Protima Bedi

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Protima Gauri Bedi (October 12, 1948August 18, 1998) was an Indian model turned Odissi exponent. To her dance was a way of life. In 1990, she established "Nrityagram", a dance village near Bangalore.

Quotes[edit]

Entrance to the Nrityagram, the dance school she established in Bangalore
  • 'Indian', [mom said], you will write Indian. And if they have a problem with that let them come and talk to me. They have no business asking you your religion. How is that the basis for an educational qualification?
  • The world isn’t just what you see outside your window. It’s so much larger, so much grander. We are just microscopic specks in the whole big scheme of things in this universe! How bogged down we get by rules, by what society wants and what people say, when in fact it’s all just timepass. Enjoy the moment, even the grief. Celebrate the joy of being alive. It’s so very very easy to be happy.
    • In "Timepass" p.x
  • This is my life. No one has the right to tell me how to live it or to question what I do. When you grow up, you will make your own choices. It will be your life and you it your way. I will never interfere. It must be awful for these people to have such boring lives that all they can do make them interesting is to talk about somebody else’s life. I am glad I provided with them with timepass conversation.
    • In reply to her daughter when she had streaked and her daughter who was five years old was upset knowing about to in the school when she was told that her mother :’All the children in my school say that their mummies said that you ran nanga’ (‘nanga’ in Hindi means “naked”) in "Timepass" pp. viii-ix
  • Everybody wants to know about it. Even now. But look at what else I have accomplished since then which must have taken courage. Far more than what it took to streak. But because it's more immediate you think you could even do this. But you can't build a dance institute out of barren land.
    • On her steaking and the Nritygarma, the dance institute she established in Bangalore quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life". Rediff.com. 22 August 1998. Retrieved on 14 january 2014. 
  • Every woman I knew secretly longed to have many lovers but she stopped herself for so many reasons. I had the capacity to love many at a time and for this had been called shallow and wayward and a good-time girl...
  • To my analytical mind this relationship of marriage was a very forced one between two people. I understood that for the security and upbringing of the child the parents need to be monogamous. Because then the child will have a secure home. But both people should understand and accept the fact that there would always be temptation. That's not bad in itself because what is temptation?
    • In "I have been a hippie all my life"
  • Human nature being what it is, or at least conditioning being what it is I was so insecure. I always had to watch out for other women. She leans forward and laughs "Because he was so damned good looking, you know. When you are not the wife it's great but when you are..."
    • On her marital relationship with Kabir Bedi which did not work out, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • When I saw Odissi it could have been Kuchipudi or Thai for all I cared. No one knew Odissi then. I S Johar once introduced my performance saying 'Now for Protima Bedi's Udipi performance.' But when I saw it I knew that is what I wanted to do -- whatever it was. There was something so sensuously spiritual about it. I think I must have wanted that so much in my life.
    • On her first experience and fascination for Odissi dance quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • My guru said you are too old. I thought I was young -- I was 26. And he said you can't and I said I can. I'll show you. He said it will take many sacrifices. And I said I'll give up anything you want. I didn't realise I would have to give up my family for that. I realise now if I had not gone for three months to Orissa my husband would not have run off with Parveen Babi. So it was really a giving up. My children had to go to boarding school after that -- there was no family. I had to give up my lifestyle, my friends, my smoking, my drinking.
    • On her taking up Odissi dance in Orissa and the resultant separation from her husband, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • Firstly I had never touched anyone's feet. So I refused to do that for months. I had never been inside a temple. I refused to go for puja every evening. I said I have only come to learn dance. I don't have to do all that. But the dance brought the devotion and the spiritual understanding. I saw my guru's devotion because everything he did was by example. If I have built Nrityagram today it is because of what I took from him.
    • On her learning stages of the Odissi dance, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
Buildings in the Nrityagram Dance Community
Classical Dancers at Nrityagram
Classical Dancer displaying her expression at the Nrityagram Garden
  • This great man, Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, a Padmashri and Padma Bhushan, would clean the gutter outside his house. He used to beat me. One slap from my dad and I had left the house. And my guru slapped me a couple of times because I was arrogant. I would be so angry I would pack my bags. But I knew I was there because I wanted to be there not because he wanted me to be there. And when I touched his feet it was not by rote. When I touched his feet he and I both cried because he had waited long enough for me to come to that.
    • About her Guru quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • I felt I had nothing more to learn. It was the same thing wrapped up in different packaging again and again. I am not a brilliant dancer at all. But my packaging is great. You know, I have been a hippie all my life. And the dreams of the sixties that I had of living in a commune, of sharing, of never having more than I can use, of living life joyfully in nature -- that was the spirit that was inside me. And in the isolation of being a dancer I thought where is the giving, where is the sharing, with me sitting so far in a cold place? I knew I had to get back and I had to share what life had given me through dance. I was willing to give up my dance and work and beg to realise this dream. Because it would still be my dream, it would still be dance but how much joy it would give so many bodies.
    • After learning Odissi dance, she toured all over the world performing Odissi dance and then settled in Switzerland but came back to establish a dance school. Quoted in in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • I dream of building a community of dancers in a forsaken place amidst nature. A place where nothing exists, except dance. A place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine - dance. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. A place where dancers drop negative qualities such as jealousy, small-mindedness, greed and malice to embrace their colleagues as sisters and support each other in their journey towards becoming dancers of merit. A place called Nrityagram.
    • On her dance institution called Nityagram quoted in The Dream. Nritygarm Organization. Retrieved on 14 January 2014.
  • But as soon as I opened a dance school they went who does she think she is? She has become a guru! In their mind they could not accept that anyone could build a place not because they want to be a guru but because they want to give the best to a young bunch of girls. Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra was in charge of Odissi. Kalanidhi Narayan for Abhinaya. Kumudini Lakhia for Kathak. Kalyani Kuttiyamma for Mohiniattam. The Paul Taylor Dance Company did a workshop there. I was not the guru. I was the slave. I was working with my hands -- planting trees, digging the earth, typing, collecting the money. I gave up my dance.
    • On Her Nityagrama dance school in Bangalore, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • It all came back to my guruji saying bahut kali-ka rup dekhaya tumne. (You have shown a lot of Kali in you). Calm down a little bit. Parvati-ka roop lo. (Take on the image of [[w:Parvati|Parvati).
    • When she chose the name while at Nityagram, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • My creativity is over. Now it is only the question of maintenance. I have empowered the girls to look after themselves. To earn their own money, to be somebody. I need to resuscitate.
    • When she retired from Nityagram, quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • Just be the best and the highest expression of who you want to become. Be that. Because if you are that there is no more unhappiness. All frustration and anger comes from being less. People say not everybody can be. But everyone can be. I trust life. The only person who stands in your way is yourself.
    • Quoted in "I have been a hippie all my life".
  • The time has come for me to forget my past and live a future that even I am unaware of.
    • When she left the Nitygram village quoted in "Bowing Out".

