The Tanjore Quartet, the “hereditary” folks…. And back to karanas!

A born dancer – non-hereditary???

One would assume that there would be a hall packed with rasikas to watch a programme by a grandson of Balasawaswathy. When hardly 30 people were initially watching Aniruddha Knight‘s performance, this number was quickly further reduced as many rasikas were unable to digest it at all, and probably were in a bit hurry running to the toilet. Aniruddha came onto the stage in a Kathak costume (thankfully, not in jeans), and was trying to dance a new style that combined new, advanced (genetically engineered) American abhinaya with a hybrid of jazz and flamenco natyam.

Not everybody living in a human body is a real human being. Indeed, where in India can you find anyone with these expressions:

American abhinaya

My daughter commented on Ani, “Poor man, they forced him to learn the dance. Not everybody is a born dancer.”

Arul confirms (with Ani in mind?):

Lots of Indians who live here are full of nostalgia and longing. In their memories, the India they knew lives on, time stamped with their year of departure. And they take it out on their children, forcing them into this life of hypocrisy.

Aniruddha kept biting the left side of his lip while doing jathi’s, trying to dance like a eunuck, with Very miserable expressions. “Is he drunk?”, my daughter asked! Will Shobana’s new film be titled as “Dance like a eunuck” or “Dance like a drunkard”?, I wondered.

“Hereditary” was the most frequent word in S.Niveda’s programme’s flier. Chitti convinced me to go and to watch her a few months ago. “Tapasya Kala Sapradaya is happy to present Niveda from the family of the Tanjore Quartet”, ran the proud intro. Tapasya was lauding its efforts “against commercial exploitation of the arts and meaningless distortion in the name of innovation”. It appears that Tapasya’s only achievement in that effort was the heavily funded documentary Marayunduvarum Marabugal that was made out of 50 hours of tape. It is wonderful that all the knowledge of the hereditary folks fit into one short documentary that not many people had the privilege to watch (why didn’t they release those 50 hours on DVDs?) . While the frontpage of the flier was displaying the Thanjore Quartet, next to them was Niveda with her hands in a lame Anjali: her palms did not touch each other. Oversight? The poor 10-year-old started dancing but could not move at all. Hardly any movement was completed fully, even though the tempo was superslow. Any eye control? Forget about it! The poor thing was too stressed, and kept forgetting the simple, hereditary steps. After watching this bharatanatyam performance we decided to limit our visits to the “hereditary” dancers’ programmes to a minimum.

TQ or nothing is the extreme radical heading of another post of Arul’s.

Sounds like Arul’s Christian sect. The spirit of confinement.

Imagine meeting somebody whose motto is “Mangos or nothing”. Or “Pringles or nothing”. Hey! Weren’t the Thanjore Quartet guys anything more than royal court musicians???? (not dancers!) If Muthuswami Dikshitar, their music teacher, somehow managed to get the recognition as a little saint (or at least a prominent religious scholar), there is no mention of TQ’s spiritual achievements. Because there were none.

One of the TQ’s (Vadivelu’s) “achievement” was the introduction of violin in the Natya recitals. As a result, the ancient veena is on the brink of extinction. The instrument that has the largest range of harmonics (no other instrument can compare with veena!) is giving way just like the natural seeds cannot compete with the aggressive GM crops that are quietly destroying our planet.

Arul writes:

These seven glittering kohinoor diamonds – master gave them to me: sakiye, yemaguva, mogamana, adimogam, yemanthayanara, danike, sami ninne.

Real diamonds are millions of years old. Perhaps, Arul calls the 200-year-old creations of the Tanjore Quartet so in regards to the tuition fees he charges for teaching them. πŸ™‚

… Other gurus reserve the best for family.

The non-hereditary….

Arul continues:

I think also that the fact that Master comes from an ancestral family of teachers has a lot to do with it. They are the ones who know the art of teaching as it existed historically. They know how to give of themselves and when and to whom and under what circumstances.

