Thursday, July 3, 2014
Kalakshetra was founded in 1936, in part as an extension of the founders' belief that Theosophy should be extended through an academy for training students in traditional arts. With all the founders belonging to the Theosophical Society at Adyar, it was the easiest thing for them to have the academy function out of the Society's premises. One of the members of the academy, Pandit Subramania Sastri, suggested the name "Kalakshetra", meaning "Holy place of the Arts".
The academy grew. Rukmini Devi Arundale, the prime mover behind the academy, had personally trained many of the initial batches of students and continued to drive the courses at the academy for many years. In 1951, the academy began developing its own premises at Thiruvanmiyur, a short distance away from the Theosophical Society. Fittingly, the development started with the planting of a sapling from the great banyan of the Theosophical Society in the newly acquired land.
The land expanded to nearly 100 acres. The sapling has grown into a large tree. The academy has grown to become the Kalakshetra Foundation, bringing into its fold five distinct institutions - the College of Fine Arts, the Craft Education and Research Centre, the Besant Arundale Theosophical Senior Secondary and High Schools and the Besant Cultural Centre Hostel. In 1993, the Foundation was taken over by the Government of India and declared an institution of National Importance. Here's to the institution growing further and spreading wide, like the sapling seems to be doing!