Tantra Mantra Yantra in Dance: An Exposition of Kathaka

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Item Code: IDE166
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Ranjana Srivastava
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788124602683
Pages: 160 (Color Illus: 36, Figures: 8)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.8" X 7.5"
Weight 580 gm
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Book Description


From the Jacket:


The Indian perspective has always been holistic and all-inclusive: thought and activity in different fields, at different level, have been interlinked to produce what has been timeless. Indian arts is a classic example of such amalgamation: it interlinks aspects of art, philosophy, mythology, religion, and mysticism. This book is an attempt to unravel such links with specific reference to the Kathaka dance form.

Dr. Ranjana Srivastava explores the roots of Kathaka dance form to reveal its sublime, philosophic, esoteric and divine dimensions. Focusing on inter-relationships, she unflolds how dance embraces other disciplines of Yoga - Tantra, Mantra and Yantra. She discusses the concept of Tantra and its approximation and application to the dance form - the way Kathaka absorbed the sacred knowledge within its form. She deals with the importance and aspects of sound in the Hindu religious scheme and its manifestation in Kathaka. Explaining the significance of the yantra as diagrammatic/geometric representation and the way it functions, she analyses the techniques of Kathaka which create distinct yantra formations both in the surrounding space as well as on the dancing floor. The study abounds in extensive notes to explain numerous terms and concepts and has references to noted works and authors on the subject.

The book will be useful to experts and student of Indian art and, in particular, dance and will interest general people keen to know more about India's art traditions.


About The Author:


Dr. Ranjana Srivastava, Reader, Kathak Dance, Faculty of Performing Arts, B.H.U., is anaartist, a performer, a researcher and a choreographer of international repute. She is credited with starting Kathaka Dimploma Classes from the scratch in the faculty of Performing arts, B.H.U., which has now grown into a Degree Course enrolling students from abroad. A disciple of stalwarts like Guru Vikram Singh, Pandit Shambhu Maharaj, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Sunder Prasad and Guru M.R. Kalyanpurkar she is a recipient of the U.P., Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She is currently working on a University Grant's Commission. Spnosred major project: Dhrupada Nrtya: A Reconstruction.


LIKE all Indian arts, the Indian classical art form of dance Kathaka - the classical dance of north India - is sublime, philosophical, esoteric and divine. From the mundane to the transcendent, from the human body to beyond the physical form, from religion and aesthetics to metaphysics, the journey is not a simple linear growth, but rather a whole process of evolution and revelation in which one has to loose one's self in order to experience the ultimate joy/truth, Saccidananda. Nada-sadhana by the yogis and svara-sadhana by the sadhakas of sangtia is an important aspect of the spiritual discipline and culture of India, where Sangita is also referred to as Nada- yoga. It is, in fact, the process of the understanding and the realization of the inter-relatedness and the interdependence of the Indian arts. It is in this process that dance expands to embrace the other disciplines of Yoga, viz., Tantra, Mantra and Yantra.

My inspiration to write a book on Tanira-Manira- Yantra in Dance : An Exposition of Kathaka is largely a result of my growth and evolution as a student, artist, performer, teacher, and researcher of Kathaka dance, as well as my effort to integrate the traditional knowledge which I received from my late Guru, Vikram Singhji, largely in the form of an oral tradition, combined with a critical approach in an academic context after I completed my Ph.D. on Kathaka : Its Origin and Development (A Study based on Ancient and Mediaeval Sculptures and Paintings) under the supervision of Dr. T.K. Biswas, Jt. Director & Administrative Head, Bharat Kala Bhavan, BHU. My association with Prof. Prem Lata Sharma, Vice-Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Prof. Ranganayiki Ayyangar, Dept. of Musicology, BHU, further sharpened my questioning instincts. The book is also, perhaps partly, a reaction to the gross commercialization of Kaihaka both by the dancers as well as those in charge of preserving and promoting the Indian classical dances as a heritage.

