Ananda Shankar Jayant




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TEDx Talk

Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant, inhabits the worlds of administration, academics, and arts; straddling them with equal ease.

Celebrated as one of India’s most eminent and renowned classical dancer, choreographer and dance scholar, Ananda’s artistic body of work ,spans mythologies and abstraction, historical chronicles and women studies, poetry and abstraction, philosophy and humour.

As the Artistic Director of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Ananda, leads an acclaimed ensemble, besides training and presenting the next generation of Bharatanatyam artists.

For her contribution to the field of classical art, she was conferred the “Padma Shri” (India’s 4th highest civilian award) in 2007 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (India’s apex cultural body) for Bharatanatyam in 2009.

Ananda is a sought after motivational speaker and actively engages with young India on a wide range of topics, at leading corporate entities, leadership programs, hospitals, universities and schools. A TED speaker in 2009, her TED talk after her tryst with Cancer has been ranked as one of 12 Incredible TED talks on the subject. In January 2015, the Huffington Post ranked Ananda’s TED talk, as one of five greatest TED talks by Indians.

Another rare honour was a recent invitation to speak at the Harvard Business School for the Inspire Series of the India Conference at Harvard

Ananda is an officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service and is currently posted at the Centre for Railway Information Systems, in Hyderabad, India.

Dance with Hope…It connects all of us with Ananda Shankar Jayant #isharehope Episode 108

Summary: Ananda’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?

Ananda Shankar Jayant:

Hope is the one thing that you will choose not to lose. Hope is the one choice that you can make never to lose. Hope is the mind and the hope is the spirit. It’s something that will actually move the molecules of the universe. It will change things around. That’s the one thing that will connect you beyond – from the inside to the universe outside. I think hope is the final power of the mind. It’s intrinsic. It’s the pinnacle of the mind and the spirit which can change things.

Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?

Ananda Shankar Jayant:

In the beginning my mother. She helped me see the path. She helped me see the cause all along. Also my parents and my teachers or my gurus. All have inculcated the sense of continuing to see the cause through hope, through perseverance, through hard work, through commitment, through dedication in whichever field of activity I have taken up.

For me the biggest hope giver in that sense is my husband. When I was diagnosed with cancer and I was literally angry and frustrated and depressed, I asked him if that was the end of the road and he said no, it was just a hiatus and that I will be back with what I loved to do.

Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?

Ananda Shankar Jayant:

Regarding my journey through cancer, that has been a complete journey of hope because in my mind, cancer has become a boogeyman. It has become a big boogeyman for all of us and it tends to come into our lives and completely destroy our lives – not only us, but the ones around you. I try to break that mindset that comes with cancer. I call it the clamor and clutter and chatter and nonsense that comes with cancer. There’s a lot of melodrama that comes with it. I think I was able to break that melodrama through the power of hope and my hope was to go back and to continue dancing – to not give up dancing.

It was difficult. There is a lot of side-effect of medication, but the very fact that I wanted to go from the space of anger, not being happy, feeling low to this place of feeling happiness…this was my first step. I wanted to be well. I’m going to be happy. I took these early decisions. Hope helped me take mental decisions. The very fact that I have this idea of hope that I’m going to be fine, that I’m going to get there – that’s the positive way of looking at hope.

You look at hope as something that is going to happen in the future, but I believe that hope is something that you have to grab and be in your presence. The word hope tends to go into the future. I’m not hoping to get there – I’m there.

I’m not going to allow cancer to ride me. I will ride out cancer.

Cancer is just that one page in my life and not the book.

I won’t say ‘why me?’

Very often, when good things happen to us, we never say why me? When something not so good happens to us, we all turn to every possible God and ask ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ I was not going to do that. That is the worst negative thing you can do to yourself. I said I’d talk about it and that is very special because I come from a place where people are very secretive about cancer. I chose to speak about it. These early verbalizations, these early affirmations have helped me reach that place of I’m getting their hope.

Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?

Ananda Shankar Jayant:

I speak a lot. I talk in schools and colleges and corporate offices bringing the idea of hope from different spaces, not just necessarily from the space of when you face an obstacle. It could be something that is innocuous, simple – school children have small problems. If there is a problem, there is an issue or you want to deal with the world – it’s always about perception.

I spoke about the power of an ultimate passion. Very often in life we are all so focused on a career and forget our innate passions which is very powerful. For me it’s dance. It could be cooking, it could be taking care of your dog, it could be gardening. It need not necessarily be monetized.

We have somehow started equating success with monetization. Success equals bank balance, equals career, equals life calling cycle which is fine if that is the career, but there are times that you may or may not have a passion that could give you that life calling kind of a career unless you are Roger Federer or Serena Williams.

You can have a normal office career and still have a passion. Nurture and nourish and cherish that innate passion that you find and that will become your core strength. I believe that what has happened is we are focusing on core competency. What I’m saying is there is also something called core strength of each human being and I feel that core strength can be nurtured and nourished from the space of passion. That is your most powerful tool to overcome all the setbacks, challenges, obstacles that life is going to throw at us. Don’t expect life not to challenge us because I think the business of life is to challenge us. There lies our greatest learning.

Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?

Ananda Shankar Jayant:

(1) Cut all the negativity that are being thrown at us on a daily basis – television, news, elections!
(2) Share the good as much as you can. Smile.

Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.