'APPA DEEPO BHAVA' - A unique dance drama celebrating women in Buddha's journey towards enlightenment premiered in Delhi
Dr. Sonal Mansingh conceptualized and directed the dance drama based on Buddha's life. Dancers from Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth were part of the drama while Pt. Shubhendra & Smt. Saskia Rao de Haas provided the Music. The dance drama was presented on 11th November at India Habitat Centre in Delhi.

The dance drama 'Appa Deepo Bhava' (Be a Light Unto Yourself) offers a hitherto unrecognized aspect of Buddha’s life by highlighting role of the four women whose presence proved to be significant at different moments in Siddharth Gautam’s journey to Enlightenment. In the journey from Siddharth to Gautam Buddha these women appear like stars in spiritual galaxy, which is the focus of the dance drama. “Be a Light Unto Yourself”, was supposedly the last utterance of Buddha before attaining Nirvana.
The Dance drama conceptualized and directed by Dr. Sonal Mansingh was presented in association with Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth (Centre for Indian Classical Dances) on 11th November at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
Many prominent personalities from different walks of life attened the show. They included H.E Major General Vetsop Namgyel, Ambassador Royal Bhutanese Embassy, H.E Mr Sanjaasuren Bayaraa, Ambassador Mangolia Embassy, Shri Suresh Soni, Sah Sarakaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Shri Dattatreya Hosabale, Sah Sarakaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Shri Krishna Gopal, Joint General Secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Shri Manoj Tiwary, President BJP Delhi & Lok Sabha MP, Shri N. N. Vohra, President IIC & Former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and many others.
Concept note by Dr. Sonal Mansingh
Woman Creates Man, Saint, King, Thief, all……. To deny the role SHE has played since Creation came in to being is the greatest injustice in history of the world. My observations have taught me to look beyond apparent greatness of men and to look for the woman behind him who remained unrecognized and unsung. At the risk of being labeled Feminist I urge you to join me in celebrating the women in Buddha’s journey to Enlightenment.
||यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते
रमन्ते तत्र देवताः ||
Gods are pleased when women are respected and celebrated.
Women showcased in 'Appa Deepo Bhava' 

Yashodhara: Young Princess Yashodhara was married to Prince Siddharth, son of King Shuddhodan of Kapilvastu. To ensure Siddharth’s role as future King, the king secured him in luxurious palace and gardens where he enjoyed life with his beautiful wife who gave birth to a son, Rahul. Siddharth’s single foray into real world outside the palace made him think about the ephemeral nature of life. He left his sleeping wife & son at midnight in search of Truth. Yashodhara awoke and wondered at her husband’s unannounced departure which she felt as an affront to her wisdom and inner strength, indeed to her identity as his wife sharing equally his joy and pain. Yashodhara was loved respected by the king and people alike. She was responsible for ably running affairs of the State.
Nartaki: The Court Dancer was highly respected person in the times of Lichchavi City-State Republics. She was travelling with her entourage when resting awhile by a charming river she asked her maid to string and tune her Veena. She was in the mood to play music. Veena was strung so tight that strings broke. Fearing reprimand strings were strung loose which flapped but made no sound. The lady’s observation gave birth to Buddhism’s famous “Middle Path” philosophy. “Neither too tight, nor too loose, maintaining balance is the key”……. Gautam seated under a tree, trying out path of penance heard this. He picked up the Key!
Sujata: A simple village woman offers milk pudding ‘Kheer’ as wish fulfillment ritual to Gautam seated under the Peepul tree, mistaking him for Vana-Devata (Spirit of the forest). Childless for a long time after marriage, she had made a vow. After a son was born to her she carried a bowl of Kheer and offered to Gautam. After many years of abstaining from food this was accepted as ‘fate accompli’ by Gautam who threw the wooden bowl in the river thinking: if the bowl goes upstream I will attain Enlightenment in Seven days. The bowl went upstream and in seven days Siddharth became Gautam Buddha, the Enlightened One. From that day Peepul tree came to be called the Bodhi Vriksha.
Amrapali: She was the most beautiful Court dancer and Janapada-Kalyani of Vaishali, one of the Lichchawi City States. Her role in fending off repeated attacks by Ajatashatru, King of Magadh and her meeting with Buddha who specially created the Order of Nuns for her has given her a special place in Buddhist lore.
Team behind 'Appa Deepo Bhava'
Dr. Sonal Mansingh was the brain behind the project. She has conceptualised, directed, narrated and also choreographed the dance drama.
Pt. Shubhendra & Smt. Saskia Rao de Haas - Music
Deepa Dharmadhikari - Lighting
Repertory Group Dancers - Nandini, Vibhoo, Shivani, Veena, Ramesh, Raj, Govind, Ramhari (All from Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth)
Naresh Khare - Make-up
Avinash - Costume
Simran Raina - Sound & Back projection
Sagar Keshri - Co-ordination
SoulTrax Studios - Studio Recording
About Dr. Sonal Mansingh 

Dr. Sonal Mansingh, was nominated by President of India to Rajya Sabha the Upper House of Indian Parliament in July 2018 in recognition of her life-long dedication and service to India’s arts. She is the recipient of highest civilian awards of Padma Vibhushan (2003) and Padma Bhushan (1992) from President of India. Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi nominated her as a NAVRATNA for Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission). Her unique contribution has been her lifelong work using her knowledge to address socio-cultural issues through the chosen medium of dance, as a soloist, teacher, choreographer and motivational speaker.
As the Founder-President of Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth (Centre for Indian Classical Dances, estd. in 1977 at Delhi) she has trained several hundred talented students who are carrying the message of Indian culture globally. She teaches the Art as holistic concept combining music, yoga, Sanskrit and cultural traditions of India.
About Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth (Centre for Indian Classical Dances)
The Repertory Group of CICD works under the guidance and direction of Dr. Sonal Mansingh, Padma Vibhushan and Cultural Educator of international repute. The group consisting of young female and male dancers undergoe rigorous training to achieve high level of discipline and excellence in dance. The group has already performed in prestigious venues in India and abroad.
Rajay Sabha MP Padma Vibhushan Guru Dr Sonal Mansingh established Centre in 1977 in Delhi. Her vision was to provide facilities for training, research, performance and propagation of the Indian classical performing traditions.Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, there were hardly any institutions in Delhi engaged in teaching Indian dances alongside its complimentary disciplines of yoga, Sanskrit language and music. Thus CICD was a pioneer in not only providing such facilities in the national capital but also in showcasing both young dancers and established artistes in regularly held festivals. The centre was among the first to organise seminars, workshops and special classes for socially- economically deprived children.
The centre prepares students to be alert, conscious, disciplined, focussed and self-sufficient, for only such person can carry forward the goal of imbibing the world with beauty, joy and aesthetic delight.
Education through Dance
Over the last forty-two years the centre has produced many outstanding dancers. The centre’s holistic approach to teaching of dance benefits every student for the rest of their lives. There are hundreds of details about Indian culture that add a whole new dimension to the perception of life. The centre focuses on these details because it’s only when the students is conscious about the significance of coordination and inner alignments between body, mind & soul that they can become extraordinary.