The Story of Vivekananda – The TAHD Way

RASA Day 2023

RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya) teaches theater arts to individuals with different abilities. They use the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, founder of RASA. I have been learning theater arts with RASA since 2020.

This is my second performance for RASA Day and my third drama performance with the Ramana Sunritya Aalaya (RASA) theater group. The previous two plays (Jatayu Moksham and Krihna Dootam) were in Tamil. But this play is in English with a Hindi song!

Thank You CreativeSaathi Morpheus Nag for the beautiful portrait of Swami Vivekananda.

Now, I am familiar with how RASA theater productions work. When I did my first play, it was much harder because I had no idea how the process worked. I also did not know anyone in

RASA. I was an online student and had not met other students. But now I go to RASA and know many of the students there.

I enjoyed RASA Day 2023. I liked hanging out with my RASA group before the performance. I also met people from the Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning (RMCL) group. When I was with the RASA group waiting for the show, teachers from RMCL also came and said hello to everyone. I was also happy that my two grandmothers, aunt, and my mother’s cousin’s family attended the event. Some of my relatives watched the performance by livestream.

Watch the recording of RASA Day 2023. My play Swami Vivekananda starts at 2 hours and 1minute into the video.

Preparing for the performance

My aunt volunteers at the Ramakrishna Math. As soon as she knew that I was going to participate in this theater production, she got me some books about Swami Vivekananda.

I started reading the books. I also watched a video of a prior performance. I listened to the audio and learned my parts.

Imitate, Repeat, Memorize, and Improvise

This is my third drama performance. In each performance, we follow the imitate, repeat, memorize, and improvise process.

Imitate: We learn by imitating Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna, our drama teacher. We have to learn how to position ourselves on stage, how to coordinate movements with other students, and how to coordinate movements with music. We learn these elements through imitation.

Repeat: I repeat my part daily with the video. My mother helps me practice at home. Sometimes, she stands in the place of other characters to help me practice.

Memorize: As I practice, I memorize my part. I check and make sure I remember my part completely.

Improvise: Even if you are well-prepared, we have to be prepared to improvise! Things don’t go exactly as planned on stage.

Swami Vivekananda and Ramana Maharshi

Since I learn about Ramana Maharshi in my dance classes, I am curious about Swami Vivekananda and Ramana Maharshi. How were they similar? How were they different?

100 Days of Reading

After finishing this performance, I will be starting a 100 Days of Reading project. During this project, I plan to read about Ramana Maharshi and Swami Vivekananda. I also want to read the Ramayana and Mahabharata since my previous performances were from Ramayana and Mahabharatha. I will start my reading from what I have learned through Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) experiences. First, I will finish reading the books on Swami Vivekananda that I started during the play.


Ray I. 2006. The Story of Vivekananda. Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata 700013. ISBN 978-81-85301-65-5

Swami Raghaveshananda. 2022. Swami Vivekananda Pictorial. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai,

Theater arts is not just about performances. Once you know the tools of TAHD, you can use them in many ways. For example, I am planning to use my TAHD experiences to enrich my reading experiences. As mentioned earlier, interactions with family member and community. To learn more, join our group here.

Author Ananth Raghunandan



The Changemakersaathi story of Dr.Ambika Kameshwar Founder-Director RASA

Dear community members,

We feel honored and privileged to announce our February changemakersaathi story, featuring the renowned danseuse, vocalist, scholar, and teacher, Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. She is a true artist with international acclaim, who has shared her art with people all over the world.

With over 50 choreographed dance dramas and 10 complete Bharatanatyam Margams, Dr. Kameshwar is a true master of classical dance. As a music composer, she has composed music for several dance dramas and devotional albums, making her a well-rounded artist.

Join us in celebrating the work of Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, a true changemaker in the world of classical dance and music. Let her story inspire you to pursue your passions and make a positive impact in our community. Presenting “Margdarshi- The story of Dr.Ambika Kameshwar “

Ramana Sunritya Aalaya
Kalaimamani Dr. Ambika Kameshwar is a noted danseuse, vocalist, scholar and teacher of international acclaim who has travelled the world sharing her art with all. She is a choreographer who has choreographed over 50 dance dramas and more than 10 complete Bharatanatyam Margams. As a music composer, she has composed music for over 50 dance dramas and several devotional albums as well. She is a loved and respected teacher of classical dance and music and is well known for her ‘pattu class’ on Raj Tv and earlier on Jaya tv.

Dr.Ambika is held by all in high regard as the Pioneer of Applying Theatre Arts as a tool of Holistic Development for people with multiple challenges.

