Sringara Rasa: the most intimate secret of the classical Indian dance, in Bharatanatyam in particular. Mysteries of Srungara in the South Asian dance theatre. Shringara and Tantra. Shrungara…

Sringara…

“one of the reviews of my Rangapooja read ‘not fit to be a dancer’”, says the politically shrewd recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for dance for 2009very attractive: senior dancera gopi whose half-moon forehead is glorious with glistening red sindura dots, a gopi whose blossoming lotus face is graceful with black-bee locks of curly hair, a gopi whose glorious vine eyebrows mock the great powers of Kamadeva’s bow, a gopi whose passionate, languid, amorous glances enchant and bewilder her beloved

How we get attracted to people, things and ideas? What makes us beautiful and fascinating? In this article you will read about the following:

This article is not intended to please those contemporary Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi or Odissi dancers who view Natya as merely a “dance form”, an “Art for art’s sake”, a pastime, a hobby, a career, etc. Such individuals may find the statements made by Bharata Muni to be offensive, inappropriate, inapplicable, undemocratic, threatening their professional dance career, pride, social status, ethical values, personal contacts, business transactions, sex life, etc. Such individuals, especially those suffering from an acute lack of any sense of humour, are advised not to read this article to prevent any accidental heart attacks.

(Special thanks to Smitha Menon for her contributions)

Sringara: Hindu gods vs Mexican film stars

“There are three expressions of Sringara: in words, in dress and in action”. The light green paste on the face of a Kathakali dancer is a common sight, but few know why Sringara’s colour is light green. Colours are not mere symbolisms: Krishna is dark blue because such is his aura, which is the kind of explanations given to the spiritual seeker for a practical purpose. A figure called Aroopa (lit.”bodiless”) Laxmi is in the north circuit facing north. Puranas declare that she got this “ugly” form (formless, rather) as she mocked the dark colour of Vishnu. Vishnu thus having rendered his wife unseemly in a moment of hasty indiscretion showered the red kumkumam of Kamakshi on Laxmi resulting in restoration of her beauty. Vishnu is also seen here enjoying this transformation. This place is called ‘Kalvan Sannadi’. So, why is Laxmi, Vishnu’s wife, seated on a pink lotus and wears red clothes? Of course, we can imagine Vishnu as a light green center of a pink lotus. I always wondered why the flowers’ centre is always of different colour than the petals. The “male” (unmanifested) single principle is in the centre, the multiple petals are the manifested Shakthis. Actually, kAmeshvara or nirguNa brahman is like a sheet of canvas which is completely without any colors. Family relationships can be confusing at times: “Pleased with the devotion of Brahma and Narayana, Sri Kamakshi looked at them respectively with her left and right eyes. From her right eye appeared Sri Saraswati (kA) and Sri Lakshmi (mA) appeared from her left eye.” Ka-Ma… Kama???

So, what about the dancer’s costume? What costumes are best for expressing Sringara? If you look at Kamakshi’s costume in the picture below, you will understand what colour is evocative of Sringara. If the dancer appears in some dirty gray costume, there is no chance…. What about the fashion? Few of the dancers know that the currently popular Bharatanatyam costumes were designed 60 years ago by Rukmini Devi’s… Italian seamstress. (Below we explain in detail why Rukmini Devi wanted to eliminate Sringara from the dance – and from the costume too). Prior to that, the devadasis danced in heavy sarees. The next logical step would be to dance in burkas, which would please Osama bin Laden, for sure. However, after the suppression by the Arabs and the British, the soul of India is emerging victorious: the success of the Indian movies is largely due to the emergence of the Sringara-accentuated costumes where, for example, the dancers stomach and shoulders are not covered. Do you know the reason the senior “dancers” (except, perhaps, for Alarmel Valli and Urmila Sathyanarayanan) would hate appearing in costumes like that?

“Sringara appears in the interaction between men and women, and is connected with the fullness of youth”, the latter being an attribute of the devas and the immortal rishis. No temple scupltor so far dared to portray Nataraja in the shape of an ugly crippled old man on a pair of crutches. Well, Osama bin Laden was wiser than Aurangzeb: he sponsored His holiness Shri Syed Sallauddin Pasha to choreograph Bhagawad Gita On Wheels, where Krishna is presented as a neurotic psychopath. Why haven’t the “specially abled” students of Ambika Kameshwar and George Bush bothered to choreograph a Koran-in-used-Sanitary-Napkins, a Bharatanatyam item portraying Mohammed as merely a cruel pedophile or a schizophrenic victim of an African gang rape?

However hard Aurangzeb and King George tried, Hinduism is still somewhat alive. The naked or scantily clad statues of beautiful devas and fascinating apsaras were meant to attract people. Contemporary classical Indian dancers routinely complain of poor attendance at their performances, yet the same dancers are much more daring than the temple sculptors, though in other ways. When the pregnant-looking Sudharani Raghupathi dressed like a clown in a recent ballet was acting as a wretched “Mammudha” (Cupid), didn’t it look far more grotesque and idiotic than the elderly Veronica Castro from “The Rich Also Cry attempting the role of a 18-year-old girl? Well, “when it comes to the veterans, still forces to reckon with in their seventies and even eighties, minor lapses in tone or movement are often forgiven as natural concomitants of age, by an audience drunk on nostalgia

Ugly old clown struggling - before rushing to the toilet?

Guess this ugly old clown’s “feeling”: or is he struggling – before rushing to the toilet?

“It costs about Rs.10 lakhs (to “produce” Mammudha”). Thankfully, we have got some nice sponsors”, proudly announced Sudharani’s son. The rich old dancers don’t cry: they know where to milk some nice idiots to get the funding to fool around and publicly insult the religious feelings of the Hindus. A French poet noted that Manmadan (or Mammudha) himself probably ran away from most places in India on an extended holiday, leaving the country at the mercy of prudent parents and arranged marriages that don’t require any love or – god forbid! – anything from Kama Sutra.

Kama, of course, should not be erroneously interpreted as merely an erotic urge. “Almost all Rasas proceed from the Desire (kama). Kama is of different types. There are for example dharma-kama (passion for virtue), artha-kama (desire for wealth) and moksha-kama (desire for liberation)”. Those who have desire for liberation are a peculiar sort of audience who are attracted to the margi dance, the one Padma Subrahmaniam wanted to resurrect. Desire is the core engine of the universe. Without desires, we cannot do anything unless we apply the karma yogic approach to actions. Mother has three eyes and rules the world as Raja Rajeshwari as Lalitha, beauty of beauties and as a destroyer of all ‘Kamas’ love and thus as Kameswari

Natya, the classical Indian dance is do be done as an offering to the Divine. Fame-seeking, self-promotion and stardom-hunting are not part of Karma Yoga, yet the classical Indian dance instructors are somehow called “gurus”.

Kama is the son of Vishnu, the governing spirit of Sringara, says Natya Shastra. The lesser gods are the inferior manifestations of their “parents” and inhabit the lower worlds (lokas). In Svarga, the lower heaven, Kama is the master of Manas, the sensational mind. While animals and more primitive people have well-developed manas, they lack buddhi, the intuitive intelligence of Chandraloka (Moon world). Just as the light from the Sun is reflected by the Moon (Chandra), so is Kama’s wife Rati a dim and distorted reflection of Lakshmi. Rati, is the name of the sthayi bhava of Love. Lakshmi is called the daughter of the sea; since the moon also appeared from the ocean during the churning, the moon is called her “brother”. By the by, you know who is the owner of the divine cow Kamadhenu?

Kamakshi

Kamakshi

In Tantra, goddess Kamakshi is a form of Tripura Sundari (also called Shodashi or Lalita or by other names). “She is the one whose eyes awaken desire, “She who has beautiful eyes”. (Below we will speak about glances)

The attraction of divine beauty generates the most sublime desire of union with the Divine. Tripura Sundari as Shodasi is represented by a 16-year-old girl (actually, a 16-angle yantra, each angle of different colour, of course), and embodies 16 types of desire. The Shodasi Tantra describes Tripura Sundari as “the radiant light in the eyes of Shiva“. She is described as of dusky color, and is depicted in an intimate pose with Shiva.

To see the reason that the people of high sex appeal are called “hot” , look at Kamakshi. Red. The reason Bharatanatyam dancers are asked to sit in proper araimandi is because this position stimulates the Muladhara chakra (guess what color it is!), so the subjective (and even objective) temperature rises. Want to see? Bring your infrared camera. Scientifically speaking, red is the colour that we subconsciously notice most, therefore it is used as the most important colour in the traffic lights. Red attracts attention. Full stop. If you want to persuade Bharatanatyam dancers to paint their fingers and feet in blue, think twice.

“The radiance of a thousand raising suns, three eyes, resplendent in red clothes, wearing a crown with the crescent moon, holding in her hands a bow of sugarcane, goad, arrows of flowers and a noose.” Oh, the flower-arrows of desire? And the goad of displeasure? Here we see the reference to the twin egocentric reactions of attraction and aversion (râga and dvesha)

Intimacy is a necessary circumstance of every spiritual practice, this is the reason the temple dancers, devadasis, originally danced unwatched in the sanctum sanctorums. But how many of us would be able to pour our innermost feelings in front of a 300-strong crowd made up of drunk foreign tourists chewing chips, and of the sex-starved local cheri boys? Let’s be realistic: 99% of us try to avoid even thinking of any relationship with God. It is much safer not to focus too much on our soul.

Shringara: The clash of civilizations: the Devadasis and the Kalakshetra times

Rukmini Devi Arundale

Rukmini Devi Arundale

Catholic ideals of divinity

Don’t I look sexy, darling?

The young wife of the bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Rukmini Devi Arundale, had to please the pious Christian conquerors who were used to the western ballet and cabaret dances, and also the degraded Brahmin caste who had lost Natya Veda, an appendix to Sama Veda. She had no choice but to remove any traces of Sringara in Bharatanatyam.. Unfortunately, this kind of a “refinement” cut off the most essential expressions, the movements of the neck, lips, eyes and many more gestures and body movements, the very soul of Sringara, the life of Natya.

Most hip and the chest movements became a taboo. Karanas and angaharas were replaced by “clean” ballet-like moves. After all, Rukmini Devi originally wanted to learn the Russian ballet from Anna Pavlova. Ironically, it is Anna Pavlova who persuaded Rukmini to destroy Bharatanatyam.

E .Krishna Iyer said about Rukmini Devi, “There is no necessity to say that before she entered the field, the art was dead and gone or that it saw a renaissance only when she started to dance or that she created anything new which was not before”

In Chapter 26 we read, “Women’s moves should be in delicate angaharas. The hands, feet and other limbs should be graceful (lalita). But men’s movements of these should be restrained (dhira) or excessive (uddhata)”. “T</em><em>he Kaisiki dance with the Sringara is related to the interaction between a man and woman when they are in love”, yet hardly any classical dancer of today is able to – or would – portray Urvasi’s attempt to seduce Arjuna.

