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by Sukanya Mahadevan

What does Shishya mean and why does the Shishya logo show a dancer on a leaf? What do they stand for?

Have you ever asked yourself the question as to what our name and logo stand for? Why do these not correspond with the founders' names or Indian words that stand for components of dance? Here is why....

When I founded this school officially in 2005, with another dancer/student, Vyshali Belagodu, I wanted the school to stand for something unique. There is no room for ego in art or in the teacher teaching it. Hence, I decided to name the school 'SHISHYA'. Shishya is a Sanskrit word that means student. At our school, the focus is the student. Our teaching style is catered to the specific needs of each student and to enable them to discover their best inner artist. We also did not want to limit ourselves to just dance but to be inclusive of all Indian classical performing arts such as dance, music, theater, mythology etc.

Next, why is our logo, a dancer on a leaf?

The dancer is a silhouette of one of my students and the leaf represents the 'Vatapra' or the Banyan leaf.

The Banyan tree along with its leaves, is a traditional tree from India and culturally it represents the ability to grow and survive for centuries. The 'Vatapatra' or the banyan leaf symbolizes both renewal and survival.

The inspiration for our logo comes from the 'VatapatraSai' or 'Aalelo Krishna'. It is said that at the end of the cycle of this universe, when the world as we know it, comes to an end, we will be left with the divine presence of baby Krishna on the banyan leaf, floating in a deluge of water and ocean. This scene depicts both renewal of the world and the preservation of it, at the same time.

When I envisioned, our logo and had my good friend, Wendy Stassola ( a graphics artist) create this for me, here was the thought process...

The dancer not only stood for the birth of a new student but also for the the renewal of the art uniquely through every student here. The 'Vatapatra' represents the ability for the ancient Indian art forms to both survive and thrive for centuries through our students.

To date, I take great pride when I look at this unique logo, that neither represents me or the craft I teach and perform, but the student who learns it and takes it forward. Thereby making this beautiful art form immortal....

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