Author:Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh

Let us focus on shrngaaraabhinaya (expression of shrngaara – love) that is based on graceful dance (laasya). Like mentioned in the previous article, delineation of female characters has been the focus of most dance forms for centuries. We are familiar with love-poems related to women and their depiction in dance. When men started performing dance based on shrngaara, some difficulties probably arose. In fact, it is rather apt for dancers to put on the roles described in the lyrics, regardless of the actual gender of the dancers.

The books on Ayurveda and related topics can be largely divided into five categories based on the level of the reader – for the lay person, for the student of Ayurveda, for the Ayurvedic practitioner, for the scholar (the advanced student), and for the researcher.

The student of Ayurveda needs to acquire familiarity with Sanskrit. This is best accomplished by a study of Sri Satchidanandendra Sarasvati’s Sanskrit self-study books (Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya).

With the kind of excesses of material opulence that the golden era of Krishnadevaraya offered to people inhabiting it—with lavish homes, variety of clothing, expansive gardens, and expensive perfumes, it is only natural that this array of sensual opulence also reflected itself in the enjoyment of that other timeless ingredient: pleasures of the amorous kind.

Art scholars say that the two seemingly different modes of dance known as ‘maarga’ and ‘deshi’ are essentially the same. ‘Maarga’ is the realization of dance and ‘deshi’ is its application in practice. A well defined art, with a set of rules governing it is ‘shaastriya’, i.e., subscribed to a shaastra. (‘Shaastriya’ can be roughly translated as ‘classical’). It belongs to the heritage that was founded by Bharata and his predecessors such as Shilaali and Krshaashva.

While discussing the talent of Balamurali, we have to speak in the context of his contemporaries. The examination of the value of something (or someone) is always carried out with regards to the ecosystem of which it is a part. Value examination cannot take place in a vacuum. And even then, all such evaluations are subjective. Thus it would be foolish on our part to compare Balamuralikrishna with poets like Kalidasa or Kumaravyasa. We can compare him with people like Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastry, Svati Tirunal, etc.

If Krishnadevaraya enjoyed a whole range of exalted honorifics like Sahitya Sangita Samarangana Sarvabhouma, Mooru Rayara Ganda, Hindu Samrajya Suratrana, Kannada Rajya Ramaa Ramana, and Andhra Bhoja, it was because he had earned them literally by his blood and sweat—not for him were tears. He was endowed with manliness in the truest sense of the word and thereby inspired it throughout his kingdom. He equally earned material wealth on an unprecedented scale and shared his munificence through his jaw-dropping generosity.

We had an overview of Bharata Muni’s Naatyashaastra in the previous article. We picked only one shloka from the 6000 that Bharata has written and analyzed its meaning. We have seen that just like all other art forms, dance too is governed by techniques as laid down by the shaastra. We also discussed the advantage of relying on shaastra and on classical heritage.

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About a week ago, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna passed away.

When we think about his talent and scholarship, cogitate about his achievements and personality, we feel that a legendary saga has passed by. Beyond the specialties and eccentricities of his personality, what attracted the world by the force of its brilliance was his art.

We shall have a look at Indian dance from the perspective of shaastra and heritage (sampradaaya).

Indian dance, just like other art forms and knowledge systems of India, is idealized. It mainly shows us how things ought to be and not how they currently are or how they appear to be. In other words, it helps us look at nature from the perspective of culture. Bharata Muni speaks of this at the beginning of the Naatyashaastra (1.107 to 1.123)