(* Yuga – a Sanskrit term used to define a very large period of time spanning 1000s of years)
In the “Dvapara Yuga”, some say in 3228 BC an event happened on the banks of the River Yamuna in Mathura, a place near Delhi. This is about the dance of a little boy called Krishna. This is a dance with a difference – an young boy dances on top of a five headed King Cobra. The dance is called Kaliya Mardhan /Kaliya Daman in North of India and Kalinga Narthanam in South of India.
A Yuga later (in Kali Yuga) around the end of the 14th century and beginning of 15th century some one near Theerthahalli village in Shimoga Taluk in Karnataka broadly outlined the event through a composition in his native language Kannada.
In the middle of the subsequent century, another gentleman from Malayalam village Melpathur near Kurumbathoor in Mallapuram District of Kerala wrote a divine epic in Sanskrit language in a temple where it is is believed that the event was reproduced by the same boy who performed this act 5000 years ago. In that epic he wrote ten verses describing the entire event.
Two centuries later between 1700-1765, yet another one from a village in Oothukadu in Tanjore District of Tamil Nadu known for his compositions in Tamil, wrote in Sanskrit the way in which the boy danced.
In this current period we move to Chennai where we will witness one of the finest depiction of that dance (as envisaged by the man from Kurumbathoor in the fifteenth century) by a phenomenally talented and globally acclaimed lady.
The event is so imbibed in India’s culture that not a single year passes/will pass without someone somewhere in India celebrating that event through available medium of expression.
Now I will try to understand that immortal event through a series of blogs bringing out the three facets (3 dimensional) of the Indian Arts.
Only Three facets for Indian Arts ! I am not kidding. Well, I am just summarizing them into three categories like the Tamils of the Sangam era (300 BC – 200AD) viz, Iyal, Isai, Natakam (Prose/Literary, Music, Dance respectively).
The Literary description [ “Iyal – இயல் “] of the event
The gentleman from Theerthahalli is none other than Saint Purandara Dasa, the Grand Father(Pitamah) of Carnatic Music. he brings out in eloquent (yet even the ignorant can understand), the essence of the event in Kannada Language.
The gentleman from Kurumbathoor Village in his epic work called Narayaneeyam, devotes a set of ten verses (Slokas) to describe the event. Sri. Narayana Namboodhri called as Bhattathri brought Krishna from Mathura to every single home in south of India through his Naryaneeyam written in Sanskrit.
The works of these two great Saints drive devotion (Bhakti) through their works in a meta physical plane. It sets you thinking and appeals to the heart and soul of human beings through brain. I will try to understand these two works.
The Musical Description [ “Isai – இசை” ] of the event
Music in any language appeals to the heart and soul through the ears. This aural route requires that the lyricist/composer understands the nuances and brings out an integrated version of his thought processes about an event. An event like the dance of an young boy needs to be depicted taking into these factors.
The gentleman from Oothukadu who specialized in compositions in Tamil brought out a superb composition in Sanskrit about Krishna’s dance; ideally composed for the seamless integration of music with the dance movements. I will try and study the composition of Oothukadu Venkata Kavi.
The Dance [ “Natakam – நாடகம்” ] portrayal of the event
In this section we will watch three dance events. Dr. Padma Subramanyam is a living legend in the South Indian Form of Dance called Bharath Natyam. We will link with her depiction of the event as described by Bhattathri in Narayaneeyam.
Team led by Bhairavi Venkatesan of Sridevi Nrithalaya presents the dance as composed by Oothukadu Venkata Kavi.
The third dance by Janaki & Kalyani in Bharath Natyam style is for the composition by Purandara Dasa. This dance was performed at Guruvayur where Narayaneeyam was written.
These three dances are available in the social media. We will link up with them.These are just representative samples. Just type “Dances of India – Kaliya Daman”. You can view the dance in perhaps every single Indian Languages and in every type/style of Indian Dances like, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi etc.
Join me in my “3d” study of the Divine Dance.