K.J.Sarasa portraying seductive Urvasi

K.J.Sarasa portraying seductive Urvasi

To please the materialistic Indian elite and the “civilized” British colonialists, the spiritual layer was discarded almost totally, and the new notion of “secular” Bharatanatyam started to be marketed for those who had no moksha-kama whatsoever. “One who will perform well the dance created by Mahesvara (Tandava dance), will go free from all sins to the abode of Siva”, unequivocally states Bharata Muni. He did not bother to specify where the folk, ballet or modern dancers will end up. “The Tandava dance is mostly to accompany the worshipping of gods, but its gentler form (sukumara-prayoga) relates to Sringara”. Interestingly, the two correspond to the 2 spiritual methods: the tapasya and the path of surrender to the Divine.

Tandava dance consists of the 108 Karanas, which were wisely banned by Rukmini Devi. The young beautiful Indian girl certainly did not fall in love with the elderly, out-of-shape British gentleman, so no topics of Sringara were allowed for fear of making George Arundale too horny and committing a marital rape. Love and intimacy were simply out of place. “Kama is the attraction between a man and a woman. For all people, this attraction, may end in joy or sorrow. It leads to happiness even in unhappy situations. The union of man and woman is Sringara. It brings them happiness”.

When Balasaraswati asked, “If you remove sringara from dance, what will people like us do?” Rukmini Devi replied, “I have no problem with sex or love (has Rukmini herself experienced ANY?), nor with portraying sringara, but the dance should not be sexy. Sexiness has no place in our arts.” Balasaraswati lashed out at this cleaned up brahminised dance, calling it in her turn ‘vulgar’. So, what exactly appear as “vulgar” to an individual? Every humanoid creature belongs to a certain type or race (check out what type you belong to), and will consider as vulgar everything characteristic of the lower types/races. That’s why you probably don’t feel particularly attracted to monkeys.

Balasaraswati’s clash with Rukmini resemble the clash between the Left Path and the Right Path of Tantra. The yogic point of view contradicts the western science’s. Yogis say that normal women are naturally brahmacharini’s in the sense that they cannot experience any physical “lust” because there is a golden belt of concentrated prana around their lower stomach. Without a physical contact, a lustful desire has to be extraordinarily powerful to pierce this belt. Practically speaking, until she has actually had a physical intercourse, a woman’s body cannot experience any lustful urge, which applies also to the teenage gopis of Vrindavan who certainly had not been exposed to porn movies. After all, the men of Satya Yuga did not even have sex with their wives: the only thought of conceiving a child was enough for the wife to actually conceive a child. In the next Yuga, in case of most men, it was enough for a man to touch a woman’s stomach to make her conceive.

Balasaraswaty obviously did not read the old Natya Shastra (written lo-o-o-o-o-ng before Tamil appeared), otherwise she would not have said, In the 11 early dance forms (performed by Mathavi), valour and wrath are the predominant emotions. Yet, Sringara – which was later to become the ruling mood of abhinaya – was pre-eminent in the Tamil dance tradition right from the beginning“.

Balasaraswaty, a rajadasi who always dreamed of becoming a devadasi, wrote nonsense like this: In the two important dance forms, the court dance and the common dance, which relate respectively to the inner and the outer life of man. Sringara belongs to the court and to the inner life. This explains the eminence of sringara as a mood.”

Balasaraswaty further exposes her shallow-mindedness: The composer of a Sabdam or a Varnam might have dedicated it to a prince or a noble man. But as far as the dancer is concerned, the hero can only be the King of Kings, the Lord of the wide world. It is impossible for her to dedicate her art, which has sanctified her body and has made her heart sacred, to a mere mortal. She can experience and communicate the sacred in what appears to be secular”.

“Microsoft Corporation and the US dollar are the sacred things to me”, says Bill Gates. In fact, most Americans worship the divinely green buck. The sacred is what is the most important in our life (our career, of course!) Did Balasaraswathy mean that the dancers can communicate the sacred even while dancing to a Pepsi-Cola hymn, and fall in love with a Hero Honda motorbike????? And when the dancers from Andhra developed those condom songs for the live demonstrations on the stage, did they actually imagine lingams and Shiva himself by looking at the condoms? I have a big big doubt. Of course, one can write that a saint-poetcan compare the Lord with a rotten egg, but there is a limit in the metaphor, isn’t there? Interestingly, Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer specifically barred his students from performing items dedicated to the non-divine beings. He probably understood that there was a difference between a Disney Land and the Chidambaram Temple. Balasaraswathy didn’t.

Bala continued, “After all, our composers have been steeped in the tradition of bhakti. While singing the praise of secular heroes, they begin to dwell on his devotion to Brihadeeshwara of Tanjavur or to Tyagesa of Tiruvarur or to Padmanabha of Tiruvanandapuram. The dancer, taking the cue, enters the realms of bhakti, enjoys the play and pranks of the deity concerned, and displays them in her abhinaya. The divine, so far mixed with the secular, now becomes explicit in the dance and impresses itself deep in the heart.

The contemporary “secular heroes” are atheists who have no devotion to Brihadeeshwara or Tyagesa or any god except the god of greed, falsehood and deceit.</em></span><span style=”font-family: Times New Roman;”>The very music and the lyrics determine the state of mind of the dancer and the audience, so when the love-songs dedicated to some mean medieval kinglets are recited by a Bharatanatyam dancer, all this play and pranks will look like a horseplay rather than bhakti. Mixing the divine with the secular… is possible only for those like Balasaraswathy who have never had any real spiritual experiences, and who watched Diisney’s Mickey Mouse instead of reading the Mahabharata!. The idea of mixing the divine with the secular is in vogue at the end of Kali Yuga: in the temples they now play… Bollywood and Mollywood pop songs. Soon Michael Jackson’s divine compositions will replace Thyagaraja’s in the temple’s ceremonies..

Balasaraswathy added, “Various rhythmic movements are intertwined with her abhinaya; this saves her from degenerating into the human, and keeps her fresh and pure in the yoga of the dance”.

What is “degenerating into the human“? Silly, this is what Bala was a master of! Have you heard of the Pepsi-Cola yoga and McDonalds yoga? Everything is now yoga in the USA. Even British prostitutes proudly call themselves… devadasis! Oh, how divine are the hamburgers and beer consumed by 300 000 000 self-styled “Tantric yogis of the Vama Marga” of America! How divine are their SUV cars! Oh, how romantic! No wonder Pamela Anderson is considered a saint, and George Bush an Avatar!

There is indeed no limit to the human imagination and the human talent for self-deception. There is no chance for a contemporary Bharatanatyam dancer to enter into a true Samadhi by focussing on praises to some medieval employers of mediocre poets/composers. If you are such a great yogini, you can concentrate on a piece of garbage and see the Brahman there, but Balasaraswathy was certainly not capable of doing so. Actually, I don’t know any dancer who could. Ok, if you want a challenge, take a commercial song praising inflated mattresses, choreograph to it, and see how divinely inspired will your audience be when they watch you dance and listen to the song. Try, idiot, try. Imagine that the Mattress is Sri Krishna, and try to fall in love with Him. Work hard to convince the audience.

Today’s elderly dancers conveniently ignore how the early devadasis, who were celibate all their life, understood and portrayed Sringara. “Only a woman who gets up in a morning to find her lover gone knows what viraha is,” stubbornly repeated Balasaraswati, a wannabe devadasi. Understanding the symbol does not, however, automatically bring the understanding of what this symbol stands for. Symbolism is lost when metaphors start being taken literally. It is not necessary to become and American astronaut and taste the moon sand in one’s mouth in order to know what kind of life is there in Chandraloka. The modern dance gurus like to complain that even the children in their early teens somehow can’t understand the adults’ relationships and cannot “adequately” portray them. What is “adequate”? There are two warring schools of abhinaya. The “realistic” or even grotesque abhinaya is portrayed by the basest of actors in the Indian movies. Should classical dancers try to be as vulgar and primitive as Bollywood?

Gowry Ramnarayan, like many elderly dancers, was mistaken to believe that Sringara’s expression is somehow limited to a sensual longing: “Abhinaya posed problems peculiar to the times. Earlier, the devadasis had other performers in the family, street and village as role models to serve as the basis of a personal style. But the new upper class entrants had no such visual examples. How could they pick up the techniques of abhinaya from their male te achers to evoke the essentially feminine experiences detailed in the songs they danced to? Especially as the nattuvanars were hampered by the need to curtail the sringara quotient for the new class of trainees. “This art is just emerging out of decadence. Let us keep it dignified,” was the refrain of Chockalingam Pillai. An old student recalls, “Edo oru vahaiyil varugudu” was taught to me as a bland and literal “Something is happening to me”. It was much later that I realised it referred to a woman’s sensual longing!”

Well, what did she understand by “sensual“? And by “longing“? Natya Shastra says that longing (abhilasa) is the first stage of love. The next stages are Anxiety, Recollection, Emuneration of Merits, Distress, Lamentation, Insanity, Sickness, Stupor. If the union has not been achieved, the last stage of such love ends in death. For some reasons Bharata Muni advises that this stage should not be presented on stage. Unlike in Bollywood, in Natya “There should be on the stage no ascending of the bed-stead, no bath, no use of unguents and collyrium, no decoration of the body and no doing of the hair…The prohibited mode of dress will suit only the women of inferior type because of their low nature. But they too are not to be represented as doing what is improper”.

Sringara: Expression of love and the connections with other moods

Natya Shastra puts it plainly that the young audience are only attracted to the scenes of love. The youth happily abandoned the bland classical Indian dance performances for the spicey movies’ abundant love scenes, even though these were normally rendered in the most vulgar and crude manner. The current ever-growing popularity of porn videos among the Indian youth proves that no cinema can compete with something that appeals to the lowest (and strongest?) of the animal instincts. Not all people are just two-legged dogs. We are all different. “A woman of high family is to awaken her beloved by the sound of her ornaments; the courtesan by the sweet scents; the handmaid by fanning the beloved with her clothes”.

Alarmel Valli said, “Though Chokkalingam Pillai often told us not to dance like a jadam (zombie), I suspect that the masters had to shed much of the full blooded quality of the repertoire to be accepted by the `respectable’ Mylapore matrons. I sensed that when they described Pandanallur Jayalakshmi’s abhinaya, for padams like `Velavare.”‘

A courtesan overcome with love should be represented by making her express the feelings by casting side-long glances, touching the ornaments, itching the ears, scratching the ground with her toes, showing the breasts and the navel, cleansing the nails and gathering (adjusting) her hair”. On treating a lover at fault, “When taken by her hair, hand or dress the woman should enjoy the touch of the beloved in such a way that he may not perceive it. The woman should slowly release her hair from the hands of her beloved one by standing first on her toes with limbs bent and then taking to the Asvakranta posture”. The contemporary classical Indian dancers forgot how use their eyes, even though there are 36 glances in Natya Shastra.. “The glance where the eyelids are not fully opened, the look is sweet, and eyeballs are still, and there are tears of joy, is called Snigdha (loving). It grows out of love”. “The glance in which the eyes are playful, tearful, half-closed, upper lid is drooping and eyelashes are throbbing, is called Kamya”. But… will the spectators in the last rows in a huge auditorium see your eyes at all???

