“A breath of recent air, clear, incisive and invigorating.” That is what Rai Krishnadasa, Honorary Director of Bharat Kala Bhavan at Benares, wrote in his foreword to Kapila Vatsyayan’s 1968 guide Classical Indian Dance in Literature and the Arts.
The magnum opus was the primary complete research by an Indian scholar of the synergies between classical dance, literature, and sculpture. A path-breaking work, it has since guided all analysis students with its thorough methodology, its research of the Natyashastra, of archeology and structure, and its easy bridging of the humanities, of thought and creativeness.
This Wednesday, the creator of this magnificent compendium handed away peacefully on the age of 91 in her New Delhi dwelling.
Her loss of life marks the tip of an incomparable saga of analysis that positioned Kapila firmly within the league of famend artwork students resembling Stella Kramrisch, Alice Boner, Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy and Dr. V. Raghavan.
Armed with an MA in English from the College of Delhi, an MA in Training from the College of Michigan, and a Ph.D from Banaras Hindu College, Kapila effortlessly mixed theoretical data with in depth observe. Kapila had spent her youth in Shantiniketan, immersing herself in literature, portray, music and dance. Later a disciple of artwork scholar Pandit Vasudev Sharan Agrawal, she additionally studied Kathak from the legendary Achhan Maharaj, Manipuri from Guru Amubi Singh, and Bharatanatyam from Guru Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. Having thus deeply skilled the observe of aesthetics or rasa, she was capable of imbue her scholarship with it, going past the standard understanding of rasa as temper and evocation to establishing it as a state of being.
Distinguished among the many dozens of volumes of scholarship she produced are Traditions of Indian Folks Dance (1976), The Sq. and the Circle of Indian Arts (1983), and Bharata: The Natya Sastra (1996).
Kapila’s fastidious nature, sharp mind and uncompromising angle made her an ready administrator and establishment builder. She labored intently with Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay, Jawaharlal Lal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Dr. Radhakrishnan, changing into the administration’s nodal centre for cultural affairs.
She established the Centre for Cultural Assets and Coaching, conceptualised the Indira Gandhi Nationwide Centre for the Arts, and was Vice-President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. She was president of India Worldwide Centre and chairperson of Asiatic Worldwide Analysis Division. As further secretary within the Division of Training, she was a part of the method of creating the three Akademis: Sangeet Natak, Lalilt Kala and Sahitya Akademi. She was additionally nominated twice to the Rajya Sabha.
At IGNCA, she held a number of seminal exhibitions, outstanding amongst them Kham, Akara and Kaal (1986 to 1991), which mapped time and area throughout civilizations and artwork types. And the innumerable publication programmes and video interviews she spearheaded for IGNCA is a superb legacy, archiving conventional, philosophical, non secular and speculative ideas across the arts.
Kapila guided me as a younger critic as she did each scholar who approached her, and I bear in mind her enthusiastic help once I curated Uday Shankar’s centenary exhibition at IGNCA. Not simply me, however all the fraternity was assured of receiving her steering on any venture.
Honoured with the Padma Shri, the Padma Vibhushan, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and a number of other different nationwide and worldwide awards, her biography, Afloat a Lotus Leaf, was written by Jyoti Sabharwal.
If one needed to decide a single thread of her work, it might be her interdisciplinary strategy to the humanities. To reach at her aesthetic theories of dance she utilized the research of literature, sculpture, portray, music and theatre. Her profound curiosity in classical dances led her to a deep research of folks, rural and tribal dances.
She noticed the classical, the people, and the modern as being with out dichotomies and as equally legitimate manifestations of creativity and creativeness. This made her uniquely capable of stride the classical and fashionable worlds with equal confidence. She as soon as stated in an interview: “I didn’t go to fashionable dance from fashionable dance, however from custom.”
She studied the physicality of dance, distinguishing between the Western custom of eager consciousness of the physique and the Asian custom of transcending the physique; between Western dance’s aspiration to fly above the earth to Asian dance’s deeply-grounded embrace of the earth. And he or she did so with out dropping sight of their synergies. As she stated in an interview, “I acquired the essence of every of those traditions with out being sure by the conventions of those traditions. I turned an unbounded bounded particular person.”
With a lifetime spent researching, exploring and re-interpreting the outstanding complexities of Indian tradition, Kapila’s energy lay in with the ability to make this research futuristic, realising the current whereas defending it from descending right into a mere obsession with the previous.
In her passing, the world of dance and tradition sees the tip of an period of catholic scholarship that was deeply enthusiastic about and invested in Indian tradition whereas nonetheless being to fly above all of it.