Jesters in Rig Veda (Post No.4365)

Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 4 NOVEMBER 2017


Time uploaded in London- 14-21



Post No. 4365

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.



Rig Veda is an encyclopaedia of ancient India. Hindu playwrights, actors and dramatists believe that the drama originated in India. Though we have dramas in ancient Egypt, if one believes the date (4500 BCE or before that) given to the Rig Veda by Herman Jacobi and B G Tilak, then India can claim the credit. Whatever be the origin of drama, we have very clear drama scenes in the Rig Veda in the form of dialogue hymns:


RV 10-51: Agni and Varuna
RV 10-10 Yama- Yami
RV 1-179 Agastya and Lopamudra
RV 10-95: Pururuvas and Urvasi
RV 10-86 Indra and Vrsakapi
We have such conversation hymns in RV 10-135; 10-124; 4-26; 10-108; 10-28 and many more. ( I have dealt with this in detail in  my old article; see the link at the bottom)
I was reading Hazra Commemoration Volume (Pages 505, 506) and found an interesting article which shows that even jesters (Vidushaka) in the Vedic period. The author quotes the following information:

Rig Veda (9-112-4) says,

“Just as a draught horse desires a light chariot, the jesters desire such appropriate words to excite others laughter. The male desires his mate’s approach and a frog desires food”


Vajasaneyi Samhita

In the long list of persons to be offered to relevant deities in a Purusha Medha Yajna (human sacrifice), there Is even a person sacrificed to the God of Laughter. The God was Hasa VS 30-6 and T S 3-41.


Though Purusha medha yajna did mention over 200 persons belonging to various professions, none was sacrificed. But the long list shows that there were so mam types of workers during Vedic period and one of them was a jester No culture had a separate God for laughter. It says a Kari should be sacrificed to Hasa, the god of laughter.


From the word KARI, it is evident that among the people of the Vedic age there were some who practised the art of Joking.


Classical drama has jesters. So it is no wonder that Vedic Hindus also had such a character in the dramas. This shows the Vedic civilization was well advanced in art and culture. They were not primitive as foreigners projected them. More over when we put all the facts together, we see a well cultured and civilized society.

Origin of Drama in Ancient India and Egypt


Vedic dramas | Tamil and Vedas

Where did dramas originate? Did the first play was enacted in Egypt or India? We have dialogue hymns in the RigVeda and several scholars believe those …





Written by London Swaminathan


Date:19 October 2017


Time uploaded in London- 16-59



Post No. 4316

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.


We all know that face is the index of the mind. Tamil and Sanskrit poets say that eye is the index of the mid; both are nearly same, because eye is the most important organ of face; without eyes we would not call it face, but blind.


The Sanskrit saying is “caksuhi manobhaavam aaviskaroti” i.e. The eye is the mirror of the mind.

Tiruvalluvar, the greatest of the ancient Tamil poets and the author of Tamil Veda ‘Tirukkural’ says,

“The measuring rod of the subtle brains is nothing but the eye revealing lurking secrets” (Kural 710)

It is interesting that only the Tamils took this virtue of DIVINING or SENSING FROM APPEARANCES  as an important one for a minister. Tiruvalluvar even raises a man with this virtue to the level of God. He advises the kings that a king must appoint such a person in the ministerial cabinet at any cost. He has devoted ten couplets on this topic.

“Regard him divine, who divines without a doubt what is passing in another’s mind” – Kural 702


“At any cost make him a member of the cabinet, who can judge by looks the intentions of another man”- Kural 703


The saying ‘face is the index of the mind’ is also echoed by Tiruvalluvar in another couplet:

“The mirror reflects nearby objects; even so the face indicates emotions throbbing in the mind” – Kural couplet 706

Cicero says, “the countenance is the portrait of the soul”.

Another Tamil poet of Naladiyar, collection of Tamil poems, says ‘ hatred or love could be read off from the eyes themselves, by those familiar with the eyes and the world is under the control of such people.

Experts in criminology and criminal investigation are convinced that an offender’s guilt is most often reflected in the eyes and the face.

The 2000 year old Sanskrit book Panchatantra puts in a beautiful sloka/poem,

“The guilty man is terrified
By reason of his crime.
His pride is gone, his powers of speaking fail
His glances rove, his face is pale.

The sweat appears on his brow,
He stumbles on, he knows not how,
His face is pale, and all he utters
Is much distorted; for he stutters.
The culprit always may be found
To shake, and gaze upon the ground:
Observe the signs as best you can
And shrewdly pick the guilty man.

While on the other hand
The innocent is self reliant
His speech is clear, his glance defiant
His countenance is calm and free
His indignation makes his plea

–(Panchatantra 151- 158 The Tale of the Weaver’s Wife)


In Tamil there are even proverbs about the eyes of the thieves (Thiruttu Muzi). When children do some naughty things, we spot them easily by looking at their face, particularly from their eyes!

In Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam, eyes play an important role; most of the emotions can be revealed through the eyes and face.

My old articles on the appearance of the people are given below:–

Face is the Index of Mind | Tamil and Vedas

3 Nov 2013 – Face is the Index of Mind. Mirror. Great men think alike: Quotations on Mind. 1.Manu on Examining witnesses. He shall discover the internal …


31 Indian Quotations on Mind! | Tamil and Vedas…/31-indian-quotations-on-min…

27 Dec 2014 – Face is the Index of the Mind (English Proverb). January 7 … The human mind has a tenedency to do what is forfidden — Kathasaritsagara.



