Essay On Bharatanatyam

The Shiva temple of Kanchipuram that is decorated with carvings dating back to a period between 6th to 9th centuries CE manifests the development of this dance form by around the mid first millennium CE.Many ancient Hindu temples are embellished with sculptures of Lord Shiva in Bharatanatyam dance poses.

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The theoretical base of this dance form, which is also referred as Sadir, trace back to ancient Indian theatrologist and musicologist, Bharata Muni’s Sanskrit Hindu text on the performing arts called ‘Natya Shastra’.

The text’s first complete version was presumably completed between 200 BCE to 200 CE, however such timeframe also varies between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

History & Evolution According to the Hindu tradition the name of the dance form was derived by joining two words, ‘Bharata’ and Natyam’ where ‘Natyam in Sanskrit means dance and ‘Bharata’ is a mnemonic comprising ‘bha’, ‘ra’ and ‘ta’ which respectively means ‘bhava’ that is emotion and feelings; ‘raga’ that is melody; and ‘tala’ that is rhythm.

Thus, traditionally the word refers to a dance form where bhava, raga and tala are expressed.

According to Russian scholar Natalia Lidova, ‘Natya Shastra’ elucidates several theories of Indian classical dances including that of Tandava dance, standing postures, basic steps, bhava, rasa, methods of acting and gestures.

One of the five great epics of Tamil Literature, ‘Silappatikaram’ (~2nd century CE) has a direct reference to this dance form.The eastern gopuram of the 12th century Thillai Natarajar Temple, Chidambaram, of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord Shiva bears sculptures depicting 108 poses of Bharatanatyam, referred as karanas in ‘Natya Shastra’, that are intricately carved in small rectangular panels.Another notable sculpture can be seen in the Cave 1 of Karnataka’s Badami cave temples dating back to the 7th century where a 5 feet tall sculpture of Lord Shiva is depicted as Nataraja doing Tandava dance.Later the Tamil Hindu migrants revived this Hindu temple dancing custom in British Tamil temples during the late 20th century.Today this ancient classical dance form also includes technical performances as also non-religious and fusion based themes.Opposition & Ban During Colonial Rule The 18th century saw emergence of rule of the East India Company followed by setting up of British colonial rule in the 19th century.Such developments saw decline of various classical dance forms which were subjected to contemptuous fun and discouragement including Bharatanatyam that through the 19th century remained exclusive to Hindu temples.Eventually social and economic conditions associated with Devadasi culture added with contempt and despicable attitude from the Christian missionaries and British officials, who held the Devadasis of South India and nautch girls of North India as harlots, disgraced such systems.Furthermore the Christian missionaries launched anti-dance movement in 1892 to stop such practice. Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.Detailed information on how Wiley uses cookies can be found in our Privacy Policy.

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