8.08.2006

Expression in Abhinaya, the art of Bharata.

Kanchipuram, 1 hour from Chennai:

This is a brimming temple town, which hosts temples to all the Gods. This was the first time I had entered Kamakshi Amman temple. A small temple with at the most two prakaras, Kamakshi Amman temple is one of the more popular temples in Kanchipuram.

Its a lovely town, where every street has a shrine attributed to the Gods. The Pallavas were meticulous about building temples, making sure that Amman, Shiva and Vishnu got temples exclusively associated with them.

I walked in slowly observing the changes that had come about to the Amman temple. Old granite rocks had given way to modern glossy granite finish; stark rock had given way to color at places. Oil lamps had given way to tube lights that lit the interiors, the silence had given way to strong fans and voices of devotees, the pillared halls had given way to meandering queues separated by metal rods, and the Goddess's divine blessings had given way to "Archana" tickets.

Every thing had changed, from what had once been Pallava except the inner most sanctum and the ardhamandapa that preceded it. These chambers alone were dark, silent and carried a red hue of kumkum along the walls and floor. The ardhamandapa carried the priced Sri Chakra engraved in gold and installed within an octagonal pitha in front of the Goddess while another Sri Chakra lay beneath her feet, unknown to the world.

The Sri chakra was installed here by Adi Shankara to calm down the ughra swarupa of the Amman, that which resembles the Kali swarupa by day. Amman, a silent potent form, who resides within these walls, has the moon dancing on her mukuta giving a very tantrik feel to the chamber. The fire of the oil lamp blazed large flames that lit her ever-shining face, the chandan glowing in every flicker of the flame that seemed to dance in her praise.

It cast a spell, a silent spell that brought to life the very dance form of Bharata. The glowing light of the oil lamps brings alive a form of Amman draped in a madisaar covered with flowers in cosmic conversation with her only devotee who performs silhouetted in an ambience of Divine love.

The language of Bharatnatyam, the emotions in abhinaya, the speech in his very eyes as they dance along reflecting every human emotion that melts one's heart to the Divine Mother.



Around the pitha he places his feet, agile and light to the thundering beats of the mridangam, a slender form merges with the Goddess every move waking the mind to a lesson unknown, to a world unknown, to energy potent as he touches Amman, and casts a spell around.



The world falls at her feet, the drums resound, the power of the Sri Chakra is brought to life from within the Pitha, and Amman changes her form from Ughra to calm and resides within her home, the Mother touches my heart as the silhouetted form dances in vigour and the "chalangai" drive the beat down my spine. Tiny droplets of water wake the cells, the heat rises, a dialog in bharatnatyam wakes the air around to a silent world unknown thundering into the rhythm of the ancient drummers realm. The form sways, the fingers blooming into various mudra, a silent word spoken as the back arches to perform a rhythmic expression of complete devotion.

An ancient world brought to life, giving a wake up call, there is more to the aesthetics of living... its perfection within the chamber of Kamakshi Amman.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very well written !

JC Joshi said...

While agreeing with the above comment, I would just say that ‘Bharatnatyam’, the dance, perhaps indicates the movements related to Bharat that is India, or the Indian sub continent, vis-à-vis the solar system, which together provide us all the materials to fulfil our desires as mother or Ma Kamakshi…

As a layman, I have seen a few performances on the stage in the past purely for entertainment then, including the one where the danseuse performed the dance while standing on a metal plate. However, now as a hind sight this particular dance appears to conform to the believable plate under the rocks that apparently continues to push the sub continent northwards against the Eurasia plate…Also the dancers use various 'mudras' or bringing together of say for example the thumb and the index finger, which is called ‘siddhasan’ by the Yogis, to communicate various moods (and Astrologers believe different fingers to be associated with different members of the solar system)…Maybe, if anyone is interested to do an in-depth study from a ‘scientific view-point, experts from related branches would need to interact…

JC Joshi said...

