Bharatham 

What does it mean ....

 Namaskaram – welcome to my page about Classical Indian Dance, a page of and for dance lovers.

Bharatha Natyam – in this term you will find the syllabus

Bha – Bhavam (expression)

Ra – Ragam (melody)

Tha – Thalam (rhythm)

And Natyam – Drama or simply dance,

but believe, that there is much more hidden in these two words.

 

People who are open for Bharatha Natyam get insight not only to the oldest dance form of this world, but to the millenium soul of India.

It is a challenge – as well for the dancer as for the spectator, a call to brighten your horizon.

On stage there is the opportunity for the dancer to develop nearly every character on heaven and earth.

I can be the desperate nayika (heroine) searching for Lord Krishna – begging, loving, sacrificing.

But I can also be Shiva, origin of dance – powerful, destructive, inexorably.

Within one single dance I can be mother&child, God&demon at the same time.

As mentioned earlier, this huge possibility of variation is not only demanding for a willing dancer. The spectator, too, has to invest a certain compliance as a basic condition. You cannot just sit down and relax, for this purpose Bharatha Natyam cannot be used.

Actually there is a strong demand for an active attitude, a desire to cooperate, even to criticize.

You have to ask the question „why?“ „Why is the dancer showing this in this kind of way?“ Then you will find access to the story which the Nayika is telling with her eyes, her hands and esp. with her feet.

 

Bharatha Natyam – facts

History of Bharatha Natyam

The Godesses & Gods pleaded Lord Brahma to create another veda which would be easier for the common man to understand. Considering this request Lord Brahma created the Panchamaveda, Fifth veda, Natyaveda, an essence of the other four vedas. It is believed that he has taken pathya (words) form the Rigveda, abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from Samaveda and rasa (sentiment and emotional element) from Atharvaveda to form the fifth veda, Natyaveda.

 After creating this natyaveda, Lord Brahma gave the same to sage Bharata. Lord Brahma asked him to popularise this veda on earth. Following the words of Lord Brahma, Bharata wrote 'Natya Shastra' - the science of dance. It is a masterpiece and the most comprehensive and compelling in the techniques of Indian Classical Dances.

In Indian mythology Lord Shiva is considered as the supreme lord of dance. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva & his wife Goddess Parvathi. The Dance of Lord Shiva is known as Tandava, which depicts his violent nature as the destructor of the universe. The tandava danced with joy is called Ananda Tandava and performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava.

The art form has definitely gone through lot of changes over the years. In olden days it was performed mostly by female artists. They were called Devadasis. They were performing in the temples. These devadasis were accomplished artists who were skilled in singing, dancing and playing many instruments. They had knowledge of Sanskrit & other languages which helped them to interpret compositions which they performed. But this tradition came to an end when the devadasis lost their position in the society.

As we leave behind 200-300 more years, dance still continues to have strong secular ties. In this period transformation began to take place and Bharatha Natyam began to take its modern shape and beauty. During this period great poets and musicians used their ability weave beautiful melodic tales linked with Bharatanatyam to form rhythmic story, which a dancer would tell. Now a 'Devadasi' - Maidservants of God, accompanied by musicians could use classical dance to tell the ancient stories of God. As an evolution Bharatha Natyam began to move out of the temples and into the palaces of kings and queens. At this stage Bharatanatyam dancers broke into two categories:-

1. The traditional temple Devadasi - Maidservants of God,
2. The entertaining non-secular Rajanartika - Dancers to entertain kings and queens.

 In this time dance was considered more for entertainment than as an art. The dressing style and costumes changed. The beauty of this spiritual art was lost and it was done more as entertainment than devotion. During the early 20th century Bharatha Natyam had lost its identity and reputation. By God's grace there were few poets in South India who had great respect for dance. They wanted to bring back its glory to the present. People like E. Krishna Iyer, Udayshankar, Rukmini Devi invested great efforts to bring back the beauty of this art.

Rukmini Devi, daughter of the respected Sanskrit scholar A.Nilakanta Shastri decided to enter the field of dance. She took lessons from Devadasi Gowri Amma & Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. She gave her first dance recital in 1936. From then the course of Bharatanatyam changed significantly. She removed unpleasant elements from dance, designed artistic costumes, used 'padams' to emphasize the spiritual importance. She contributed a lot in removing the stigma of the eroticism. Bharatha Natyam no longer remained base or vulgar.

Rukmini Devi is the founder of “Kalakshetra”, an dance institute with outstanding gurus and artists. The Kalakshetra-Style is defined through exact movements and follows the Natya Shastra very strictly. I was having an education in Kalakshetra-style.

