The time-honoured concept in all performing arts is that the lakshya or performance is more important than lakshana or grammar.
The classical arts of India represent an ideal blend of improvisation and discipline of culture. This discipline emanates from the conformity to rules enumerated in the sastras. Improvisation comes from the innovative genius of the performing artistes who have immense scope for the display of their creative talents.
Without certain rules which should be meticulously followed by artistes, classical arts may lose their identity and value. It is noteworthy that lakshana granthas on dance deal with every aspect of classical dance. including costumes, make-up, stage decor, instruments and qualities required of dancers and teachers. The authors of lakshana granthas have taken great pains to make a scientific and systematic study of these art-forms and even today, after centuries of progress, our classical arts like dance derive their vitality from the granthas.
The dance art is no longer confined to the traditional practitioners, but has attracted wider involvement; because of this, a great need has arisen for convenient manuals containing useful but not too technical details about classical dance.
Commencing with the Natya Sastra of Bharata, there are more than a dozen works dealing with different aspects of dance and all of them are in Sanskrit. The Natya Sastra is a compendium dealing mainly with dramaturgy, yet with considerable relevance to dance. The Abhinaya Darpana is perhaps a more useful work from the practical point of view. The Sangita Ratnakara has a chapter dealing with dance. There are several other works of importance which deal with dance and subjects allied to the art. It will be impossible for any dance student or even a teacher to study all these works unless they have a sound knowledge of Sanskrit and can understand the technical language used.
English translations of the Natya-Sastra and the Abhinaya-Darpana are available but for some other treatises no such editions are available.
It is. therefore. a highly praiseworthy undertaking on the part of Sudharani Raghupathy’s ‘Shree Bharatalaya’ to publish Laghu Bharatham containing more than 200 slokas culled out from all the important works on the subject along with an English translation for each sloka. The slokas have been printed in the Devanagari script with English Transliteration. Only slokas which will be of use to dance students in their every day practice have been selected. In addition to entire works on dance. Slokas from Prataparudriyam, Ramakarna mritam, Natya Darpana, Nrittaratnavali, Dasarupaka, Soundaryalahari, Sringara Manjari and others, which every dance student must know, have been included.
Laghu Bharatham is a labour of love on the part of Sudharani Raghupathy and Prof. Thangaswami Sanna who have pooled their expertise to produce this unique work. The world of dance should be grateful to them for their sincere effort.
In addition to the printed book, Shree Bharatalaya has also brought out a two- cassette album in which the slokas, as recited by Prof. Thangaswami Sarma, with suitable commentary in English by Smt. Sudharani Raghupathy have been recorded. This is the first time that such a magnificent endeavour has been made to assist dance students to acquire a sound knowledge of the grammatical texts of the art. I am confident that the world of classical dance will avail itself of Laghu Bharata and the cassettes thoughtfully produced by Shree Bharatalaya.
Dance in India, is a highly evolved mode of creative expression - not just rhythmic movements but an artistic endeavour that gives joy (Joy not only to the dancer but to the viewer as well.
In reality, the grammatical aspects of dance are the codification of all that is practised. The Natyasastra, an ancient work i a compendium documenting the then existing varieties of dance. Various commentaries and other texts have been written ever since.
The analytical approach to dance is a response to several enquiries like: What is dance? What are the underlying principles? that nuances govern the movements? What o the gestures convey? What is rasa?
This approach to dance is a recent omenon, discernible in the last 50 years.
In recent times, with advancement in the scientific temperament, the need for technical and theoretical knowledge has been increasingly felt.
‘Laghu’ in Sanskrit means easy, and Laghu Bharatham, is our humble attempt at simplyfing the complexities of the various text and make available a handbook for students and dance enthusiasts the world over to grasp the basics.
As the Abhinaya Darpana is the most widely used text in contemporary times, it has been our main source. The essential and relevant verses from various other texts have been extracted and incorporated into Laghu Bharatham.
The basic material essential to a guide to dance, such as single and double hand gestures, movements of the head, eye, neck and feet, dasavatara hastas and devata hastas, navarasas and their sthayibhavas are condensed and presented comprehensively. Besides these, we have incorporated other unique features; the different kinds ofNayika- Nayaka bheda along with their Sakbi & Sakha respectively, definition of adavus and the different varieties of adavus practised today, karana, gestures of some colours, Manmatha banas and their effects are a few of these.
To make the understanding of this text thorough, photographs have been provided as visual representation of every nuance dealt with. A double cassette album containing the rendition of the slokas with commentary in English has also been brought out.
This is the third edition of Laghu Bbaratham Vol. I. We are indeed proud to publish this edition, owing to popular demand m the dance community. We are also happy to add that Laghu Bharatham - VoI.II, dealing with the nuances of abhinaya (published in 1997) and Laghu Bharatham- VoI. III, an appreciation of Bharatanatyam, (which is the printed version of ‘Bharatanjali the television dance serial and first published in 1999) have also been very well received by one all.
