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Books > Performing Arts > So Many Journeys (By Bharatanatyam Dancer Geeta Chandran)
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So Many Journeys (By Bharatanatyam Dancer Geeta Chandran)
So Many Journeys (By Bharatanatyam Dancer Geeta Chandran)
Description
Publisher’s Note

So many Journeys by dancer Geeta Chandran (with Rajiv Chandran) is the maiden offering of the new Publications Division at Niyogi Offset Pvt. Ltd.

When we scanned several manuscripts to select which would be our first publication, there was no doubt in our minds that this was it! Original writings on an exquisite classical dance that placed tradition in the contemporary context, and a vast collection of visual images!

To this treasure-trove of word and image, we enjoined the vision of two brilliant young graphic designers, jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra. The book you are holding is the culmination of the dreams of all the creative persons involved in the project.

As its publisher, we wish to record that it has been a special privilege for us to be able to publish this book of Geeta Chandran’s writings. It is an effort that we are extremely proud of, and we hope that all categories of readers will find this volume thought provoking. Its contents, design and production should make it a book to be cherished.

Foreword

Human life is an accumulation of several journeys; Journey; Journeys from the unreal to the real, from the finite to the infinite, from suffering to happiness. Due to these abundant variables and the sheer variety of human nature, these journeys take different paths, through different vicissitudes.

The cognitive seekers know the absolute truth as objective. Some will work their way through the subjective creativity to the cosmic “I”. Others feel and relate to the absolute, uniting the subject and the object in a blissful dance. The journeys through all the paths should lead one to a blissfully complete experience. However the path of jnana-knowledge and karma-action negate each other in the form of subject or the object respectively. The path of feeling pre-supposes an “other” to relate to; hence it becomes a superior experience. Vedic wisdom, having carefully analysed and grasped this reality, concludes that:
THE ULTIMATE REALITY/EXPERIENCE IS RASA.

Rasa the culmination of Vedantic metaphysics, serves as the starting point for aesthetics. Na hi rasadrte kascid arthah pravartate (Natyasastra of Bharata 6/1). Rasa is the essential life-blood of India’s culture body!

How does one taste/experience this rasa? It is possible only if that transcendent rasa reveals itself. The evanescence of rasa moves it from the realm of the unmanifest to the manifest. “Whose body movement (angika) is the phenomenal world, whose articulate expression (vacika) constitutes all verbal expression, and whose ornaments (aharya) are the moon, stars, etc., we bow to that energetic (sattvika) Siva.” (Samgitaratnakara of Sarngadeva 7/1)

The Process of experiencing rasa and then expressing it gives birth to all of human artistic creativity, all of our visual and performing art forms. Intangible reality is made tangible. Those who enjoy this rasa are alone capable to communicating that aesthetic experience to others. Thus the sastra-code of aesthetics is born. Rasa is embodied in the sastra, which is further personified as the Guru.

The human self is able to experience rasa only through the senses and when it comes to expressing that experience, again, the self is dependent upon the senses. The art form of dance is more sensual than others, since it encompasses other related art forms like music, literature, painting etc.

The metaphysical sensual dance launches a dancer in the domain of the infinite spirit. The body dances, and through its rhythmic postures, movements and expressions it obliterates itself. In fact, the dancing soul and the body merge to become one seamless dancer. The abhivyakti-presentation transcends the vyakti-person. Rasa now dialectically moves from the tangible to the intangible. There, in the realm of infinite lies the uninterrupted celebration of ananda-bliss; the locus where the limited enjoyer-self then identifies with the cosmic-self.

GEETA CHANDRAN, through her tapa-concentration and sadhana-search, makes this possible. Her journeys from being a student to artist-dancer, from performer to a teacher, from mathematics to rasa, from the voice of herself to the songs of Krishna, are all very devoted and beautiful. The essence of her journeys may be summarized in the words of Rupa Gosvami (Bhaktirasamrtasindhu 1/12): “The highest devotion is that of dedicated service to Rasaraj Krishna; if it is rendered aesthetically, is devoid of desire of anything else, and is unobstructed by scholasticism and vested interest, completely free of all limitations, dedicated to Him; pure service with the senses to the Lord of Senses, is the ultimate devotion.” Geeta, dance on…

Shrivatsa Goswami, Acharya, Caitanya Prema Samsthana, Vrindavan.