Aristophanes made fun of Socrates and Portrayed him a Mad Man! (Post No.4138)

Aristophanes made fun of Socrates and Portrayed him as a Mad Man! (Post No.4138)
Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 7 August 2017


Time uploaded in London- 21-07


Post No. 4138

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.


Aristophanes was the greatest comic playwright of ancient Greece. His comedies are the earliest roots of the film, theatre and television comedies we enjoy today. Other ancient writers list 40 plays by Aristophanes; only 11 of these have survived to the present.


Very little is known about the life of Aristophanes. Born in the city of Athens, he started writing before he was 20. Aristophanes lived through a period of great political and social change. For 27 years, Athens fought a bitter war  against its archival , the city of Sparta. The eventual defeat of Athens  brought to an end  the greatest period of ancient Greek civilization  and was followed by a time of political instability during which Athens was ruled by dictators and corrupt governments. Aristophanes wrote plays about the changes he saw going around him.


Born in the city of Athens he started writing before he was 20.  Aristophanes lived through a period of great political and social change. For 27 years Athens fought a war against its arch rival Sparta. The eventual defeat of Athens brought to an end the greatest of ancient Greek civilization and was followed by a time of political instability during which Athens was ruled by dictators and corrupt governments.


Many of Aristophanes’ plays are satires. He criticizes political leaders by making them seem ridiculous; often the leaders are out witted by the hero of the play, who is portrayed as an ordinary citizen.

Aristophanes also made fun of people such as philosophers, teachers and lawyers, whom he felt corrupted society. Nobody was safe from his sharp words even the most respected figures of the time are made to look foolish.

In his play the great Greek Philosopher and teacher Socrates is portrayed as a mad man who has an evil influence on the young people of Athens.

He wrote The Frogs in 405 BCE.

Frogs, or The Frogs is one of Aristophanes’ greatest comedies and is justly celebrated for its wit and keen commentary on Athenian politics and society. It is the last surviving work of Old Comedy and is thus also notable for heralding a passing era of literature. While it is a comedy, it is also a trenchant political satire and expresses Aristophanes’ views on Athenian democracy and the value of poetry.


Born in 450 BCE

Died in 385 BCE

Age at death 65



The Acharnians

The Knights

The Clouds

The Wasps

The Peace

The Birds



The Frogs



Source: Who wrote What When? Reference Book

My old article:

 Aristophanes, Vashistha and the Frog Song in the Rig Veda ……

राजेंद्र गुप्ता Rajendra Gupta has left a new comment on your post “Aristophanes, Vashistha and the Frog Song in the R…”







Aeschylus was one of the greatest playwrights of ancient Greece. He is sometimes called the Father of Tragedy because he is said to have invented it as a form of theatre.

Little is known about Aeschylus’s life because he lived so long ago. Historians think that he was born at Eleusis near Athens. He made several trips to Sicily in Italy during his life time, and it is thought that he died there.

Aeschylus fought in two of the most famous battles of ancient history; the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE and the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. Both were desperate struggles in which the democratic Greek city-states defeated armies of powerful Persian empire, which was trying to conquer them.  experience of these events can be seen in his vivid writing about war and suffering.


in Aeschylus’ a time the theatre was an important of community life. Regular play writing competitions were held and the winners were highly regarded. Aeschylus first entered one of these competitions in 472 BCE with his lay The Persians, and he won first prize. Over the course of his career, Aeschylus is thought to have written more than 80 plays, 52 of which won first prizes. Unfortunately, only seven of them survived.

Aeschylus’s plays have strong political messages. he used myths or old stories to make moral points about the events that he saw going on around him. They were so powerfully written that they are still performed today, almost 2500 years later!

Born in 524 BCE

Died in 456 BCE

Age at death: 68


The Persians

Seven against Thebes

The Suppliants

Promethus Bound

Oresteia consisting of 3 plays:


The Libation Bearers




Why do Hindus worship Grammar every day? (Post No.3814)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 13 APRIL 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 10-12 am


Post No. 3814


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.





Hindus are the strangest people in the world. Every day they worship sandals (shoes), sun and moon, Tulsi and Bilva leaves, several flowers and trees, cow and elephant, stones and metals (statues and idols), umpteen gods and innumerable symbols including Om and Swastika. In short they worship earth and all its occupants and stars and planets above the earth. This means they see God in everything. Since they have been doing it for 3500 years continuously according to Max Muller and 6500 years continuously according to Herman Jacobi and B.G.Tilak, I consider the Hindus ‘living fossils’.


But if one worships even prosody and grammar, numbers and mathematics for 6000 years until today they must be the most advanced civilization and most intelligent people on earth.

Five Years ago, I wrote an article in this blog with 41 points in 41 paragraphs under the title:

Brahmins deserve an entry in to Guinness Book of Records”; posted on 26 January 2012


in which I mentioned the following as one of the points:

G for Grammar: When we do the Gayatri  Japa we do touch our nose and say Gayathri (24 syllables) , Ushnik (28), Anushtub (32), Bruhathi (36), Pankthi (40), Trustub (44), jagathi  (48 syllables)–all these are Vedic meters. Grammar for writing poetry-prosody. Who in the world use grammar (prosody) terms for worship? Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of Records for using Grammar in our daily rituals?

