Faithful exponents of Bharatha Natyam | Daily News

Faithful exponents of Bharatha Natyam

The fascination of Bharatha Natyam lies in the uniqueness of its traditional repertoire. The repertoire of Bharatha Natyam recital was laid down in the 19th century by the Tanjore Quartet, namely Chinniah, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu. To this day, the exponents of Bharatha Natyam faithfully follow this tradition.

The Alarippu, Jetheeswaram, Sabtham, Varnam, Padams, Thillana and Slokas are the correct sequence in the practice of this art ‘which is an artistic yoga revealing the spiritual through corporal’, says Balasaraswathi the Queen of Bharatha Natyam.

Philosophical depth

Bharatha Natyam is totally based on Hinduism and Hindu philosophy. Nobody can deny this fact. Those who get involved in this art form must learn and understand the depth of the sacred Hindu philosophy. Bharatha Natyam originated in the temples as Sadir. With the passage of time, it was developed in and around the temple environs with a new dimension and vision as Bharatha Natyam which is totally a sacred dance form. Earlier it was originally practised and preserved by the temple Devadasi clan.

According to Hindu philosophy, the Hindu temple structure is based on the human body. The head is regarded as the Sanctorum (Garpagragam). The tall temple tower built over the Garpagragam is described as Vimanam which is adorned with beautiful sculptures. (This temple description starts from sanctum to the temple tower entrance).

The following area in the human body is the neck, which is called or named as Artha Mandapam where the priests stand and engage themselves in the process of ritual activities for the Garpagragam (Sanctorum).

Sacrificial pit

The chest area of the body is regarded as Maha Mandapam. The stomach area is regarded as Isathapa Mandapam. The sacrificial pit is constructed in the Isathapa Mandapam. During the period of Yaga poojas and Homapoojas sacred offerings are offered in the sacrificial pit. All the offerings mainly the Navathaniyam grains and Yagapooja offerings are poured into this constructed pit. At the end of the Isthampa Mandapam, Nanthi, Pali Pee demon the Kodi Isthampam are installed.

The thighs of the body are regarded as Sabha Mandapam of the temple. Earlier the cultural activities were supposed to be performed at the Sabha Mandapam. The knee area of the body is regarded as the first entrance of the temple.

Below the knee is regarded as Kalyana Mandapam which is also known as Utsava Mandapam where the Utsavamoorthies are decorated and kept during the Utsavams. The feet and the toes of the human body are regarded as the main entrance of the temple with majestic Kopuram. But all these traditional temple features are still found in the present Hindu temple structure to a certain extent.

Temple architecture

The Bharatha Natyam Queen of the late Balasaraswathi said that the fundamental order of a dance recital should follow the temple architecture. According to Balasaraswathi ‘the Bharatha Natyam recital is structured like a great temple: enter through Gopuram (outer hall), the Allarippu, cross through Arthamandapam, (halfway hall) the Jetheeswaram, then the Mandapam (the great hall) Sabtham and the holy precinct of the deity is Varnam’.

Therefore, those who want to learn or master this art form must know the basic Hindu link with this great dance form. If anybody tries to learn this great art without knowing the depth of it with the passage of time this sacred art would be dragged to a social level art. The link between Hinduism and Bharatha Natyam is inseparable.


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