“GURU” - THE TEACHER
by Sapna Rangaswamy, Vadodara
e-mail: rangaswamy@satyam.net.in
May 2002

According to Abhinayadarpana and Samgita Ratnakara a dance teacher means -

A man of personality, who knows the science of dancing (the movements of the body, its dependence on timing and tempo etc.).; who is clever in beginning and concluding (the songs and instrumental music), who knows well the three Grahas (Sama, Atita and Anagata of the Tana ); who knows how to play on the various instruments; who is well - versed in the knowledge handed down by tradition (through teachers who know the truth about the beauty of sounds; who is conversant with the excess or deficiency of the sthyas (of Ragas); clever in the tempos (Druta, Madhya and Vilambita) and time measurements; who can create instrumental compositions; who is an expert in Mukhavadya, who can originate new styles (in song, dance and instrumental music); who is clever in teaching pupils; who can establish the rules about dance, songs and instrumental music; in whose heart the dancer enters or who himself enters the heart of the dancer; who is capable of attracting people and who knows the defects and the proper performance of the dancer - he is the dancer teacher. The Guru.

Today how many so-called “Gurus” have these qualities? I asked the students and the teachers at the College of Performing Arts at Baroda about their plans after getting their degree in dance.

“Oh, she will become a teacher…” came the reply.

Is it that easy?

A Kathak dancer called me up and told me, “ Sapnaben, your article about me is very good but there is one mistake…. I am known as ‘Panditji'..”.

And then there is another dance teacher in this city who, whenever on the phone, will say, “Guruji speaking….”

Yet another dance teacher insists that not only all her students should touch her feet but also their parents… because she is a “Guru”.

When a person is great, his greatness, his work will speak. He doesn't need to go around telling people to touch his feet because he is a “Guru”.

What does a true Guru want?
-Touching of his feet
-A gurudakshina or
-A dedicated shishya……….


Sapna Rangaswamy is a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent based in Baroda.