Yogaville Gurukulam Camp 2004 - A home away from home 

October 13, 2004   

The sixteenth annual Gurukulam camp at Yogaville, Virginia, US, ended on 8th August and the following weekend (14th & 15th Aug), Nitya Moothathu and Kannan Rasiah, two students of Padmarani Cantu Rasiah -the resident teacher at Yogaville FAS - had their formal arangetram.  

The first camp took place from 4th to 24th July (36 students) and second camp from July 25th to August 8th (25 seniors including Bharatanaatyam teachers and performers)  

preparing for yoga class
final day presentation
It is an exciting festive season of six weeks for the Yogaville community. Every one looks forward to the buzzing activities of Bharatanaatyam, Bhajan a Bhojan of course.  VValli Akka and  Rajee Akka, (the most affectionate house mothers and kitchen mothers) who provide the world’s best cuisines and Sundaram (Larry M Gross), a lawyer who makes lasagna, enchilada and those exotic western cuisines in the evenings, are an integral part of the gurukulam style camp at Yogaville. Swami Satchidananda’s vision fructified by the mother head Amma Rasiah (Rukmini Rasiah) continued for sixteen, successive successful years.  Students like Srutiranjani, Madhulika, Anuradha Murali (to name only a few), continue coming to this Gurukulam for the past sixteen years, missing maybe a year or two in between. What attracts them to have this bondage with the Yogaville Ashram? Is it the all pervasive  ‘love all serve all’ spell of Swamiji, the Dhananjayans’ (Shantakka  & Anna) charismatic art of living, Padmarani’s (Padmakka) immaculate steps, or the dawn to dusk shining smile of Mathaaji, one wonders. 

Students at various age levels do not mind the hardship of practicing almost 8 to 10 hours a day. After a few days’ aches and pains, it becomes a matter of routine and a love of labor.  At the end of three weeks, the first batch is actually reluctant to leave the place. The performance of the last day is a festive occasion, celebrating the victory of hard labor and gaining years of experience and knowledge of Bharatanaatyam, classical music and yoga in a short spell of 3 weeks. For the entire Yogaville community, it is a treat to see the beaming faces of the audience who attends the final day presentation, including the parents and relatives of the campers. 

The second phase of the summer camp starts after a day’s break. Seniors include teachers of Bharatanaatyam, professional performers and just finished arangetram levels.  Yogaville Fine Arts Society under the motherly meticulous care of Amma Rasiah and fatherly strict Swami Chidananda, works on a shoestring budget. Rukmini Rasaih, Swami Chidananda and Padmarani are the pillars of Fine Arts Society  and they make it happen every year come what may be.  A service oriented venture commissioned by Swamiji has served the purpose with which Swamiji annunciated the three ‘D’ formula - discipline, devotion & dedication.  
Twenty-five camps in sixteen years have influenced almost a thousand students and they in turn have inspired thousands more to understand the values of classical Indian art and culture.  The service of Yogaville Fine Arts society and the Dhananjayans is certainly an influencing factor in Indo-American cultural relationship. As guru Dhananjayan says, ‘The NRI (non resident Indian) children are no more a brand of confused Desis, but are confirmed Desis.’  

The 2005 Naatya Adhyayana Gurukulam Camp is already scheduled to commence on July10th to 30th and 1st to 14th August.