Her Ph.D. was on Natyabhinaya and she did her Post Doctoral Fellowship on the Application of Natya as a holistic developmental tool, as a Senior Fellow of the Govt. of India. She guides PhD Scholars as a registered Guide of scholars pursuing their Doctorate degree at Vel’s University, Pallavaram, Chennai.

Her dance and music career spans 50 years and her teaching career, 35 years.

“Dr. Ambika is fortunate and blessed to have imbibed and experienced the richness of spirituality, the joy and strength of which she expresses continually in all spheres of life”.

She served as a Member of the Advisory Board of PRASAR BHARTI & of SOUTH ZONE CULTURAL CENTRE till 2010, and as a Board Member of The KALAKSHETRA Foundation till December 2013.

She is the Founder Director of RASA – Ramana Sunritya Aalaya the organisation through which she fosters the holistic empowerment of one and all – with the inclusion of people with diff abilities – by the structured application of Theatre Arts and its tools.

She has been honoured with several awards, including the highest award of the Rotary – namely the ‘For The Sake Of Honour ‘Award, the Bharata Kala Ratna, Stree Ratna, Acharya Choodamani and the prestigious Kalaimamani Award for the year 2004 by the Tamil Nadu State Government., to mention a few.

Team RASA takes immense pleasure to inform that our Founder, Director Dr Ambika Kameshwar has been awarded the “Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J Jayalalitha Sirappu” Kalaimamani award from Honble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Mr Edappadi Palanisamy and Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram.

She had received the Kalaimamani Award in the year 2004 from Dr. J. Jayalalitha.

Story source:-

Video source- RASA India

Creative representation for the ChangemakerSaathi story of Dr.Ambika Kameshwar is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Dhrov Tikoo


Narrating Stories with Hand Gestures

This blog post describes Ananth’s storytelling with hand gestures project under the guidance of Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh, senior faculty and artist of the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bengaluru.  More posts will be added in the future.  Parents and teachers can use these short segments to create lessons for children and teens.  Blog posts will provide lesson ideas for each story.

On December 2, 2022, Ananth shared his first story using hand gestures. This story included one hasta (hand gesture) from Bharatanatyam (mayura hasta) and other gestures. A short snippet of music to demonstrate the gesture was used as a prelude to the story.

In January, Ananth shared another story that used hand gestures. This story included another hasta (hand gesture) from Bharatanatyam (kartari mukha hasta) and other gestures. Again, short snippet of music to demonstrate the gesture was used as a prelude to the story.

Watch the video below for an explanation of how these stories and music pieces were created under the guidance of Dr. Sarada Natarajan, President of the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bengaluru to teach students about the hand gestures as well as their usage. The video also explains RMCL’s perspective on Bharatanatyam.

The library of music and stories has been a tremendous resource for Ananth’s learning. It is easy for his teacher to provide snippets of stories to practice. These small segments integrate important Bharatanatyam skills while integrating other tools of theater such as storytelling. It is also motivating for Ananth to practice the hand gestures and stories to create videos for the community. These projects enable focused practice and have meaningful outputs. See the storytelling playlist here.

Dear parents and educators, Watch the videos and develop lesson plans for your students. Share your experiences in SpecialSaathi group or in the LIFESMART Parenting group on Facebook!

Author Dr.Dasaratha Rama

Creative representation of this blog is done by supertalented CreativeSaathi associate Dhairya Kumar Pal.


We are what we practice!

We are inundated with information. We get a lot of information daily. We have blogs, groups, webinars, and many other ways of acquiring information. But what are you practicing daily? Regardless of the information that we get, learning happens through practice.

Information is not equal to learning!

A lot of information does not make you more knowledgeable or more skilled! It may even get in the way of becoming knowledgeable and skilled.

In 2023, we are focusing on improving our methods for practicing. We are paying attention to the tools and techniques we are using to organize practice.

Our first and most successful effort is organizing dance practice. Thank you Vinayak Raj and Jaya Mulraj for this colorful picture of a dancer!

Smile Brightly and Dance

  1. We have started a 100-Day Smile Brightly and Dance project. While practice is an ongoing daily activity, creating a timed project (100-Day project) is useful. We set and refine goals for this project. We track progress. The key outcome for this 100-Day project is improvement in our daily practice routines and habits.
  2. We have created a Wakelet to organize practice.
  3. We are working with Ananth’s teacher, Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh of the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, to create resources in way that makes it easy to organize practice. Since December, Ujwal has been creating short 3-5 minute videos. We are compiling these videos in Wakelet. We choose videos and practice with ease!
  4. We are adding information about what we practice daily to our practice Wakelet.

Review our Wakelet here to see how we are organizing and documenting daily practice. You can use some of these resources to do your own 100 Days of Smile Brightly and Learn project!

Once we developed a clear practice approach for dance, we started replicating the same approach for coding and other activities.