Brahmins do Sandhavandana three times a day: before sunrise, noon and after sunset. They do worship Vedic Gods in the prayer. Just before doing the most important Gayatri mantra they touch their nose and say Gayatri, Ushnik,Anushtubh, Brhti, Panti, Trshtubh, Jagati.


These are the Vedic metres, part of prosody (the study of versification, especially, the systematic study of metrical structure). Vedic Hindus paid so much attention to it and stressed its importance by including it into every day rituals. They studied sounds and its rhythm and patters. Vedic Hindus classified it in an order; we can see a pattern, arithmetic pattern in it. Lot of research is required to study them scientifically. Since Aitareya Brahmana says,


“He who wishes for long life, should use two verses in Ushnih metre; for Ushnih is life. He who having such a knowledge uses two Ushihs arrives at his full age (100 years).


“He who desires heaven should use tow Anushtubhs. There are 64 syllables in two Anushtubhs. Each of these three worlds (Earth, Air and Sky= Bhur Bhuva Suvah) contains 21 places, one rising above the other (just as the steps of a ladder). By 21 steps he ascends to each of these worlds severally; by taking the 64th step he stands firm in the celestial world. He who having such a knowledge uses two Anushtubhs gains a footing (in the celestial world).

“He who desires strength should use two Trishtubhs. Trishtubh is strength, vigour and sharpens of senses. He who knowing this, uses two Trishtubhs, becomes vigorous, endowed with sharp senses and strong.

He who desires cattle should use two Jagatis. Cattle are Jagati like. He who knowing this uses two Jagatis, becomes rich in cattle”.

GAYATRI METRE (or Meter)=24

Three times 8 syllables

This is the most sacred one and it is the proper metre for Agni (Fire God).


It has got 28 syllables

This is the symbol of life; anyone needs longevity use this.

ANUSHTUBH = 32 Syllables

It is the symbol of celestial world

Those who wish to go to heaven should use this.


BRIHATI = 36 Syllables

This metre is used to attain fame

PANKTI = 40 syllables

Five times 8

This is also used to get wealth.



It expresses the idea of strength and royal power

This is the proper metre to invoke Indra

Kshatriyas use it to get strength and power.

Four times 11 syllables


JAGATI= 48 syllables

Anyone who wishes for wealth, cattle wealth must use it.


(Viraj = 30 syllables; It helps one to get food and satisfaction.)


Why did Vedic Hindus attribute certain qualities to each metre?

Why did they arrange them in a particular (number) pattern?

Is there a scientific basis for it?

Has any one studied the Vedas form this angle?

Are they just symbolic way of saying something else?

(Number five is used to denote five senses; 64 used to denote 64 arts; Cattle and elephant are used as symbols of five senses)


We must do more research in these metres and its claims of longevity, fame, strength etc.

Dance and Music

Max Muller says, “The metres were originally connected with dancing and music. The names for metre in general confirm this. Chandas, metre, denotes stepping, vritta, metre from vrit, to turn, meant originally the last three or four steps of a dancing movement, to turn, the versus which determined the whole character of a dance and of a metre. Trishtubh means three steps”.


Griffith says, “The Hymns are composed in various metres, some of which are exceedingly simple and others comparatively complex and elaborate, and two or more different etres are frequently found in the same hymn, for instance in Book 1 shows nine distinct varieties in the same number of verses”.

More research with all the scientific instruments will prove how advanced were the Vedic Hindus in the science of sound and music.

They were highly civilized, far ahead of the known ancient civilizations.


Source Book:

An Account of the Vedas with Numerous Extracts from The Rig Veda by J Murdoch.


Drama, Puppet Show, Folk Theatre in Tamil and Sanskrit Literature (Post No.3608)


Research article written by London swaminathan


Date: 5 FEBRUARY 2017


Time uploaded in London:-  15-52


Post No. 3608



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.





Literary references in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature show that the people of India had wonderful entertainment for at least 3000 years continuously. We have references to drama, folk theatre and puppet show from Bhagavad Gita to Tamil saint Manikkavasagar’s Tiruvasagam. Though Bharata’s Natyasastra is about dance and drama, it is interesting to see similes of dance and drama from the olden days.


Following are the references: –

iisvarah sarvabhuutaanaam hrddase’rjuna tisthati

bhraamayan  sarvabhuutaani yantraaruudhaani maayayaa _Bhagavad Gita 18-61)

Arjuna, God abides in the hearts of all creatures, causing them to revolve according to their karma by His illusive power as if they were mounted on a machine.


I think this is a reference to Puppet show. Puppeteers mount the puppets on a wheel or a circular disc and show them dance. In Indian puppet show the operator sits behind a white curtain on which the shadow of the puppets are projected from behind the screen.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say Ami Yantram and You are Yantri (I am a machine, You (god) are the operator.



Adi Sankara in his Viveka Chudamani, says

yatsatyabhutam nijarupamadhyam


tadetya mithyaavapurutsrujeta

sailuushavadveshamupssttamaatmanah (292)


That which is real and one’s own primeval Essence, that Knowledge and Bliss Absolute, the One without a second, which is beyond form and activity – attaining That, one should cease to identify with one’s false bodies like an actor giving up his assumed mask.


