Dance
Home Festivals Music Dance

Naatyam the sacred dance, one of the constituents of the Sodasa Upacharam, perfomed in temples by female devotees known as devadasis once, is replaced by rice offerings during the British regime. Naatyam is the combination of Natya the dramatic art, Nritta dance, Nritya is the blend of both Natya as well as Nritta. 


According to Hindu Mythology, Nritya performed by Lord Shiva after the demise of Sati in Dakshayagna, is considered as first dance art. This in later stage came into existence as Rudra Tandava, the cosmic energy, which depicts the cycle of creation and distruction of the universe.


The Hindu scriptures narrates various occasions when Lord Shiva performs the Tandava along With Goddess Parvathi (Sati the consort of Shiva who gave up her life in Daksha yagna is reborn as Parvathi the daughter of Parvatha Raja) Ananda Tandava depicts him as the enjoyer of creation, while the Nritya performed by Parvathi in respose to Shiva Taandava is known as the Lasya, where in movements are gentle, graceful. The Pradosha samaya is the time when Lord Shiva performs the Sandhya Tandava; Brahma gives Taal, Vishnu plays Mridang Goddess Saraswati plays Veena, Sun and Moon Plays flute, All the Apsara and Kinnaras plays musical notes, Nandi plays Damru, Bhringi plays Maadal and Naarad sings. The earth moves by the leg movements while the cosmos, planet, stars moves with his hand movements. That is why in Vedas it is said 'Nritymayam Jagat' means "Nature is full of dance”, there is a reference to this in Shiva Mahapurana.


On the other hand there is a reference about dance In Vishnu purana,there is small story  behind, when Lord Vishnu was in Yoga Nidra, Madhu, Kaitabha the Asuras took Vedas from Brahma and hide them in Patala.Brahma prayed to Vishnu and pleased him, Vishnu took the form of Ashwashir (horsed faced man)  started  walking on the floor of the ocean., Goddess Lakshmi observed that it was not a simple walk but well-oriented and beautifully arranged movements of body and hand features, Ashwashir killed asuras, brought the Vedas back to Lord Brahma. Goddess Lakshmi requested Lord Vishnu 'O my lord' kindly tell me about the walk on the seabed. I feel immense pleasure to watch those beautiful movements of yours, kindly explain it to me. Lord Vishnu explained those are Anghaar and Karan and body movements, of Naatyam.


Lord Vishnu explained these Anghaar and Karan to Brahma and asked him to summarize them, Lord Brahma in turn taught dance to Bharat Muni and asked him to teach to his disciples. Bharat Muni prepared a drama named "Tripur Daah" and performed at Kailash in front of Lord Shiva on Brahma's wish. Lord Shiva was happy and asked Tandu to teach Taandav to Bharat Muni so that his drama will be completed.



       


          Shankara Shri Girinath Prabhu hey |

          Nrutha Virajitha Chithra Sabha me ||

          Bhasma Thrinethra gale runda mala |

          Bhoothana ke sang Nachath Brungi ||



 

One of the Great Compositions of Sri Swathi Thirunal  


“Chithra Sabha”, in the composition is a reference to “Cosmic golden hall” present in the Chidambaram shaktram, Where in Thy Lord Shiva is worshiped in the Form of Akasha Linga, It is said the word Chidambaram has been derived from “chit + ambaram”, chit means “consciousness, is nothing but the knowledge” and ambaram, means"sky, celestal sphere"; it refers to the chidaakasam the sky of consciousness, Another theory is that it is derived from chit + ambalam. Ambalam means a "stage" for performing arts, Where in Thy Lord Shiva performs the Aananda Tandava, and worshiped in the form of Lord Nataraja.


The Ananda Tandava Dance form of Thy Lord Shiva is one of the famous postures recognized around the world by the name of Nataraja “Nata means Dance or Drama, and Raja, means the king, the king of the dance”


In the Nataraja sculpture, Shiva is shown as the source of all movement within the cosmos, represented by the arch of flames. The purpose of the dance is to release humans from illusion, and the place where it is said to have been performed is Chidambaram, called the centre of universe, The gestures of the dance represent Shiva’s five activities, creation (symbolized by the drum), protection (by the “fear-not” pose of the hand), destruction (by the fire), embodiment (by the foot planted on the ground), and release (by the foot held aloft).



The demon (Apasmara) under Nataraja's feet signifies that ignorance is under his feet.
The Fire in this hand (power of destruction) means destroyer of evil.
The raised hand signifies that he is the savior of all life.
The Ring at the back signifies the cosmos.
The drum in his hand signifies the origin of Life.


 Jatatavigalajjala pravahapavitasthale
Galeavalambya lambitam bhujangatungamalikam
Damad damad damaddama ninadavadamarvayam
Chakara chandtandavam tanotu nah shivah shivam.. 1

Jatakatahasambhrama bhramanilimpanirjhari
Vilolavichivalara ivirajamanamurdhani
Dhagadhagadhagajjva lalalatapattapavake
Kishorachandrashekhare ratih pratikshanam mama.. 2

Dharadharendrana ndinivilasabandhubandhura
Sphuradigantasantati pramodamanamanase
Krupakatakshadhorani nirudhadurdharapadi  
Kvachidigambare manovinodametuvastuni .. 3

Jatabhujangapingala sphuratphanamaniprabha
Kadambakunkumadrava praliptadigvadhumukhe
Madandhasindhurasphura tvagutariyamedure
Mano vinodamadbhutam bibhartu bhutabhartari .. 4

