The Junoon Gurukul

The Junoon Gurukul, Pune

We began this endeavour in 2022 to carry a parallel Arts curriculum, premises on the ancient Gurukul system of learning, centred on Classical Dance that gives insight into all the other Classical Arts that support Classical Dance.
The Junoon Gurukul was first begun as part of our Artistic Residency enabled by one of India’s largest conglomerates, Tatasons, at the Avasara Academy in Pune, India. We operated the extension by teaching and training girls at the academy from varied backgrounds. Through their time in Gurukul, they have performed multiple times, imbibed dance technique, developed their artistry and reflected immensely on their immersive learning experience with, for and of the Arts.

If great importance is attached to the search for knowledge in India, there ought to be a system that duly honours this give and take, this exchange of it and in doing so, facilitates it. This is a Gurukul. A system of education that is an immersive and wholesome learning experience for the students that choose to attend such an establishment and inhabit this ecosystem.

The students are versatile yet focused. Their education: painstakingly thorough yet profoundly fulfilling. Their futures: Full of promise, whatever way they choose to go. The path to knowledge of any subject is crucial – the journey significantly more important than the destination – in all the wisdom amassed along the way.

A Gurukul is that path. Its emphasis on the performing arts takes every shishya through a vital process of transformation and instils a deep-rooted sense of self, spirit and responsibility. A practitioner is accountable to her Art – in practice and perpetuation. In the realm of performing arts, this search for knowledge, is better described as a quest for beauty. For the purpose of all Art is to add more beauty into the world.

A Gurukul is a place where beauty is allowed to breathe and burgeon. This search to know more and give more is a journey of faith, hope, tolerance, humility, acceptance, discipline, obeisance, surrender and patience. In the presence of these, the relationship between teacher and student – Guru and Shishya – two individuals of unequal knowledge, is established, strengthened and possible. This bond proves vital in keeping both centred through life. For the Art, in its passage from generation to generation, will always be larger than the artiste.

It takes great sensitivity to learn and teach, to give and gather knowledge. A Gurukul is the home of the curious, hardworking, perceptive and humble – the truest servants of a subject of learning, the purest practitioners of an Art, the most passionate beings on earth.

As the mysteries of the Arts unfold,
Literature, movement and metaphor;
Poetry, rhythm and cadence;
Sculpture, poise and posture;
Painting, strokes and colour;
Music, melody, grace and movement;
Expression, written, verbal and facial;
Theatre, technique, spontaneity and emotion And ultimately, the Dance,
Is better understood, better executed, more open than it ever was.
And open to any and all.

Here, at,


To provide our girls with an Arts education centred on Classical Dance that is immersive, holistic, promising and fulfilling.



The students are trained primarily in the Classical Dance forms of Ballet and BharataNatyam for an understanding of both Western and Indian Classical Dance.
Derivative dance forms such as Lyrical, Contemporary and Jazz will also be incorporated as a diversion.


They will garner a general literary appreciation, be introduced to Art appreciation and criticism as well as understand and formulate their own opinions on how Art can be an instrument for social change.


Since artists who practice Classical Dance are athletes in their own right, our girls will also be put on an intense fitness regimen that incorporates Yoga, Athletics, Calisthenics, Pilates and Other Stretching, Strengthening and Flexibility Drills.


A training in The Junoon Gurukul instils an instant awareness of Classical Dance and art and culture that has existed and been passed down for centuries. The students therefore feel responsible to carry it to more people thereby enabling a diffusion and promulgation of the very heritage they have received. How they choose to extend the privilege – professionally or otherwise – is something they will be able to make an informed choice about since they have participated in an immersive artistic learning experience outside of a general academic curriculum. The objective is to allow history and culture to build their artistic identities and then, give them the freedom to contemporize this knowledge so they may hold their own in an ever-changing world.


A feature from The SHOUT! Network
Our ideal of a Gurukul, formulated by ancient Art beheld in paintings, murals and other canvases, resides in our imaginations as differently positioned Banyan trees, thatched huts and roofs, sage-like Gurus mentoring keen Shishyas rapt in attention and wild and designed arenas where different arts, interests and subjects are striven for.

That ideal is beautiful, dreamy, transporting and traditional. And some traditions just don’t need updating. For a start, what it does deserve is a sincere appreciation of the ideals it stood for and furthered, the very evolved process of teaching and learning it engendered, the austere but versatile pathway of study and exploration it established and the thorough education it therefore made possible and accessible to its disciples.