The question that could arise in any present day Indian’s mind, however, is: Looking at the present day mindset of the individuals, would it ever be possible for ‘experts’ in different fields to get together, discuss, and come to some common view like it was reportedly being done on the ‘ghats’, or banks, of River Ganga at Kashi that is Varanasi at the time of, say, Adi Shankaracharya (788-820 CE), i.e., in the recent past?…

Maybe yes, as per the ancient beliefs or realization by the Yogis or Siddhas, when and if Satyuga is brought in again! 'Scientists' have apparently been able to reverse evolution in mice, taking the rodent 500 milliion years back!

kavitha said...

Joshi uncle,

when experts of different fields meet, its metamorphosis, for a particular concept is realized not just from the angle they have researched into but from the other angles as well. And that brings in a whole lot of evolution of the concept discussed.

Its very sad that all fields do get researched but work in isolation.

Hence evolution is not achieved with teh same degree.

For example, why did we stop with just one method of discovering Newtons law of gravity. there could be more ways than one, but we have not explored it.

thats the point.

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

The ‘Hindus’ gave stress on integrated knowledge or 'Siddhi'...

Although in the present also the need for having an integrated thought and consequentially an overall material development to the satisfaction of the entire community/ state/ country is felt, however, in practice the numbers involved and the apparent hierarchy doesn’t allow it - the benefit doesn’t reach the ‘roots’ as it continues to do in the 'plant life' even today - and the situation is worsening with the passage of time... In hte plant life the phenomenon is being naturally carried forth since a period apparently much before man’s arrival on the stage…

Newton was inspired to develop equations related to Laws of motion, an aspect related with matter only, by an apple (which as per the Christian belief is associated with ‘Satan’) falling under earth’s gravity from the tree when he was seated underneath it! And, although similarly perhaps, because of the same gravitational force, Gautam the Buddha was inspired by the ‘Bodhi’ or Peepal tree of Banyan’s family, but related to ‘spiritual’ aspect!

Another interesting thought, carried over from time immemorial - although it is controversial today because of lack of knowledge on the subject - is the believable presence of (perhaps helpful or harmful) ‘spirits’ on certain trees…although these could very well have been understood by the ‘experts’ then as ‘spirits with forms’, viz., virus, bacteria, and so on, as those are termed today…

It is thus only a question of mental attitude how we interpret the ancients' thoughts...

susan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kavitha said...

To all advertisers sneaking into my blog site... I do not encourage advertising for travel or fares booking of any sort. Please refrain from posting such ads in comments.

regds
Kavitha Kalyan.

Nickel Beak said...

Hi Kavitha,
Was that a person advertising? I doubt. If it is an automated script, you can enable word verification.

Log into your blogger dashboard and right under it you will see

"Unwanted Comments?
Turn on word verification to help prevent comment spam."

Click on "word verification" and its procedural from then on...

If it is not an automated script doing the nasty work, just keep your fingers crossed! (I wonder if there is a facility to block a specific person from commenting. But I have little time now to check!)

JC Joshi said...

As per the ‘Hindu Philosophy’, the unborn and undying Formless Creator of the apparent universe, i.e., in their words, the supreme form of ‘Yogiraj Krishna’, or the Supreme soul/ spirit only is perfect…

Even Krishna the ‘sudershanchakradhari’ (a model of the centre of our galaxy) believably was a mortal, a reincarnation of the Formless Being (the universal void), in human form, “purushottam” or the best among humans or a ‘hero’ during a particular period they called Dwaperyuga…

The mythological stories similarly, indirectly indicate Bharat, the brother of Rama the hero in the Tretayuga, to have had similar characteristic as Krishna a Yuga later in the order in which knowledge and performance had apparently advanced at some stage in the remote past. And, Rama (a model of our Sun, the leader of the planetary system) was during that era cited as the ‘hero’ or the reincarnation of the same perfect one! And, another Yuga later, in Satyuga, Shiva, a model of our Earth could be easily visualized as the hero, or the central figure of the universe/ galaxy/ solar system whose essences believably were used in the creation of human characters with their hierarchy duly incorporated in the design!