Now you understand why Alarmel Valli, who left the Master, wrote about her vocal guru:

To find a good guru is a result of one’s past karma. Smt. Mukta never held back. She was generous to the core.

The hereditary gurus were never generous: holding back as much as possible was a matter of economic survival in the tough business competition with few opportunities.

Cursing Chennai’s traffic jams, our driver managed to get us to RK Swamy’s Hall just in time for Surya Ravi’s programme that was recommended by Anusha K. Surya Ravi’s nattuvangam turned out to be Sujatha Mohan. After we started watching Surya, we again realized that there are still wonderful dancers and talented, non-hereditary gurus. Surya was fantastic in her crisp adavus, beautiful and expressive abhinaya (well, there were a few gaps when she froze for a couple of seconds like an ice-man, but it was not her fault: the choreography has to be improved). Sujatha, admitted that she substantially modified “Bharathnrithyam”. The karanas, which Padma Subrahmaniam, who lost the remnants of her sense of beauty as soon as she got a “Dr.” title, never succeeded to combine in a graceful and organic manner. How well did her seniormost disciple Sundari Santhanam do it you can see from her recent DVD on Karanas.

Non-hereditary Sujatha, learning all the best from the non-hereditary, theoretician Padma, managed to produce a superior choreography, which can be illustrated by the passages from the varnam where Surya Ravi portrayed Kalinga Krishna (really beautiful, and such a superb balance when she was jumping thrice and turning 360* on one leg – hardly any professional dancers can do it!), and the snake itself! Such grace! And how subtle was the portrayal of Kuchella’s story, how refined, how charming was the mukha abhinaya, how perfect the angashudhi!!!

When I watched the Varsha Shankar at her brilliant arangetram (it was the first time when I was convinced that karanas CAN be performed gracefully!), I did not even expect that Sujatha Mohan would show us more of the outstanding dancers like Surya Ravi! Even Sujatha’s little kids, like Shreya Balakrishna, are so amazing! Their guru really inspires them. They are so lucky!

It is Surya Ravi whose recital should follow (if not included within it) after the recitals of the IFAS talent promotion (where Nandini Ramani was one of the judges), not the clumsy Balasaraswathy’s grandson. Well, if it were not for Nandini’s insistance (oh, these stupid political obligations!), who would ever have invited him to Chennai???

Everyone who considers being trained by a hereditary guru should watch Pandanallur Subarraya Pillai VCD and hear how he explains that the hereditary gurus teach properly only their own children. The hereditary ones are unable to explain to a genetic engineer where are those Bharatanatyam genes that can transmit true natya skills. He is unable to explain why the hell the hereditary gurus teach the non-hereditary students like Indu Varma! I think this is the reason that the “hereditary dancers” are no longer taken seriously by anyone, except by the hereditary toilet cleaners and hereditary garbage collectors.

29 thoughts on “The Tanjore Quartet, the “hereditary” folks…. And back to karanas!

  1. Wonderful insights from some surely intelligent human who feels that what she has not seen the world has not and who undoubtedly is unaware of what working against the tide means. God bless the blind and give them the sensitivity to be able to see beyond the superficial.Also the wisdom to not make assumptions and statements without in any way verifying the truth or understanding the work. God bless the poor thing.