Natya Shastra states that “Sringara is of 2 kinds: in union and in separation… Sringara in separation should be represented by indifference, languour, fear, jealousy, fatigue, anxiety, yearning, drowsiness, sleep, dreaming, awakening, illness, insanity, epilepsy, inactivity, fainting, death and other conditions…. Sringara in separation relates to a state of maintaining optimism arising out of yearning and anxiety”. Indeed, any mood – except for the happy Hasya – proceeds from Sringara in separation. The white-coloured Hasya is there in the playful joyfulness of love.

Sringara originates from the sthayi bhava of Rati. Its soul is the bright attire, for whatever in this world is bright, pure and beautiful is associated with Rati. For example, one who is elegantly dressed is called a lovely person, sringarin”. Sringara Rasa arises in connection with favourable seasons, garlands, ornaments, enjoyment of the company of beloved ones, music and poetry, and going to the garden and roaming there. It should be represented on the stage by means of composure of the eyes and the face, sweet and smiling words, satisfaction and delight, and graceful movements of limbs”. In Priyadarshini Govind’s recent workshop on Manmadan in Narada Gana Sabha, did we see any of such expressions and movements? No, we didn’t!

Srungara: age, innocence and little kittens

Gods have 3 stages of life. People have one more: the old age. Why don’t the Divine Beings grow old, and always stay youthful? Krishna is imaged as a little boy or a teenage girl, Manjari, and when we see a clumsy ugly old dancer trying to portray such roles, how disgusting it comes out, even if the this old dancer’s students say, “Wonderful! Fantastic!”.”Dance students learn how to be professional liars, not professional dancers“, aptly noted one person.

The King is Naked, and that’s what we see. Bharata Muni bluntly puts it that gods must be portrayed by young girls only as“the nature of gods is delicate”. Gods are not just delicate but playful and care-free too. These qualities neither.the adult cats nor humans manage to preserve. The little kittens are lovely, but old grumpy cats?

It looks so flirtatious but childish and innocent at the same time“, commented one person on YouTube. The children will look fascinating without sexually arousing the viewers. Innocence is the quality of the ambience we create. Few can clean the atmosphere of all thoughts and desires of the sexual intercourse. In a traditional Bharatanatyam recital, the first items are to purify the ambience. For young children, it is easy. As we know, the Ayappan temples admit only the girls before they attain puberty.

The most disastrous consequences of losing touch with our inner worlds after reaching puberty and establishing “an adult, down-to-earth relationship” are explained by… Oscar Wilde: “

“before I knew you, acting was the one reality of my life. It was only in the theatre that I lived. I thought that it was all true. I was Rosalind one night and Portia the other. The joy of Beatrice was my joy, and the sorrows of Cordelia were mine also. I believed in everything. The common people who acted with me seemed to me to be godlike. The painted scenes were my world. I knew nothing but shadows, and I thought them real. You came–oh, my beautiful love!–and you freed my soul from prison. You taught me what reality really is. Tonight, for the first time in my life, I saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness of the empty pageant in which I had always played”.

Adi Shankara has Kanchi Kamakshi in his mental vision. Manmatha also has sugarcane bow and flower arrows. Devi also holds them. The meaning is Manmatha has surrendered his weapons to the Devi. Subtle meaning is for a Devi upaasakar, Manmatha will not come near! Devi carries in her lower left arm, the sugarcane bow with a string of bees and in her lower right arm the five arrows of five flowers. In her upper right arm the goad and in her upper left arm the PasA, the noose. Shining like coral is the devi’s waist which is slightly bent by the weight of her breasts, resembling the frontal ear lobes of a young elephant. Such a form of Devi is favourite of Lord Shiva who is the Tripura Samhara.

Well, there are some10-year-old children’s faces that look as if they were 60. The drug addicts grow older very fast. One of very few things 50-year-old women may manage to preserve well may be their faces. Alarmel Valli’s and Urmila Sathyanarayanan’s faces look very youthful. These are exceptions. Most 50-year-old womens faces look like men’s. Not just the facial features, but the voice’s timbre can either change a lot or change very little, depending on our feelings, thoughts, actions. “You know why I came to look so ugly and boring?”, asks K.J.Sarasa,”It’s because I have been teaching all those clumsy rich students whom I hate!”

Sringara: grace and beauty

Most of the classical Indian dance performances nowadays take place in the evening, yet few know that 27<sup>th Chapter reads: “In the evening, the items portraying Sringara in the Kaisiki style, full of vocal and instrumental music, should be performed”. Soft grace and tender beauty are the expressions of Lakshmi. “Everyone’s ordinary feeling, when based on Sringara and when it reveals itself through graceful movements (lalitabhinaya), is called the graceful expression of feeling (hela)”. What is grace? Easier to say what is not: the funeral procession’s dances resemble a heavy metal rock disco, when people move their limbs mechanically, robot-like. Being able to contract only large groups of muscles will not make you a dancer. “Graceful movement of hands, feet, brows, eyes, lips, etc made by women is known as lalita” . Graceful movements are the free movements of the pranas in our body. With age and with a lack of regular practice, there comes a degradation and loss of the nerve cells as the dancers lose control of more and more muscles.

very senior bharatanatyam dancer

Shri Shri Radha-Krishna who are glorious with the splendor of youth, who are filled with the beauty and handsomeness of youth, who are two monsoon clouds of the nectar of handsomeness and beauty, Shri Shri Radha-Krishna who taste the nectar of joyful pastimes, Shri Shri Radha-Krishna who, gazing at each other’s limbs, give a festival of bliss to each other’s eyes, . . .

She had laughed at him and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly”. The ugly things are soon forgotten, but Nefertiti’s and all things beautiful stay for long, very long. If this girl can give a soul to those who have lived without one, if she can create the sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly, if she can strip them of their selfishness and lend them tears for sorrows that are not their own, she is worthy of all your adoration..When she acts, you will forget everything. These common rough people, with their coarse faces and brutal gestures, become quite different when she is on the stage..

“Classical Indian dance” is supposedly “classical” because of something in it that has survived millenniums. In dreams, even the 100-year-olds see themselves as… 18-year-olds. After we die, we look as young as 18- in our subtle body. There are no wrinkles, no bellies, no sinewy hands, no deformed noses and no slouched backs. All that differs is how dark our pranas have become here and there. No need to spend your money on skin fairness creams! ...the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought

There is a man the size of a thumb seated in our heart”, mention the Upanishads. “God created man after His Own image”, says the Bible. If you saw your soul (the one in the heart is called Chaitya Purusha), you probably don’t remember seeing any nails or hair on your arms or any teeth. That’s the kind of the body a Bharatanatyam dancer with his makeup and his costume are to look like. We try to make people forget our body’s animality and try to imagine what the next human race – after Homo Sapiens – will look like.

Like madhurya (sweetness) in the vocal music arises out of the effortlessness of the singing, so does grace arises if there is a relaxed and joyful state of the limbs. “The change of limbs (angaja) is of 3 kinds, next the natural (sahaja) change of 10 kinds, and involuntary (a-yatnaja) change is of 7 kinds”. Here is what modern Bharatanatyam or Odissi dancers are scared to admit: they cannot move! “The involuntary (natural) graces of women are Beauty (sobha), Charm (kanti), Delicacy (madhurya), Radiance (dipti), Self-Control (dhairya), Courage (pragalbhya) and Dignity (audarya)”. The success of the Indian movies, not the classical Indian dance, is due to the film directors’ success in selecting the actresses that posess the necessary qualities for a particular role. Anita Ratnam writes, “At least with Shobana, one is not confused with her blatant sexuality and commercial eyelash fluttering, hip swaying style. She is over 35, a movie star and only mother roles being offered to her in films”. About Anita herself, The New Indian Express’ article’s title was “MAKING ‘FACES’ AT BHARATANATYAM“, mocking her attempt to present the clumsy American gimmicks as “classical Indian dance”.

Identifying Sringara as “Beauty” has been the latest trend in the dance community, especially in the US, where the physical perfection has become a national religion so much the gyms with cosmetic surgeons replaced churches and priests.“Decoration of limbs on account of good physical form, youth and loveliness being rendered manifest after enjoyment is called Beauty (shobha)”. Shobha is elsewhere translated as Brilliance. Brilliance is literally the irratiation of the prana. A healthy and happy person irradiates joy.

What are the things the adult dancers have lost? “The 10 natural graces (alamkara) of women are: sportive mimicry (lila), amorous gesture (vilasa), dishabile (vicchitti), confusion (vibhrama), hysterical mood (kilakincita), affection (mottayita), pretended anger (kuttimita), affected coldness (bibboka), lolling (lalita) and indifference (vihrita)”. Most of these things are nowhere to be found in the contemporary classical dance performance, especially this particular element: “Dishabille (viccitti) is the great beauty that results from the slightly careless placing of garlands, clothes, ornaments and unguents”. Well, a few schools occasionally allow the dancers to have lovelocks. LOVE-LOCKS?

If you want to see how the modern (western, to be precise) dance is different from true classical dance, look at the range of movements. “Moderation in the movement of limbs in all conditions, especially in Radiance (dipti) and in Lolling (lalita), is called Delicacy (madhurya)”. After the dancers grow beyond their early teens, their performances lose many of the involuntary changes, and all the delicacy, brilliance, charm and grace is gone, often thanks to the gurus’ over-corrections. Compare this girl and her again 4 years later:

The sahaja kind of changes is often replaced by some artificial (“clean”) robotic moves. “Erotic movements and changes of features which are not deliberate and which grow out of a tender nature, constitute Playfulness (lalita)”.

After 16, such spontaneous and uninhibited movements disappear gradually. “you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away” Even if someone tried to restore these lost capacities, such attemps are as good as trying to attach a prosthesis to a semi-paralized body.

In America, like many people observe, they normally lose everything not by the age of 16 but much earlier: by the age of… 2.

when my mother last week corrected my abhinaya (expression) in a piece I’m preparing for a November performance, I’ll admit I was somewhat diffident about performing the piece at all. This was because I wondered whether there was even a possibility to capture such an emotion: the shyness exhibited by a young bride when her to-be husband touches her hand for the first time. I made several attempts at this expression as my mother repeatedly told me that my expression was far too bold and needed to look more coy. It made me wonder, however, if girls growing up in America are even capable of expressing the emotion at all.

No, the superficial NRI’s normally can’t: they are devoid of lasya. After getting used to the artificial strawberry flavor, they can’t distinguish it from the REAL strawberry. After watching too many Hollywood cartoons, they can’t distinguish hava from bhava. “Bhavas which are full of Sattva appear in the relation to the people of the opposite sex”, explains Bharata Muni in Chapter 24. “And the ordinary expression, hava, should be marked as relating to its various conditions. There emotion (hava) should be known as arising from the mind (citta) and manifesting itself in changes of eye-brows and the Recaka of the neck, indicative of Sringara”. Many Kalakshetra style teachers, such as Urmila Sathyanarayanan, condemn any recakas of the neck as…. “childish”! The reason we like children’s performances more is simple: they move their necks in a far more interesting way than the stiff-necked senior dancers. Children’s faces produce 1000 more expressions too.

Shrungara, bhakti, moral restrictions and religious prejudice

Madhurya-kadambini’s 7th Chapter says, “The devotees relishing different moods are of five types: santa (neutral), dasya (servants), sakhya (friends) vatsalya (parents), and madhurya (amorous lovers). The names of the ratis thus differ in them: santa-bhaktas have santi-rati (neutral mood), dasya-bhaktas have priti-rati (affectionately serving mood), sakhya-bhaktas have sakhya-rati (fraternal love), fathers and mothers have vatsalya-rati (parental love) and preyasi-bhava-bhaktas have priyata-rati (amorous love).”