Thus one could perhaps visualize continuity in the stories, related to different Yugas with different characters, with Earth as the central figure or the physical representation of the perfect formless one…In other words, if the gravitational force represents Vishnu, the material form of earth represents Shiva…That’s why perhaps it is called ‘mithya jagat’ because physical forms were considered results of ‘Maya’ or imaginary (dreams of the Creator in which different characters are made to dance, by different heroes - Mahesh, Brahma, (physical) Vishnu, and finally even by the formless in the Kaliyuga!)…

JC Joshi said...

I thought it needs a bit of clarification, particularly in respect of Kaliyuga…It is generally believed that at the beginning of the Kaliyuga, the Formless divided itself into infinite numbers of formless and literally wrapped each within a different independent covering, each form apparently ignorant of the internal design, to generate an apparent hierarchy between its own, and otherwise equal components… These forms of Heavenly Bodies then apparently helped form different innumerable galaxies, which while filling the infinite void also helped create hierarchy between the galaxies...

Within these clusters of galaxies, perhaps our galaxy, with ‘Krishna’ at its centre during the Dwaperyuga achieved perfection…

The process further continued till our Sun, or Brahma, as the leader of the planetary system also similarly became the best among all stars during Tretayuga...

And eventually by the end of Satyuga our planet Earth, or Mahesh, the best among the planets, attained perfection, i.e., represented the Formless super energy to reflect all its aspects…it is undying, i.e., it cannot be destroyed by water, air and fire (the definition of ‘Atma’); as Creator or Mother, it provides all materials for creation, sustenance and transformation, and so on…and it keeps itself busy by rotating around its own axis and revolving around the sun, or dancing…

JC Joshi said...

Like the present day ‘scientists’, ancient ‘Yogis’ also were apparently interested in seeking the truth of the mystery of animal/ human life on earth. They, however, appear to have advanced much more as they apparently seem to have come to realize that the human model was formed of the essences of selected “ashtachakra” or eight numbers planets… Although, that stage is still quite far because of man’s more outward orientation, (towards the end of Kaliyuga when material advancement had actually just begun), still it’s known even today that the planets individually revolve around the sun and also rotate around their own axes. Similarly, the Yogis realized that man being a model of the universe is made to act/ dance with the energy received through thoughts, i.e., commands received as a result of interactions between planets concerned, from time to time and in some particular direction - each planet being ruler of certain particular cardinal direction associated with it…For example, the movement made along a circle, starting from the rear of the stage by the performer, perhaps indicates the relative movement of Sun around the earth, or vice versa…Similarly, as already cited earlier, the dance on a metal plate would demonstrate the movement of a particular continent with respect to another…and rotation on one leg – perhaps as also reflected in the popular pose of four handed Natraj – would indicate the rotation of earth that results in simultaneous formation of four stages on earth at any time – morning, day, evening and night with respect to the location of sun in the sky…

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

Coming to Sri Chakra or the ‘golden wheel’ (associated with Adi Shankara and the philosophy of Vedanta or one God in recent times), the mythological stories indicate ‘Sahasrara Chakra’ at the top of the head within human form represented by yellow colour of Moon or Ma Durga/ Gauri, the colour of metal gold, as the life giving one as against the red colour representing ‘Sati’/ ‘Kali’ at the heart of Shiva or the core of Earth as the ‘ugra’ or destructive form…

The wise ancients while realizing all physical forms within the universe that is ‘Brahmand’ as imaginary, similarly indicated Earth as the true 'essence' or the model of the universe in physical form and Moon as its illusory ‘image’…In Tretayuga, Sita, a model of Moon, was also called ‘vaidehi’ that is the one that is without a physical form…