  2. Tapasya Kala Sampradaya clarifies.
    We all witnessed the birth of a beautiful star. I forsee that little Niveda will ecplise all the great stars of the past.
    Sri V.R. Laxminarayanan, Former DGPand Charman Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
    I was astounded to see the child dance. Not surprising considering the family she comes from.
    Sangita Kalanidhi Sri T.K. Govinda Rao.
    Tapasya has been doing a great Tapas for the last ten years to preserve paramparia Bharatanatyam. Little Niveda made us all happy with her dancing.
    Dr. B.M. Sundaram, Musicologist.
    The bharatanatyam we see today is not bharatanatyam. What the child danced was the right form. It should not be changed.
    Sangita Kalanidhi Sri T. K. Murthy
    The child is a divine child. Her hands were perfect during abhinaya ,her talam amazing. I have often wondered if there will ever be another child like Bala in our families. Niveda is the answer to that.
    Isai Peraringar Kalaimamani Smt K. J. Sarasa
    Niveda is a true representative of the Tanjore Quartet tradition. The tradition flows in her blood.
    Padmasri P.R.Thilakam.
    These are some of the opinions expressed by the eminent artistes who felicitated Niveda on her Arangetram. I think they are more than qualified to comment.
    Marainduvarum Marabugal.
    I offer my felicitations to Tapasya Kala Sampradaya for documenting the artistic heritage of Bharatanatyam. Marainduvarum Marabugal is an effort to keep the memoy of traditional families of artistes alive.
    Sri P.S. Ramamohan Rao, Former Governor of TamilNadu
    Recorded for posterity is footage on stalwarts from the isai vellalar community, the families that preserved its precious heritage and passed it down for generations. There are some very valuable clippings of distinguished nattuvanars, musicins and dancers, some of whom are not with us, speaking of their work and lives.
    The Hindu.
    Marainduvarum Marabugal delineates the isai vellar tradition. A product of intense and painstaking research, this is Tapasya’s largest project.
    Deccan Herald.
    Marainduvarum Marabugal has been screened over 50 times at several venues within India and abroad. Interested scholars have also watched private screenings at Tapasya.
    Tapasya Kala Sampradaya

  3. Tapasya does not like my post… 😦
    Ok, point by point.
    1. Please tell us what “working against the tide means”.
    2. I do agree that occasionally I make assumptions and statements without in any way verifying the truth (it is called “gossip”, and I am sure you do it too!) or understanding the work. If I make a mistake, please correct me. If I do not understand your work, please explain how 50 hours of Thanjore Q’s heritage could fit into one hour’s documentary? What about the other 49 hours? Were those too bad to show?
    Valuable clippings of distinguished nattuvanars, musicins and dancers, some of whom are not with us, speaking of their work and lives?
    Who is interested in these people speaking of their work and lives? They can write a book. I understand that a film is made to SHOW how they work.
    You think we do not understand that most films in India are made for money-laundering?
    3. “little Niveda will ecplise all the great stars of the past”! Huh, a very modest claim! Can you upload Niveda’s arangetram on YouTube so that everyone would see how she is eclipsing? πŸ™‚ What “stars of the past”???
    4. “The bharatanatyam we see today is not bharatanatyam. What the child danced was the right form. It should not be changed.” Here, the Tapasyaks make the TALLEST claim that only what Niveda danced is Bharatanatyam, and also these people try to convince us that Bharatanatyam HAS NOT CHANGED in their parampara (would anyone believe it?). Ok, why not show the entire world what is Bharatanatyam? Come on, YouTube is waiting for Niveda! πŸ™‚
    5. “The child is a divine child”! When did Smt K. J. Sarasa open her third eye to determine who is divine and who is not? Of course, all of her students are divine, no doubt. Smt K. J. Sarasa herself is divine: how else she dared to announce herself as “first woman nattuvanar”??? Divinity is everywhere, every idiot pronounces himself at least an Avatar.
    6. “The tradition flows in her blood”. Which jene is responsible for divine bharatanatyam? The jene of flattery?
    7. Since when the Governors of TamilNadu became experts at Bharatanatyam????

  4. Very Intersting Debate!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Coud somebody enlighten me what “Dance” stands for? why does anybody dance? And how can someone judge what is good and bad as everything is subjective ?

  5. 1.
    β€œDance” stands for rock-n-roll and hip-shaking that monkeys do. “why does anybody dance?” Because everybody is bored otherwise. πŸ™‚ People go to a disco and dance (rub into each other) there in order to find a sex partner for a one-night stand. You know that, don’t you?

    What is “Natya” is defined in Natya Shastra. They define different styles of dance there (Personally I am more interested to restore the “Kaisiki style”, the lasya-dominated one).
    Since none of the Thanjavur Q’s dancers use the 108 karanas in their compositions, these 4 styles are not Natya but folk dance.
    Go and read the books, educate yourself first.