Priyata-rati (amorous love) may be the highest form of Bhakti, but is also the most difficult to portray in dance, especially if the dancers know only 10% of the Natya Shastra’s arsenal. S Kalidas, former art critic with India Today observed, “When Devadasis were edged out of their traditional arenas by girls from urban middle class families, the art of abhinaya suffered. Middle class mores demanded that exciting sringara be replaced by boring bhakti.” Boring Bhakti??? Even the common uneducated audience of the pit and gallery lost their interest in the play. They got restless, and began to talk loudly and to whistle. The Jew manager, who was standing at the back of the dress-circle, stamped and swore with rage.

Shri Shri Radha-Krishna whose waists are graceful and playfully curved, whose broad hips are decorated with tinkling belts, whose delightful thighs are two graceful boats in an ocean of passionate amorous pastimes, whose lotus feet are decorated with tinkling anklets, the glorious moonlight of whose toenails makes millions of Kamadevas bow their heads in shame . . .

Caitanya-caritamrta mentions that Mahaprabhu came to distribute the four spiritual sentiments of Vraja loka: dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and sringara. How come the dancers forgot Sringara and were content with expressions of piousness and devotion withing the boundaries permitted in the Middle East? The “morals” (Semitic customs) of the Arab and the British replaced the traditional Indian, Vedic values. Despite being prescribed by Agama Shastras as an intrinsic element of the Sodasa Upacharas, Natya was conveniently substituted by rice offerings. The Arabs invader in Egypt even cut off the falluses (that symbolised the creative power) of the statues of various Egyptian gods.

In the good old tradition of Inquisition when all beautiful women in Western Europe were burnt alive for “witchcraft”, the Pope himself stated that the Hindu gods and especially the seductive apsaras, such as Menaka and Urvasi, are highly immoral nymphs and evil spirits. For Chandralekha, Bharatanatyam itself has become a diabolical art! The pious Christians shrug on imagining Brahma chasing his own daughter. Is Kama Sutra still considered by the Christian clergy as the most dangerous work of Devil? How did the Indians abandon their ancient beliefs – and clothes? GenX believes Draupadi is merely an immoral woman who had too many husbands. But drinking imported brandy and dancing salsa in bars is now a high social status symbol.

Varieties of attraction , sex appeal, role of the imagination and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream

We have to distinguish between the attraction on the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and pranic levels. Someone with a spiritual inclination may be fascinated by a little flower. An idea may appear captivating to a philosopher. A voice may be entrancing to our aesthetic and vital mind. There is also the attraction that can turn on the animal instincts in a horny creature. Dogs are exited to sniff the fragrance of meat. A male spider is exited to discover a female spider ready to mate. What neither dogs nor spiders understand is how on earth (or rather, in the Middle East) the excessive sexual activity came to be looked down upon as a major sin while gluttony and alcoholism and other vices are still considered as “minor” weaknesses!

Prana, or vital energy, reflects the inherent duality of the manifest existence. Prana circulates very much like electricity: its intensity depends on the difference between the 2 extremes. Therefore the strongest pranic magnetism is between an extremely feminine woman and an extremely masculine man. On a full moon day too. Besides, you can experience the attraction on all levels only when that person is of your human type or of a higher type (see more detail below).

Perhaps, you would be curious to see Narthaki Nataraj’s comments on this score, wouldn’t you? As well as on the following, “The third gender of people will be hermaphrodites in whose case women’s gait, with the exclusion of their (partial) male character, should be applied”. At Bharata Muni’s times the third gender people did not have any problems identifying themselves as neutral gender. Today, due to the social stigmas imported from the Middle East, they try to identify themselves as either men or women. Narthaki Nataraj, despite being ineligible by Bharata Muni for performing Sringara items, still claims that he/she somehow “does” it. Pure fraud.

The Arab women wear burkas. Why? Many Sheikhs get sexually aroused whenever they see a woman’s hand or feet, and become totally insane whenever they see a beautiful woman’s face or, Allah forbid, her loose hair. At the same time, you may find on a nudist beach in Holland the demonstration that men there don’t at all get sexually aroused with all those naked beautiful women around. We may remember that the Indian women did not cover their breasts before the Arab invaders started to change our customs. Gradually, the customs of the barbaric invaders came to be accepted as “Indian” moral standards. Cricket became India’s national game.The violin became a “traditional Carnatic instrument”. The nude statues of deities started being covered in “proper” garments.

A visit to San Francisco, the world’s capital of the homosexuals, shows that some men or even women get to feel utterly horny at the sight of a piece of underwear or the sight of a pig. Even a car or a motorbike is presented to us as “sexy” in TV commercials. Will some try to rape their innocent vehicles or refrigerators one day?

Contrary to what you may imagine, it is not people that invented homosexuality, even if the western “culture” is now actively propagating it. Deprived of a female company for a long while, a sex-starved male dog will try to rape even male dogs without bothering first to check out their sex. If no other dogs are to be found, this dog will try to rape even an old rag (here is the origin of sexual fetishism), which probably appears to its imagination as a lovely bitch. Imagination is an essential ingredient in masturbation and homosexuality. With a good dose of imagination (or brandy), one can be attracted even to Kalanidhi Narayanan, Prince Charles or a pig.

lovely senior dancer

lovely senior dancer

When some rasikas enjoy the performances of Swapna Sundari, I get an impression they are eagerly masturbating. Not surprisingly, most of them don’t actually watch Swapna’s dancing but close their eyes and imagine some other dancers.

This type of imagination is rooted in idleness, a state unfamiliar to those seeking spiritual enlightment. These are not interested in any entertainment just to kill the time. In Shakespeare‘s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Oberon punishes Titania’s disobedience by asking the mischievous Puck (who did Kama’s role) to apply the magical juice from a flower called “love-in-idleness”. (Note that Kamakshi’s arrows are made of flowers like kamalam, raktakairavam,kahLaram, indIvaram, sahakAram). Titania magically falls in love with an ass-headed crude laborman Nick Bottom the Weaver. The BBC reports’ (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4748292.stm ) headlines are: “A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his “wife”, after he was caught having sex with the animal“.

Sringara: not all cultures and sub-races are created equal

Natya Shastra mentions 3 types of human beings, the noble, the average and the low. From the most subtle and refined to the most gross there may be but 6 steps. In the expression of Hasya rasa, a slight smile (smita), smile (hasita), gentle laughter (vihasita), laughter of ridicule (upahasita), crude laughter (apahasita) and excessive laughter (atihasita). Atihasita happens to be Kali’s attribute because Kali does not care to be attractive, she is the opposite of Lakshmi. Kali sports a garland of sculls. Not many women are like her. Every normal woman (except for those whose soul is a unadulterated vibhuti of Kali!) harbours a hidden desire to be considered as attractive.

The blossiming flower of youth

Sringara is associated with the blossoming of youth, says Bharata Muni

not Alarmel Valli

“Priya had left no stone unturned in her quest to be convincing as a beautiful Amba wronged by Bhishma, who is subsequently reborn as man-woman Shikhandi”

Priya Murle put it this way, “I often have quarrels with people who call me “fat”. I really feel bad about it. At times, I feel that I should do something about it and start working out”. Priya Murle said: “Why go after performances? I broke all the mirrors in my home after people started asking me why Sudharani allowed me a quota to try to pretend that I can still “dance” in her DVDs instead of Sri Devi”. The secret of remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming.

Natya Shastra’s 24<sup>th Chapter classifies women of various nature into different categories – and the sexual habits are one of the most important parameters. It would be a political blunder to publish a classification of the well-known dancers of today according to Bharata Muni’s categories: Devi, Asura, Gandharva, Raksasa, Naga, Bird, Pisaca, Yaksha, Tiger, Human, Monkey, Elephant, Deer, Fish, Camel, Makara, Ass, Pig, Horse, Buffalo, Goat, Dog and Cow. What if Chitra Visweswaran will be classified as… Yes, we are all different

The classification of human beings is further clarified by the following: “Prajapati manifests as Vishnu Upendra incarnate in the animal or Pashu in whom the four Manus have already manifested themselves, and the first human creature who appears is, in this Kalpa, the Vanara, not the animal Ape, but man with the Ape nature. His satya yuga is the first Paradise, for man begins with the Satya Yuga, begins with a perfected type, not a rudimentary type. The animal forms a perfect type for the human Pashu and then only a Manuputra or Manu, a human, a true mental soul, enters into existence upon earth, with the full blaze of a perfect animal-human mentality in the animal form. These are man’s beginnings. He rises by the descent of ever higher types of Manu from the Bhuvaloka—first he is Pashu then Pishacha, then Pramatha, then Rakshasa, then Asura, then Deva, then Siddha”. It means, genetically we are different. The lower you are on this scale, the greater foodie you are (which affects your waist line!), and the more addicted you can become to drugs.

Mylapore brahmin at the end of kali yuga

Mylapore brahmin at the end of kali yuga

Naturally, the more refined human beings will portray any relationship between a Man and God in a very different way from how the Pishacha actors would render it. Moreover, the rendering of a Pashu who has actually had no spiritual experience will be very different from the Asura who may have had some. “Women of the superior and the middling types should not use any lipstick” may sound like a heresy to the contemporary dancer’s ear – only if the owner of these ears believes herself to be wiser than Bharata Muni.

The abolition of the caste system may be a politically progressive step and it is very fashionably democratic to proclaim all people in Kali Yuga as equally shudras. But I cannot take it seriously even if a well-known modern dance Pashu writers like Sunil Kothari wants us to believe that “There is much scope for inter-changeability of the marga and the desi. This only indicates that in aesthetics we need not consider hierarchy – that one is superior to the other”. Well, in what kind of “aesthetics”? The westernized “modern aesthetics” now puts all art on the level of such “compositions” made out of garbage dump items. The true Indian aesthetics has always been founded on the Hindu spirituality which is by nature very hierarchical. In spirituality, we have to find out where the source of a particular inspiration lies, as there are many hierarchical levels.


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49 thoughts on “Sringara Rasa: the most intimate secret of the classical Indian dance, in Bharatanatyam in particular. Mysteries of Srungara in the South Asian dance theatre. Shringara and Tantra. Shrungara…

  1. ashwini , if you want to make a new post to bash the senior dancers thoroughly, the best method will be to take more stills or clips and show how ugly they are , so that they will stop monopolising festivals and the tv , and so that they will give a chance for younger generation to come up . it’s like a jungle where the big trees need to be cut down for the small trees around them to grow properly

  2. hello ashwini.. two questions..

    1. there is a video in between the post.. srungara lahari.. that features padmabhushan kalanidhi narayan. Why is the video there? What do you want us to infer from it?

    2. WHY IS YOUR BLOG SO POPULAR IN THE US?? the live feed i can infer that all of them are from the US!!!!!!😉

  3. First of all, this post is still under construction. The text is raw and incomplete, and the sentences have to be re-arranged, put in simpler language. I have to get more photos and add more videos. And so on.