About Protima Bedi[edit]

  • I couldn’t describe Protima Bedi better. As a mother she was phenomenal. She brought joy into our lives with her constant need to be different and creative. She was determined never to lead an ordinary life.
    • By her daughter Pooja Bedi in "Timepass" p. vii
  • Two words that were missing in her life’s lexicon were "no" and "regret"; she could not say no to any man who desired her — and grew into a very desirable and highly animated young woman who most men found irresistible. And she did not regret any emotional or physical experience she had.
    • By Khushwant Mubarak Singh quoted in "She had a lust for life"
  • She abandoned her dance school and other business to become a sanyasin, but death took her unawares: she was killed in a landslide while on a pilgrimage to Kailash-Mansarovar. Oddly enough even as a sanyasin she was accompanied by one of her lovers.
    • By Khushwant Mubarak Singh quoted in "She had a lust for life"
  • Protima Gauri (as she renamed herself) had zest for living. She loved her men, her liquor and drugs. She had a large range of her lovers, most of whom she names.
    • By Khushwant Mubarak Singh quoted in "She had a lust for life"
  • Now, the 48-year-old Odissi dancer -- clean-shaven, with tattooed eyebrows and clothed in the robes of a Buddhist monk (except the colour of the robe is blue and purple) -- wants to retreat to the Himalayas.
    • By Stephen David in Bowing Out. India Today. Retrieved on 14 January 2014.
  • Dance has been like a man in her life. It has given her name, fame and credibility. She can't do without it. She is a star in her own right. I'm sure she can revive herself and get back into the limelight.
    • Prasad Bidapa in "Bowing Out".

External links[edit]

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