    2. See a new post on this matter πŸ™‚

  6. Respected authority,
    What we are talking about is 50 hours of tape not one hour. No claims have been made that this is all the available heritaqe,wrong assumption. Not bright to select one portion of statement alone, private screenings were apart from the public ones as clearly mentioned. Flattery applies only to Niveda not to any other dancer on earth despite the fact that those who are described as flatterers
    have long standing reputations for speaking their mind.
    And Governers can no doubt become authorities when every one else seems to be.
    As for working against the tide,try it some time in life and wisdom will dawn.
    Good day and may the good God bless you.

  7. Ok, I adjusted my statements a bit.
    Governers, or other politicians in Kali Yuga, cannot become authorities in Bharatanatyam. The mind of a politician is too dirty to produce a clear judgment. They can only produce flattery and know how to take a bribe.

  8. Final Comments
    Meaningful work down the ages has always had more detractors than supporters until realization finally, late but always, dawns. Till then God will remain our guide, our aged resource persons our strength and our students our hope.
    We wish all our critcs a great New Year and hope that when they get free time from providing valuable insights to the world they will introspect a little bit and think of the urgent need for cultural preservation.
    Tapasya Kala Sampradaya.

  9. Indu, what will happen to your strength after your “aged resource persons” die out?

    Everybody is talking (and some are making money out of it) about “the urgent need for cultural preservation”, but where is that culture that is to be preserved? To preserve what?

    The funniest is that these “aged resource persons” themselves know next to nothing about our ancient culture. They don’t even understand or care about what is written in the Natya Shastra.

  10. This article made me piss in my pants!!! I laughed so hard…Ok I must say that your a crusader of a sort!

    Your descriptions of Anirudha and Indu Varma are both accurate and hilarious!!!

    Cheers to you

  11. Despite the author’s rude language, she is quite right to question these hollow claims to ‘authenticity’. Pedigee isn’t enough. Rounding up VIPs to pronounce something as “authentic” or “ancestral” is just a ruse. A dancer has to prove her worth through her performance and not just rest on her laurels. I have seen the two dancers in question and I don’t think their performnace lives up to their hype.

  12. Dear Ma’am,

    Wonderful blog!!!

    I am very new to the area of Bharatanatyam and my interest is derived from two aspects:

    a) It has such an ancient look. I feel as if I am looking at dancers from the Dwaparah.

    b)I have now also become a Natyashastra enthusiast…

    I have a question regarding karanas… are some of these static poses or do they all involve some kind of movement? The natya shatra seems to describe some as poses and the other as movements…

    Also, the controversy surrounding their interpretation worries me. Do we not know anymore what all 108 exaclty look like? I came across this article with pictures of poses in it:

    But it looks like an extract from Dr. Padma Subramaniam’s writings, and wikipedia tells me that she calls here style Bharatanrityam because she differs in here interpretation of the karanas…

    Could you please comment on the pictures in that link?

    Also, the DVD by Smt. Sundari Santhanam has illustrated one of the Karanas as a 180 degree leg split….. Something gives me an odd feeling about that….I also dont see any such pose in the pictures either….

    Please comment!

  13. question regarding karanas… are some of these static poses or do they all involve some kind of movement? The natya shatra seems to describe some as poses and the other as movements…

    2 things you have to understand:
    without movement, you cannot arrive at any pose
    every karana movement has a key position that the dancer can (if he is capable of doing so) maintain for a very brief time (half a second or so) to accentuate the effect

    Correct, we not know anymore what all 108 exactly look like. So you should not take seriously the pictures in the link.

    Padma Subrahmaniam just started the reconstruction, not finalised. I have never met any Bharatanatyam dancer/guru who would completelyagree with her on the karanas subject.

    one of the Karanas as a 180 degree leg split….. Something gives me an odd feeling about that….

