Space scientists recall Mrinalini with her husband Vikram Sarabhai

Google Doodle Pays Tribute To Legendary Indian Classical Dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai once said, "From the moment of my knowledge of existence, I claimed the dance as my own life. It shaped the entire consciousness of my being and it never changed.."
Mrinalini Vikram Sarabhai was an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor. She was the founder of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, an institute for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, in the city of Ahmedabad
Mrinalini Sarabhai with her husband and noted physicist Vikram Sarabhai.
Mrinalini Sarabhai with her husband and noted physicist Vikram Sarabhai.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After the demise of legendary danseuse and Padmabhushan recipient Mrinalini Sarabhai on Thursday morning at the age 97, distinguished space scientists and former directors of ISRO establishments here recall her with her husband and noted physicist Vikram Sarabhai popularly known as the father of the Indian Space program.
“Why India’s first sounding rocket in 1967 with its subsequent launches in 1968 was named as Rohini, is that the birth star of Mrinalini”, that was how space scientists prodded Vikram Sarabhai, the then director of the Space Science and Technology Centre at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) here,” recalls noted space scientist and Padmashree awardee Dr N Vedachalam, founder director of ISRO Inertial Systems Unit and former director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC). “Silently, Sarabhai kept smiling at it without responding. Even now I do not know whether Rohini is the birth star of Mrinalini,” he adds.

Next time during a rocket launch testing, it danced and fell off at Thumba, Sarabhai named it as `Menaka’ laughing out at the nudging scientists in a lighter vein, he reminisces.

For three years during his official visits here, I have not seen him with his wife Mrinalini, his son Karthikeyan and daughter Mallika in Thiruvananthapuram, as he was on his official visit as the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Yet as an affectionate person, he had mentioned about them. On one occasion, Sarabhai said, “daughter Mallika is going to excel her mother Mrinalini in art and dance”.

“Young scientists like me used to wait for the inspiring leader Vikram Sarabhai’s visit to Thumba, but in Dec 1970, heard of the shocking demise of Vikram Sarabhai at a hotel in Kovalam while waiting to meet him. In that deep sorrow, Mrinalini was silent. Sarabhai’s mother Sarla Devi from Gujarat had rang up the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to ensure not to do any post-mortem on her son’s body as she insisted on Jain’s custom to perform the last rites on the banks of Sabarmati.

Space scientist of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and author of many books including `A Brief History of Rocketry in ISRO’, PV Manoranjan Rao recalls Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai as “Two illustrious professionals and dignified couple, remained strong personalities equally talented and famous in their chosen domains.

Mrinalini pursued her higher studies at Shantiniketan and had the admiration as a student from poet and teacher Rabindranath Tagore. Sarabhai met her while at Bangalore and they got married. Heard of void that filled in among the soul bonds, but such cracks are bound to be there in every relationship. The couple were so graceful, though sadly one had a short life span”.

ISRO scientist P Radhakrishnan and co-author of the book `A Brief History of Rocketry in ISRO’ recalls Mrinalini as the wife of Vikram Sarabhai who had met each other and got married. She was fortunate enough to have received full support and patronage of her husband Sarabhai in her pursuits as a dancer and for setting up Darpana Institute of Performing arts in Ahmedabad.

VSSC former head Technology Transfer VP Balagangadharan recalls Mrinalini during her last visit to VSSC in 2002 to unveil the bust of Vikram Sarabhai, her husband and father of Indian space program who had given her lot of support in setting up many art institutes including Darpana.

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