Sampada Pillai’s Website

Guru Pandita Dr. Rohini Bhate

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

To be introduced as a Kathak dancer gives me immense joy and pride. I have trained in Kathak for so many years now that I have stopped counting! The learning never ends! 

By Sampada Pillai

As eager young kids, we would hear about ‘Baby tai’ from our Guru. All we knew was that Baby tai was a great Guru and a brilliant Kathak exponent. We never actually had an opportunity of meeting her or seeing her perform. I vaguely remember one Guru Poornima celebration in Pune where we made a special trip from Goa. I was mesmerized by all the dancers trained by Baby tai and I thought ‘WOW !!’, ‘Will I ever be able to achieve that?’ We returned to Goa and practiced very hard inspired by this Pune trip. Its only in 2003 that I actually had this phenomenal experience of learning under a great Guru. It was a long wait….. I made Pune my city and was fortunate and blessed to have been promoted to her class. But wait! Who is Baby tai? Her disciples refer to her fondly with the name – ‘Baby tai’. To the Kathak circle the name needs no introduction. She is the renowned Kathak Exponent and Guru – Pandita Dr. Rohini Bhate and 14th November is her Birth Anniversary. On this occasion, I endeavour to bring forth to you what a great artiste and Guru she was and will be.

Guru Pandita Dr. Rohini Bhate was born on 14th November 1924. She was an eminent Kathak danseuse and Kathak Guru. Her expertise however was not limited only to Kathak. She was also a scholar, an accomplished Hindustani classical vocalist and music director. She founded the Nrityabharati Kathak Dance Academy in the year 1947 at Pune. Maharashtra had no history of classical dances although it has a rich tradition in theatre, folk dances and Hindustani classical music. Guru Rohini ji was instrumental in bringing Kathak to this region and sowing the seed so deeply that it has blossomed and branched out towards every corner of the state. Pune is now prominent on the cultural map, all thanks to her endless efforts.

Guru Rohini ji came from a middle class family of Brahmins and was initially trained in Bharatanatyam. Later she received training in Kathak from the legends themselves! Guru Lacchu Maharaj ji of the Lucknow gharana and Guru Mohanrao Kalyanpurkar ji of the Jaipur gharana. They are the doyens of their respective gharanas! Guru Rohini ji travelled extensively between Pune and Lucknow for her love towards Kathak. Her perseverance, hardwork, focus and passion knows no bounds. During our lessons with her, when she shared her experiences, I felt that how can one become like her? So much hard-work, so many sacrifices…..Perhaps that is why we have the term exceptional beings….We can never become like them. 

Guru Rohini ji enhanced and enriched the Kathak repertoire with timeless compositions. Once you learn them or see a performance by her disciples you will understand her flair for the adaptation of the oral tradition, her deep knowledge and understanding of the Kathak technique and aesthetics of the talas and her novel approach towards Abhinaya. Most of the times, she composed her own ‘sahitya’ (text) and music for her choreographies. She wrote numerous papers and her contributions towards the Kathak curriculum are sought by various Universities. She has served on the Advisory committees of Kathak Kendra New Delhi and Khairahgarh University to name a few. Guru Rohini ji has authored four books in Marathi and one in Hindi. Laheja, Mazhi Nrutya Sadhana, Mee Isadora and Darpani Pahata all in Marathi and Kathakdarpandeepika in Hindi.


She has been conferred with numerous awards such the Maharashtra State Puraskar (1977), Sangeet Natak Academi Puraskar ( 1979), Nrityavilas, Sur Singar Parishad, Mumbai (1980), Nrityagandha, Ganawardhan, Pune (1982), Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990), Godavari Gaurav Puraskar by Kusumagraj Pratishthan Nashik (1994), Pride of Pune, Residency Club of Pune (1995), Sangitshri, Janasammohini Foundation, Pune (1996), Emeritus Fellowship, Government of India (1997), Kalidas Sanman by Govt of Madhya Pradesh (1997), Jeevan Sadhana Gaurav Puraskar by Pune Vidyapeeth (1999), Vasundhra Pandit Puraskar, Vasundhara Pandit Pratishtan, Pune (2003), Doctorate in Literature [D. Lit] by Deccan College, Pune (2004), Ratna Puraskar by Sangeet Natak Akademi (2006). 


Guru Rohini ji taught us to never aim for awards and recognition. She urged us to dance, to practice selflessly, to honour our commitment towards the art and to never give up on ourselves. She not only inspired us in our professional lives but in our personal lives as well. Her philosophy towards life is reflected in her dance and her choreographies. She was a strict disciplinarian and gave utmost importance to details. She asked us to strive for perfection in anything that we chose to do. Even when it came to sweeping our classroom!! 

To be introduced as a Kathak dancer gives me immense joy and pride. I have trained in Kathak for so many years now that I have stopped counting! The learning never ends! 

Her work in the field of Kathak is tremendous and extensive with a deep thought and analysis behind every composition. A novice like me is in no position to put forth a critical acclaim of her work. I have no credentials to do such a thing however I only hope to make you aware of her greatness. Guru Rohini ji has to her credit fifteen dance-dramas and choreographies. Her ballet choreographies include Malhar, Zelmache Ashru, Usha Sukta, Nrutya Gopal, Parjanya Sukta, Rutusamhar, Bindakahe, Udgar, Samay, Pawas, Maun, Tanmatra and Udaan. Apart from these there are a host of rhythmic compositions and choreographies in the technical aspect of Kathak such as Roop Kathak, Tarang, Triveni to name a few as well as in the abhinaya aspect which include a number of vandanas, thumris, dohas and gats. 

 

Its a rare opportunity to see such a great Guru. To meet her and be under her tutelage for six years is a blessing for a lifetime. Baby tai (as we fondly call her), passed away on October 10, 2008 at the age of 83. She left behind her a legacy in Kathak which we, her disciples will always strive to protect and extend towards the society.

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Nullam scelerisque erat nisl, eu aliquet quam porttitor et. Aliquam molestie sem augue, non egestas nunc sagittis in. Suspendisse vehicula turpis eget leo sollicitudin, dapibus commodo massa facilisis.

“Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.Aenean non turpis vitae ligula tristique sagittis. Cras varius erat pulvinar eros pretium suscipit. Duis eleifend sit amet sapien sed ultricies.”

Ut ac tortor eget nibh condimentum congue. In facilisis porttitor iaculis. Etiam vestibulum, nisl nec molestie egestas, velit lorem venenatis tellus, pellentesque blandit nulla sapien accumsan velit. Vivamus purus nunc, dictum nec elit viverra, semper iaculis risus.