    We are talking about a horizontal version of Suci karana
    The disagreement is mostly on how to arrive at the key position, and Sundari was obviously wrong (quite clumsy too) when she asked her student to start from the straight (front) split and move into this pose. It is quite easy to figure out how to arrive at the vertical variant of Suci, but the horizontal is a problem. I think the horizontal may be just a continuation of the vertical, but, to do that, Sundari’s girl had probably too weak legs to be able to sit down gracefully on one leg alone while holding the other leg vertically. I have seen some Chinese kung fu kids doing that effortlessly.

  14. I FEEl sundadri has done it quite nicely. but one doubt that lingers is, how do u know to move your body in such a manner? like that volptuously or say, in curves and not in angles. it looks very erotic that way- not that i have anything against it. but how can one determine that the movements has to be done that way?

  15. “quite nicely”, yes.

    how do u know to move your body in such a manner?

    In which manner? πŸ™‚
    I understand that a karana can be done in a tandava (more angular) or in a lasya (more curved) manner. And then, in which tandava? And in which lasya? And so on. πŸ™‚

    By the way, I don’t see what you can perceive in Suci as erotic.
    A karana has one of the 8 rasas as the dominating rasa, and I am not sure that Sringara can be the dominant rasa in Suci or the angaharas that use it.

    By the way, whether it is erotic or not can be best seen by the spectators who are of the opposite sex. πŸ™‚

  16. whats wrong with the TQ compositions? u seem not to like them. iam still thinking about the margam format though.
    may be ’cause i am trained in tanjore style?
    reg karanas- have you seen sundari doing it? iam not talking particularly about the suci. even the nritta hastas, the way she does……..may be because thats not the bharatanatyam we c regularly.

  17. think the TQ compositions are nice. u seem not to like them.

    They are ok, if the dancer is good I enjoy watching them, no problem. I have seen, for example, Sakiye performed at least 100 times by all kinds of dancers of all kinds of styles, in solos, duos, trios and groups! πŸ™‚

    However, the kings that the TQ compositions extol are no longer alive. The kings are dead.

    Imagine a contemporary composer composing an item dedicated to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms.Jayalalitha and containing lines praising her. As soon as Mr.Karunanidhi takes over again, this item will lose its relevance. Maybe the composer would end up in jail! πŸ™‚ The composer whose mind is tarnished by the desire/need to please a VIP will never produce a real masterpiece. For Rs.20000, some (second-rate) composers in Chennai will write you the lyrics and the music.
    There are short-term (politically correct) items, and there are long-term items not marred by politics/business.

    iam still thinking about the margam format though.

    Think about what was BEFORE the present margam was introduced 200 years ago.

    may be ’cause i am trained in tanjore style?

    Oy-yo-yo! πŸ™‚ Maybe πŸ™‚ Which Tanjore style, may I ask you? πŸ™‚

    reg karanas- have you seen sundari doing it?

    I am not even interested. First, she has to get back into good shape like Urmila or Alarmel.

    iam not talking particularly about the suci.

    So what are you talking about?

    even the nritta hastas, the way she does……..may be because thats not the bharatanatyam we c regularly

    May be…

  18. Bharatanatyam,

    I would agree to how you question moving into that pose. I did not know there existed a horizontal version of the Suchi Karana. So I think I am ok with the frozen pose itself.

    But then slipping and sliding the heels across the floor which gives all control to our gravitation descent instead of our leg muscles does not seem like the best way to move into it.

    Regarding the Rasa that might dominate this Karana. My first pick would be Veera Rasa, and if not that I think this goes into Hasya…..hmm maybe adbhuta if not that…it sure is an adbhuta pose.

    As for the candidacy of Shrigara, it does not seem to evoke Rati Bhava, the sthaayi bhava in Shrigara.

  19. But then slipping and sliding the heels across the floor which gives all control to our gravitation descent instead of our leg muscles does not seem like the best way to move into it.

    That’s what I meant to say too.

    Regarding the Rasa that might dominate a Karana, a lot of viniyogas are given in Abhinavabharathi, so there is no need to guess too much.

    By the way, what do you do at USC? πŸ™‚

  20. Dear Ma’am,

    Why don’t you create an email ID catering catering to this blog? You can still avoid giving out personal info… Some discussions are carried out better outside of this rather public and “google searchable” space.

