An evening classy and elegant | Daily News

An evening classy and elegant

 “Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen

And waste its sweetness on the desert air” – Thomas Gray

The metaphor perfectly fits Dr Subashini Pathmanathan, who has substantially contributed to the society as a teacher of Bharatha Natyam (Vazhuvoor Style), artiste, researcher, journalist, author of around 18 books to her credit, and a passionate exponent of Bharatha Natyam in its pristine form. I happened to witness her Lecture Demonstration at the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on Friday, October 11.

The aura created by her dedicated and graceful performance with poise to the enchanting melodies played in the background, whisked the audience to Kailash in an instance. The lecture she gave showed the commitment and the wide knowledge Dr Subashini Pathmanathan has towards Bharatha Natyam.

The session started with a Viruththam by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar - Appan Nii, Ammai Nii. The saint declares to Shiva that everyone and everything found on earth is Him – as he sees Shiva in all. The meaning was brought out by Subashini with splendid facial expressions and flexible postures attributed to the theme.

Next was a Patham, Atputha Sitpi, sung on the cosmic dancer - Chidambaram Nadaraj, by Thandaayuthapaani Pillai, to a lovely melody of Ragamalika (a medley of ragas), set to Aathi Thaalam (rhythm).

Seeing Shiva as a lover, the devotee sings that nowhere on earth has he come across such a magnificent and meaningful sculpture depicting various aspects of the cosmic dancer. The udukku (damarukam) represents the vibrations from which the sound creates many universes with different manifestations. Agni (fire) denotes samharam (destruction) of the material bonds, leading to dissolution and liberation from the cycles of birth. The abayak karam (right palm) signifies protection; the thookkiya thiruvadi (raised foot) symbolises salvation; and oondriya thiruvadi (the other foot) on muyalakan (ego) is firmly pressed down, to suppress the ego created by maya (illusion).Subashini splendidly brought out the meaning of the composition through vivid expressions, in which the devotee begs for deliverance.

Moving on, an 18th-century composition, Theruvil Vaaraano in the Ragam Kamas set to Roopaka Thaalam by Sri Muththu Thandavar was chosen. The lyrics articulate how the devotee pleads with God to appear at least on the road and pave the way for salvation. Subashini did justice to the stanzas through her graceful steps and captivating expressions.

The last dance for the presentation was a Varnam on Lord Murugan by Paabanaasam Sivan in Sri Ranjani Raga set to Aathi Thaalam. This composition encompasses all three aspects of Bharatha Natyam: Niruththam (rhythm, vibrancy and the beauty of dance); Nirthiam (expressions for interpretation of meanings); and Natyam (story oriented). The devotee appeals to Parvathi to send her son Murugan, either as a lover or as a kid and relieve him from the earthly compulsions.

In the closing session, she earnestly pleaded with those engaged in learning and imparting this divine art, to do so in its purest pristine form.

I thank all involved in having such an educative programme. It was an entrancing solo lecture and rendering by Dr Pathmanathan. A performance which should have had a packed auditorium sadly did not have. Like a precious stone unmined at the bottom of the ocean or a beautiful flower blooming in the deep woods, her heroic work may not be seen or known, if her work does not reach us.

Add new comment