    Kalanidhi narayan’s video is there as an exposure of the superficiality of her understanding and an illustration of the elderly dancers’ inability to perform any sringara-rich items.

    As for my blog’s popularity, come on, it is not as popular there as http://www.theonion.com !!! You think this blog is the only place where I write? It is just my sandbox!!!🙂

  4. and where did u get this from? “Priya Murle said: “Why go after
    performances? I broke all the mirrors in my home after people started asking me why Sudharani allowed me a quota to try to pretend that I can still “dance” in her DVDs instead of Sri Devi”.” I don’t think any guru will feel jealous on seeing her own student dance. Sridevi is Smt.Priya Murle’s student after all…!!

  5. Maybe a non-performing guru will not feel jealous on seeing her own student dance.
    Gowry’s article on http://www.hinduonnet.com/folio/fo9812/98120060.htm puts it bluntly:
    “There was no competitiveness, or the fear of the student overtaking the master. With the old guard, there was no package deal for quick consumption. Though he could be extremely stingy and mean at times, the nattuvanar could also share generously with the worthy pupil. His success depended upon hers.”

  6. hello ashwini…this write up is very interesting…but don’t take me in the wrong way when i say this… instead of analyzing the dancer and her physical attributes why don’t u try to involve yourself with what they are trying to express…you’ve lambasted the seniors in the field but they have absolutely nothing to lose..their market is still alive their students are very much around and their art is still being well-received!I know this is a public forum and you can put up whatever you want but my only request is don’t belittle the doyens…unlike some people we respect and revere our gurus for there is nothing greater than learning the art form from them. and the physical form of any woman, dancer or non-dancer is short lived!!!that is the law of life!!so why do u expect something different from a dancer??if people don’t want to see a wrinkled fat woman on stage then choose not to..there are plenty of thin “pretty”dancers also performing today..It gives no one any right to condemn their art altogether!!being critical is very easy ashwini..:)


  7. hello ashwini…this write up is very interesting…but don’t take me in the wrong way

    Yes, of course, since you are part of Sudharani’s corporation, your view is very biased.

    when i say this… instead of analyzing the dancer and her physical attributes


    You can tell it to Bharata Muni and to the poets: instead of describing a characters physical attributes… This blog is not dedicated to Psychiatry.

    why don’t u try to involve yourself with what they are trying to express…


    Some bed-ridden patients in hospitals also try to express something all the time, but I am not their doctor, sorry.
    It is up to the dancer to win the hearts and the minds of the audience. If the dancer fails to get us involved, whose fault is it? Get off the stage and go sell cigarettes on the pavement. If someone has a very strong desire to hog the stage and be in the centre of attention, send them to a psychiatric clinic where they can express themselves as much as they want.

    you’ve lambasted the seniors in the field but they have absolutely nothing to lose.


    Of course they do: their future. Before they die, they will have to answer one question, “Have you always done your best in your life? Have you followed your highest ideals?”
    They will also lose their students’ hearts. And the audience also is growing more and more aware of the wide-spread fraud in the dance field.

    their market is still alive their students are very much around and their art is still being well-received!


    Where is the market? You will see how soon it will change. You can try to protect your business, but if you don’t adapt to the changing circumstances and conditions, your business will die quickly.

    I know this is a public forum and you can put up whatever you want but my only request is don’t belittle the doyens…


    Doyens??? Are they saints, or what? They are exposed fraudsters, that’s all they are.

    unlike some people we respect and revere our gurus for there is nothing greater than learning the art form from them.


    Oh, nothing greater???🙂 How poetic! (and how false!) Since when dance instructors and maths teachers started being called “gurus”? What exactly do you revere Sudharani for, may I ask you? I understand that some AIDMK cadre even cut off their fingers to show their reverence to Jayalalitha, but I am not part of your clans.

    and the physical form of any woman, dancer or non-dancer is short lived!!!


    Go tell it to Alarmel Valli. Isn’t it a shame that some European ballet dancers of Sudharani’s age are in better shape than Priya Murle?

    that is the law of life!!


    We know many instances when many laws of life have been changed. Go, educate yourself. Or maybe Sudharani does not allow you to do it?

    so why do u expect something different from a dancer??


    Not me, it’s Bharata Muni. 90% of the article is the answer to your question. Or maybe you can no longer read? You can only write, yes?

    if people don’t want to see a wrinkled fat woman on stage then choose not to..


    Of course they choose not to, this is why the auditoriums are empty. Only their students are there. If the wrinkled fat women want to hog the stage and the TV, they will soon think twice before they venture there again.

    there are plenty of thin “pretty”dancers also performing today..It gives no one any right to condemn their art altogether!!


    I do not remember allowing you to give me any rights or to withdraw them.

    being critical is very easy ashwini..:)


    Really? Go ahead, write something critical and let us read.

  8. Am sorry if i continue this argument with you there will be no difference between us:)wishing u good luck:)
    my best regards
    aishwarya

  9. I am happy I have convinced you.🙂 When are you joining Alarmel Valli’s school?😉

    I am looking forward to reading your critiques.🙂 Let everybody see how discerning your mind’s eye is!🙂 I hope you were not bluffing when you said that being critical is very easy!!!!!!🙂

  10. I really enjoyed your post. I might have missed it, but I was wondering if you have any posts comparing the abhinaya training/depiction in bharatanatyam with the other classical dances of india (particularly Kuchipudi).

    Thanks!

  11. Basically, Bharatanatyam’s abhinaya comes from the devadasis dancing unwatched in mandappams (the attitude is “dance as if no one was watching”): the dancer is dancing for the deity only. The spectators don’t exist in his/her mind. In Kuchipudi, it is the other way around: you need to maintain direct eye contact/rapport with the audience and tell them a story, – with a more lively and less serious attitude.

    Suma, I my posts I described how vastly different the abhinaya training is in different “Bharatanatyam” styles. Some Bharatanatyam styles that have a close affinity to Kuchipudi, for example, use lip movements to mark Vachikaabhinaya. However, here is a problem: unless you have a great stamina, your lip movements will be marred as many Bharatanatyam pieces are far more physically demanding than the leisurely Kuchipudi. Basically, Kuchipudi was a folk dance until Vempatti discovered Natya Shastra!🙂

  12. “kuchipudi was a folk dance until vempatti discovered Natya Shastra”…

    In your overtly desperate attempt to sound cavalier and cool or whatever, you draw very “stupid” conclusions. I could rant and rave like you challenging you on a number of points, but I have a life, so I leave it at that.

    When someone asks you for a balanced view, for all your proclaimed sense of piety and adherence to tenets of Shastras, you wallow in trying to sound cool. Hypocrite!

    Blog zillions of pages on all the dirt that goes on in Bharatanatyam as you humanly can, as I am guessing you can make some sense of it, but you very evidently do NOT have even an inkling of Kuchipudi. So you can shut your extra large mouth on the subject.

  13. Every dumb idiot can say “I could challenge you on a number of points, but I have a life”. Trying to actually challenge me requires brains and courage that you may not have.

    Although I admit I know very little about Kuchipudi, I do understand that as long as a dance form is not related to Natya Shastra it is not “classical” but folk. After all, what else made Nataraja Ramakrishna & Co “create” Andhra Natyam 30 years ago? At the same time when Padma Subrahmaniam was creating “Bharatanrityam”?
    What I know is that – in the second half of the past century – it was people like Vempatti and Chilakamari Rama Acharyulu (C.R.Acharya) who tried to incorporate some of the Natya Shastra elements into Kuchipudi.

  14. A little learning (I presume u lifted the names from wiki or google) is a dangerous thing.. and flaunting it brazenly is downright shameless.

    To give u a taste of my brains.. here u go:
    1) Nobody “incorporated” the elements of Natya Shastra into Kuchipudi… they have been present all along: the mudras, the sancharis, karanas and all. Vempati contributed to kuchipudi a refined distinct style of his. That doesn’t mean he “incorporated” them- brush up both your English and your googling skills.

    (Looks like “what you know” is seldom right.. and unless you are sure.. its best to keep shut)

    2) C.R. Acharyulu didn’t “create” Andhra Natyam. He simply gave a name, an umbrella term if you may, to a host of art forms other than Kuchipudi which existed in the Andhra land, like Perini, Navajanardana Parijatham, Pagativeshalu etc. They were in existence long before C R Acharyulu was even conceived of. Reviving art forms doesnt mean “creating” them. (here you should refer the last two lines of point 1 again)

    And I highly doubt that the jhola flinging artsy fartsy type like you can actually have the brains to match me, an engineering student in a premier college of India, in a battle of wits. I suggest you go back to your lone, bawdy tantrum of Bharatanatyam.

    Unless you have an authority on an art form, you are in position to comment on, leave alone slander it. Take heed.

    (Im not sure if you will let it pass through your “convenient” moderation for fear of your hurting your megalomania.)

  15. So, Mr.Engineer, that’s all there is to your challenging me “on a number of points”? Are you already at your wit’s end?🙂

    To get down to your points, can you enlighten me and say who you remember performing Talavilasitam, Gangasuci (on the floor) or Gangavataranam in Kuchipudi, and the compositions in 22 srutis? Vempati would like us to believe that “108 Karanas and also the Charis and Mandala are part of the Kuchipudi repertoire“. Ironically, in this fraudster’s Kuchipudi Dance Academy here, NONE of the karanas are taught! Maybe the “108” were part of Vempati’s imagination, the imagination that was too far from Padma Subrahmaniam’s!🙂 What is common to both is that they never even understood what is Satvika abhinaya. Unlike Vempati, Padma Subrahmaniam knows Sanscrit a bit and didn’t swallow the dumb “Aryan invasion” theory forged by Max Muller and promoted by the East Indian Company on the “divide and rule” principle even before the Partition of India.

    The gentleman who is well-known for removing vachika abhinaya from Kuchipudi, put it on his web site, “the use of vachika abhinaya is a special feature of the Kuchipudi style. The dancer not merely dance, but also acts with gestures as well as words. And towards this end he has o train his voice also in order to project it properly in the improvised theatres“. Wild fancy?

    Or maybe you can tell us why Siddhendra Yogi decided that Kuchipudi has to be performed only by men while Bharata Muni would have cursed him for such an idiotic “innovation”. Vempati tells us that “Siddhendra Yogi feared that… the dancers already excelled in the art of portraying the Sringara rasa or romantic love, they may exaggerate the sentiments and destroy its lofty spiritual ethos. Naturally he decided to initiate only young and good-looking Brahmin boys into the art“. What a “reason”! “He broke new ground by adapting the format of the existing Yakshagana folk dance dramas“.

    Besides, where is the idiotic dancing on a brass plate or with the intertwined toes prescribed in the Natya Shastra???

    You may remember Brahma’s gift of 26 apsaras because men are not capable of performing a lot of things women do and excel at, unlike power electronics?🙂 What is clear is that neither Siddhendra nor Vempati have understood even 10% of Natya Shastra. If tomorrow some Salsa dancers start using a few mudras, will it make Salsa “classical Indian dance”? Folk dance is folk dance, and much of today’s Bharatanatyam is folk too.

    What you call “reviving” and others “reconstructing”, I call “creating”. I call a spade a spade.

