Saroja Vaidyanathan
Vaidyanathan in 2013
Born(1937-09-19)19 September 1937
Bellary, Ceded Districts, Madras Province, British India
Died21 September 2023(2023-09-21) (aged 86)
New Delhi, India
  • Dancer
  • choreographer
  • writer

Saroja Vaidyanathan (19 September 1937 – 21 September 2023) was an Indian choreographer, guru, and notable proponent of Bharatanatyam.[1] She was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India.[2]

Early life and education

Saroja Vaidyanathan (née Dharmarajan) was born in Bellary, Karnataka, on 19 September 1937. Vaidyanathan's parents were both authors; her mother Kanakam Dharmarajan was a writer of detective fiction in Tamil.[3]

She received her initial training in Bharatanatyam at the Saraswati Gana Nilayam in Chennai and later studied under guru Kattumannar Muthukumaran Pillai of Thanjavur. She also studied Carnatic music under Professor P. Sambamoorthy at Madras University and had a D.Litt in dance from the Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Khairagarh.[4]

Bharatanatyam career

Vaidyanathan gave up dancing after her marriage, following conservative and adverse reactions to her performing in public venues and took instead to teaching children dance at home. Following her husband's transfer to Delhi in 1972, she established the Ganesa Natyalaya there in 1974. She was monetarily supported by well wishers and sponsors and the building for the Natyalaya was built at the Qutab Institutional Area in 1988. Besides the dance itself, students at the Ganesa Natyalaya are also taught Tamil, Hindi, and Carnatic vocal music to give them a holistic understanding of Bharatanatyam.[5]

Vaidyanathan was a prolific choreographer and had to her credit ten full-length ballets and nearly two thousand individual Bharatanatyam pieces.[5] She undertook a cultural tour of South East Asia in 2002, accompanying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the ASEAN Summit in 2002.[1] She had also published her renditions of Subramania Bharati's songs and poems and set some of her works to dance.[1][6]


Saroja Vidyanathan wrote a number of books on Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music including The Classical Dances of India, Bharatanatyam – An In-Depth Study, Carnataka Sangeetham, and The Science of Bharatanatyam.[1][3]

Personal life

Saroja was married to Vaidyanathan, an IAS officer of the Bihar cadre.[5] The couple had a son, Kamesh and their daughter-in-law Rama Vaidyanathan is a well-known Bharatanatyam artist of international fame. Saroja's grand-daughter, Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel, is also a sought-after Indian classical dancer.[7]

Vaidyanathan died from cancer on 21 September 2023, two days after her 86th birthday.[8]

Awards and honours

President of India Pratibha Patil presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award of 2008 to Saroja Vaidyanathan for her contribution to Bharatanatyam

Saroja was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013.[2] She is also the recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman of the Government of Delhi, the Kalaimamani title bestowed by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.[4] She was conferred the title of 'Bharata Kalai Sudar' in 2006.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "ARTISTE'S PROFILE : Saroja Vaidyanathan". Centre for Cultural Resources and Training. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Padma for Roddam, Dravid". Deccan Herald. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The write mudra". The Hindu. 19 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b "SAROJA VAIDYANATHAN Akademi Award: Bharatanatyam". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "ONE HUNDRED TAMILS OF THE 20TH CENTURY : Saroja Vaidyanathan". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Adding poetry to dance". The Hindu. 6 July 2007. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Char Minar in the City of Qutb!". The Hindu. 26 December 2002. Archived from the original on 2 July 2003. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Bharatanatyam exponent Saroja Vaidyanathan dies at 86". The Tribune. 21 September 2023. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Confluence of styles". The Hindu. 18 August 2006. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.