When the actor has played his part, he is simply a man. So the man of realization is one with Brahman, his real Essence.

false bodies: The gross, subtle and casual bodies, which are super impositions upon the Atman.

(Translation of Vevekachudamani by Swami Madhvananda, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta)


Sangam Tamil Literature

In Purananuru verse 29, Mudukannan Sattanar says, “Oh King, our life is like dance drama where the actors come and dance and go. (The life is so impermanent)”


Tiruvalluvar, author of the Tamil Veda Tirukkural refers to the drama in three couplets:-


“Fortune coming to one and its departure are likened to the assembling of a crowd to witness a drama and its dispersal respectively” (332)


“The men who do not possess sensitiveness to shame in their hearts are like the wooden dolls operated by strings (puppets)” (`1020)


“The great cool world will be  moving like a lifeless puppet show if none asks for help” (1058)

In later Tamil and Sanskrit literature, we have lots of similes for puppets shows.


Manikkavasagar’s Tiruvasagam

Tamil saint Manikkavasagar who lived 1500 years ago also used the Sanskrit word Nataka (drama) in three places:

In the Tirusatakam song of Tiruvasagam, he refers to drama in three places (verses 11, 15 and 99)

In verse 11, he sings about the dance of Siva n the crematorium with the ghosts.


Amidst your devotees, I acted like one of them

to gain entrance (to get leberated) –15


and in 99

Thou Whom the lords of heaven themselves know not!

Thy source and end the Vedas cannot trae!

Thou Whom in every land men fail to know

As Thou hast sweetly made me Thine hast called

This flesh to dance on stage of earth

me to enjoy Thyself with melting soul

in mystic drama , too, hast caused to move

pining on earth, Thou Lord of Magic power.


Of virtue void, of penitential grace

devoid, undisciplined, untaught

As leathern puppet danced about, giddy,

I whirling fell, lay prostrate there!


(Souce: The Tiruvacagam by Rev. G U pope, Oxford, 1900)



Buddha says in Dhammapada (147), “Consider this body! A painter puppet with jointed limbs, sometimes suffering and covered with ulcers,full of imaginings, never permanent, forever changing.(147)



Last but not the least is Shakespeare whose quotation on world as a drama theatre has become a very popular quote:-


All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

–As You Like It



Drama and Puppet show were so popular that even Krishna and Buddha used them as similes.

Every town had a drama or puppet show on Hindu religious them during the local temple festival. It continued until recent days.

Most of the drama quotations are from religious sources which show the nature of the puppet shows and dramas.

Even before Shakespeare made this theme popular, Hindus used it to show the instability and impermanence of life and its pleasures.

World is a drama theatre and we all players!







Nature’s Orchestra in the Forest: Sanskrit Tamil Poets’ Chorus (Post No. 3489)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 27 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:-  13-05


Post No.3489



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.






The amazing thing about India is it was the largest country in the world 2000 years ago. Invaders like Alxander, Genghis khan wetn from one end to the other part of the world and plundered the wealth of the countries they invaded. Before they returned to their starting points, whatever they “conqurered” broke into pieces. But Bharat was united for long time, though there were so called “56 Desas” (countries or Kingdoms). The second amazing thing about the olden days is that all the Tamil and Sanskrit poets followed the same customs in such a vast space. There was no internet or mobile phone or fast transport and yet they did it!


Kalidasa sings about nature’s orchestra in Meghaduta, Raghuvamsa and Kumara sambhava. Tamil poets Kapilar and Kamban echoed it in their verses.


Kapilar lived in age nearer to Kalidasa. He was the Sangam period poet who contributed the highest number of poems. He and Kalidasa sang about the flute music that originated in the bamboo forest. The holes made by the beetles in the bamboos produced music when the wind passed through its holes. Whenever the clouds made thunderous noise it served as the drum beats. Moreover, it echoed through the caves in the mountains.


When there are rainy clouds with rolling thunderous sound naturally the peacocks begin to dance. The forest is full of noises from deer, frogs and song birds. This kindled the imagination of the poets to sing beautiful verses. Sudraka, author of the Sanskrit Drama Mrcha katika (The Clay Cart) also used such imagery.


Let us look at the verses from Kalidasa:


“Who by filling the holes of the bamboos with wind breathed from the mouths of the caves, appears as if he wishes to play an accompaniment to the Kinnaras, singing in high pitch”–Kumarasambhava 1-8


And in the Meghaduta, Kalidasa addresses the Cloud Messenger (megha duta):

“The wind breathing through the hollow bamboos makes sweet music

woodland nymphs sing with passion-filled voices

of the victory over the Triple City (Tri pura);

If your thunder rumbles in the glens like a drum

would not the ensemble then be complete

for the Dance-Drama of the Lord of Beings?


the same thing is repeated in the Raghu vamsa (2-12 and 4-73)


While Dilipa is on his way he heard the hum and thrum of nature that seemed to be the full score singing of georgic deities to the accompaniment of high-pitched fluty bamboos while the air is filling their holes like a flutist, and he is all ears for that symphony as if it is having the sonata form of his glory. [2-12]

The soft breeze causing murmuring rustle in the leavers of birch trees and melodious sounds in bamboo trees, and surcharged with the coolness of the sprays of River ganga has adored Raghu on his way. [4-73]