Efforts of these great people and other poets revitalized the traditional beauty of Bharatanatyam.

Even though Bharatanatyam has gone through lot of changes, it still has its roots deep in the religious and rich mythological heritage of India. In the modern day scenario it is performed by both male & female artists. Many learn as a hobby and few make it as a profession. Whether taken as a hobby or a profession it certainly needs lot of practice, concentration and dedication.

 About Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam is evenly divided into three elements Nritta, Nritya and Natya .

» Nritta

Nritta corresponds to pure dance steps which are rhythmically performed. Here the movements of the body do not convey any mood or meaning and its purpose is just creating beauty by making various patterns. In
Nritta the rhythmic element is predominant. The language of rhythm is presented with the help of body movements(Alaripoo, Jathisvaram).

 » Nritya

Nritya corresponds to the song. In other words, it is Interpretative dance. The vaachikaabhinaya of natya where the actors themselves use speech is replaced by the music and song which accompanies dance.  Nritya is the
combination of Rhythm with Expression. It conveys poetic meaning with the help of expressions, rhythmic elements and postures (Varnam, Shabdam, Padam).

 »  Natya

Natya corresponds to drama. Natya means dramatic presentation or drama with speech, music and dancing. Natya is the dramatic element and performed in themes like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, etc.

 

Expression

The need to express oneself through art is a basic urge of every human being. In fact, this ability to perceive beauty and art as well as using it as a medium of expression is a special faculty of a human being which distinguishes him from animals. Beauty and art are concepts which are born out of human psyche. Psyche makes the body living. However, it is not just an abstract principle. Psyche also emerges through the artistic and cultural development of a human society. Natya has been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years. In its analysis and concepts you can find a clear reflection of Indian psyche.

Abhinaya is an inseparable component of Natya, the ancient Indian system of dramaturgy. The principles of Natya have been written by Bharata in the Natya Shastra which is almost 2000 years old. Today's well-known classical dance styles like Kathakali and Bharatha Natyam still follow Bharata's technique and concept of Abhinaya.

'Abhi' is the prefix meaning 'towards' and 'ni (naya)' is the root meaning to carry. So, Abhinaya means to carry towards, i.e. to carry the spectator towards the meaning. Therefore Abhinaya can be called a vehicle of Natya through which the spectator experiences the particular emotions of the dramatic character that leads him towards Rasananda - the ultimate aim of Natya.

The above definition of 'Abhinaya' makes clear that in terms of Indian dramatic theory abhinaya does not only mean miming, acting or facial expressions. Bharata has defined four major types of Abhinaya: Angika Abhinaya, Vacika Abhinaya, Aharya Abhinaya and Sattvika Abhinaya.

Angika Abhinaya means to convey the meaning through body movements.

Vacika Abhinaya is the expression through speech.

The aspect of Aharya involves Rangabhusa - the make-up and costumes, ornaments etc.; of the Patra, the dancer-actor; as well as the Nepathya, the stage props and decor.

Sattvika Abhinaya is mentioned as the fourth kind of Abhinaya. It is regarded as the expression of Sattvika, i.e. the emotional states producing the particular physical reactions.

 

According to Bharata , there are 8 rasas and this was accepted till Uddhata (the first commentator on Natya Shastra) began to speak of nine Rasa.

RASA

MEANING

Shringaram(Erotic)

Delight

Hasyam (Humorous)

Laughter

Karunai (Pathetic)

etectmouseclick="t" color2="black" angle="-135" focus="100%">Sorrow

Raudram (Terrible)

Anger

Veeram (Heroic)

Heroism

Bhayanaka (Fearful)

Fear

Bibhatsam (Odious)

Disgust

Adbhutam(Wonderous)

Wonder

Shantam (Peaceful)

Peace

 

Rasa

 

Rasa is simply explained as what is being tasted or enjoyed.
Bharata in the "Natya Shastra" gives the analogy of enjoyment of food, as the experience of the aesthetic delight ('Rasa').

"Rasa iti kaha padaarthaha Uchyate Aaswaadyatvaat"

That is,  just as a well disposed person whose mind is free from other thoughts and centered on the act of eating, relishes the flavours while eating food and the various spices added and in this kind of way gets satisfaction.

So also the spectator whose mind is focussed in the spectacle relishes the "Sthayi Bhavas"(latent permanent states) aroused by the presentation of the various emotions through the dancer with the help of verbal, physical and mental gesticulation and gets joy in this experience.

 

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