In 2022, I started writing a series of posts on Gurus who Believe. This is my second post in this series. This post is about Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna, Deputy Director of RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya) India. Read part 1 of Gurus who Believe here.
Thank you Morpheus Nag for your beautiful picture of Ramana Maharshi.
I learn drama from Poorna akka. She coached me in both plays that I have done in RASA. I am looking forward to the next RASA day event with her. Here is a picture from Krishna Dootham that I performed under her guidance recently.
Poorna akka teaches group classes at RASA. I sent her six questions I want to share her responses to these questions.
- When did you start participating in RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya) activities?
RASA has been a part of my life since the age of 2. On my 3rd birthday party I remember doing some dance adavus (movements) along with my good friend who is a neurodivergent achiever. From the age of 5 I started interacting with many such achiever’s and they have been a part of my growing up years. I have participated in many summer camps of TAHD conducted by RASA in my school days and have also participated in “integrative numbers” where neurotypical kids and neurodivergent kids perform together.
- How have Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings influenced your work and life?
Ramana is my breath. He is my everything. My very core existence is Ramana. Ramana teachings also has been a part of my life since my birth. In my school days I used to spend the summer holidays in Bangalore where they would conduct value education programmes though the teachings of the Maharshi . I have been a part of it. Additionally I have participated in many dance dramas since the age of 5 and have had opportunities to sing for recordings and live programmes too.
- How do you use Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) to teach children and adults with different abilities?
Theatre is miniature real life. We take real life challenges and situations and teach them how to handle it with ease.
For example, If a child has to learn to fill a mug full of water, in our conventional way we just instruct the child or teach them by physical and verbal prompting. But, if we use the methodology of TAHD, we can compose a song.
Let us learn let us learn let us learn to stretch our hand ..
Let us learn let us learn let us learn to touch the mug
Let us learn let us learn let us learn to grasp
Release .. grasp,,, release .. lift!
This can be done in stages through song .
- How do you use TAHD to teach Indian Culture and Heritage classes?
Our country is so rich in its culture and heritage , and it is our duty to teach the future generation about it. According to me the solutions to all problems of life can be found in the puranas and epics. So we can learn problem solving, conflict management, group dynamics, and other moral values through the stories of our mythology. Teaching these stories with the additional tools of drama and dance helps the retention factor at a high quotient in the child .
5.What is your role as Deputy Director of RASA?
I would like to take TAHD to all parents, students, artistes, psychologists , and therapists as it is such a wonderful tool to transform ourselves and the people around us. We are planning on different kinds of modules for each group to bring out the best potential.
- What advice do you have for neurodivergent learners and their parents?
In this day and age of running all the time to complete daily tasks we forget to Enjoy each moment to the fullest. Parents and children – pause , breathe and smile ! All your goals will be achieved .
Poorna akka also shared her experiences with TAHD and how TAHD helped her learn:
When I was in my 3rd Standard, I had to write a test on the parts of a plant. It was very difficult for me to memorise the botanical terms. Therefore, Dr. Ambika Kameshwar guided me to adopt the method of Role Play in THD. I learnt the parts of the plant like follows:
I am a Plant
I have roots which go deep into the soil
And I have shoots whch go high up reaching the sun
The roots provide the nutrients for me and shoots absorb the sunlight for my life.
My leaves are green in colour and my friend chlorophyll provides me the green colour.
So on and so forth
b. For my X Standard Chemistry Exam, I recorded the whole session on to a cassette and kept on listening to it. This is also a method of TAHD. I was able to retain what I heard better than when I had to read.
Therefore, TAHD is a magical and wonderful methodology for any individual.
Thank you Poorna akka for sharing your experiences and insights. Learn more about RASA here.