Tamil Poets Love of Nature


Kapila, the Brahmin poet of Sangam age, sang the highest number of verses in the Sangam literature. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and must have mastered Kalidasa who lived just a few hundred years before Kapila. When a Northern King by name Brhat Dutta ridiculed Tamil he called him, and taught Tamil and made him to compose verses in Tamil. His poems were also included in the Tamil Sangam literature. To impress upon Brhat Dutta, Kapilar composed a poem Kurinji Pattu. It is nearly an imitation of Kalidasa. Kapila must have used Sanskrit to teach him Tamil


In the Akananuru verse 82, Kapilar used the bamboo flute music imagery of Kalidasa. But it has more than what Kalidasa said; here is a rough translation of the Tamil verse:-

“Beetles made holes in the bamboo trees; the wind blowing through the holes produced sweet music; on the other side the water falls made big noise by rolling the big stones; deer made noise; the humming of the bees came from another direction. Hearing this the peacocks danced and the monkeys were the audience! For the poet Kapilar it was like an orchestra with wind sound as flute, water falls as drums, deer cry as a musical instrument, humming of the beetles as lute and the peacock as bard’s wife and monkeys as the fans.

Kamban who composed Ramayana in Tamil, also has a similar scene in the Kishkinda Kanda. He describes the rainy season beautifully:

Humming of the beetles sounded like lute; the thundering clouds were like the playing of drums; peacocks looked like the girls with bangles in their arms. Red colour Kanthal flowers looked like the lamps on the stage. Karuvilam flowers looked like the eyes of the onlookers.

It is very interesting to compare both Tamil and Sanskrit literature and see the same similes, same messages and same approach in both of them




Classical Indian Dance Vs Dance in the West (Post No.3306)

Compiled  by London Swaminathan


Date: 31 October 2016


Time uploaded in London: 6-05 AM


Post No.3306


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks to Facebook friends.



Following is the superficial comparison of classical dance in the East and the West by Arthur Miles




“In the West the dissociation of art and the Church has left a chasm which neither can bridge. Whatever lofty idealism it is always judged as alone, and is never linked with a spiritual thought which might have inspired it.


In the East art and devotion are one and the same, it would be impossible for the West to make the dance other than theatrical, for the restlessness of cities demands amusement and diversion, and seeks to achieve forgetfulness in spectacular thrill. When Eastern dances are taken to the West it is for the sake of novelty and amusement, and consequently at once a false note is struck. The authenticity of the dance is lost; Indian dancing being essentially a rite, a symbol of the race spirit.


The dance has been one of the chief forms of religious expression in India since the beginning of her history. The earliest Vedic scripture mentions the divine singers, the dancing nymphs, and the players of musical instruments, and chants to the various gods were accompanied by dancing. Siva was the first dancer, and his the dance of creation, the ecstasy of motion, the preservation and destruction of cosmic energy.


Krishna danced and played his flute, while women, overcome by his music and his dancing, left home and husband to follow him. Lakshmi, the Hindu Venus, the goddess who was born from a lotus and the consort of Vishnu, was the dancer of heaven. Arrayed with anklets and bells she won the acclaim of the heavenly court and taught the apsaras (the heavenly nymphs) to dance. The eight energies were the saktis of Indra’s court, before they degenerated into the disgusting spectacles they are to-day.


The early Hindus spiritualized their emotions. Everything emanated from one divine source, namely from God. In ancient India dancing and music were supposed to regulate the emotions, to winnow from them any chaff which did not originate in the spiritual idea.


Brahma, the creator, entered into divine meditation and brought forth the arts of music, dancing, and drama. His nayaka (dancing master) had a character without blemish, and only people who were without ty and clean of mind were permitted to witness the dance.


Emotions in Dance

The emotions were classified as sringara, the sex emotion, which lies at the heart of creation; vir, heroism; karuna, compassion; adbhuta, wonder: hasya, laughter; bhayankara; bibhatsa, the grotesque; raudra, the terrible;shanti,peace; dasya, devotion; sakhya, friendship; vatsalya, paternal feeling; madhura, romance.  And all these have their symbols in the dance.


Kama, the Indian Eros, represents awakening and desire, and his is the dance of spring, the dance of love. In his dance he uses five arrows to pierce the five senses.


The dance of Durga signifies the mother aspect, and is the harvest dance, the dance of fulfilment. An old Indian legend relates that when the saint Rishabha Deva saw a dance per formed by Nilanjasa, a woman dancer in the service of the god Indra, he lost all desire for the world and retired to Kailasa (Siva’s heaven) to meditate upon eternal bliss.


Sri Chaitanya, a famous dancer of the sixteenth century, used to go about singing hymns in the praise of Krishna, and, continually thinking of the god, he was moved to execute some of the most beautiful dances the East has ever seen. Many who witnessed his performance became his pupils and devotees.

Tandava and Lasya


Dancing is divided into two types, known as Tandava and Lasya. Tandava is the expression of intense excitement and characterizes cosmic activity, divine and heroic. The conquest of evil and the attainment of bliss are moods of the Tandava. The prekshani mood of Tandava is a movement of the limbs without facial expression, and might be compared to the Noh dance of Japan, which is an Eastern adaptation of the masque dance of early Greece. Siva expresses himself in the Tandava of which his dance of joy, his evening dance, his dance to slay evil and ignorance, his dances with his two consorts, Uma and Gauri and his dance of death in the burning ground, signifying the soul’s release from illusion, are all phases.


