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Influence of Hinduism in Bharatha Natyam

Bharatha Natyam is deeply rooted in Hinduism and Hindu culture. No doubt in Hinduism Lord Nataraja himself is a cosmic dancer believed to be the foremost god of universe. All over the world, the Siva lingams are installed in the sanctums of the temples, instead of Anandathandava sculpture. Except in the Chithamparam temple, Ananda Thandava pose is installed in the sanctum.

Scluptural statue

In most temples the Ananda Thandava is always installed in the Vasantha Mandapa as the Utsavamoorthy. Ananda Thandava which is in the sanctum is always taken out during the temple processions and temple festivals.

The temples of south India are famous for tower sculptures. The tall kopurams (towers) of the temples are full of sculptures. Even within temples, in temple pillars, temple walls, in and around the mandapams and madams, there are sculptures. Most sculptures on the temple towers are decorated with Hindu puranic stories and epics. While the sculptures inside the temples mainly depict dance poses of various gods as well as the humans. Among all sculptures the most famous sculptures are found on the tower of the Chithamparam temple. The outstanding fact about the Chidambaram kopura (tower) sculptures is that they depict 108 thandava karnas of lord Siva.

Ananda Thandava pose is the symbol of Bharatha Natyam which is not included in the 108 Thandava karnas of lord Siva.

The popular belief is that Lord Siva danced these 108 thandava karnas in 64 temples. But all have been brought together in the Chidambaram temple kopura sculptures. A remarkable feature is all these karnas are danced only by women dancers. While in the famous Bragatheeswarar temple in Thanjavur, the same Thandava karnas are depicted by Lord himself. Unfortunately only 83 thandava karnas (poses) still exist at the Bragatheeswarar temple. Among these 108 karnas in Bharatha Natyam, generally Ananda Thandava pose is used to symbolize Lord Siva as the symbol of Bharatha Natyam.

This particular Ananda Thandava pose of Lord Siva is commonly known as Lord Nataraja. Lord Siva is generally believed to have performed five functions, namely creation, protection, in two Thandavas, {(bestow in happiness), and (protection from sorrow)}, destruction, dispelling egoism, sins, and illusion and bestow blessings, are the main five functions of the lord. All these five were expounded in the six Thandavas. But all these six Thandavas are finally expounded in one single thandava namely Ananda Thandava, together with the sixth Thandavas, the Ananda Thandava, becomes the seventh thandava. All these seven Thandavas are collectively called ‘Sabtha Thandavams’. That’s why, the Ananda Thandava is used in Bharatha Natyam, because it embraces all the essential five functions of the creator of the universe.

Due to the importance of the Ananda Thandava pose even in all the Bharatha Natyam recitals all over the world this Ananda Thandava pose statue is kept at the right hand side of the dance stages.

In Hinduism Lord Siva is the first and foremost God, who himself is the cosmic dancer. Among all the religions only in Hinduism the foremost God himself is the cosmic dancer and revealed all the worldly philosophy through his divine and cosmic dance. Aadalvalan, Ampalakuthan, Kutharasan and Kuthapeeran are some names referred to Lord Siva, connected to the lord with the dance. Even many Hindu Gods are often connected to numerous dance references. Many dance references are in Hinduism.

The dancing pose of Lord Gnesha is called as Narthana Ganapathy, or Thandava Pillaiyar. Similarly, the dancing pose of Lord Krishna is often referred to as Narthana Krishna, Kalinga Narthana, and Thandava Krishna. Narthana Kali is another divine reference which could be often seen in the ancient Hindu scripts about the dancing goddess Kali.

Besides, the Lord Nataraja bears five important Pancha Boothams (five elements), believed to be the most important elements for the creation of the world. The five elements are sky, water, fire, wind and earth. The Lord bears the moon on his head, which indicates the sky. Similarly the river Ganga flows from the terrace of the Lord which indicates water. In his left hand, the Lord bears the fire, meanwhile in his right hand the Lord holds the Udeki, from where the wind originates and he presses the right leg on the earth which reveals the earth. These five elements are the basic fundamental aspects of the world’s origin.

All the Indian Classical dance forms are deeply originated and rooted in Hinduism. Those who want to study a particular Indian classical dance form or any classical dance form of any country, it is a must, and it is their utmost duty to study the origin, development and growth of the selective dance forms and must try to gain a thorough knowledge about that selective art form. Hinduism is totally based on Vedas, Puranas, Sastra, Suthras, Epics, Mythology and Philosophy. In all Hindu Vedas and in Hindu Dharma dance plays an important role. Vedas are considered as general guideline to all the humans, and lead them towards the right path.

Earlier Hindu Vedas are Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Saama Veda, and Atharvana Veda in Hinduism. Lord Brahma derived verses from Rig Veda, Abinaya from Yajur Veda, music from Saama Veda, Rasa from Atharvana Veda. As the devaloka King Indran felt that as all the existing Vedas did not reach the common masses, therefore he appealed to Lord Brahma to enact a separate Veda to reach the common masses. As the result, Natya Veda was enacted by Lord Bhrama.

As the Natya Veda is considered the fifth Veda in Hinduism, Lord Bhrama enacted the fifth Veda from the earlier existing Vedas.

Bharatha Natyam is a Hindu dance form, and it derives its source from the Hinduism. No doubt it is purely a Tamil classical art dance form deeply rooted in Hinduism, Hindu culture and Tamil Language.

 

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