Krishna Sharana Devi says foreigners make Bangalore their home because of the people
Krishna Sharana Devi is a Bharatnatya dancer, is passionate about Carnatic music, is an expert on Hatha Yoga, knows a smattering of Sanskrit and has learned much about Ayurveda and jyotishya. But how would you react if I told you that Krishna was born as Cristina Freitas Brauwers in Southern Brazil? Surprised? I don't blame you, I was.
Krishna — she prefers to be called only by that name — loves everything that is Indian. So much that she wears traditional Indian clothes, complete with Indian jewellery. “Whenever I tell Indians I am from Brazil, they don't believe me!” Krishna laughs.
More Indian than us…
Bangalore has been her second home for six years. “I can't speak Kannada, but I understand it. I know what words such as ‘yeshtu' and ‘uta aita' mean. I have learned a few Tamil and Kannada songs. And I can also recite the Hanuman Chalisa. When I was 13, I had read the whole Bhagavad Geeta in translation.”
Krishna was born with a slight defect in her legs. To correct this, her father, a doctor, suggested she learn Yoga. That was a turning point in Krishna's life. She later went onto learn the basics of Bharatnatya in Brazil, and in 2005, her dream to learn the dance form in India came true. “I learned Bharatnatya from my teacher Padmaja Venkatesh.”
She is one of the few Brazilians who will complete her Arangetram in Bharatnatya. Krishna rues that young girls learn the dance form only to get married. “They don't understand that art is essential in life. Dance is not separate from life. To be a good Bharatnatya dancer, one needs to be disciplined and spiritual.” Krishna meditates regularly and is a pure vegetarian. “I ensure that I lead a tranquil life by eating well and praying because Bharatnatya is about expressing finer emotions.”
Krishna has travelled all over India, but Bangalore remains her favourite. “Kannadigas are so wonderful. They are kind, receptive and adaptive to different cultures. That's why so many foreigners prefer living here,” says Krishna who is half German, quarter African and native Indian.
She finds Bangalore simpler to live in than other cities. “I stay in Seshadripuram. It's so convenient. It takes me no time at all to find my way around the city. And of course there's the weather — it's amazing.” Krishna respects and admires her teacher Padmaja Venkatesh. “She is such an inspiring person. She made me feel at home here. I have been actively involved in her institute Aatmalaya that teaches dance to lesser privileged children,” says a visibly awed Krishna. Her most memorable experience, Krishna enthusiastically recalls, was: “I once trained 400 government school children for a performance for the Governor of Karnataka. It was a fulfilling experience.”