About Anjali the Journey of a Dancer

The Journey of a dancer and her bonding with her art over a period of time is complex. Each dancer forges her unique link with the art. Even though artistic intensities and sensibilities may vary, every dancer relates to the dance in her/his own way and finds her/his own individual balance.

There are many journeys involved. In the course of these journeys there are times when one feels extremely charged and inspired and then there are those other moments when one agonizes full of pain, those trying times. The body has its inevitable ups and downs. However, through all this, the dancer’s trained mind is critical to keeping the balance. Since the dance form is in its key essence a solo art form, it is not unusual to feel lonely at times. But then again, it is dance that comes to the rescue. Though the dance performed is subjective, it is that very dance and only the dance - which defines the dancer.

Most of what one views on stage as the end product is the outcome of a long and arduous process. How much one rejects to arrive at what one really wishes to say! This process to me has been intellectually stimulating, always challenging and enriching. What is amazing is the interpretations of the dance that dancers are trying to arrive at today. That they are able to contextualize their art and address diverse audiences is a truly remarkable endeavour.

It is in this context that one began putting down on paper what one felt at various times during these many journeys. Sometimes one felt the need to react to a particular situation or one’s perception of reality. Sometimes it was important to clarify a certain viewpoint to oneself.

This book weaves together all these stray impressions encountered in these journeys through dance. Some of the articles may well be disjointed, some may not say anything new, some are intensely personal and biographical. Since these were written at various points in the journeys, readers are encouraged to approach this volume like an artist’s diary or album.

This is firmly not a scholarly book on dance; I have no pretensions of being a scholar nor am I a writer; merely a classical dancer who loves her dance and takes immense pride in the fact that I had the opportunity of learning this wonderful art form and have continued to experience great joy and satisfaction in performing it and sharing it with widening audiences.

These musings are my offering to the Muse whose blessings have - and continue to - suffuse me…prodding me to flap my wings any which way I wanted…and undertake so many journeys!

Contents

08-09 Anjali The Beginning
16-17Guru Dakshina The sacred relationship between Guru and disciple
50-51Navadarshanam A re-evaluation of tradition, expanding frontiers and changing prisms
122-123Rasika The audience and how the dance is viewed
142-143Bhakti Mythological content of the dance narrative
172-173She-Rahasyam Evolving gender dimensions in the dance
204-205Samarpan Concluding thoughts

So Many Journeys (By Bharatanatyam Dancer Geeta Chandran)

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Publisher’s Note

So many Journeys by dancer Geeta Chandran (with Rajiv Chandran) is the maiden offering of the new Publications Division at Niyogi Offset Pvt. Ltd.

When we scanned several manuscripts to select which would be our first publication, there was no doubt in our minds that this was it! Original writings on an exquisite classical dance that placed tradition in the contemporary context, and a vast collection of visual images!

To this treasure-trove of word and image, we enjoined the vision of two brilliant young graphic designers, jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra. The book you are holding is the culmination of the dreams of all the creative persons involved in the project.

As its publisher, we wish to record that it has been a special privilege for us to be able to publish this book of Geeta Chandran’s writings. It is an effort that we are extremely proud of, and we hope that all categories of readers will find this volume thought provoking. Its contents, design and production should make it a book to be cherished.

Foreword

Human life is an accumulation of several journeys; Journey; Journeys from the unreal to the real, from the finite to the infinite, from suffering to happiness. Due to these abundant variables and the sheer variety of human nature, these journeys take different paths, through different vicissitudes.

The cognitive seekers know the absolute truth as objective. Some will work their way through the subjective creativity to the cosmic “I”. Others feel and relate to the absolute, uniting the subject and the object in a blissful dance. The journeys through all the paths should lead one to a blissfully complete experience. However the path of jnana-knowledge and karma-action negate each other in the form of subject or the object respectively. The path of feeling pre-supposes an “other” to relate to; hence it becomes a superior experience. Vedic wisdom, having carefully analysed and grasped this reality, concludes that:
THE ULTIMATE REALITY/EXPERIENCE IS RASA.

Rasa the culmination of Vedantic metaphysics, serves as the starting point for aesthetics. Na hi rasadrte kascid arthah pravartate (Natyasastra of Bharata 6/1). Rasa is the essential life-blood of India’s culture body!

