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shabda Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam




These are some of various dance forms throughout the world today. Most individuals are familiar with these forms of dancing, since they are the most prominent and most widely used forms of dances in modern society. Throughout history, dance has been a main source of entertainment, from early tribes to modern day theaters. Interestingly though, somewhere between the transition from tribes to theater, dance has played a role from temple to  theater as well. The one form of  dance that has made a progression from temple to theater is familiar to India. This form of dance is known as “Bharata Natyam.” (Pronounced: “Baaratha Naatyum”).  
Bharata Natyam, which originates in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu , is one of the oldest and most popular dance styles in India. It’s traditions date back even earlier than the Rig Vedic period of the Aryans (1500 BC).  It is now widely spread throughout the rest of India as well. A popular interpretation of the name of the style is:
Bhava (expression) + Raga (musical mode) + Tala (rhythm) Natyam (dance+acting) = BHARATA NATYAM  (Chandra, 15).
Named after sage Bharata, the author of Natya Shastra (manual of dramatic art), originated in temples, used to enact religious themes. Principles of classical dance have their origins in the Vedas, which detail the forms of dance, drama worship and meditation (Medhuri, 2).
Upon looking up the definition of Bharata Natyam from a Webster’s dictionary, one will read the following: “ To move rhythmically to music using improvised or planned steps and gestures.”
An interesting point to note about this definition is that the neither the term “acting” nor  worship is included in the definition.. Therefore it is understandable that Bharata Natyam is quite different from most other forms of dance.
The origin of Bharata Natyam is very much tied in with its religious significance as well. On that account it is important to speak of  both these aspects simultaneously. These religious ties add to the beauty and vibrancy of this dance, since Hindu mythology is the core essence of Bharata Natyam.
To begin, the highly cultivated art of Bharata Natyam has been handed down over the centuries by teachers called nattuvanars and ritualistic dancers called devidasis, in the temples of south India. This style of dance has descended as one of the devotional dances performed in the temples of South India, from the tenth century to the middle of this century. This is a very popular dance form in South India and was a major part in religious Hindu ceremonies. It is oldest of all classical dance forms in India. It originated in the great temples of the south and usually tells events of Krishna's life (Medhuri, 3).
Concerning the religious history of Bharata Natyam, the Gods & Godesses pleaded Lord Brahma to create another veda (teaching) which would be simple for the common man to understand. It is believed that considering this request, Lord Brahma created the fifth veda, named Natyaveda, as a combination of the other four vedas. It is believed that Lord Brahma has taken pathya (words) form the Rigveda, abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from Samaveda and rasa (sentiment and emotional element) from Atharvaveda to form the fifth veda, Natyaveda (Bhagyalakhsmy, 29).
After creating this Natyaveda, Lord Brahma gave this veda to sage Bharata and asked him to popularize this veda on earth. Following the words of Lord Brahma, sage Bharata wrote Natyashastra or the Science of Dramaturgy, a great, comprehensive work on the science and technique of Indian drama, dance and music. This is why Bharata Natyam received its name from the sage Bharata (Chandra 38).
Among another popular religious story tied to Bharata Natyam says that the Goddess Parvathi tought this dance form to Uma, daughter of Banasura, a demon, thus the divine dance form Bharata Natyam was introduced to the mankind. Admittedly there are no universal theories concerning Bharata Natyam’s origin , except for one. This is the mythological story of Lord Shiva, who is considered  the supreme lord of dance. This divine dance form was first  performed by Lord Shiva & his wife Goddess Parvathi in the heavens. This is the reason why the ... more

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  • S: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam S: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam These are some of various dance forms throughout the world today. Most individuals are familiar with these forms of dancing, since they are the most prominent and most widely used forms of dances in modern society. Throughout history, dance has been a main source of entertainment, from early tribes to modern day theaters. Interestingly though, somewhere between the transition from tribes to theater, dance has played a role from temple to theater as well. The one fo...
  • H: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam H: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam These are some of various dance forms throughout the world today. Most individuals are familiar with these forms of dancing, since they are the most prominent and most widely used forms of dances in modern society. Throughout history, dance has been a main source of entertainment, from early tribes to modern day theaters. Interestingly though, somewhere between the transition from tribes to theater, dance has played a role from temple to theater as well. The one fo...
  • A: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam A: Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam Poetry in motion Bharatanatyam These are some of various dance forms throughout the world today. Most individuals are familiar with these forms of dancing, since they are the most prominent and most widely used forms of dances in modern society. Throughout history, dance has been a main source of entertainment, from early tribes to modern day theaters. Interestingly though, somewhere between the transition from tribes to theater, dance has played a role from temple to theater as well. The one fo...