Our deep gratitude goes to Prof. Thangaswami Sarma, renowned Sanskrit Scholar associated with Shree Bharatalaya as faculty for over 15 years, for his invaluable help in the compilation of the relevant verses from various texts. His passing away recently. is a great loss to the students of Sanskrit.
About the Editor
Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy : A unique and eminent artiste, nationally and internationally honoured and respected, Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy is lauded as a ‘living legend’.
Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy has been in the field of Bharatanatyam for more than six decades. She is perhaps one of the rare Bharatanatyam dancers in India who has performed before the visiting dignitaries to India since 1956. To mention a few Bulganin & Krushchev, Shah of Iran, Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Afganisthan, Chou en Lai, Ho Chi Minh and many others, including a command performance for Pandit. Jawaharlal Nehru and Smt. Indira Gandhi.
A graduate in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of Mysore, she was the first Indian and the Randolph Macon’s omen’s College, Virginia, U.S.A., in 1964-65, sponsored as an international student and she majored in the World History of Dance, Studio arts and the Martha Graham technique in modern dance from Eleanor Struppa and western music Elaine St. Vincent.
An A-Top artiste of the Doordarshan since 1976, her TV, serial Bharatanjali, an appreciation of Bharatanatyam, the first of its kind on Doordarshan in 1981 (13 episodes in B&W) and 1989 (8 episodes in Colour), is one of her superior contribution to dance.
As an artiste of outstanding calibre, she had the privilege of performing at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York, on Human Rights Day in December 1981, on an invitation from
e then Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim.
She has participated in several national and international seminars and has served on the board of several cultural committees. She was on the Executive Board of the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), New Delhi from 1988 to 1993. She was the Vice-Chairperson of the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), New Delhi from 1998 to 2002. She has been awarded the unique honour of Senior Teaching Associate of Indian Studies (Professor) by Colgate University, New York, in December, 1995.
Shree Bharatalaya, an unique institution of fine arts founded by her in 1970, by Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy, for the dissemination of culture. Her institution is perhaps the only one of its kind in the nation that has produced valuable resource material, which is a unique
ABOUT THE EDITORS
DEVOTED DISCIPLES OF SHREE
LIST OF PLATES IN Laghu Bharatham
ABBREVIATIONS AND SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
PHONETIC SYSTEM FOLLOWED IN THE BOOK
KARANA AND ADAVU
LITERATURE ON DANCE
Golden Jubilee celebrations are : ring social functions in which heavily garlanded VIPs make flamboyant speeches showering praise on the hero of the day who gets publicity mileage from the event. Nothing tangible is achieved either for the art or for posterity.
In my Foreword to Laghu Bharatam Volume I, in 1995 I wrote: “Laghu Bharatam is a labour of love on the part of Sudharani Raghupathy and Prof. Thanga-swami Sarma who have pooled their expertise to produce this unique book. This is the first time that such a magnificient endeavour has been made to assist dance student to acquire sound knowledge of the of the art”.
Laghu Bharatam Volume II, which is being released on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Performing” Career of Sudharani Raghupathy, is a grander publication than the first volume and contains information which is being placed before the public for the first time.
The format of the second volume has also been changed to make it easier for students to refer to subjects. All references in various text relating to a single subject e.g. Sthaayi bhava, have been grouped together. All aspects of Abhinaya like Aangika, Vaachika and Aahaarya are taken up first followed by a detailed section on Rasa Lakshana. Navavidha bhakti, Nayika-Nayaka bhedas, Lokadharmi and Natyadharmi are the other subjects presented with original slokas from texts which make the book a treasure house of knowledge for dance students and teachers.
The large number of photographs produced in this volume include those of Dhyaana slokas Ashtadikpalas and Navagrahas. But the most attractive among the photographs are the colour plates of Aahaarya Abhinaya with an illuminating Article ‘Aahaarya Abhinaya and its significance in Bharata Natyam ‘ by Sudharani Raghupathy. The phonetic system, which was adopted in the first volume after considerable thought, has been retained in this volume also.
The bibliographical survey of dance and sentiments (rasas) in Sanskrit and Tamil literature will be found invaluable by researchers as it is the only one of its kind published so far. So is the list of authors who wrote dance, music and dramatic works, not available at present but cited by authors in various works.
In short, Laghu Bharatam Volume I and II is a landmark publication in the sphere of Bharata Natyam in which such literature is scanty. Only an ardent love of the art could have made Sudharani undertake such a massive project which will be useful to all interested in the rich tradition and culture of our people.
BHA Y AANAKA RASAH
ABBREVIATIONS AND SELECT
Theory and Practice are the two sides of any art form. Each supplements and complements the other. In the Gurukula pattern of education, which was in vogue almost till the end of the last century, the distinction between theory and practice did not have much of a relevance. Theory was imparted through oral tradition as and when required in the course of the practice sessions. But the present day needs are different. Indian Dance has crossed frontiers and has become very popular in the West. Students of Indian Dance are in need of documents and books to accompany their’ practical training. The present book, Laghu Bharatham Vol. In along with the earlier Volumes, satisfies this long felt need.
