What art can do
(In Rukmini Devi’s words)
Art fosters spiritual growth
“The arts have a much more important role to play in human life and human endeavour than the development of individuals. In an invisible overall way, art fosters the spiritual growth of humanity, When you partake of an art, somewhere, somehow, perhaps like a hairline, there is a development of your own nature, your higher self. The change is so subtle that you cannot easily define it. It is a gradual but sure change of civilization itself.”
Essential for human development
Artists have a deep, emotion-charged sensitivity. They are sensitive to everything, to beauty, to sorrow, to cruelty. So they cannot stand ugliness in life, and cruelty is an ugliness in life. With their natural instincts tuned to this fine, sensitive pitch, they get a better mental understanding of life. But since the change wrought by artists is neither preceded by a sudden upheaval nor followed by a total change, you may think that there is no change. The change is taking place all the time, and artists are helping civilization to change. I think art is essential for human development because it contributes, immeasurably yet imperceptibly, like a drop in the ocean, to the evolution of noble and good character in people.
Artists can be cruel
“People say that art makes you grow. But anything that inspires you makes you grow. Learning and practising any of the arts will add to your poise and make you more graceful, expressive and articulate. But the personality doesn’t grow by the attention given to a subject. It grows by an inner understanding. Artists and art lovers are sometimes very cruel. So don’t think that mere learning of music or dance will make a person more compassionate.
(Excerpted from Rukmini Devi: A Quest for Beauty by Gowri Ramnarayan, Sruti Issue 8, June 1984)