  16. I find it highly amusing that you strangely didn’t refer to that C R Acharyulu point of yours again in this second post. Is this the first time, someone has effectively shut you up? Evidently, you do NOT call a spade a spade, you call what you choose to call a spade, a spade, even if it is your own foolishness dancing nakedly in the “100% Natya Shastra based” dance form you have invented in your dreams.

    See, all the six pada bhedas (Udghattita, Sama, Agratala-Sanchara, Anchita, Kunchita and Suchi) mentioned in the Natya Shastra, The 67 Hasta Mudras, 13 Samyuta and 24 Asamyuta and 30 Nritta Hastas with the 108 Karanas, Charis, and Mándalasas mentioned in the Natya-Sastra have always been taught to the students of Kuchipudi, where many solo items (called pravesa daruvus) taken from the original dance dramas have remained unchanged and are still presented tday in the same fashion as they were hundreds of years ago.

    The 20th Karana is very often used in Kuchipudi. Apart from the six padabhedas I mentioned earlier, Kuchipudi dancers also use some adugulu or adavus traditional to this school – they are: Chaukam, Katteranatu, Kuppi Adugu, Ontaduvu,Jaraduvu, Pakkanatu.Kuchipudi is significantly the only classical style that has laid equal emphasis on all four abhinayas as advocated by Natya Shastra – angika, VACHIKA, ahaarya and satvika, since anceint days.

    Kuchipudi had gained renown not only in the Andhra land, but also in Tamil nadu, where Bhagavthars from the Nattuva Mela sampradaya of Kuchipudi were given land near Melattur by Achutappa Nayaka, a Nayaka ruler. Famous courtesans of the Golden Tanjore Age, like Rangajamma, Krishnasani and others were composing complex yakshaganas (this is totally a different term fr the kannada version, means “ballet”) like Vipranarayana whcih are still used in Kuchipudi to this day.

    I could wax eloquent more, but with your characteristic pseudocool disdain for people who make you insecure when they tell you something u don’t know, you may not open up your airheaded mind, therefore I give you the links also, so that you do not have to use your technically disabled brain to search:
    http://www.krishnaganasabha.org/articles/198687/Classisism%20in%20Kuchipudi%20by%20Dr.P.%20Venugopala%20Rao.pdf

    vempati’s son himself states that his father “realized the inherent classicism in Kuchipudi”.
    (http://odissi.blogspot.com/2008/01/vempatti-ravi-shankar.html)

    I realize that you never quote any credible sources in your arguments, wonder why that is, if you are indeed are truthful in what you speak. First of all, you yourself admit that you know nothing, still you have the brash audacity to question me further like an equal, I shall not grant you that privilege, unworthy as you are. If you want to learn, try learning with an open mind and request me humbly.

    Every dance form goes thru a decadent patch, Bharatanatyam itself was struggling in such throes where it was thought to be little more than a courtesan’s potrayal of her body, to attract more customers, till reform of some kind for good or bad, happened under Rukmini Devi. Likewise for Kuchipudi. But with ignorance to equate Kuchipudi to Salsa in the context of Natya Shastra, even the most child like and brazen bawdy person would not have dared to do so.

    Given the social mores of the time, no socially respectable woman was allowed to dance (the same holds true even for Bharatanatyam)in the days of Siddhendra Yogi, but in the spreading of Bhakti, whcih was the main intent of his, he had to use female mythological characters also, for which he roped in Brahmin boys for the reason given by you. The Brahmin boys alone, becuase according to that age, Kuchipudi, as an intergral part of the Natya Shastra, was part of vedic learning and could not be taught to others. However, even since pre-kuchipudi times, there have been two dance schools of thought in AP, the Natya Mela and the Nattuva Mela. The Natya Mela referring to the court dance performed by both men and women. The Natya Mela also became a part of Kuchipudi tradition which means that women were performing Kuchipudi (on themes of Sringara more than Bhakti), and were not FORBIDDEN from doing so.

    If I wanted, I could argue that the Melattur School of Bharatanatyam is simply an offshoot of Kuchipudi, that Bharatanatyam is infact less faithful to Natya Shastra than Kuchipudi (lesser use of glances, or bhramaris or many other features, more abhinaya pradhanya in Kuchipudi etc) or that half the dance items in Bharatanatyam’s reportoire today, like all the Telugu songs (Padams etc), have originally been designed for and are used in Kuchipudi, reflecting a certain lack of creativity in the stagnant form of Bharatanatyam over the ages, But I dont. I do not dare to flaunt my ignorance, I accept that there are limits to my knowledge and am humble enough to acknowledge it. To actually think of questioning the merits of Siddhendra Yogi and the likes, I realize you arent a true pasisonate beleiver in dance, for none such could have said that.

    I pity you. Thats all I can say.

    This shall be my last post here. If you want to clear your doubts you may do so, by mailing me. But do NOT henceforth venture to ramble on topics where your knowledge is zero.

  17. I was writing my reply for a while, saving from time to time by clicking on the “update comment” button. I didn’t expect that your eyes would be eagerly glued to my blog for the entire evening!🙂

    So far you Googled out that “the 20th Karana is very often used in Kuchipudi”? That’s all?🙂
    You preferred to ignore my question which Kuchipudi dancers and when used Talavilasitam, Gangasuci or Gangavataranam in Kuchipudi, and the compositions in 22 srutis. What everybody knows is that Kuchipudi dancers use and abuse the same folk tune and talam a million times.

    So would you please tell is where they teach all the 108 karanas? None of the karanas are taught in Vempati’s academy.
    And how satvika abhinaya is taught? And how Kuchipudi dancers misuse the term “bhava” to denote “hava”?

    As for “100% Natya Shastra based” dance form, yes, so far it exists in my dreams only. I find it amusing that some believe that adavus were outlined in Natya Shastra.

    Your attempt to justify that Kuchipudi was only taught to boys because it was “was part of vedic learning” is very lame. Vedic learning includes 64 subjects, and learning the Vedas in the original. No Kuchipudi dancer so far learnt the 64 subjects, and none has been able to understand anything written in the Vedas. This is a proof that the dumb Siddhendra Yogi was a fraudster.

    C.R. Acharyulu didn’t “create” Andhra Natyam. He simply gave a name, an umbrella term if you may, to a host of art forms other than Kuchipudi

    So why didn’t Vilasini Natyam find a space under that umbrella?🙂 By the way, what 120 adavus are there in Vilasini Natyam that are not used in Kuchipudi?🙂

  18. I didnt know that you were technically that disabled as to write a comment for three hours- I had left the page open and gone, I come back and write my comment, and poof! Your comment’s changed, tsk tsk!

    You also show a lack of even the basic research skills, as I shall proceed to demonstrate.

    So now that I have shut you up on the ” idiotic innovation females prohibited” point also, I cannot resist taking the opportunity to summarily shut you up once and for all in this comment.

    See, my dear lady, finding a host of names and posing questions in a variety of ways is nt an equivalent of a show of intelligence. You may remember Maitreyi, who, when raising dumb questions of obscure philosophy in scientific discussions, was unceremoniously told to shut up. OBSCURANTISM and getting know of a few words and terms is NEVER an equivalent of knowledge. And I am amused at they way you stick to your wet guns even though you yourself acknowledge that you know zilch of kuchipudi. Is this a case of not being able to digest rejection in dance and hiding behind some compulsive blogging disorder? The psychological symptoms are quite clear in your excessively disgusting use of language.

    Even though you prove yourself unworthy time and again of receiving any knowledge, I shall deign to give you some:

    1) “So why didn’t Vilasini Natyam find a space under that umbrella? By the way, what 120 adavus are there in Vilasini Natyam that are not used in Kuchipudi?”

    I do not find anything to the effect that you have found a great point in it, that you proceed to ornament it with your lame emoticons.

    You ask me why didnt it find a place? I ask you why should it? Vilasini Natyam, as the name suggests is essentially a courtesan dance, revived primarily by Swapna Sundari. Andhra Natyam’s focus has traditionally been spiritualistic. Be it, Navajanardana Parijatham, or Perini Tandavam or Prenkhini Nartanam, or anything which comes under the term “Andhra Natyam”, they all have a religious focus. That is not the main focus of Vilasini Natyam. Hence the two are not the same. And anyway, it was Mr. C . R . Acharyulu’s prerogative since he just coined a name and nothing else.

    As for your second point on 120 adavus, I am not knowledgeable about Vilasini Natyam. So I refrain from commenting and making cavalier observations about it, unlike you.

    So here, you had got hold of a name called “Vilasini Natyam” (you are improving your googling skills hourly) and asked me, what you thought was a Deeeep question on Kuchipudi, while the two arent even strictly related. Why are you trying to become winding in your approach, and misleading the discussion AND yourself? You think you can win an argument by diverting it, and making it what you think is obscure? This couldn’t get more amusing. LOL. what an insecure person you are!

    2) The two karanas you have mentioned. I have read nowhere that the use of talavilasitam and gangasuchi (I know that you dont even know how they look, you simply picked them off a list of karanas you googled), solely qualifies a dance as classical. I doubt that you know what the meaning of classical dance is.
    If you have ever even heard Bhama Kalapam, leave alone the other numbers, AND if you had an inkling of Carnatic Music knowledge, you would instantly make out that its set in Bhairavi. Most shabdams, tarangams are in Mohana, but some are also styled in Mukhari, Khamas, Kambhoji and Kalyani, Kedaragowla etc. I neednt talk of swarajathis (that’s the predecessor of jathiswaram in Bharatanatyam). So you (by which you mean “everybody” thanks to your megalomania) term them as folk tunes? Is there any field where you actually have some REAL knowledge, leave alone expertise?

    What is fact is that, not even on the worldwide web where much tosh is daily written, has somebody argued that Kuchipudi is a folk form. It is only YOU. Not everybody, just you. I can quote umpteen Tamil scholars who have said that themselves. Here is a sample, search in it yourself:
    http://www.archive.org/stream/anothergarlandbo014528mbp/anothergarlandbo014528mbp_djvu.txt

    I suspect you are one of those lost souls, who find a conspiracy theory in everything. I can suggest some Chennai rehabs, but I doubt they admit terminal cases.

    Oh, and if this is your way of attracting hits by writing glaringly bawdy posts in your various blogs, to finally get enough money to hold your arangetram, I must say, you are doing pretty well. That would explain a lot of your observations on all and sundry. Rather like a dancer, who does a cabaret to get money for her bharatanatyam show. Good for you!

    Suggestion: Improve your English skills, the grammatical mistakes might throw off some readers, costing you precious paise!!

    Cheers.

    ( Go on, let this be posted, it will not only attract more hits, it will give you a chance to throw some more sophistry and obscurantism at me, which you simply cannot resist)

  19. How is the weather in Panaji?🙂

    If you cannot respond to most of my points, it makes it funnier! Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder?🙂

    2) The two karanas you have mentioned.

    I mentioned 3 of them.
    The point was, why did you and Vempati stress that all 108 have always been part of Kuchipudi? It’s a false statement. He has never taught any karanas to anyone!

    A man who can shut me up has not been born yet.😦

    I doubt that you know what the meaning of classical dance is.