Someartistes are good stage performers while some others are good teachers. It is difficult to find an artiste. who is good in both. As Kalidasa puts, such artistes are to be placed on the highest pedestal (Ref.:Malavikagni mitram). Professor Sudharani Raghupathy is one such rare phenomenon, as is evident from her performances and her successfully run dance school, Shree Bharatalaya. She is fully equipped to speak on the theory and practice of dance.
Basic Sankrit texts on Indian dance like Natyasastra and Abhinayadarpana have been· published with English translation from time to time. But they are too technical and are difficult to comprehend for students. The present Volume tells about Indian dance in a nutshell. It gives a brief account of the origin development of Indian dance in the first few pages. The mythological view is given due consideration but a more plausible, logical and rational approach to the origin of dance is recommended. This is followed by a short review of the abhinaya like hand gestures, head movements, eye movements, positions of the feet, which have been dealt with in detail in volume I. The technical aspects of the Adavus the Karanas are then explained in a lucid manner. The present day Bharatanatya performances follow a pattern beginning with Pushpanjali, followed by Todayamangalam, allari, Alarippu, Jatisvaram, Sabdam, “auttuvam, Varnam, Padam, Javali and ending with Tillana. The mode of presentation each of these items is explained with illustrations. “
The aim of every art is to evoke an aesthetic appeal in the mind of the connoisseur .: The Indian theories of Aesthetics have holistic approach taking into consideration its physiological and the psychological aspects. The Rasa can only be suggested but can never be expressed in ever so many words. The theories of Rasa and Dhvani are dealt with briefly in the next phase. Mention of other classical forms and a selected list of leading composers of dance lyrics given in the last part of the work provide useful information. Another unique feature of the book is the delicate and beautiful stick figures that illustrate the execution of the adavus in Bharatanatyam. Useful diagrams are provided at appropriate places to explain the subtle aspects of dance. Another attractive feature of the book is its size that is easy to handle. The statement “pustakam hasta lakshanam” finds its true expression in this book.
In short, the book is a valuable source material for teachers and students of dance. Shree Bharatalaya deserves to be congratulated for this laudable effort. I am sure Laghu Bharatham Vol. III will be welcomed with the same kind of enthusiasm as the previous ones,
by all those connected with dance.
Performing arts are among the finest manifestations of the culture of a society. The process of evolution and development of art forms have linkages with the development of culture both as process and product.
Music and dance have been the instinctive expressions of human beings’ varied feelings and emotions. When these individual expressions were identified with the society at large, as in community celebrations, seasonal and specific-functions, the rudiments of technique and stylisations came into vogue. Over a period, styles and forms multiplied, and the distinction between classical and folk forms emerged.
While the folk forms are characterised by their simplicity, a relatively informal and flexible framework and absence of well- defined codification, the classical forms may be identified by their traditional, serious and intellectual nature, regularity of form and style, well-codified techniques and lasting impact. The process of development of classical art- forms thus involves among other things, refinement of techniques, enhancement of performance standards and elevation of content. (Chart on the Probable Evolution of Dance, given later). An important prerequisite is the development of a framework, which, though apparently rigid, defining the core aspects, also allows ample scope for creativity, spontaneity and innovation. This framework is evolved based on principles of aesthetics, proportion, propriety, stylisation, and in the Indian context, life-philosophy and value system. Art in India is a means to higher ideals not an end in itself. The theme, technique, content and the treatment require specialised equipment, skills, subtleties and nuances. These would not be in isolation but parallel to development in many other respects since the ethos of a community i.e., common sentiments, attitudes etc., get reflected in the form, giving it a character and authenticity.
The evolution of classical art in India has been insular or fragmented but in close injunction with religion and philosophy. The interrelated nature is based on a holistic approach and worldview. Accordingly, a value system has permeated with varying degrees of influence in the process of artistic evolution.
The functional role of art has added to the distinctness which bears within it a discipline, responsibility, humility, harmony, lasting relevance (non-ephemeral) etc. Thus art, in India, is marked by continuum, a phenomenon which is developing and evolving without a break. In such a scenario, the fundamental and subsidiary textual sources, the practical manifestations and the basic institutions, both at the macro and micro level representations, fit into a pattern. ‘This holistic approach makes art an integral part of the way of life. Given this age-old relationship between classical art and religion, it becomes easy to see how the former has been influenced by the latter. The fundamental truths given in the Veda-s, elucidated in the Upanishad-s and illustrated in the Ithihasa-s (epics), along with the legends of the Purana-s (mythologies) have been providing immense inspiration and source material for artistic endeavours.
Facets of Bharatanatyam
Homage to Lord Nataraja
Music - An integral part of Dance
Selective list of Music Composers
The Classical forms of India
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