MandiraMandira …

Behind this name is a deep explorer and a virtuoso performer with extraordinary acting data; talent delivered to the ministry through dance-prayer. Mandira (Sanskrit – the one that serves in the temple) – Milana Severskaya – was born in St. Petersburg (Russia).

Received several formations: musical, economic and psychological. She was the director of the publishing house of the Vedic Culture Society, the head of the cultural and educational center where she taught bhajans and a group of mantric singing. She completed an internship in the style of Bharat Natyam at the Bharat Calangeli Academy in Madras (Tamil Nadu, India).

At the same time she took lessons in basic vocals, the style of Karnataka, from Nalini Ramprasad, attended abhinaye classes from Sri Mati Arunath Jaganatham (student of Padmabhushan Kalanidi Narayanan). The first stage name Lasya Shakti Devi was given to Milana Arunatha Jaganatham and means: Shakti is energy, Lasya is a soft, feminine form of dance performance.

The second name – spiritual – Mandir, was given to Milan during the initiation as a blessing in the spiritual practice of Gaudiya-Vaishnavism. Under this name, she serves on stage in dance and singing, writes books, conducts meditative practices and teaches the arts of 5 Vedas.

Mandira completed several internships in Madras, at the Bharata Calangeli Dance Academy, and studied at the Cochin Art School, Kerala, mastering two styles of classical dance: Bharat Natyam and Mohini Attam.

At the same time, Mandira studied additional disciplines:

  • singing (Karnataka style), teachers Jayachandran and Gitika;
  • music (wine), teacher Chittra Subrahmanyam;
  • yoga, abhinaya classes (Arunath Jaganatham).

Mandira made several pilgrimage tours in India, having traveled almost the entire country. She lived in the ashrams of various religious denominations, took part in a research expedition to India. Local experts on ancient art said: “This Russian knows more about our country than we do.”

Mandira received a personal blessing for performing activities and continuing the tradition of dance from two legendary teachers: Padmabhushan Kalanidi Narayanan – world-class masters in the art of Abhinaya, and Kalamandalam Kalyani Kutti Amma, who revived the style of Mohini Attam.

Mandira was the last student of one of the last members of the legendary Pillai family; spent several months in the village of Pandanalur, from where the Pandanalur school of Bharat Natyam originated. In the famous temple of the village of Pandanalur, where he was once trained hereditary devadasi – temple dancers, she received a personal blessing from her elderly teacher and from the brahmin temple.

After visiting the shrine of the temple, which is usually closed to worshipers, the Brahmin spoke about an ancient Tamil text, where it was predicted that a white girl would come to the village to revive the ancient tradition.

Many years later, these blessings became the guiding light and inspiration for Mandira. Mandira organized:

  • The first school of Indian classical dance in St. Petersburg (Bharat Natyam style) – 1987
  • Theater of Plastic-Visual Arts, St. Petersburg (Russia) – 1993
  • Mohiniattam’s first style school in Russia is the first Russian performer of this style – 1998.
  • Kalari Payatt’s first school outside India – 1998
  • Misterial Arts Theater, St. Petersburg (Russia) – 2000
  • Mandir Group, St. Petersburg (Russia) – 2013
  • Natya Theater, St. Petersburg (Russia) – 2015
  • In 2015, the first book of Mandira, “The Art of Rhythm in Classical Music of Karnataka”, opened the Practical Guide to Nattier series.
  • In 2017, the book “Music of Karnataka” was written and published.
  • In 2018, the “Practical Guide to Nathiere” series was supplemented with two books, work on the series continues.

Currently, all schools of different and types of art’s Natya are reorganized by Mandira into Natya Art Academy, where, following the pattern of traditional art academies operating in India, teaching is conducted in the format of comprehensive arts education. The goal of the school is to preserve the tradition in the system of education and performance.

Mandira concert activities began in St. Petersburg and continues to the present. To the geography of speeches was added India and Europe. More than 100 solo performances were staged, which caused enthusiastic feedback from viewers and the press.

For her great cultural and educational activities, Mandira was awarded numerous encouragement letters and diplomas and was invited as an honorary member of the delegation to the meeting of the Prime Minister of India.

Mandira herself speaks about her mission and destiny with these words: “As a young girl, I didn’t realize much, having a minimum of means, practically without knowing the language, without a return ticket, I went to India … to look for the keys to sacred art that was preserved there, as in the nature reserve … and finding the hidden keys, bring this art to the land where it was once born … to make it understandable for their compatriots and to give their beloved Motherland and beloved city knowledge that gives the fulfillment of all the desire and opens the way to happiness. “