    Your quick google-research on me is already making me blush and squirm :-).

    Anyway, moving further to discussions that would truly belong to this blog….I have another question regarding the Rasas.

    You know how NatyaShastra puts the 8 rasas in 4 pairs…Where one Rasa is the cause and the other the effect…

    The pairing that I dont completely understand yet is the Shringara-Hasya:

    While I understand that the merriment of Shrigara can induce laughter, the Hasya Rasa itself is described as gross comedy rather than the light or humour I would associate with Shringara…

    Would you have any specific example to illustrate the connection?

    The only real life connection that I have seen is that when Shringara Rasa is executed poorly…it comes out as Hasya Rasa !!

  21. Hasya Rasa itself is described as gross comedy rather than the light or humour

    Really? There are 6 types (depending on the proportions of the 3 gunas) of Hasya, from the most sublime and subtle (smita – purely sattvic in nature, this is why devas never show their teeth while smiling – something that not all dancers understand) to the most gross (atihasita).

    I undestand that the residing deity of Hasya are Pramathas, the attendants of Shiva (Pramatha is also one of the numerous names of Shiva) who are destructive in nature. The presiding deity of Sringara is Vishnu.

    The white colour of Hasya, Shiva’s colour, denotes the rejection of impurities of the relative (in time and space) existence.

    cause and the other the effect

    Cause and the consequence. Since Hasya is of two kinds (depending on who – do you laugh or do you make others laugh? – experiences the consequent emotion), we can imagine that Hasya is most likely the reaction of Shiva’s humorous attendants (in the astral, emotional or vital world) to any manifestations of Sringara. This is why Bharata Muni says that Hasya is the mimicry of Sringara.

    Since love comes from heart (the seat of Vishnu), the people dominated by their head (seat of Shiva) will most likely smile (or even laugh) while seeing other people in love.

  22. how many tanjore styles do u know anyway? how can you comment on anything that you have not seen or felt, for eg sundari? Dance is the physical interpretation of music and in that music lies the feeling and etc. thats y bharata never told how to dance. he laid guidelines, he left the interpretation part. he wanted each human being/dancer to feel, interpret and reach that point of understanding/realization. gods dont show their teeth? r u sure? what abt ur fav kali?
    while everything in the nature has undergone a change, including all kinds of art, y not dance or say bhartanatyam? y r u against it? no change or innovation or even bettermetnt can happen without such out of hte box thinking. yes i agree to the point that it might now be called, present day bharatanatyam of present day tanjore style of guru so and so…. but can u take an example , say a simple compsition and choreograph it exactly according to what sage bharata had written and meant in natyashastra? once u do that we will talk further.
    darling, not everything that is old is great, and not everything that is new is shit

  23. How easy is it to infuriate you! πŸ™‚

    how many tanjore styles do u know anyway?

    Many. More than 50, I guess.

    how can you comment on anything that you have not seen or felt, for eg sundari?

    I did watch Sundari in that DVD. I tried not to laugh! πŸ™‚ Did you see how she drops her jaw? πŸ™‚ Comic! πŸ™‚
    What I meant to say that I did not see her in person, when she was younger. I guess she danced much better.

    gods dont show their teeth?

    I said, “devas” (the Sattva-loving powers of Mind). Not even the Mahadevas or the powers of Svar, who are above the 3 guna’s.

    r u sure? what abt ur fav kali?

    She is the exception, since she has to clean up the world’s garbage. Dirty job. πŸ™‚ Unlike devas, She is not attached to any guna.

    while everything in the nature has undergone a change, including all kinds of art, y not dance or say bhartanatyam? y r u against it?

    No. I believe even Urvasi has been evolving in her style πŸ™‚ The apsaras (or devas) cannot evolve unless they take birth on earth. All evolution is happening here.

    can u take an example , say a simple compsition and choreograph it exactly according to what sage bharata had written and meant in natyashastra? once u do that we will talk further.