The dance of Kali (one of Siva’s wives), the slayer of demons with garlands of skulls and death dealing weapons, also belongs to the Tandava, as does the dance of Krishna which expresses ecstatic and supreme joy.


Lasya is the mood of desire, and in this movement the expression is amorous and the gestures inviting. It is the dance of the woman before her lover.


The buffoon dance has its place in Hindu ritual, and is called the rudushaka

The dance Macabre is known as the bhringi, and Siva’s skeleton attendant dances it in the burning-ground. Hindu art, having originated with the gods, was taught to mortals by the rishis. The attainment of spiritual power is associated with certain postures of the body capable invoking inner vision, and Yoga was the growth of the early dance rituals.


The Nautch dance and the Manipuri dance of Bengal have been influenced by the Moghul and later schools. In these dances more attention is paid to the stepping of the measure than to the hand and arm gestures. The Indians are the only dancers who can be graceful on the flat of the foot, and so flexible are their feet, they convey the impression of dancing on the toes. The costume of the Nautch has taken on something of Western influence, the skirt being very wide and sewn with glittering spangles. Transparent veils are waved to create an effect.

Snake Dance and Peacock Dance


The Ajanta dance has toe movement, and in this it differs from most of the dances in India. It is the dance usually copied by Western devotees, and the dance of attraction is favourite phase of it. This movement seeks to disturb meditations of Lord Buddha, and betray him to the emotions. There are puzzling contrasts in the Ajanta, which are intended to portray good and evil. There is much head movement, and the arms are waved and folded in a series of gestures. Inspired by the Hindu dances and Western ideas, the Indians have evolved a new style of dancing. There is a snake dance, a peacock dance, a sword dance, and many others. In the peacock dance, which I watched in Bengal, powder was spread on the floor and the dancer, when her dance was finished, had traced the movements of the peacock in the powder. This dance entirely depends upon the movement, and lacks the expression or the of the classical dance.


In South India alone have the original dances been preserved. The temple dance of the Devadasi is seen in the south, and watching it might be attending the Dionysia of Greece, when the whole country was in a state of sanctity, under taboo, or in the grip of heroic drama. We see Clytemnestra waiting to slay Agamemnon as he returns from Troy; the hate of Medea and the slaying of her children; the love of Phedra and Hippolytos. We see the vestal virgins tending their god – worshipping him, singing to him, dancing for delight. We see the pure, natural dance of joy, with its roots in the ritual; the only dance that in the true meaning of the word can be called classic.


The ancient people knew that before you could perform a rite, something must be actually done. You could not content yourself in merely thinking about anything. Here they called on the law of magic, and perhaps it is a law, one the fundamental laws of the universe. We however have allowed it to become the weapon of charlatans.


All ancient religions were founded upon such a law –namely on formula, chants, and cadence; as might we say, on an enchantment produced by voice and sounds. There was not enough faith behind the desire for rain to make corn to grow, or to cause the soul to pass from the body. Accordingly, the fall of the rain, the sowing of the seed, the soul’s release all had to be danced. The mind required to be impressed by the movement of the body, in the same way that to-day the mind is impressed by prayers and services.


The ancient people worked themselves up with pantomime, as we work ourselves up with prayers and poetry. Their war dance and hunting dance stood in the place of our prayers. They occurred before the event, when something was desired, and again when something was finished or fulfilled.


The dances were performed at fixed times, until they became rites, and were closely associated in the mind with the object for which they came into being. The corn dance was associated with corn, the rain dance with rain, and one was seen in terms of the other. We must not forget that if our own forms are more practical, they are nevertheless ritual; for it is across the bridge of ritual we must pass to religion, science, art, or anything that needs a formula.


Adivasi dance in the Nilgris, South India

The ecstasy and triumph in Siva’s dance of creation were founded, no doubt, upon an expression of pure joy which had nothing to do with pleasure. The dance of pleasure came later. More and more sensuality entered into the dance with each succeeding generation, until it became the dance of lust, the present ………. sakta.


The cessation of the Hindu dances (with the exception of the Sakta) would be a great loss to art. The ……. words of some of the songs could be changed without weakening the stories they tell”.





Deva Dasis: Dancing Girls of Hindu Temples (Post No.3189)


Compiled by London swaminathan

Date: 25 September 2016

Time uploaded in London:19-58

Post No.3189

Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


Following is an excerpt from the book- “The Land of the Lingam” by Arthur Miles, 1933


“Dasis, or Deva-dasis (handmaidens of the gods), are dancing girls attached to the temples. They have their own caste, which has its own customs, councils and laws of inheritance. Dasis, dedicated to the temple, are married to the god or to a sword and receive their marriage badge.


There are two divisions of the dasis: the Valangai, or right hand, and the Idangai, or left hand. The former will have nothing to do with artisans, and refuse to dance in their houses; the latter is not so particular. Neither division however, will sell themselves to men of the lowest castes. In the Oriya country the dasi caste is not connected with the temples in any way, and its girls neither marry the god nor receive the marriage badge.


