Change is of two kinds – external and internal. Only when there is a harmonious balance between external and internal changes, activities associated with it can have a smooth flow. If one changes at a rate much higher than the other and if the two lose sync with each other, the whole system will face the danger of failure. Harmony will be lost and will lead to chaos. In most cases, such accelerated changes occur only on the external parameters, i.e., those related to the structure (form). The internal change is usually slow, steady and controlled.
The word ‘Shaastra’ means ‘to rule’ or ‘to govern’ and is derived from the root ‘शासु-अनुशिष्टौ’. ‘To govern’ means to protect like a king, and to keep everything that comes within his purview under control. However, this does not mean that shaastra is dictatorial, rigid and restrictive. Just like a forest protects a lion and the lion in turn protects the forest (popularly known as ‘vana-simha-nyaaya’), the shaastra and all the aspects that come under its purview mutually safeguard each other.
In one of my earlier articles – Happiness, Flow, and the Upanishads – I had discussed the meaning of happiness and how the concept of ‘flow’ closely aligns with the Upanishadic view on brahmananda (supreme bliss). The state of ‘flow’ or ‘getting into the zone’ can be defined as a state of temporary moksha.
Evolution of Raaga
Raagas have changed and even transformed with respect to the definition given by Bharatamuni. Of course, it is only natural for perspective of arts to change with times. The most ancient forms of music that we can trace goes back to the Vedas. We can experience the early forms in folk, tribal music as well as in some theatrical music such as in yakshagaana or sopaanam. Apart from this, musicologists like Shrangadeva, PandarikaVitthala have theorized and described in detail the lakshana(characteristics) in their works.
Of late, echoes of a certain something called "Art Therapy" has been resonating throughout our land. More specifically, there has been an increase in the number of self-proclaimed "Art Therapists" strutting around with claims that they can cure a wide variety of diseases using music, dance, painting and poetry. They occupy the line already populated by that class of people who've anointed themselves as Sanyasis-Babas and Gurujis.
The etymology of the word ‘Raaga’:
The word raaga has many meanings. Raaga means love, color (referring to red in particular), emotion, bliss, comfort, beauty, pathos , passion, attraction etc., In common parlance, however, raaga is understood as the essence of a song/music. Now what does the etymology of the word say? 'रञ्जनाद्रागः'- It means one that entertains.
Vaachikaabhinaya (vocal communication – through words) is of two kinds – songs/ poems set to a rhythmic cycle (taala) and prose. Kuchupudi, Bhagavatamela and Kathakali have completely adopted Carnatic classical music today. This is even more prominent in Melattur Bhagavatamela. Kuchupdi has retained some special features of the Natya-sangeetha of Andhra. One can observe traces of Sopaana-Sangeetha in Kathakali, but it does not have the regional flavor that the music used in Krishnanaattam has.
Let us look at Yakshagana and its allied art-forms from the point of view of angikaabhinaya (communication through the body and gesture language). Kuchupudi and Bhagavatamela are rich in angikaabhinaya. However, in recent times, Kuchupudi has been relinquishing its theatrical format, i.e., the format of Yakshagana and Kalaapa, and is heading towards becoming a dance (nrtya) format.
Yakshagana is a term, which although collectively applies to regional performing arts of Karnataka and Andhra, in the recent years, it has been used synonymously with ‘Paduvalapaaya’ which is practiced in the Karavali and Malenadu regions of coastal Karnataka. The current article uses the word ‘Yakshagana’ in this popular sense, but we must keep the generic significance of the term in our mind.
Art and its purpose