Friday, May 14, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja-5

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

East v/s West in Dance

With respect to the art of dance, Mary Clarke and Clement Crispe provide a powerful contrast between the Orient and the Occident in these words:

"The dance of the Orient … in many cases remains in direct contact with the spiritual … In the West, the dance has lost this context. In neither folk nor theatrical dance can such a profound unity with the spiritual existence of a people be seen … The dance in the West finds its richest sources not in man's relationship to God or to the natural world, but in man's concern with his own psyche. Dance in the theatre today, apart from its ephemerally amusing aspects, has a dual identity. It can be seen as the ex

ploration of the inner landscapes of man's feelings, or as a non-representational art concerned with its own spatial and temporal existence as movement".

(M. Clarke & C. Crispe, The History of Dance, London: Orbis Publishing, 1980, p.40).

  Bringing out the superiority of Indian art of the stage over its Greek counterpart, Dr. V. Raghavan says:

"The Greek Theory of Terror, Pity, and Catharsis is scrappy by the side of the full Rasa Theory of Bharata, whose treatise is more complete than Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetorics put together." 

(Prof. V.Raghavan "Sanskrit Drama and Performance", The Madras University Journal, Volume 29.1, p.16).

  The Indian View of the Goal of Music and Dance

The role and goal of music and dance are most clearly stated by that prince of philosopher-poeticians of India viz. Abhinavagupta of Kashmir (950–1020 ce).  Abhinavabhāratī, the celebrated commentary on the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata (5th C. bce) makes this clear. It says: svagata-krodha-śokādi-viśaṅkaṭa-hṛdaya-granthi-bhañjanāya gītādi-prakriyā ca muninā viracitā |

स्वगत-क्रोध-शोकादि-विशङ्कट-हृदय-ग्रन्थि-भञ्जनाय गीतादि-प्रक्रिया मुनिना विरचिता

(Refer Abhinavabhāratī 6.33 in Nāṭya Śāstra of Bharata, ed. M. Shastri, Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University, 1971, p.685).

It may be translated thus:

"It is for the purpose of sundering the tough "knots of the heart" - such as anger, grief and so on in one's own self - that the sage [Bharata, that is,] designed such music and allied arts."

The word gītādi here can easily refer to gīta, vādya, and nr̥tya. The three taken together, in fact, constitute what is called saṅgīta. As the famous saying goes: gītaṁ vādyaṁ ca nr̥tyaṁ ca trayaṁ saṅgītamucyate ||