Sahasralochanaprabhritya sheshalekhashekhara
Prasunadhulidhorani vidhusaranghripithabhuh
Bhujangarajamalaya nibaddhajatajutaka
Shriyai chiraya jayatam chakorabandhushekharah .. 5

Lalatachatvarajvala dhanajnjayasphulingabha
Nipitapajnchasayakam namannilimpanayakam
Sudhamayukhalekhaya virajamanashekharam
Mahakapalisampade shirojatalamastunah .. 6

Karalabhalapattika dhagaddhagaddhagajjvala
Ddhanajnjaya hutikruta prachandapajnchasayake
Dharadharendranandini kuchagrachitrapatraka
Prakalpanaikashilpini trilochane ratirmama .. 7

Navinameghamandali niruddhadurdharasphurat
Kuhunishithinitamah prabandhabaddhakandharah
Nilimpanirjharidharastanotu kruttisindhurah
Kalanidhanabandhurah shriyam jagaddhurandharah .. 8

Praphullanilapan kajaprapajnchakalimaprabha
Valambikanthakandali ruchiprabaddhakandharam
Smarachchidam purachchhidam bhavachchidam makhachchidam
Gajachchidandhakachidam tamamtakachchidam bhaje .. 9

Akharvagarvasarvamangala kalakadambamajnjari
Rasapravahamadhuri vijrumbhanamadhuvratam
Smarantakam purantakam bhavantakam makhantakam
Gajantakandhakantakam tamantakantakam bhaje .. 10

Jayatvadabhravibhrama bhramadbhujangamashvasa
Dvinirgamatkramasphurat karalabhalahavyavat
Dhimid dhimid dhimidhvanan mrudangatungamangala
Dhvanikramapravartita prachandatandavah shivah .. 11

Drushadvichitratalpayor bhujangamauktikasrajor
Garishtharatnaloshthayoh suhrudvipakshapakshayoh
Trushnaravindachakshushoh prajamahimahendrayoh
Samapravrutikahsamam pravartayanmanahkada sadashivam bhaje .. 12

Kada nilimpanirjharinikujnjakotare vasanh
Vimuktadurmatih sada shirah sthamajnjalim vahanh
Vimuktalolalochano lalamabhalalagnakah
Shiveti mantramuchcharan sada sukhi bhavamyaham .. 13

Idam hi nityamevamuktamuttamottamam stavam
Pathansmaranbruvannaro vishuddhimetisantatam
Hare gurau subhaktimashu yati nanyatha gatim
Vimohanam hi dehinam sushankarasya chintanam .. 14

Pujavasanasamaye dashavaktragitam
Yah shambhupujanaparam pathati pradoshhe
Tasya sthiram rathagajendraturangayuktam
Lakshmim sadaiva sumukhim pradadati shambhuh .. 15

The one and only one Shiva Tandava Stotra written by Dasagrivudu  (Ravana)

So called present day Classical Dance’s are all braches of First ever existing text Called Naatyasastra, believed to bewritten by Bharata Muni. These dances have indeed come a very long way from ancient temples and shrines. 
 

The Naatyasastra is the inheretances of all Four Vedas, art of sing or chanting has been derived from Sama veda, abhinaya from Rig veda, body movements from Yajur veda, expressions from Atharva veda. Thus Naatyasastra came into existence as Fifth veda.

 Naatyam has under gone enormous changes in centuries, a while ago naatyam used to be performed in temples in front of presiding diety as an integral part of  upacharas by devadasies who spent their life at feet of God, they were well versed artists who could sing, dance ,play instruments, read and interpret religious texts with lot of  empathy  they were trained from childhood in many forms, Devadasies were  bhakthi personified people they offered their Naatyam and sangeeta hali in front of the diety with gratuity, they were held with lot of respect and reverence in early days, few centuries later the Naatyam has reached the royal courts they were  known as the raja nartakies, slowly the devadasies position was deteriorated  as the time passed. 

 During British regime the Devadsie system was eradicated from temple for many reasons slowly Naatyam started to vanish rather, we say diminished into dark. But silently it was  preserved by few people in South India and they started bring the Naatyam on to the platforms, The term Bharatanatyam was introduced in mid thirties by reknowed freedom fighter E Krishna Iyer and later popularized by Rukminidevi Arundal, A Renowned  artist Balasaraswati  once mentioned the Naatyam is artistic yoga, Which brings out spirituality of a person, helps him to put philosophical theory of Naatyam with much more compassion. 

Now coming to the other form of dances kuchipudi is originated from a small village known as kuchelapuram latter it came into existence as  Kuchupudi village most of the people living there are Brahmin’s who are well versed in kuchipidi art form, The dance - form itself has many highlights. Like the dancer executes extremely complicated dance steps on the edge of a metal plate while holding a water container on head, not a single drop is spilled while performing the movement.

 Saint Sidhedra yogi is credited with the dance dramas that constitute modern Kuchipudi, He is the playwrighter of Bhamakalapam, Parijatapaharan.It is said he has adopted the style of yakshagana into the dance form and asked men to play the female roles like satyabhama, we can call it as the dream of dancer to play that particular role at least once in life time. Later in the end of nineteenth century woman were introduced into this artform.    

Mohiniyattam is a dance form said to have originated in Kerala. It is closely related to Bharathanatyam, which was originally called 'Dasiyattam'. Originated as the temple dance performed by Devadasis, it portrays feminine love in its myriad forms - carnal, devotional and maternal- with accent more on Lasya and Bhava. In the main items Cholkettu, Padavarnam and Padam, Mudras and facial expressions are more important.