Indian music is perhaps the oldest in the world, and the Dasi caste is the repository for much of it.


Dancing girls sometimes amass considerable fortunes, which frequently they devote to piety or to something which will commemorate their caste endian bridges and other public works frequently owe their existence to these girls, and the large tank at Channaraya patna in Mysore state was built by two dancing girls.


Girls are usually presented to the caste between six and eight years of age, and after formal investigations have been made the parents of the girl must pay the expenses of the ceremony and present something to the temple. If the girl is accepted she is taken to the inner sanctuary of the temple where she sits facing the deity. The priest then makes the fire and performs the marriage ceremony. A mimic marriage, representing Siva marrying Parvati, sometimes precedes the girl’s marriage to the god. After the marriage the girl is taken to her father’s house, where her marriage is celebrated for two or three days. A coconut is rolled back and forth between the bride and the elderly dasi dressed in male attire to act the part of the bridegroom.


The home of the dancing girl is the only place in India where the birth of a male child is not an occasion for rejoicing. Three boys born to the dancing girls sometimes remain in the caste as musicians, playing for the women to dance. Daughters are brought up to follow the profession, and are taught dancing, singing, and the arts of dressing and make-up.


Too old to dance

When a dancing woman becomes too old, or too diseased, for the profession she applies to the temple for permission to remove her ear rings. After she has formally handed over her ornaments which are returned to her, she becomes an old mother and is supposed to lead a life of retirement. She may still receive a small income from the temple to which she was dedicated.

When a priest dies, the dancing girl whom he married vicariously prepares the turmeric powder which is dusted over his corpse. She also observes the anniversaries of his death. It is said that in former times dancing girls, at the commencement of their career, used to sleep three nights in the inner shrine of Koppeswara temple in the Godavari district, so as to be embraced by god.


Dancing Girls of Conjeeevaram Temples

At the beginning of the last century there were a hundred dancing girls attached to the temple at Conjeeevaram.


About three years ago I arranged to have a group of girls’ dance at the temple in Conjeevaram, the temple of Ekambara Swami, the god of a single garment. They danced in the hall of a hundred pillars, a fine old structure in the temple courtyard. They were dressed in gaudy saris, with as much jewellery as their frail little bodies could support. Their necks, breasts, hips, arms, fingers, ankles, and toes were fairly plastered with jewels, most of which were imitation.  Their faces were heavily painted, and their eyes were touched up with kohol. Old hags and several ragged musicians accompanied them, and the former no doubts had been nautch girls once. The hags’ mouths were stained with betel and they talked rapidly to the dancers in highly pitched, unpleasant voices.


The girls danced slowly, rhythmically, swaying their bodies from side to side and dislocating their necks. The hags, meanwhile uttered a series of grunts, in time with the music.  A girl, who could not have been more than twelve years old, knelt before me, making the erotic gestures and singing a filthy Tamil song. When she finished the song she stood up, the others joined her, and the dance became very excited. The musicians put down their instruments, and one old hag took up a conch shell and blew in it. The wail of the shell seemed to madden the girls, and they started a wild song which left little to the imagination.

As I watched and listened, I could feel modernity slip away – back to the days hidden behind centuries.”


My comments

The author has criticised Hindu customs through his book and he had lot of factual errors. His understanding of Hindu religion was not good.

In the very first page of his book he has written, “Siva’s symbols are the lingam and the yoni. The cow, usually wrought in bronze, is placed in the temple before the altar. The cow represents Maya (illusion).”

Dance has become a sacred art now as we had it in the days of Bharata, who wrote the sacred treatise in Sanskrit 2000 years ago.

Raja Raja Choza had 400 dancing girls around the Big Temple in Thanjavur 1000 years ago. Their house numbers and their beautiful Tamil and Sanskrit names are inscribed on stone. Many Tamil inscriptions reveal that they have made donations to temples in cash and kind.




Hare Krishna Rath Yatra, 17th July 2016: Best Pictures of Chariot Festival (Post No.3012)


Compiled by London Swaminathan

Date:27 July 2016

Post No. 3012

Time uploaded in London :–  21-37

( Pictures are taken by London swaminathan)




(for old articles go to OR



Annual Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival of Iskcon) was held on 17th July 2016 in Central London. Like previous years, thousands of people gathered in Central London. Three Chariots started from Hyde Park and finished in Trafalgar Square. Through out the route thousands and thousands had the darshan of the three chariots. Tourists were amazed to see such a thing in central London. They took lot of pictures and selfies with the chariots, devotees and onlookers.


Hare Krishna devotes prostrated before the Rathas on the roads. Food was distributed to thousands of people at the finishing place. Throughout the route Bhagavad Gita and other books were distributed for a token donation. Devotees from other European cities also took part in it. Senior White and Black devotees were sitting on the Ratha at the foot of Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra.

Dancing and singing added colour to the Rath Yatra. Several Bhajan groups were singing the name of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. Even white women came in sarees. It was a colourful show. Children also joined their parents by walk and riding on their shoulders. I saw a few pregnant devotees and women with children in Prams.


Though twenty other Tamil Temples also conduct Chariot Festivals every summer, they use the local routes around their temples. Hare Krishna people are the only devotees allowed in Central London. Their discipline is well known. Very few police were visible. Crowd control and traffic control were done efficiently by the volunteers. It was an enjoyable day for the devotees and the tourists.