    OK. I’ll talk to you in 40-60 years’ time. Sure 😦 My creative talent is (at the moment) zero. I would have to do a lot of pujas for Brahma πŸ™‚

    darling, not everything that is old is great, and not everything that is new is shit

    Fine. I will be happy if you show (or tell) us what is there new that is not shit. πŸ™‚

  24. dear bharatanatyam,
    you mistake my thoughts as fury. you have not infuriated me. just like cleaning the garbage that u do is mistook by many.
    you not only have to open your eyes wide enough, but also your mind to let in some freshness and see things in a new and better perspective, then you will realise what is new and what is not shit.
    while i really like and respect your honesty, pls dont hide under any pretext…. did u really think that way when i askedu abt sundari? welll….. there is something that is above everything- that is truth. and only our inner self knows whether we are true or not, right or not.
    not only the devas, but also such human who is self realized and has reached the ultimate bliss thru meditation will have that kind of smile u have mentioned above.
    to think that one knows everything and what one sees exists and what one knows only is right – is not a very good idea.
    pls list down the 50 kinds of tanjore style of dancing in detail and i will tell u which one is mine.
    how do u know that devas have that smile, and do u know the reason behind it, all the reasons that are there all the time?
    why such frustration?

  25. Dear Bharatanatyamji,

    You have seriously made Upahasa of Sringara with your comments!

    “This is why Bharata Muni says that Hasya is the mimicry of Sringara.”

    Could you point me to where he says this?…I read that he says Hasya involves imitation of other’s activities in general. Hasya also involves foolish activities… which brings me to an alternate way of looking at the Pramatha Gana:

    If you ever read about the wedding of Paarvati, you will come across the wedding procession of Shiva consisting of this Pramatha Gana…. Like jumble words, these folks have jumbled up limbs and body parts. Some have their face in the torso. Some have many heads, some are walking on their hands……You can imagine any kind of anatomical combination and you might find it in Shiva’s gana…. I think this is what makes them apt presiding deities of Hasya.

    “Since love comes from heart (the seat of Vishnu), the people dominated by their head (seat of Shiva) will most likely smile (or even laugh) while seeing other people in love.”

    Do you think Shiva, the lord and Guru of all, laughs at the Shringara between Radha and Krishna?….Do remember he is also the first amongst Vaishnavas apart from being Eeshwara.

    I think the following statement is enough to clear this:

    Bhakti (that is born in the heart) is the mother of Gnaana and Vairaagya (which occupy the head)….Today we have arrogance and hypocrisy disguised as Gnaana and Vairaagya, laughing at matters of the heart. True Gnaana and Vairaggya became feeble and semi-concious 5000 years ago when this Kali Yuga started….

    What more to say, the presiding deity of Shringara is capable of giving moksha…..Had it not been for his good looks, the gopis would not have fallen for him and Vrindavana would not have been a pilgrimage…

    Coming back to the Shrigara-> hasya equation, here is my latest conclusion…

    On the walls of Khajuraho you will find monkeys clinging to legs of pretty ladies…It is said they are actually men obsessed with these women; having become monkeys they now excel only in imitating these ladies like puppets.

    Pretty women have made clowns out of men. And not just that, the gopis behaved all funny when Krishna used to hide away from them in the forest…And yes they imitated him in whatever way they remembered him.

    Makes me think about the innocence and spirituality of all this careless imitation.

    Maybe that is why the color white belongs here!

  26. I referred to NS. VI.40-41 . The problem with NS is that it contains a lot of spurious later additions, and you need to be a better sanskritologist than Mr.Ghosh to separate the more recent chaff from the original.

    There is an interesting interpretation of how Hasya arises out of Sambhoga Sringara. (Why do they write that little Krishna is the presiding deity of Hasya, and Varuna is the presiding deity of Karuna, though?) The culmination of Sringara leads to joy (ananda is the result of moksha), and a smile will naturally appear on the face of a happy, light-hearted (hence the white colour?) person who perceives the illusory nature of the world, Maya.