Indian classical dance, Kathaka, is part of a vibrant living tradition, a cultural heritage of India. As part of a living tradition, Kathaka has constantly been evolving. I am witness to this process of evolution and growth for almost fifty years! As an art form Kathaka is a product of human organizational skills, aesthetic sensitivity and cultural enterprise. Besides, dance as a timeless art, as yoga, is perhaps only an elaboration of a coherent cosmic system, which helps transform the knowledge of principle into practice. The guru-sisya parampara was, in fact, the embodiment of such a tradition in which values and principles were bequeathed as a legacy from one generation to the other. In the words of Stella Kramrische, "Tradition thus is not only an oral transmission of information and beliefs from ancestors to posterity but also an inherited culture. It is a body of doctrine and discipline, put forth and revealed in the words of the Veda." (vide Exploring India's Sacred Art). The Veda teaches the means for the realization of a state which ultimately yields abiding satisfaction to man. According to it, it may be found in Brahman, Nada, Bhuman or Amtia. The Veda also emphatically states that man can never realize the object of the innermost yearning of his heart, what is Alpa or Martya in the Vedic terminology. Thus, sangita (music and dance) to be Upavedic or Vedic as a summum bonum, must partake of the character of Brahman, Nada, Bhuman or Amrta. The Chandogva Upanisad (1.24.1), defines Bhuman and Alpa as "Where a man does not see another, does not hear another, does not know another, there is Bhuman, and where he sees another, hears another, knows another, there is I Alpa' that which is Bhuman is immortal and that which is Alpa is mortal." According to Brahmasutra (1.3.8), this Bhuman is Para Vak, beyond the Pasyanti. The Bhuman or Para Vak, thus implies, extraordinary concentration on the Atman or Paramatman, which can only be made possible in an esoteric process, and sangita appears to be best suited and fitted as an instrument for use or employment in that process, for the reasons that it is the most tangible and the least utilitarian of all arts and it thus enables the human mind, more than any other art, to detach itself from worldly affairs and to engage itself in the contemplation of the Divine (vide Sangitaraja, ed. Prem Lata Sharma).

Another characteristic of Vedic Brahman, Nada, Bhuman or Amrta is that it is Saccidananda. The Vedic philosophy postulates that of the three aspects of Saccidananda, Cit is superior to Sat and Ananda is superior to Cit. Of the four Upavedas, Gandharva is considered pre-eminent, as it is derived from the Ananda Amsa of Saccidananda; the Dhanurveda and Sthapatya or Arthasastra are initially concerned with the gross matter (mahabhatas) and are thus derived from the Sat Amsa. The science or art of Ayurveda is derived from the Cit Arhsa of Saccidananda as it deals initially with Prana which is nearer to Bhuman or Saccidananda than is the gross matter of Dhanur or Sthapatya Upavedas. Gandharvaveda deals initially with sound (a Tanmantra) which is more close to Nada-Brahman Himself.

The Para Vak or Nada, in order to be seen, heard and known, must have a body or form. Nada must have a Tanu. The R.V.S. II, mentions the body of Nada :

Indian dance, if performed as a ritual, sustains a continuity both emotional as well as experiential, thus practise leading to meditation, which ultimately helps man to unravel the secrets of nature. The path is arduous and perilous because the journey is from the profane to the sacred, from illusion to reality, from man to divinity. There is in the process a complete metamorphoses in form, function and behaviour.

In the fast changing cultural scenario, with the doors and windows widely opened towards globalization, with a consumer-oriented approach, there has been an acute turn towards commercialization. In fact, with the advent of satellite television, there has been a revolutionary change in our methods of entertainment and education as well. It is perhaps only the aspect of artha (money) which seems to be fully validated. The horizon of Kathaka dance today, is wider than ever before. With an unprecedented increase in the number of dancers all vying for commercial success, the spectrum is much more colourful, the repertoire is, perhaps, much more secular with the presentation of new items and themes in works of fusion and choreography, the desire of the dancers for greater self-expression, bold enough to enunciate revolutionary trends; an effort to re-choreograph with a mixture of the old and the new, indigenous as well as foreign. Though the efforts are applaudable, yet I feel that somewhere and at some point, we are loosing out on the centuries old spiritual basel aspect of the dance form. What was this spirituality and what was the element of sentient? In what way did it manifest in dance? Kathaka especially.

Preface   vii
Key to Transliteration Chart   xviii
List of Illustratins   xix
Chapter I: Tantra   1
Chapter II: Mantra   27
Chapter III: Yantra   53
Conclusion   87
Visuals   99
Glossary   117
Bibliography   131
Index   135


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