Saroja Vaidyanathan
Vaidyanathan in 2013
Born (1937-09-19) 19 September 1937 (age 85)
  • Dancer
  • choreographer
  • writer
AwardsPadma Bhushan (2013)
Padma Shri (2002)

Saroja Vaidyanathan (born 19 September 1937) is a choreographer, guru and a notable exponent 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 was born in Bellary, Karnataka in 1937. 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 has also studied Carnatic music under Professor P. Sambamoorthy at Madras University and has a D.Litt in dance from the Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Khairagarh.[3]

Bharatanatyam career

Saroja 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 came up at the Qutub Institutional Area in 1988. Besides the dance itself, students at the Ganesh Natyalaya are also taught Tamil, Hindi and Carnatic vocal music to give them a holistic understanding of Bharatanatyam.[4]

Saroja is a prolific choreographer and has to her credit ten full length ballets and nearly two thousand individual Bharatanatyam items.[4] 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 has also published her renditions of Subramania Bharati's songs and poems and some of his works have also been set to dance by her.[1][5]


Saroja Vidyanathan has written 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][6]


Saroja's (née Dharmarajan) parents were both authors and her mother Kanakam Dharmarajan was a writer of detective fiction in Tamil.[6] Saroja is married to Vaidyanathan an IAS officer of the Bihar cadre.[4] The couple have a son, Kamesh and their daughter in law Rama Vaidyanathan is a well known Bharatanatyam artiste of international fame. Saroja's grand-daughter, Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel is also a sought-after Indian classical dancer. [7]

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 by the Government of India.[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.[3] She was conferred the title of 'Bharata Kalai Sudar' in 2006.[8]


  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 "SAROJA VAIDYANATHAN Akademi Award: Bharatanatyam". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "ONE HUNDRED TAMILS OF THE 20TH CENTURY : Saroja Vaidyanathan". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Adding poetry to dance". The Hindu. 6 July 2007. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. ^ a b "The write mudra". The Hindu. 19 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. 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. ^ "Confluence of styles". The Hindu. 18 August 2006. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.