Always Being Born
A Cognitive Biography by
Jyoti Sabharwal
ISBN: 978-93-82035-00-8
Hardback PP 564, Rs 895
Rs 895
A life beyond categories! Perhaps, that's the quintessence of Dr Kapila Vatsyayan's trajectory, both as a sensitive artist and profound scholar. She has not only questioned, but also defied the mindsets that create those categories, with her multidisciplinary approach. Given her proximity to the stalwarts of the intellectual and cultural arena, i.e. Aruna Asaf Ali, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Rukmini Devi Arundale, Dr Grace Louise McCann Morley, and many more, she imbibed the finer nuances of feminine discourse of these strident pioneers, who crossed the social barriers and altered the gender perceptions.
In blissful formative years, Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore made her recite poetry, and legendary Nandalal Bose taught her to hold the painting brush at Santiniketan. She belongs to the generation that nurtured the ideals of a free India, to rediscover its
cultural roots and reconstruct the broken tradition. And she devoted her boundless energy towards that lofty goal working closely with Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr S Radhakrishnan.
The original cultural czarina of India, she laid the foundation of 'soft diplomacy' in the postIndependence era, signing numerous cultural treaties across the world and formulating bilateral exchange programmes. Building institutions, she delineated education and cultural policies with her gifted tenacity, exemplary erudition, and critical faculty. Arguably, a great living authority on the arts of India, and a key administrator in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, archives, museums, et al, her multifaceted expertise has facilitated several bridges of communication, especially between the Indian and the Western arts.
Dr Vatsyayan has both witnessed and participated in the agony and ecstasy of the cultural history of India, seeking the inner core of its creative genius in all the vibrant hues. Though there may have been an inevitable clash between the innocent idealism of a bygone era and rueful reality of the contemporary saga, it's been a journey worth emulating. More so, for the young aspirants of a post modern India, this tome is a 'must read'.
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An alumna of the universities of Delhi, Michigan and Banaras, Dr Kapila Vatsyayan has held distinguished positions as Joint Educational Advisor; Vice Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi; Additional Secretary, Department of Culture; Secretary, Department of Arts; Member Secretary and Academic Director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts; Life Trustee and President, India International Centre; Secretary to the Indian delegations to UNESCO, where she also served as a member of the Executive Board.

Having pursued Indian classical dance forms, Kathak and Manipuri, under the tutelage of eminent gurus, Achhan Maharaj and Ojha Amubi Singh, she also made forays into Bharatanatyam, Odissi, and received training in modern dance notations from Juana de Laban. A prolific author, she has penned numerous books and monographs that include Classical Indian Dance in Literature and the Arts, Indian Classical Dance, Traditions of Indian Folk Dance, Traditional Indian Theatre: Multiple Streams, Dance in Indian Painting, The Square and the Circle of the Indian Arts, and eight volumes on Gita Govinda. She is also the co editor of Aesthetic Theories and Forms in Indian Tradition, under the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture Series of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations.

Among the litany of laurels bestowed on Dr Vatsyayan, she set the ball rolling way back in 1946, being awarded the Gold Medal for the best student in Delhi University. Recipient of the 1998 Woman of the Year Award, Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award, and Sankaradeva National Integration Award, she has also been conferred the national honours, Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan, and nominated to Rajya Sabha.
Always Being Born
Internationally feted with John D Rockefeller III Award by Asian Cultural Council, New York; Lifetime Achievement Award by CORD, Cleveland; Cyprus Award for 'The Distinguished Woman of the Year', 2001; Abu Rayhan al Biruni Award for International Cultural Relations, Iran; Knight of Cross from the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary; Thalia Prize by the International Association of Theatre Critics, she has also been graced by UNESCO with Madame Curie Medal, Mahatma Gandhi Medal and Cultural Diversity Medal.
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Glowing Reviews
“People, politics and landscapes blend into a smooth narrative... Anecdotal, comprehensive and eminently readable...” The Week
“Well-researched, articulate and lucid, fascinating narration, this book is a publishing coup of sorts...” The Sunday Guardian
“Kapila Vatsyayan is a design woven on a loom... Theatre is her life, drama and dance her natural genre, literature her forte.... An engaging biography...” Gopalkrishna Gandhi in Hindustan Times
“It is not a traditional autobiography or a conventional biography but a nuanced history of Kapila’s intellectual journey... This book makes you reflect...” The Tribune
“An insightful, glorious chronicling of the erudite’s life...” The Sunday Pioneer
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Book Discussion at India International Centre :
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