    Oh! Please enlighten me!😉

    If you have ever even heard Bhama Kalapam

    I think I have watched it more than 10 times.

    has somebody argued that Kuchipudi is a folk form. It is only YOU. Not everybody, just you.

    Really? 60 years ago the Sangeet Natak Akademi had the same doubts as I do!🙂

  20. Until the “Ashwini Akhanda Brahmanda NijaNatyam” becomes a reality, I don’t see a point in answering your question on the karanas. Bharatanatyam artistes have never potrayed all of them, neither have Kuchipudi artistes, we are all, in effect, waiting for your deliverance.

    If you have indeed heard Bhama kalapam’s entrance song 10 times, I wonder how being a self styled “dancer”, you missed out the highly evident strains of Bhairavi in Mishra Chapu.

    “60 years ago the Sangeet Natak Akademi had the same doubts as I do!”

    Indeed. But that was 60 years ago. Infact I can also say that until Rukmini Devi came along, the same was true of Bharatanatyam or Cathir/ Dasiattam. So is that simply a courtesan dance then, a vulgar shameless marketing method?

    “No Kuchipudi dancer SO FAR learnt the 64 subjects, and none has been able to understand anything written in the Vedas. This is a proof that the dumb Siddhendra Yogi was a fraudster.”

    You really need to improve not only your English writing, but reading skills as well! Ill try to teach you reading first (i do not want to deal with the highly unpleasant task of purging your debased writing skills), generous that I am. I know its difficult for you to keep up, but kindly exert your limited faculties:

    “The Brahmin boys alone, becuase ACCORDING TO THAT AGE, Kuchipudi, as an intergral part of the Natya Shastra, was part of vedic learning and could not be taught to others.”

    So the question of Kuchipudi artistes TODAY or SO FAR is irrelevant. And unless you quote a source or a credible reference for your comment about none of we dancers understanding vedas, Ill believe it to be as true as “Ashwini akhanda brahmanda nijanatyam”, and thus one to be laughed at.

    The 64 kalas are not part of “vedic learning” by the way. And in olden days, most of the dancers being Vaidiki Brahmin boys, indeed knew how to perform the traditional temple rituals according to Vedas, the herditary family of priests in the Venugopalaswamy temple, to this day are pujaris AND kuchipudi dancers.

    “A man who can shut me up has not been born yet. ”

    The point, my dear, is that many have done so, quite a lot times. And you pretend to ignore it, and plough on, shamelessly, brashly, while the insecurity rages on inside your heart. Infact, I am pretty sure by now, that some Mylapore Brahmin guy who knows Bharatanatyam has ditched you bigtime, which explains this blog and all else, you spew out.

    The weather in Goa, is perfect- I could arrange a show of yours here, the All India inauguration of the Ashwini Akhanda Brahmanda NijaNatyam”. Care to arrive? this being a relatively unexposed part, you can pass off anything you want here as dance.

    Cheers.

  21. Bharatanatyam artistes have never potrayed all of them, neither have Kuchipudi artistes

    Wow! Yesterday you said the opposite. Are you going to become a politician?🙂

    As for Dasiattam and Rukmini Devi, there is a weak relation between the two. Yes, she was a good lobbyist and a politician.

    Kuchipudi, as an intergral part of the Natya Shastra

    I am trying to understand how Kuchipudi – which appeared much later – happened to be an integral part of Natya Shastra (which was written thousands of years before!)
    Anyway, it seems those fraud Brahmins didn’t even know what subjects Rama and his brother learnt!

    As for the Vedas, can you tell me about a single instance of a Kuchipudi’s dancer saying a mantra that actually produced any effect other than increasing the fat layer on the stomach? The hereditary family of priests in the Venugopalaswamy temple – like the “hereditary devadasis” – knew that castes only started to be “inherited” very recently, when the Hindu dharma collapsed. In Kali Yuga, there is only 1 varna: sudras (remember, Bharata Muni’s 100 disciples incarnated as Sudras, and Natya Shastra says, “...after the Treta Yuga commenced…. the gods asked Brahma, “As the 4 Vedas are not to be listened to by those born as Sudras, please create another Veda which will suit all varnas“). So your hereditary family of priests in the Venugopalaswamy temple are as good as Osama bin Laden’s family. They have nothing to do with the Vedas. This is the reason Archeological Survey took control over most medium and big temples.

  22. To answer Suma’s question with an answer it merits without prejudice, this is what I have to say:

    1) The method of handling Abhinaya is different in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam:

    Bharatanatyam follows padaartha abhinaya, where every word is interpreted through mudras. Kuchipudi follows vaakyartha abhinaya, which means the sentence as a whole is taken for interpretation. Most of you must have wondered, why the same line is repeated a lot of times in Kuchipudi, if you observe closely, everytime the interpretation is represented in a different fashion. As such, in this aspect Kuchipudi allows for more manodharma (on the spot improvisation) than Bharatanatyam. However, Kuchipudi doesn’t deal with abstract forms of expression at all, while Bharatanatyam has great scope for manodharma in the abstract genre.

    2) Most of the mudras used in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi are same, while depicting. However, the slight difference is that Bharatanatyam usually follows an outsider approach to narrative. For example:
    – The line “Rama took his bride Sita to Ayodhya”
    In Bharatanatyam, the dancer depicts “There is Rama, there is Sita, and he is taking her to Ayodhya” through the Abhinaya.

    In Kuchipudi its usually like,when the line is played first, the dancer depicts, “I am Rama, I am taking Sita to Ayodhya”
    When the line is repeated the next time, “I am Sita, Rama is taking me to Ayodhya”, and the next time, ” I am watching Sita being taken to Ayodhya by Rama” etc through Abhinaya.

    This is what I mean by the difference between padaartha Abhinaya and vaakyartha Abhinaya.

    Kuchipudi being the more faster of the two, the Abhinaya movements are sharp to be efficiently grasped by the viewers. The Bharatanatyam practitioners usually feel it is way too exhibitionist for the same reason.

    Kuchipudi traditionally has more pradhanya on Abhinaya (vachika included), as it is essentially a dance-drama form, unlike other classical art forms of India. Bharatanatyam on the other hand, has a tendency to focus more on nritta. If you notice, various abhinaya pradhanya items like Padams, and Javalis have been traditionally the domain of Kuchipudi, although in the last century a healthy exchange of ideas, led to their being adopted into Bharatanatyam also for exposition.

    Hope this answers your question Suma.

  23. Wow!!!! Wow!!! What kind of rotten Bharatanatyam recitals have you watched??????🙂 Kuchipudi the more faster????????? Kuchipudi allows for more manodharma than Bharatanatyam????

    You know, before you enlightened us on the difference between Kuchipudi’s and Bharatanatyam’s approach to narrative (which is not really related to padaartha – vaakyartha abhinaya), I had the impression that it was just the other way around!😦

  24. I am not merely drawing conclusions in the air like you. It is an established fact that Bharatanatyam relies extensively on word to mudra pattern known as padaartha. Its not the same in Kuchipudi. You have consistently shown a very weak foundation in theory. DO you really know what the Natya Shastra is? I doubt that.

    For starters you can see these

    bharatanATyam choreography is padArtha – meaning, each word of the sAhitya is matched by a corresponding action, while in kucipuDi it is vAkyArtha – with the actions bringing out the general import of the sAhitya. For example, take the phrase ‘nI ingE vA’ – in bharatanATyam, the actions will match ‘you’,’here’, and ‘come’ in that order, while it is perfectly acceptable in kucipuDi to mime ‘you come here’.

    Source: http://rasikas.org/forum/topic5880-bharathanatyam-for-the-uninitiated-p3.html

    While Bharatanatyam involved `padaartha’ (word) abhinaya, Kuchipudi is anchored on `vaakya’ (sentence) abhinaya. It was imperative that the dancer render the songs during the performance and the lip movements be distinctly visible to the audience.

    Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fr/2007/04/13/stories/2007041300330200.htm

    The Bharatanatyam dance form is based on ‘Adavu’ (Steps) and ‘Hasta Mudra’ (handgestures). The dancer artistically tells stories and events from the epics through mudras (movements of the hand and feet) and facial expressions.This dance is poetry in motion.Bharathanatyam gives importance to Padartha Abhinaya.The music of Bharathanatyam is based on Carnatic Classical Music.

    Kuchipudi is originated as a form of dance drama with religious themes. Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha Abhinaya(use of words or dialogues).According to tradition this dance is originally performed by men of the Brahmin community.It has a rich repertoire of Kalapas and Yakshaganas,dance dramas and solos.Kuchipudi music is based on pure classical ragas and taalas.
    Source: http://www.dancevillage.org/dances.html

    Question:
    What is the difference between Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi?

    Answer:
    Two parallel schools of dance have existed since time immemorial, viz. Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela. The former evolved into Bharat Natyam and the latter into Kuchipudi. There is difference in the presentation itself. The main difference lies in the abhinaya. The graceful, lasya oriented Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha abhinaya go together. Bharatanatyam on the other hand is Mudra oriented and gives importance to Padartha abhinaya, each word interpreted through mudras. Certain movements are characteristic to Kuchipudi. Vachika abhinaya (use of words/dialogues) is also a special feature of the Kuchipudi style.

    Source: http://www.faq4me.net/Dancing/1552210.htm

  25. You never fail to amaze me with your utter lack of knowledge of theory of the dance which you comment upon. You do not even know the basics of Bharatanatyam that even I, an amateur Bharatanatyam enthusiast know.

    Its never too late to learn. Here are some starters:

    Bharatanatyam is based on ‘Adavu’ (Steps) and ‘Hasta Mudra’ (handgestures). The dancer artistically tells stories and events from the epics through mudras (movements of the hand and feet) and facial expressions.This dance is poetry in motion.Bharathanatyam gives importance to Padartha Abhinaya.The music of Bharathanatyam is based on Carnatic Classical Music.

    Kuchipudi is originated as a form of dance drama with religious themes. Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha
    Abhinaya(use of words or dialogues).According to tradition this dance is originally performed by men of the Brahmin community.It has a rich repertoire of Kalapas and Yakshaganas,dance dramas and solos.Kuchipudi music is based on pure classical ragas and taalas.

    Source: http://www.dancevillage.org/dances.html

    Question:
    What is the difference between Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi?

    Answer:
    Two parallel schools of dance have existed since time immemorial, viz. Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela. The former evolved into Bharat Natyam and the latter into Kuchipudi. There is difference in the presentation itself. The main difference lies in the abhinaya. The graceful, lasya oriented Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha abhinaya go together. Bharatanatyam on the other hand is Mudra oriented and gives importance to Padartha abhinaya, each word interpreted through mudras. Certain movements are characteristic to Kuchipudi. Vachika abhinaya (use of words/dialogues) is also a special feature of the Kuchipudi style.

    Source: http://www.faq4me.net/Dancing/1552210.htm

    While Bharatanatyam involved `padaartha’ (word) abhinaya, Kuchipudi is anchored on `vaakya’ (sentence) abhinaya. It was imperative that the dancer render the songs during the performance and the lip movements be distinctly visible to the audience.