Aeons ago, the learned met young learners and reared them in faraway, raw yet functional surroundings that allowed the latter space from the material comforts of home and therefore, the focus to master multiple disciplines.

An invaluable, unsaid and unfathomable bond developed between Guru and Shishya, Sage and Disciple, Teacher and Student. This eternal bond was characterized by an exchange of respect for deference. The Guru knows, shows the way, tells you what to look for but never what to see. The Shishya listens, follows and then, discovers for herself. Somewhere in the process of the Guru giving and the disciple receiving, a thread of trust, faith, loyalty, love, devotion and surrender is woven. The Guru gives, wholeheartedly, rightfully, respectfully. And the Shishya receives with passion and vigilance, fully submitting to the direction, wisdom and keener sense of the Guru. And even in this equation of unequal knowledge, age and experience, there exists mutual respect and enormous consideration, care and concern for one another.

Gurus gave unreservedly of themselves from the many different realms they had inhabited and imbibed –
The Arts – Classical, Martial, Performing, Fine, Sports, The Sciences – Life and Social, Philosophy, Mathematics, Yoga and other physical and spiritual practices and of course, Academia – ancient texts, treatises, rituals, studies and the literature we know today as “Classical”.

Classes were conversations. They were often tests of tolerance, endurance and capabilities, on either side. Talents were unveiled, encouraged and refined. Discipline was ingrained, second to no organ of body or mind. Confidence was built, shaken, rebuilt and secured, once and for all. Shishyas competed healthily, outdid one another, constantly raising the bar, but more importantly, outdoing themselves. An emotional intelligence was further cultivated in those whom it was perceived and every attempt was made in making every Shishya perceptive, receptive and sensitive. Paired with their dexterity in plentiful pursuits, a Shishya of a Gurukul was quite simply beyond compare. Gifted, enormously grateful and very aware of their identity, purpose and what they’d like to give back to the world, these Shishyas were dynamic, necessary and ever-evolving additions to the world.

As the shishya journeyed along this path laid down by the Guru – embedded in the very establishment that is a Gurukul, she had an immersive learning experience across the spectrum; in seemingly unrelated areas even, if she chose to. She could be an athlete, an artiste, an academician, all rolled into one. She could see the physics of dance or the emotion in the natural sciences or intrigued by the history and theories of mathematics or the geometry in painting and sculpture or the rhythmic patterns and melodic structures of music and definitely, the beauty, artistry and versatility of all things in nature.

A Shishya’s definition of beauty was broad, all-encompassing, inclusive and most significantly, subjective. This flexibility allowed her to be rational, compassionate and keen, all at once. To know more, to be more, to see more, to feel more and to do more.

She found happiness and inspiration in a cooling breeze, in fresh fruit often stolen from swaying or still trees, in the gallop of a horse and the gait of a gazelle, in dreaming of the dances of Sati and Shiva, in believing that every raga she heard came straight from the Gandharvas, in a mama beast putting her cub to sleep, in swimming in open waters and the marine life encountered, in the colours of an evening sky, in the sound of rain and the delight of sunshine.

There was something in the air back then: A likely medley of curiosity, respect, joy in the little things (that we know, ultimately, amount to the big things) and an innocence that drove one to wonder and wander. When coupled with the aroma and smoke of incense, the Guru’s exhale of wisdom and a Shishya’s inhale of knowledge, seated across from one another in a grove with an oak or an elm or a willow for a backdrop, the setting was not only conducive to the give and take of a strong and sublime education that instilled a sense of responsibility but a paradise that enabled growth, empathy, mastery, clarity, courage, ambition and agency.

When the smoke clears, it brings us back to today. And yet, in our most heightened state of pragmatism, nothing above seems unattainable.
The Gurukul – as a concept, an institution and an ideology – was built to stay.
Will we go deep within? Or will we keep ourselves from the most evolved system of education that kept us rooted and gave us wings to fly.

We just have to journey back.
The path is laid.
To the beginning. To the progressive.
And then, forward, forward, forward.


Read what we write to and receive from our girls.


SEPTEMBER 9th, 2022

SEPTEMBER 9th, 2022





These are some valuable exchanges when we’re in session, worth saving and sharing!