Tip of the Week: Set clear practice goals for yourself and your child. Do not just think about making your child practice. There are many things that parents have to practice to become better guides and advocates for their child. What are you practicing daily?

Our Journey to Bharata through Natya

I started referring to Ananth’s journey as A Journey to Bharat through Natya. Later, I realized that it is my journey too. I started tuning into mindful practice with Bharatanatyam. I was fascinated by how instruction was organized around aduvus, structured movement patterns that are the building blocks of Bharatanatyam. The building blocks of teaching and learning are well-specified in Bharatanatyam. Hence, it is not surprising that the first process that fell into place for practice for us was Bharatanatyam. We are grateful to Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh for following this basic structure and working with us to create short videos as building blocks of our daily practice.

Announcing our New YouTube Channel: Ananth’s Adventures

Ananth’s Adventures will be used to share small daily explorations that Ananth and I do. Our focus will be on improving practice. We will do a series of 100-Day projects to continuously improve how we practice. Watch our first video on Ananth’s Adventures Channel below!

Smile Brightly and Dance: Practicing Pada Beda (Movements of the Feet) with Ananth

Rama’s Notes on the Video

A new phase in Ananth and mom’s theater explorations! Ananth has learned Bharatanatyam for over 10 years. Rama has observed and given suggestions to Ananth from time to time. We have acted together for many years. Ananth enjoys acting Ananth and mom stories. Now, Ananth is immersed in varied theater experiences through RASA. He is exploring dance from a Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) perspective. Rama is doing a parent certification in TAHD. We are exploring theater a bit differently now.

I am #notadancer and not aspiring to be a dancer! But TAHD approach is relaxing. I would feel more intimidated by traditional Bharatanatyam that I would have to be perfect in the movements etc.

The Four Es of TAHD

Exploration, Experience, Expression, Enjoyment

Ananth and I are having fun trying out some things together. I feel free to express myself. While following what was taught, if I forget something, no worries. Make something up 🙂 The point is to explore together and create a positive experience!


  1. Ananth’s teacher, Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh of the Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bengaluru, emphasizes smiling while dancing. But it is hard for Ananth to practice smiling in front of a computer screen. So I started doing the basics with him.
  2. I don’t get enough time for exercise. We walk daily, I have started yoga, the aduvus add a bit more movement into my life.
  3. I keep saying don’t just make your kids do things. Do things with them. Action is better than talk. So Ananth and I can just demonstrate this in action through our new channel.
  4. I think TAHD has great potential to enhance the quality of interactions between parent and child. Hopefully, when parents see our video, they will get a glimpse of possibilities.
  5. I don’t want to just say do TAHD, it can really help your child. I believe people respond more to action than words.
  6. As a teacher, I am intrigued and fascinated by aduvus. What an elegant way of organizing teaching and learning! So I have an interest in aduvus.
  7. The 100-Day project format also increases my comfort level. I have committed to a 100-Day exploration of aduvus with Ananth.
  8. There are many small movement videos in our Smile Brightly and Dance Wakelet. Any parent can pick up some and try. Hopefully, if we share a few explorations, it will motivate others to try.
  9. Ujwal has started including simpler versions of the aduvus and telling Ananth “let us do this simple one so you can practice with amma.” So hopefully Ananth gets the message that he can teach something to others as well! It also means that the videos in our Smile Brightly and Dance Wakelet are easier versions for parents to try a little at a time.

10. Finally, remember that you are not here to fix your child. Your child has their own path. They might well lead you to change your path! I am an engineer and an academic. The sum total of my dance experience is one folk song I did while in college 🙂 We can always try new things and enjoy. #happiestsaathis

Practicing Coordinated Movement

Analyze the coordinated movement in the video above.

Consider related movements: 1) setting up the IPAD for recording and laptop for playing music, 2) setting up IPAD so both are visible, moving nearer or farther way, 3) coordinating (I will play the video, you start recording), 4) stopping the IPAD and laptop.

To create this short clip, we had to do quite a bit of coordination!

Sitting tolerance or engaging through movement? What should parents focus on?

Parenting and Perfection

Finally, I was thinking parenting and perfection may be on the opposite sides! As a parent, there is much to gain by quickly adding to my movement vocabulary and improvise while interacting with my child. If I were aspiring to be a dancer, then I would go much slower to develop each movement to perfection…

Think about all the different foot, hand, face/eyes and other movements in this short clip. As parents, we are free to just play with these movements.

Thanks Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, Vaishnavi Poorna Ujwal Jagadeesh Hopefully, we will get more parents trying TAHD and benefiting from RASA’s work over the years.


Gurus who Believe – 2: Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna

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.

Artwork by Morpheus Nag

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 .

  1. 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.

  1. 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.