Lineage & Training

In traditional classical Indian dance and music, a student takes on one guru for life in a guru-shishya parampara (one-to-one guru to disciple tradition). A guru is one who removes the darkness – imparting direct knowledge and training through the developing relationship. Pandit Chitresh Das is one of few classical Indian dancers in the world today who is still carrying on this unique oral tradition in contemporary society and thus preserving a historic lineage. Rachna Nivas is fortunate to receive her training in this form under Pandit Das in both the Lucknow and Jaipur style gharanas.

For over 15 years Rachna has spent thousands of hours under Pandit Das’ rigorous training. Das’ philosophy is to propel his students beyond their physical and mental boundaries in order to achieve a higher state of mind and eventually a greater understanding of oneself. Rachna’s training also includes time spent off the dance floor – talking, eating, listening to stories, discussing life lessons, and studying Hindustani music and taal. In addition to her time in the SF Bay Area, she spends an extended period every year with Pandit Das in India in a gurukul setting (disciples and guru living together to train, cook, and carry out chores).

Pandit Das’ holistic approach to teaching stems from his own training at a young age by his Guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra, and his grand Gurus, Shambu and Acchchan Maharaj. Das was also heavily influenced by the rich environment his parents raised him in – Nrityacharya Prohlad Das and Smt. Nilima Das founded one of India’s first dance institutions, Nritya Bharati, where all the great masters and Gurus of the many classical Indian dance and music traditions visited and taught at. Today, Pandit Das is an international icon, not only as a dancer and performer, but as a composer, choreographer, and Guru with many disciples who are solo artists in their own rights.