Though I have posted lot of pictures on face book, I have selected some good pictures and post here.




































Namaskar to all devotees.


India- Land of Fine and Noble Manners: Edwin Arnold, Year 1886 (Post No 2731)

nautchee women

Written by london swaminathan

Date: 16 April, 2016


Post No. 2731


Time uploaded in London :–20-06

( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 




(for old articles go to OR


“On the evening of our visit to the city of Poona and to the sacred hill of Parvati, we were invited to a nautch dance at the house of an old people and most esteemed friend, Mr Dorabji Pudumji.


It is the custom on festive occasions to illuminate the gardens and house fronts with numberless oil lamps set on pyramidal stands, or suspended in the trees. A flood of light, therefore, welcomes the guest on arrival, and he passes into spacious apartments equally bright, with candles in brass buttis, or handsome glass chandeliers.  There is nowhere greater grace or cordiality of greeting than among the educated families of India; but, in truth, this is the land of fine and noble manners, and from the cultivated Parsee and Mohammedan friends to the peasant and the peon, the Western traveller may receive, if he will, perpetual lessons of good breeding.

I day 2015

The ladies of old friend’s family were ranged round the large central room in dresses of light gauzy muslins or silks delicately embroidered, and dyed with all the loveliest tints imaginable, rose colour predominating. The effect was like a garden of beautiful flowers. The gentlemen wore black coats and hats of the well-known Parsee fashion, with trousers of crimson or white. In the centre of the apartment sat the two nautch girls, Wazil -Bukshs, a Mohammedan, and Krishnaa, a Hindu, both amazingly arrayed in I skirts of scarlet and gold, with saris of bright hue, plentifully spangled, tight gilded trousers, and anklets of silver and gold bells, which make a soft tinkling of  at every movement of soft brown feet. Behind them stand their three musicians, one playing the sarangi, a sort of violin,  the other the tamboora, a deep sounding kind of violoncello, and the third provided with a bass and treble drum tied round his waist  on an ornamented scarf. The girls rose to their feet, salammed, and one of them began a slow pas, advancing and retreating with a rhythmical  waving of hands and measured beat of foot, which the other dancer then repeated.


Next followed a song, or a series of songs, delivered in high head notes, and principally of an amatory character.

“My beloved is absent, and by day there is no sun in the sky, no moon for me at night! But he is coming, ek hath Khali – with one hand empty – yet in that he carries me back my heart.”


Then Krishnaa sang the “Taza ba Taza”, the musicians advancing and retreating with her tinkling paces, leaning over the absorbed performer, and seeming in the intensity of their accompaniment to nurse the singing and draw it forth note by note.


After this the Muslim girl and her Hindu sister executed together a famous dance called the “Kurrar”, which consists of a series of character pictures. They placed coquettish little caps of spangled velvet on their black hair, and acted first of all the Indian jeune amorexux, adjusting his turban, stroking his moustache and pencilling his eyebrows. The it was Govinda, one corner of the sari twisted up to represent the bansula, on which the light hearted god  piped to the shepherdess, and  Radha listening and singing. Next to the same never ending  rise and fall of the amorous  music – Wazil Bhukshs became a love-sick maiden  in the jungle, picking up blossoms to fasten in her hair, and Krishnaa followed, enacting a serpent charmer. Playing on the beaded gourd that snake  music which brings the hooded cobra forth from his deepest hole, she swayed her lithe body  over the imaginary reptile, chanting the notes of dreamy, bewildering, beguiling song;  bent herself over the half entranced snake, coaxing him with out long , low, weird passages of wild melody , until the charm have supposed to have  triumphed, the serpent was bewildered and captured; whereupon Krishna rose to her feet, and drawing the glittering fringe  of her sari over forehead, expanding it with both hands, so as to resemble a cobra’s hood , she finished with the snake-dance, amid cries of “shabash” (well done)! Which were acknowledged with deep salaams.

We were favoured after this, with special request, with the Holi and Wasanta songs, albeit not of the season; for Hindu singing is always more or less religious, and there are certain of these melodies set apart for the time of  year, and for the daylight and others which must never be given except after the hour of midnight. When the first portion was concluded  the mistress of the house hung “hars” or garlands, of sweet scented blossoms on  the necks and the writs of the nautch dancers, since it is always the custom to honour them in this way before any  other guests. Nor does anybody slight or abuse these Deva dasas, or servants of the god, though their profession is perfectly understood


South Indian Devadasis

In southern India the Nautchee is married solemnly to a dagger, by a ceremony called ‘shej’, and lives afterwards as a Bhavin, dedicated to the temple and dance.  But because so many of them can read, write and in fact are the cleverest and most accomplished, as well as the most generous of their sex, the Hindus have come to shudder at the idea of education for their wives, and this is one of the greatest obstacles  to female instruction. When they rested and munched their betel leaf, a skilful player from Canara discoursed singular passages upon an eight stringed sitar, accompanied by a boy on tamboora; and afterwards followed sweetmeats, and attar of roses, whereupon some of us had had enough, and we made adieux. The natives will, however, sit out the whole nights, listening to such music, and watching the soft movements of the Nautchees, which are the more interesting, of course,  the better they are comprehended.”

Source : India Revisited by Edwin Arnold, 1886