How does one taste/experience this rasa? It is possible only if that transcendent rasa reveals itself. The evanescence of rasa moves it from the realm of the unmanifest to the manifest. “Whose body movement (angika) is the phenomenal world, whose articulate expression (vacika) constitutes all verbal expression, and whose ornaments (aharya) are the moon, stars, etc., we bow to that energetic (sattvika) Siva.” (Samgitaratnakara of Sarngadeva 7/1)

The Process of experiencing rasa and then expressing it gives birth to all of human artistic creativity, all of our visual and performing art forms. Intangible reality is made tangible. Those who enjoy this rasa are alone capable to communicating that aesthetic experience to others. Thus the sastra-code of aesthetics is born. Rasa is embodied in the sastra, which is further personified as the Guru.

The human self is able to experience rasa only through the senses and when it comes to expressing that experience, again, the self is dependent upon the senses. The art form of dance is more sensual than others, since it encompasses other related art forms like music, literature, painting etc.

The metaphysical sensual dance launches a dancer in the domain of the infinite spirit. The body dances, and through its rhythmic postures, movements and expressions it obliterates itself. In fact, the dancing soul and the body merge to become one seamless dancer. The abhivyakti-presentation transcends the vyakti-person. Rasa now dialectically moves from the tangible to the intangible. There, in the realm of infinite lies the uninterrupted celebration of ananda-bliss; the locus where the limited enjoyer-self then identifies with the cosmic-self.

GEETA CHANDRAN, through her tapa-concentration and sadhana-search, makes this possible. Her journeys from being a student to artist-dancer, from performer to a teacher, from mathematics to rasa, from the voice of herself to the songs of Krishna, are all very devoted and beautiful. The essence of her journeys may be summarized in the words of Rupa Gosvami (Bhaktirasamrtasindhu 1/12): “The highest devotion is that of dedicated service to Rasaraj Krishna; if it is rendered aesthetically, is devoid of desire of anything else, and is unobstructed by scholasticism and vested interest, completely free of all limitations, dedicated to Him; pure service with the senses to the Lord of Senses, is the ultimate devotion.” Geeta, dance on…

Shrivatsa Goswami, Acharya, Caitanya Prema Samsthana, Vrindavan.

About Anjali the Journey of a Dancer

The Journey of a dancer and her bonding with her art over a period of time is complex. Each dancer forges her unique link with the art. Even though artistic intensities and sensibilities may vary, every dancer relates to the dance in her/his own way and finds her/his own individual balance.

There are many journeys involved. In the course of these journeys there are times when one feels extremely charged and inspired and then there are those other moments when one agonizes full of pain, those trying times. The body has its inevitable ups and downs. However, through all this, the dancer’s trained mind is critical to keeping the balance. Since the dance form is in its key essence a solo art form, it is not unusual to feel lonely at times. But then again, it is dance that comes to the rescue. Though the dance performed is subjective, it is that very dance and only the dance - which defines the dancer.

Most of what one views on stage as the end product is the outcome of a long and arduous process. How much one rejects to arrive at what one really wishes to say! This process to me has been intellectually stimulating, always challenging and enriching. What is amazing is the interpretations of the dance that dancers are trying to arrive at today. That they are able to contextualize their art and address diverse audiences is a truly remarkable endeavour.

It is in this context that one began putting down on paper what one felt at various times during these many journeys. Sometimes one felt the need to react to a particular situation or one’s perception of reality. Sometimes it was important to clarify a certain viewpoint to oneself.

This book weaves together all these stray impressions encountered in these journeys through dance. Some of the articles may well be disjointed, some may not say anything new, some are intensely personal and biographical. Since these were written at various points in the journeys, readers are encouraged to approach this volume like an artist’s diary or album.

This is firmly not a scholarly book on dance; I have no pretensions of being a scholar nor am I a writer; merely a classical dancer who loves her dance and takes immense pride in the fact that I had the opportunity of learning this wonderful art form and have continued to experience great joy and satisfaction in performing it and sharing it with widening audiences.

These musings are my offering to the Muse whose blessings have - and continue to - suffuse me…prodding me to flap my wings any which way I wanted…and undertake so many journeys!

Contents

08-09 Anjali The Beginning
16-17Guru Dakshina The sacred relationship between Guru and disciple
50-51Navadarshanam A re-evaluation of tradition, expanding frontiers and changing prisms
122-123Rasika The audience and how the dance is viewed
142-143Bhakti Mythological content of the dance narrative
172-173She-Rahasyam Evolving gender dimensions in the dance
204-205Samarpan Concluding thoughts
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