Dancer Reshmi Pathiyath - Art for Life's Sake!

Reshmi Pathiyath was happy to tell me that she has inherited the interest in art and dance from her mother Mrs. Ramadevi Pathiyath. She has left her corporate job in the UAE and has chosen dance as her career. Or did the dance choose her? She shared her story by stating a saying, “It’s not that we choose art. Art chooses us.” She started teaching dance in Sharjah as service at the residence of her spiritual Guru Upanand Prbhu. Later it got established as Athari Fine Arts, a center to promote Indian Arts & Culture. The major drive force behind the initiative is to bring social and global harmony through dance.

Reshmi Pathiyath is working to break the notion that art and poverty are always together. “In ancient India, Devadasis had high honor in the society. They were not just dancers, but expert mathematicians, astronomers, astrologers, musicians and most respectedly the devotees of god. The objective of the devadasis is to service the temple and in turn bring harmony to the world. But the repeated invasion over India had corrupted the divine system and India, and in the process had lost its aesthetics. India's Classical dances had undergone vast struggle to come up from its degraded to the reformed stage what we see today. In the struggle few had survived, while few had vanished.”

Reshmi Pathiyath learned Bharatanatyam from P. Palaniappan Master at a very young age. She also has a 'Prabakar' from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Alahabad (estd. 1929). She was further trained by Mrs. Satyavalli Ramalingam and is now under the guidance of Guru Dr. Padmaja Suresh. She added, "learning dance is a never ending journey. Dance actualizes us. We become a better version of ourselves every day. Dance makes us more calm, composed and satvik altogether. Dance is an unconscious yoga.”

The name Athari has a very interesting insight into it. Reshmi Pathiyath said, “Aadhara was the initially intended name for the school. It denotes ‘thiruvathira’, the star of Lord Shiva. Fortunately by the end of the evaluation, the name sanctioned for us was ‘At hari’. We felt the blessing of Lord Hari, and so we considered it god-given. A dancer and devotion are inseparable as the devotion involves singing, dancing and feasting. That is why the dancer is always said to be in the realm of devotion.”

The dance concept of Geeta Govindam framed by Reshmi Pathiyath along with the dancer Gaura Natraj Das conveyed the story of the 'soul' and the 'divine' to the audience. In the words of Reshmi Pathiyath, “Dance should be backed up with the stories of Indian epics and history. That will help the future dancers to reproduce the same in their dance. Our India is rich with our culture and art forms are a very important fraction of it. Every school should have art, mythology and epics as a compulsory part of their curriculum. Every child should get to opt for one art form or the other. I think art and dance are the right media to promote global harmony.”

“Our culture and our classical dance are closely related. When I went to Bali, every house had a temple, every street had a temple, every street was divided into clusters that had a temple, every district had a main temple. Every activity of the city is connected with the temple. They have crafted their culture in such a way that it speaks for itself. India had a similar cultural structure which was destroyed by the invaders and colonizers. The culture and traditional art forms has to be brought back.”

On March 8th 2022, Reshmi Pathiyath directed “The world's shortest Women only Motivational Motion Film” featuring maximum number of women in less duration and won the International Book of Records. The film spoke about how general women can think differently and contribute to society. “The contribution can be big or small, yet it counts”. Her future works include a documentary on Perur Patteeswarar Temple.

Reshmi Pathiyath mentioned the name of her guru, P Palaniyappan master, in every possible sentence she spoke. The book A path untrodden - Life of an unsung artist, about her Guru P Palaniappan will see an online launch in July 2022. Reshmi Pathiyath stated that, “The book would reveal the greatness of my guru and what kind of a personality he was. The ideologies that masters implanted on his students would never fade away. In my memory Master ji always did a service oriented teaching. I always admired his attitude towards work without compromising quality. I wish to travel down the same path master took. This book is my Guru Dakshina as my master is no more with us.” She also shared her experiences with Guru P Palaniappan to us. He is a person who learned with his life as the curriculum and his experiences as the syllabus.

“Master’s grandson Shri. Karthik Venkateshan visited me seeking guidance for his college project. I helped him draft a proposal which impressed the professor who evaluated it. Later he suggested the idea of making a book on P. Palaniappan master. That's where the initial motivation came from.”

I was intrigued when Reshmi Pathiyath shared an incident that happened during the making of the book. “Writing the story of the Palaniappan master was a divine deliverance. While I was researching the master’s childhood, I was informed by one of the senior students of the master that Kamaludeen Bailwan must have helped the master to go to Tanjore. That was all the information given. I had no clue about Kamaludeen Bailwan or the childhood of the master. I intuitively wrote the entire childhood of the master. Later, when Shri. Karthik Venkateshan narrated the gathered story to me, I showed him what I had typed and he was full of shock. I would call it nothing less than a miracle and master's blessing."

"I would like to thank Shri. Karthik Venkateshan, Smt. Aruna Subramaniam, Smt. Meenakshi Subramaniam, Shri. Vikas Achutha Ramaiya, Shri. Chandrakumari Achutha Ramaiya and all other student of Palaniappan master for helping me with stories and sources with which I was able to complete this memoir.”

"Everyone would face a time in their life, where the uncertainty strikes. Those are the times we need gurus to guide us through life and to teach us how to make the most of it. Dr. Padmaja Suresh was one such person in my life. I should thank her at this time for her support and guidance. I feel so blessed to be under her."

Dance is a language that expresses, communicates, teaches, and touches the human soul. Reshmi Pathiyath has taken up a journey to make the world a better place, to touch souls and to bring social harmony through the pursuit of dance. wishes her a grand success in every endeavor she takes up. 

Vigneshvaran is the special correspondent of the company. He is a graduate of English Literature who shows great interest in analyzing various practices followed in Sanatana dharma. He is a practical person with a curiosity to learn everything by experiencing. He is also a staunch nationalist and writes poems both in English and Tamil. Vignesh also is an excellent orator.