In Sanskrit, swagatham suggests come to the self. We say it to welcome you to The Temple of Fine Arts - the sanctuary for the arts founded by His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswathi.
It was in 1981 that Swamiji lit a lamp to symbolise the beginning of something very beautiful for the arts, especially music and dance. In the preceding years, he had brought together two extraordinary dancing couples - Gopal and Radha Shetty and Sivadas and his spouse Vatsala - who were the main forces in creating awareness and appreciation of Indian classical dance.
The aim was to help Malaysian youth rediscover the cultural, artistic and spiritual wealth of their forefathers and to make it relevant for themselves and for future generations to come.
Swamiji believed that music and dance were essential to the holistic development of the child. He envisioned that The Temple of Fine Arts would be the place where a young child could learn music and dance from teachers who understood the true source of creativity and inspiration.
Swamiji made it possible for any child to learn at The Temple of Fine Arts without the burden of costly fees. This was his aim of serving the community.
The institution quickly grew and within five years, it enjoyed a student population of more than 800. Students were taught Bharatanatyam, folk dances, semi classical movements, and musical instruments such as mrdangam, veena, flute and harmonium. There were students for vocal classes too.
Each year, Swamiji collaborated with Gopal Shetty and Sivadas to write, choreograph and produce dance dramas that would draw talents from the students and this would give them all the experience of making significant leaps in their arts education.
With his devotees, Swamiji had created centres in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Malacca, Singapore, Perth, Chennai, Coimbatore and New Jersey over a period of 20 years.
It has been more than 25 years since, and The Temple of Fine Arts has captured the imagination of art lovers in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, India and even USA. And in each centre, his abiding principle of using the arts as the vehicle for creative and spiritual discovery has established The Temple of Fine Arts as a significant and worthy source of artistic research in their respective communities.
It was Swamiji's dream to make The Temple of Fine Arts a sanctuary for the arts.
In 1991, he mooted the idea of a multi storeyed building that would enhance his mission of serving the community in many ways. The year 2008 marks the realisation of his dream - a 5-storey building, complete with dance and music studios and performance hall, together with a library and other amenities, is now a reality. A new chapter begins.
We welcome you to our sanctuary for the arts.