Guru Devo Maheswaraha
Guru Sakshaad Parambrahma
Tasmay Shri Guruveh Namaha
(This sloka or verse can roughly be
translated to mean
Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, (My)
I bow to you, the ultimate Lord/Guru. )
India takes pride in her rich heritage of classical dances which has evolved
over centuries, from the days of the Vedas.
For more than 2000 years, dance has been a sacred art cherished and preserved in
this country. Dance in India is not merely a spontaneous emotion or idea
translated into movement but a
form of worship through
which a dancer reaches the Almighty. It is a form of Yoga. A dancer can only
reach this stage through continuous training i.e. sadhana
and constant effort.
The Origin: Natya Shastra
The origin of Indian Classical Dances can be traced
to the beginning of Treta Yug when the Natya Shastra was
created by Brahma on the request of Indra and other devas. As the
lower castes (Shudras) were not entitled to listen to the four Vedas
(Sama, Yajur, Rig and Atharav), Brahma created the Natya Shastra
as the fifth Veda which was open to all, irrespective of caste and creed.
Prior to the creation of the Natya Veda, Brahma
entered a yogic trance in which he recalled the four Vedas. He drew the
recitative (Paathya) from the Rig, songs (Geeta) from
the Sama, historic representation (Abhinaya) from the Yajur
and sentiments (Rasa) from the Atharv. These aspects are the
four main constituents of the Natya Veda.
When the Natya Veda was ready, the Gods expressed their
inability to practise it, and Brahma passed it to Bharata Muni and his one
hundred sons who were asked to practise it. The dance was first seen at the
Flag Festival of Indra to celebrate the victory of the Devas against the
Danavas. Shiva learnt the Tandava (masculine) form of the dance,
whereas Parvati, his consort learnt the Lasya (feminine) form.
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"To worship God by Natya is to fulfill
all desire and to that one is unfolded the path of salvation. The
Dance gives prestige and longevity and destroys all misery. The art
gives guidance to the dull witted and increases the good fortune of
:- quotation from the
spirituality there is a definite purpose in Indian classical dances. The
purpose is to educate the illiterates, to enlighten the literate and
entertain the enlightened ones. According to gradations of the mind,
Uttama (the great one), Madhyama (ordinary) and Adhama
(the lesser one), Natya generates morality and an awareness of well
being. It instructs and gives motivation to achieve perfection in
every action. It relaxes the mind of sick persons, distressed ones,
tired souls, bereaved family members and also the Tapaswi (sages)
after their meditation. Natya gives dharmopadesa
(the path of righteousness) to happy ones, instructs the way to praise the
worthy and also to live long. Natya sharpens the mind,
increases the intellect. As such Natya gives all things needed
for the well being of the people.
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India offers a
number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different
parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a
particular region. The most popular classical styles seen on the Indian
stage are Odissi of Orissa,
Bharatanatyam of Tamil
Nadu, Kathak of Uttar Pradesh,
Mohiniyattam of Kerala, Kuchipudi
of Andhra Pradesh and Manipuri of Manipur.
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All Indian Classical dances consist of three
elements Nritta, Nritya and
Nritta is pure dance or rhythmic
movement of the body. It features striking and aesthetic poses,
but have no expressional meaning and symbolism.
Nritya is the application of
physical movement in conjunction with the mind and is expressed through
abhinaya. According to Natya Shastra there are four
types of abhinaya.
Angika (physical) - Movements of every part of
the body to convey meaning, with hastamudras (hand gestures),
mandis (postures) and even the walk of the dancer.
Vachikabhinaya (verbal) - Now a days it is used
by members of the orchestra or supporting, non-dancing cast.
Aharyabhinaya (external) - Expression, mood and
background as conveyed by costume, make-up, accessories and sets.
Satvikabhinaya (psychological) - Expressed by
the eyes in particular and as a whole by the entire being of the performer,
who feels the mood, the character and the emotion as emanating from the
self, not as an act or practical presentation.
Natya is dramatic representation
of stories from mythology. The concept of dance actually originated in
the form of dance dramas and later gained importance as a solo performance.
Even here the dramatic representation is prominent. The solo dancer
portrays different characters while narrating stories.
described four kinds of dramatic presentations known as Chaturvrithi
in Natya Sastra. They are Bharathi (expression through
speech), Sathwathi (expression achieved through thinking and
feeling), Kaisiki (the lyrical, subtle movement for ladies) and
Arabhati (an acrobatic, forceful movement to represent war, duels,
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