SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Sarvesam Santir Bhavatu (Peace in all): Bharatanatyam Dance Performance for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Pic: Srinidhi Raghavan (USA)

Date: 29 November 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 29 November 2019Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of

Type of Event: Performance

Click here to purchase ticket. 

Front row: £15, standard: £12, concession £8 (students with ID)

Artists: Srinidhi Raghavan (New York), Anisha Kalyanswamy (Los Angeles), Anjelli Wignakumar (Imperial College), Krishalini Manimuthu (UK)  

Dancers: Shloka Maradani, Rema Madhusudan, Thuvaraga Arulampalam Niharigah 

Choreography and Direction: Usha Raghavan (Director, Kalasagara UK)  

Introduction: Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SSAI)


Honouring Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary this year, SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) hosts artistic events exploring the theme of peace, non-violence and freedom. The last one in the series of collaboration with international artists, a six-act thematic performance in Bharatanatyam, directed by Usha Raghavan, the Founder Director of Kalasagara UK will take place exploring the nuanced concepts of truth embodied in India’s textual and oral traditions that inspired Gandhi’s philosophy and his own pursuit of truth ‘Satyagraha’.

The story of King Dasaratha, who sought the right paths is performed by Srinidhi Raghavan with an emotive rendering of Voices in the form of omnipresent truth-seekers who hear the whispers in the wind, cries from the heart and screaming truths, while others succumb to fear and choose a less honourable path. The second act on Bhagavad Gita, closely followed by Mahatma Gandhi capturing the well-known dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna is performed by Srinidhi and Anjelli. The third act dwells on the spiritual composition of Tulsidas’ Bhajan based on Lord Rama, of whom Gandhi was a devotee. The fourth act breaks into a dramatic storyline on ‘Freedom Struggle’ explicating the concept of faith in the freedom of individuals. The fifth act comprises a Tamil song Santhi Nilava Vendum by Sethumadhava Rao demonstrates Gandhian values and ends with a concluding composition of a prayer on peace, Bhumi Mangalam: May there be peace on earth, water, fire, and air, the sun, moon, and planet, in all living beings, in body, mind and heart. May peace be everywhere and in everyone.

The six acts presented in the South Indian classical dance form Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest forms of Indian dance drawing from 2000 years old Sanskrit Hindu text ‘Natya Shastra’ of Bharat Muni. The word ‘Bharata’ in the dance tradition is an acronym constituting ‘Bha’ for ‘Bhava’ or expression, ‘Ra’ for ‘Raga’ or melody and ‘Ta’ for ‘Tala’ or rhythm. Combining these three elements, Bharatanatyam demonstrates grandeur and spiritual essence rooted in sculpted poses, intricate footwork and hand gestures, poise and emphatic expressions intensifying the corporeal and mental encounter with Truth.

Srinidhi Raghavan as a lead performer was exposed to Bharatanatyam early on, by her mother and guru, Usha Raghavan, and Malathy Thothadri at the tender age of four. An international dancer, she is known for her "precise nritta and apt abhinaya" (The Hindu), innovative choreographies and original works which explore contemporary themes. She has several highly praised co-productions that went on the global tour including Her Story (2009), a dance drama on unconditional love; The Mirror on gender bias, mental health and displacement; and an original production Voices (2016) was critically acclaimed in the UK, US and European tours.

Guru Usha Raghavan who directs and conducts the performance was trained by eminent gurus Sri Adayar K. Lakshmanan and Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan. Raghavan has gained the reputation as a teacher of exemplary talent with world-class performances before distinguished political dignitaries and is invited to perform for global festivals and organisations such as Chennai December Festivals, UNESCO, World Tourism Day among others.

The performance will be followed by a Q & A

Accompanists include narration, vocal, percussion, flute, veena and violin.

Recorded Music: Carnatic, Hindustani and semi-classical

Languages: Sanskrit (Original lyrics from Valmiki Ramayanam), Hindi and Tamil.

Organiser: Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SSAI) in association with Kalasagara UK (est.1972 in Madras/Chennai)

Contact email: +44 (0)20 7898 4390