developed, stylized and sophisticated art form gives aesthetic delight to art lovers around the world.
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Fine Art’s Society
Mrs. Rukmini Rasiah
Mrs. Rukmini Rasiah, a long time devotee of Sri Swami Satchidanandaji Maharaj, hails from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She served as the Director of the Fine Arts Society of the Satchidananda Ashram in Kandy, Sri Lanka for 20 years before she had to leave her home country due to the political upheaval in 1983.
Mrs. Rasiah was invited by Sri Swami Satchidanandaji to Yogaville Virginia in 1984. The Fine Arts Society of Yogaville was inaugurated the same year.
Mrs. Rasiah organized Bharatha Natyam (Indian Classical Dance) Residential Teachers Workshops conducted by Guru Padmashree Adyar K Lakshman from 1990 to 1994. She also organized the Residential Natya Adhyayana Gurukulam (Annual Bharatha Natyam Summer Camps) successfully with Gurus Padma Bhushan Sri VP and Smt Shanta Dhananjayan, the Artistic Director of the Fine Arts Society, Smt Padmarani Rasiah Cantu and with the help of dedicated support staff and Swamis, from 1989 to 2013.
Mrs. Rasiah, with deep devotion to her Guru, quietly and passionately continues to serve as the President of the Fine Arts Society overlooking all activities of the Society from its inception till present.
Smt. Padmarani Rasiah Cantu
Artistic Director and Instructor
Padmarani, who hails from a distinguished family from Jaffna, Sri Lanka, combines versatility with an international reputation as a dancer and teacher par excellence. She studied with the distinguished Master Teachers Padmasri Adyar K. Lakshman and Padma Bhushan Sri and Smt. Dhananjayan of Chennai, India. Padmarani has performed extensively in many other countries and in the United States, earning accolades from audiences and critics alike.
Since 1984, Padmarani has been the Artistic Director and Instructor of the Fine Arts Society of Yogaville in Buckingham, Virginia. She has presented many of her students for dance graduation and taught along with the Dhananjayans at the Annual Natyam Gurukulam conducted by the Fine Arts Society from 1989 till 2013.
As a Selected Artist with the Virginia Commission for the Arts Tour Directory since 1991, cultural and educational institutions in Virginia benefit from her expertise in performing and teaching this art form in all it’s pure and pristine glory
Guest Yoga Instructors and Advisors
Swami Gurucharananda Mataji
Spiritual Instructor and Hatha Teacher
Mataji is a senior monk-disciple of Sri Swami Satchidananda Maharaj, and an inspiration to all who know her. Her life exemplifies “discipline, dedication and devotion” to the Teacher, Teachings and Sanga. She delights in sharing the teachings of Integral Yoga and has done so for more than 50 years. “Mataji,” is one of our most popular teachers at Yogaville and abroad, leading guided meditations, Hatha Yoga classes, meditation workshops, offering kirtans and giving talks.
Swami Priyaananda Mataji
Spiritual Instructor and Hatha Teacher
Swami Priyaananda has devoted over thirty years to the study, practice, and teaching of Integral Yoga. Her life is an example of yoga in action, and her classes are a beautiful reflection of her love and dedication. Mataji is currently serves at the Ashram as Director of the Living Yoga Training program, guiding aspirants in how to establish and go deeper on their spiritual path. She also oversees the Satchidananda Ashram Archives, preserving the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda for future generations.