    Just as in Vipralambha Sringara one is keenly aware of the separation between the lover and the object of one’s love, so in Hasya, one has to be detached from the object of one’s humour.

    How fire can be born out of water is not a matter of hydrogen fuel cells or nuclear physics but a matter of occult (direct) experience. It’s not a matter of philosophical discussion. I think the connection is on the essential level of the Rasas, and that our discussions on the Bhavas level cannot really bring you the true understanding.

    By the way, it has just dawned on me that if you can remember vividly the experiences you had, say, 40 years ago, these experiences are the ones that have a lot of sattva (when you were fully aware of what is happening – not just in a usual, half-conscious state). So, when you die, your soul will imbibe the essence of these experiences.

    Out of the hundreds of the Bharatanatyam performances that I watched, I still remember very bright moments…. Maybe 0.01% of the total time… What a waste if time! Most of the time it was rather tedious and sometimes I even fell half-asleep! πŸ™‚ In the Rig Veda, there is a sloka that warns us that we should not allow the gray dogs of daily routine eat up the bright treasures.

  27. More about Hasya (from Mahanirvana Tantra’s point of view):

    Soma-chakra is a lotus of sixteen petals, which are also called sixteen Kala. These Kala are called kripa (mercy), mriduta (gentleness), dhairyya (patience, composure), vairagya (dispassion), dhriti (constancy), sampat (prosperity), hasya (cheerfulness, joyousness & amusement).…..

    Another quote:

    The Semites have afflicted mankind with the conception of a God who is a stern and dignified king and solemn judge and knows not mirth. But we who have seen Krishna, know Him for a boy fond of play and a child full of mischief and happy laughter.
    A God who cannot smile, could not have created this humorous universe.

    The same author says that

    the Pramath mind concentrated on the heart and the emotional and aesthetic part of the chitta

    Incidentally, over the past 10 years we have seen mushrooming the spurious “Hasya Yoga” centers. These folks say that

    “The brain cannot recognise self-induced laughter from the laughter from external stimuli and what to some may seem like a silly and artificial beginning almost always leads into a natural euphoric state of hearty laughter.”

    One person writes:

    My personal experience is that it is indeed possible (you need to be completely detached from your mind and observe it and move it) to experience hasya at will: it takes just a little shift in your attitude.
    However, I had a problem: after such a practice you suddenly realize that no external events can affect your emotional reactions. For many years, I had no emotions at all. 100% Shanta. πŸ™‚ Spaced out. πŸ™‚

    It was odd, and people noticed it. I lost the ability to experience anger, pity, disgust, surprise, etc. You cannot function effectively in the human society without expressing emotions (people would think you are mad). So, since my emotional nature was inclined to Hasya (you don’t need to be an astrologist to understand it), my first (a bit delayed, though) reaction to everything became a slight smile. The problem is that a person who has a complete detachment from his mind is unable to react instantly. It takes at least half a second longer than “normal” people. Tubelight! πŸ™‚

    I was aware that others are not always inclined to share (see it in the same way) the amusing side of events or things. On the other hand, I developed the ability to move (very easily) even the angry people into the humorous state. In person, it is very easy. You just look at them for a second, generate hasya (shift the viewpoint, so to say) inside you, and they start smiling for no reason. Funny. It’s like playing with a cat. πŸ™‚ ”

  28. You aptly compared the photos of George Bush and the chip, leading to a question. We know that apes experience a huge variety of emotions. They surely experience the emotions that the vulgar dancers experience, but these cannot be called rasas.

    “Shringara rasa in today’s undertones mean images of sexual love” – tells us Kala Ramesh (Pune). “Dancer Dhananjayan has rightly pointed out: Sringara rasa can be created by many different kinds of methods. “…Bhakti, the tie between a devotee and God. Amorous interpretation of this would be inappropriate.”

    Now we know that dancer Dhananjayan is an atheist or converted into Islam, because thuosands of Indian saints spoke about Bhakti and thousands of scupltors depicted it as the passionate relationship of lovers. The Tantrics have gone the farthest in this direction.

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