Oriental dance’s classical touch | Daily News

Oriental dance’s classical touch

According to Hindu mythology dance was created and originated from Lord Siva, who is believed to have taught his method of pure dance technique to Thandu Muni. Bharatha Muni learnt the technique-based pure Nirtha dance form Thandu Muni. Later Bharatha Muni wrote the thesis, which was known to the world as Natya Sastra, which consists of altogether 36 chapters. All the chapters deal with various important aspects and technique of dance and drama. Among all the chapters the fourth chapter is called Thandava Lakshana.

Sculptures are the main source for the research in Bharatha Natyam. Many sculptures are available all over the world at the Hindu temple sites and ancient archaeological sites.

According to sage Bharatha, Karana means one body position, coordinating with one hand and one leg position is called Chari.Some of them are worshipping sculptures, temple pillar sculptures, temple tower sculptures, sculptures carved at art galleries, palaces and temples. These sculptures are the source of dance in general.

The body postures, leg positions and hand gestures of the sculptures resemble the dance poses and hand gestures. However, the foot and body positions in the sculptures are almost the same.

Sculptural hands

The hand gestures resemble almost the same as the dance hand gestures, but there are vast differences between the sculptural hands and dance hand gestures. According to the evidence,there are altogether twenty- eight sculptural hand gestures which are used in sculptures.

Even in the sculptural hands, the name of the hands is mentioned by the same terminologies. But the sculptural hands differ from the dance hands to some extent. The sculptor’s creativity and ideology differ from one sculptor to another. The style of sculptors and the particular era the sculptures were made must be taken into account when doing the research.

The sculptors, when they carve sculptures, give more prominence to their creativity than to natural hand positions and gestures. Butin a dance, the dancer cannot do much by his body in the same way as the sculptural poses due to certain practical limitations.

Basic dance poses

Each Thandava Karana of 108 Thandava Karanas has its own meaning. In dance, 108 Thandava Karanas are fundamental and basic dance poses to depict Lord Siva. Generally, a combination of Karanas is called Angaharana. According to sage Bharatha there are altogether 32 Angaharas mentioned in Natya Sastra. In Karana, the body position is in fixed stance, but in Angakarana, the body position is continuously changing.

Two Karanas are called Matrika, three together are called kalapaka, four together is called Mandaka and five together is called Sanghataka and six, seven, eight or nine Karanas together called Angahara. Another important position in Karanas is Rechakas meaning raised or moving or whirling movements of the body. The Rechakas are associated with neck, hand, waist and body.

In some Karanas the hand positions are crossed them against one another, in some the legs are crossed against one another, in some the legs are crossed against one another. Some Karanas are depicted in full sitting positions, some are depicted in half sitting positions, and some Karanas are in flying positions. Some Karanas have leg positions and unique stances like raising the leg up to the head level.

For instance in the Karana Lala Thiathilaka, the leg level is raised up to the head level most of the Karanas resemble the aerobatic positions, which one cannot expect to intermingle the teal dance.

Another important aspect of Karanas is called Pindis. These pindis are related to sequence of Angaharas of different gods.

Different descriptions

According to Natya Sastra, Lord Nataraja performed 48 Karanas by himself, 36 Karanas with goddess Parvati, nine with Lord Vishnu and three with Lord Muruga and twelve with various Ganas. Three various writers had written many aspects of Karanas. After sage Bharatha, various writers have given different descriptions and interpretations about the same Karanas and some wanted to increase the number of Karanas.

Among the writers Manasollasa of Someswaradeva and Sarangadeva of Sangeetha Ratnakara are deserved to mention. However, Sarangadeva faithfully sticks to the illustrations of saga Bharatha.

All the Karanas are well preserved in the stone carvings and temple pillars in South India. In the Chithambaram temple all the 108 Thandava Karanas are well depicted.

The Chithamparam temple has four Gopuras or four temple towers. Four Gopuras are facing four different directions. Each Gopura was built by different periods.

In these tower pillars 108, Thandava Karanas of Lord Siva are well depicted.

Wall pillars

These Karanas were arranged one below another. Each Karana figure is depicted with musicians mainly men singers and men drum players playing drums and men striking the cymbals on side. Female dancers are depicted in the Karana poses. In the entire temple tower wall pillars, the Karanas are depicted but these do not seem to follow any sequence or order.

As compared to Northern and Southern towers, Western and Eastern towers, the builders paid special attention to arrange the Karanas according to Bharaha’s order. Under each karana, Sanskrit verses of Natya Sastra related to such Karanas were embossed.

In the Bragatheeswarar temple of Tanjavur, one can see 81 Thandava Karanas in the Gopura sculptures. Here in these Karanas depicting as Lord Siva performing. These sculptural Karanas have four arms at least two hands with weapons. Even the size of the figure is bigger than that of the Chithamparam temple. Fortunately, Chithamparam Temple is the only temple where the 108 Thandava Karanas with appropriate slogans from Natya Sastra are seen. Even now, we can see the Karanas in various temples such as Kumbakonam, kanchipuram, Maduri, perur and Virdachalam.


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