Sunday, July 11, 2010

Presentation at the symposium on encountering the sacred

Hello Everyone,
Here are some notes that I will be using for our presentation this week based on the first section. I hope to do the same with subsequent sections in the next day or so.
Feel free to add, to discuss

First section:
Discussion on the sacred nature of performance in Natyashastra,

Natya: the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles, whose theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC).
Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. Natya Shastra classifies this type of dance form as margi, or the soul-liberating dance, unlike the desi (purely entertaining) forms.
Even though the art of Natya includes nritta, or dance proper, Natya has never been limited to dancing and includes singing, abhinaya (mime acting).
The term "classical" (Sanscr. "Shastriya") was introduced by Sangeet Natak Akademi to denote the Natya Shastra-based performing art styles. A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the mudra or hand gestures by the artists as a short-hand sign language to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion. Many classical dances include facial expressions as an integral part of the dance form.

and the place of Shiva in Sanskrit performance

the temple arts were dedicated to Shiva. Bharatanatyam and Odissi are mentioned in the Natyashastra as sacred arts.
Shiva is often depicted as Natyaraja or Lord of the Dance triumphing over the demon Maya (ignorance)

We used Saju's invocation which was done before each session:
Translation of Angikam Bhuvanam…
Whose body is the three worlds? Whose speech is all language? Whose costume/adornment is the sun and the stars? It is you: the conscious one Shiva.

But Kalidasa’s text begins with:


EIGHT forms has Shiva, lord of all and king:
And these are water, first created thing;
And fire, which speeds the sacrifice begun;
The priest; and time's dividers, moon and sun;
The all-embracing ether, path of sound;
The earth, wherein all seeds of life are found;
And air, the breath of life: may he draw near,
Revealed in these, and bless those gathered here.

The stage-director. Enough of this! (Turning toward the dressing-room.) Madam, if you are ready, pray come here. (Enter an actress.)

Actress. Here I am, sir. What am I to do?

Director. Our audience is very discriminating, and we are to offer them a new play, called Shakuntala and the ring of recognition, written by the famous Kalidasa. Every member of the cast must be on his mettle.

Actress. Your arrangements are perfect. Nothing will go wrong.

Director (smiling). To tell the truth, madam,
Until the wise are satisfied,
I cannot feel that skill is shown;
The best-trained mind requires support,
And does not trust itself alone.

Actress. True. What shall we do first?

Director. First, you must sing something to please the ears of the audience.

Actress. What season of the year shall I sing about?

Director. Why, sing about the pleasant summer which has just begun. For at this time of year
A mid-day plunge will temper heat;
The breeze is rich with forest flowers;
To slumber in the shade is sweet;
And charming are the twilight hours.

Actress (sings).

The siris-blossoms fair,
With pollen laden,
Are plucked to deck her hair
By many a maiden,
But gently; flowers like these
Are kissed by eager bees.

Director. Well done! The whole theatre is captivated by your song, and sits as if painted. What play shall we give them to keep their good-will?

Actress. Why, you just told me we were to give a new play called Shakuntala and the ring.

Director. Thank you for reminding me. For the moment I had quite forgotten.
Your charming song had carried me away
As the deer enticed the hero of our play.

Here we see both a respect for Shiva, and a desire to get on with the play... yet even in the first scene, Dushyanta is compared to Shiva:

Your Majesty,

I see you hunt the spotted deer

With shafts to end his race,

As though God Shiva should appear

In his immortal chase.

Shiva's presence is always a presence in this play... Kalidas's ending to the play is Dushyanta's speech:

King. Can there be more than this? Yet may this prayer be fulfilled.

May kingship benefit the land,

And wisdom grow in scholars' band;

May Shiva see my faith on earth

And make me free of all rebirth.

Feel free to make comments!

See you on Wednesday!


No comments: