Dhananjayan says he feels blessed to have had the right influences that impact happiness at different times in his life. First, he is grateful that his father, a school teacher, instilled in him the value of ‘giving’ and taught him to never cling on to anything material. Second, living and learning in a gurukulam, at Kalakshetra, helped him understand that group energy spreads harmony — a work model that he has preserved over the years. Third, his companionship with soul-mate and partner Shanta, says Dhananjayan, has contributed immensely to the way he has evolved in life. “Our art brings our hearts together. There’s a great understanding between us…we complete each other.”
Dhananjayan believes that when you know what makes you happy, you can live a meaningful life. Shanta says that when they left Kalakshetra in 1968 they were only in their twenties, but they were clear that they wanted to dedicate their lives to “putting Bharatanatyam on the world map”. “To see that we have been able to propagate bharatiya sanskruti and kala globally, over the past 50 years, I guess we both have had a very fulfilling life journey.”
But hasn’t there ever been a blemish on the bliss canvas? A challenge that threatened to disturb their inner equilibrium? “Oh! There have been many,” exclaims Dhananjayan, adding, “But art teaches you humility and gratitude. With that attitude you always overcome.” How difficult was it to let go of their dream project, Bhaskara (an academy they set up to preserve and nurture the performing arts in Kerala’s Kannur district) – after 15 years of labour and love? “Kerala may be God’s own country, but it is also the Devil’s Workshop. The local ecosystem was just not supportive. We simply accepted that we must let go. With acceptance there is only happiness,” explains Dhananjayan.
So, here’s the secret, as I have discovered it, of that glint in Shanta’s and Dhananjayan’s eyes, always be grateful and content, simply accept whatever comes your way and do only what you believe in and love doing!
The writer is a life coach, happiness curator and author of Fall Like A Rose Petal. You can reach him through his blog avisviswanathan.wordpress.com