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fr/2007/04/13/stories/2007041300330200.htm

    In choreographing lyrics, the difference from bharatanATyam becomes very evident – bharatanATyam choreography is
    padArtha – meaning, each word of the sAhitya is matched by a corresponding action, while in kucipuDi it is vAkyArtha
    – with the actions bringing out the general import of the sAhitya. For example, take the phrase ‘nI ingE vA’ – in bharatanATyam, the actions will match ‘you’,’here’, and ‘come’ in that order, while it is perfectly acceptable inkucipuDi to mime ‘you come here’.

    Source: http://rasikas.org/forum/topic5880-bharathanatyam-for-the-uninitiated-p3.html

    My, my, judging by this Ashwini Akhanda Brahmanda NijaNatyam is going to be a class apart.

    hahahahahahaha😀

  26. Bharatanatyam is based on ‘Adavu’ (Steps) and ‘Hasta Mudra’ (handgestures). The dancer artistically tells stories and events from the epics through mudras (movements of the hand and feet) and facial expressions.This dance is poetry in motion.Bharathanatyam gives importance to Padartha Abhinaya.The music of Bharathanatyam is based on Carnatic Classical Music.

    Kuchipudi is originated as a form of dance drama with religious themes. Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha Abhinaya(use of words or dialogues).According to tradition this dance is originally performed by men of the Brahmin community.It has a rich repertoire of Kalapas and Yakshaganas,dance dramas and solos.Kuchipudi music is based on pure classical ragas and taalas.

    Source: http://tinyurl.com/yeg992h

    Question:
    What is the difference between Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi?

    Answer:
    Two parallel schools of dance have existed since time immemorial, viz. Nattuva Mela and Natya Mela. The former evolved into Bharat Natyam and the latter into Kuchipudi. There is difference in the presentation itself. The main difference lies in the abhinaya. The graceful, lasya oriented Kuchipudi gives importance to Vakyartha abhinaya go together. Bharatanatyam on the other hand is Mudra oriented and gives importance to Padartha abhinaya, each word interpreted through mudras. Certain movements are characteristic to Kuchipudi. Vachika abhinaya (use of words/dialogues) is also a special feature of the Kuchipudi style.

    Source: http://tinyurl.com/yzk7dre

    While Bharatanatyam involved `padaartha’ (word) abhinaya, Kuchipudi is anchored on `vaakya’ (sentence) abhinaya. It was imperative that the dancer render the songs during the performance and the lip movements be distinctly visible to the audience.

    Source: http://tinyurl.com/yhk27rq

    In choreographing lyrics, the difference from bharatanATyam becomes very evident – bharatanATyam choreography is padArtha – meaning, each word of the sAhitya is matched by a corresponding action, while in kucipuDi it is vAkyArtha – with the actions bringing out the general import of the sAhitya. For example, take the phrase ‘nI ingE vA’ – in bharatanATyam, the actions will match ‘you’,’here’, and ‘come’ in that order, while it is perfectly acceptable in kucipuDi to mime ‘you come here’.

    Source: http://tinyurl.com/yclg936

    My, my, judging by this, Ashwini Akhanda NijaNatyam is going to be a class apart!
    😀😀😀

  27. And for gosh sake, everyone knows that Kuchipudi is faster than Bharatanatyam. Kuchipudi is routinely described as a “scintillating dance with rounded movements”. Bharatanatyam artistes complain its too fast, and Kuchipudi artistes complain vice versa.

    Lol, you live in the small little world of Chennai and thus your eyes are closed to everything else. You really have a very very weak understanding of theory.

    There are numerous posts on the net itself about why and how Kuchipudi is faster. However, Bharatanatyam is more physically demanding than Kuchipudi, precisely because it is slower than Kuchipudi. Kuchipudi is a fast race while Bharatanatyam is like a slow jog, and hence more physically demanding. You can refer these:

    http://rasikas.org/forum/topic5880-bharathanatyam-for-the-uninitiated-p3.html

    “The dance form, Kuchipudi, is named after the tiny village where it originated in Andhra Pradesh. With the Bharatanatyam, It shares its origins from the early scriptures of the Natya Shastra. Many of its movements and gestures are also similar but it has much that is unique about it. It is generally faster, more spirited than Bharatanatyam yet at the same time it retains a stately sophistication and graciousness. ”

    http://writeworld.org/kuchipudi.html

    “Bharatnatyam is precisely known for its elegance, grace, softness, clarity and sculptured poses. On the other hand most of the poses in Kuchipudi are brisk, flat-footed, dazzling and overall curved having more rounded poses.”

    http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-bharatnatyam-and-kuchipudi/

    This was on a tamil dance rasika forum:

    “Another thing I heard from her was that jathis in kuchipudi are so fast that they rarely fit into Taalam…I am not sure if this is the case. Can anyone throw some light on this?”

    Source: http://rasikas.org/forum/topic5880-bharathanatyam-for-the-uninitiated-p3.html

    Without knowing anything, why do you open your big fat mouth to display your arrogance and ignorance? If you now say that all these links are false, and you alone know what is right, then good for you and Ashwini Akhanda Brahmanda NijaNatyam.

  28. I am googling because, there should be a difference between you and me, when I speak. I use evidence wherever possible to support my arguments.

    I dont ramble ignorantly.

  29. Yes, I live in the small little world of Chennai where I have an opportunity to watch fast and dazzling Bharatanatyam. Those people on Rasikas.org are mainly in America/Canada/Europe. What do they see there?

  30. “fast and dazzling”? Nowhere, in you blog, have I got the distinct impression that you thought the Chennai Bharatanatyam to be “fast and dazzling”. I thought you trashed everybody in the Bharatanatyam circuit.

    What a hypocrite you are!!

    Leave rasikas.org, what about all the other links… if you choose to ignore, well ignorance is bliss then..

    Bottom line: Kuchipudi is faster than Bharatanatyam. Live with it.

  31. You do not even know the basics of Bharatanatyam, and you dare slander everybody in Bharatanatyam and also in other art forms.

    What a self righteous fraud you are!!!

  32. What can I do if you choose to read only my trashing reviews!
    There are many good performances, does it mean I have the time to write about all the good dancers?

  33. I just remembered, referring to the compositions in 22 sruthis, chuck that aside, and listen to this:

    The world’s longest tala is Simhanandana Tala, equivalent to 16 avarthas of adi tala.

    Simhanandini Nartanam is an ancient derivative of Kuchipudi dating back to 17th century in which the dancer, would dance on a white cloth, in the immensely complex Simhanandana Tala, and after the dance was finished, the cloth would be overturned to reveal the pattern of a lion.

    Likewise Mayura Nartanam would reveal a peacock, and Mahalakshmi Udbhavam would reveal a lotus. Thanks to the efforts of C.R.Acharya, and his daughter, this item had been retained in the the Kuchipudi repertoire to this day. You can google “Simhanandini Nartanam” to get videos/pics of this.

    All these three are medeival temple dances of coastal Andhra whcih come under the term Prenkhini Nartanam, which itself comes under the term Andhra Natyam along with other art forms.

    If this aint classical enough for you, I wonder what will be!

    Its good to maintain a healthy interest without a prejudice and trying to deplore other arts, when you know little about your own art, forget the others.

    You, as a democratic citizen of India, have all rights to criticize even the greatest stalwarts of Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi. However, there is something called conscience. If you have it, it should kill you by now, that you do not even know the basics of the dance you blog extensively on and you are commenting on people who spent their whole lives immersed in it. Whether they were good or bad is different. They at least had the dedication, whatever the incentive may have been. You do not.

    Take heed.

    God bless you.
    Cheers.

  34. @ Harish: Did you just say she is not dedicated!?😀
    I do have a question.Who exactly dancers Simhanandini to any tala? Last i saw Ananda Shankar jayant moving her feet and drawing stuff. Thats it.

    @ Ashwini: Enjoyed every bit of information and opinion that did not involve praising SN or ridiculing Kalshetra. Great article. I am overwhelmed with information right now. Thats how good it was🙂 There was more than one place that struck a cord and made me smile.

  35. I most graciously can. I admire SN’s style. They are much better than say the tanjavur of Hari Krishna and Srividya Natarajan. They use much more control than Alarmel Valli. I am all i for anyone with controlled and graceful dancing. I am just not in for you slandering Rukmini Devi because she did not marry a VEnkatagiri Iyer🙂

    I do have to mention here, since you mentioned Narthaki that i find her so angasudhdhi better than Anirudhdha Knight. Anirudhdha Knight makes me want to never recommend anyone to his program again. On the other hand, at least the kaliyuga varadan of narthaki on youtube makes me want to feel proud of her since i just came to know her gender. It must be so tough on her to not just survive but actually perform with all the stigma.😦 Yay! for narthaki. This is the best example of controlled dancing vs. uncontrolled throwing of limbs around on tala. People who cannot hold a firm natyarambham should not be allowed to ascend a stage.😐

  36. I do have to mention here, since you mentioned Narthaki

    He was mentioned in the context of Sringara

    Anirudhdha Knight makes me want to never recommend anyone to his program again

    He is not a dancer, of course. Doesn’t he actually look… gay-ish?🙂

    This is the best example of controlled dancing vs. uncontrolled throwing of limbs around on tala

    Limbs must be controlled by emotional mind (which, in turn, must be controlled by the aesthetic mind, which, in turn, must be controlled by the intuitive mind). Not by the rational mind that processes information discreetly. The graceful throw of limbs is called akshepa in Natya Shastra, and without it there is no dance. That’s the difference between soldiers marching and Bharatanatyam dancers dancing.

  37. @ksl

    Hi!

    Ananda Shankar Jayant.. hmm… no wonder..😛. A lot of them like ASJ and Mallika Sarabhai etc. just go fr the jazz involved in drawing shapes with their feet and the crowd goes like “Ooohh!!”, geddit?😐

    If you want to see true Simhanandini try catching anything from Voleti Rangamani’s reportoire, it was her father C.R.Acharyulu who resurrected it!🙂

    Also, its kinda difficult to follow the cycles of Simhanandina tala coz its wayy too long i guess!😀

  38. and yeah… I think I said she isnt dedicated… you only need to look above to realize..

    and speaking of dedication.. I notice she hasnt made a new post since this drubbing!! wonder why!!😦

  39. i believe in dance as joy to audience and bliss to the dancer…every dancer has a way of approaching the art of bharathanatyam(which has evolved into something bit different to bhratha muni’s ideas….but such an ancient art is bound to change in years),or any other dance form…blatantly posting such criticisms is i believe not in the best interest of the art(which is our responsibility to preserve…)and whether a particular audience looks at the beauty of the dancer or the depth of her dancing depends on each individual…i am sure that every dedicated dancer should give some time to maintaining their body for a long time…on the other hand just concentrating on karanas and questioning its presence or abscence in recitals is unnecessary as long as what ever is being performed is beautiful.besides dance is not about adhering to any rules(be it an araimandi or using karanas or being geometric)because dance is about letting go…feeling perfect is the only way to be perfect…

  40. What exactly is the “art” which is you want to “preserve”? The 18th century royal gimmicks?
    Obviously you don’t even have the brain do understand the difference between the margi dance (which leads to liberation) and the desi (folk) pop dance that leads to a local pub.

    You are right: dance is about letting go, therefore any obese matron feeling perfect while joyfully dancing in her wheelchair is perfect. I assume, by “perfect” you mean this pose of yours:

    I thought people sit like that in the toilet.🙂

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