Friday, May 7, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja-4

Dr. K S Kannan,
SRSJM Chair Professor,
IIT-Madras, Chennai.
Respond to (

Some Positive Approaches towards Indian Art

 The situation has drastically changed today, thanks in no small measure to Coomaraswamy, and in particular to his book, The Dance of Shiva, and even more so his seminal essay bearing the same title in the said book. David Smith remarks thus of Coomaraswamy's contribution: 'Coomaraswamy's training as a scientist along with his scholarly attainments enabled him to make a statement [regarding the dance of Siva] that has reverberated through the 20th century.' (D. Smith, The Dance of Shiva (Religion, Art and Poetry in South India), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, p.2). Kamil Zvelebil takes note of Coomaraswamy's 'tremendous intuition,' through which 'he [Coomaraswamy] grasped the philosophical essence of Śiva's dance' and 'even in some seemingly minor points, [foresaw] the results of later research' (K. V. Zvelebil, Ānanda-tāṇḍava of Śiva-Sadānṛttamūrti, Madras: Institute of Asian Studies, 1985, p.11). Zvelebil calls "The Dance of Shiva" a 'classical and deservedly famous essay,' characterising it a little further on again, as a 'lovely essay.'

In contrast to the pejorative views noted earlier, and more in line with Coomaraswamy's view, Ernest B. Havell (1861-1934) remarks sympathetically: 'Indian art is essentially idealistic, mystic, symbolic, transcendental. The artist is both priest and poet.' (Cited in K. S. Ramaswami Sastri, The Indian Concept of the Beautiful, University of Travancore (now University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India), 1947, p.84).  We now proceed to give two opinions, one from the West and one from the East, in order to bring out the grandeur and wholesomeness of the Indian approach to art in theory and in practice. The former surveys dance as performed in all its key aspects in a historical sense, and the latter sets forth a contrast between sage Bharata of the East and Aristotle of the West, showing the fundamental differences in the very theoretical between the Greek approach and the Hindu approach.