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.

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

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).

USHNIH = 28

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.

 

TRISHTUBH=44

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.

-Subham–

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

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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.

 

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

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.

 

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Adi Sankara in his Viveka Chudamani, says

yatsatyabhutam nijarupamadhyam

chiddhayanandamaruupamakriyam

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.

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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!

-643

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

 

Dhammapada

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)

 

513e7-dance2bvaranasi252c2bvasanta2bpanchami

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

 770d1-dance2bof2bsix

Conclusion

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!

 

–Subham–

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

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

xxx

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?

xxx

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

–Subham–

 

 

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

 

Source:
THE LAND OF THE LINGAM 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.

kudalur-adivadi-women

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”.

 

xxx

 

 

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

deva-dasi-1

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.

pondicherry1836

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.

kumbakonam-devadasis

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.

 

–Subham–

 

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)

 

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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.

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Namaskar to all devotees.

–Subham–

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

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“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

 

–Subham–

The Ideal Dancer: Kalidasa (Post No.2724)

padmini

Written by london swaminathan

Date: 14 April, 2016

 

Post No. 2724

 

Time uploaded in London :– 16-15

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_Vyjayanthimala (10)

“Her eyes are large and lustrous; her face makes the autumn pale with envy; her arms slope away gracefully from her shoulders; her toes are finely moulded and prominent; she is in short the brightest creation of a Divine Artist, in the golden hours of his imagination.

 

“her motions are free and flowing; her hands and feet keep time most accurately; her action is light, easy and natural; she expresses the unspoken  workings of her heart through her limbs that seem to have sentiments imprinted upon them, as it were. She loses herself in the character and its emotions. She represents them so skilfully as to deceive us into the conviction that she pours out her own heart and its workings. The beholders are, for the time, taken out of themselves and live and move and feel with her and follow her joys and griefs, her hopes and aspirations, her despair and darkness”.

Malavikagnimitra (2-6) by Poet Kalidasa

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nataraja, golden, fb

Dance of Shiva- Symbolism in Dance

“The story is given in the Koyil Purana, and is familiar to all the Saivites. Siva appeared in disguise amongst a congregation of ten thousand stages and in the course of disputation, confuted them and so angered them, thereby, that they endeavoured by  incantations to destroy Him. A fierce tiger was created in sacrificial flames and rushed upon Him, but smiling gently, He seized it with His sacred hands, and with the nail of His little finger stripped off its skin, which he wrapped about as it had been a silken cloth. Undiscouraged by failure, the sages renewed their offerings, and there was produced a monstrous serpent, which he seized and wreathed about his neck.  Then he began to dance; but there rushed upon him a last monster in the shape of a dwarf. Upon him the god pressed the tip of his foot, and broke the creature’s back, so that it writhed upon the ground; and so his last foe prostrate, Siva resumed the dance of which the gods were the witnesses.

 

One interpretation of this legend explains that he wraps about him as a garment, the tiger fury of human passion; the guile and malice of mankind.  He wears a necklace, and beneath his feet is for ever crushed the embodiment of evil

siva in poses

More characteristic is the thought of symbolism, in terms of the marvellous grace and rhythm of Indian dancing, the effortless ease with which the god in his grace supports the cosmos; it is his sport.  The five acts of creation, preservation, destruction, embodiment and gracious release are his ceaseless mystic dance.  In sacred Tillai, the ‘New Jerusalem’, the dance shall be revealed; and Tillai is the very centre of the universe, that is, his dance is within the cosmos and the soul”.

nataraj

–Ananda Coomaraswamy

Rare book on 30 Devadasis of Tamil Nadu (Post No.2614)

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Research Article written by london swaminathan

Date:  9 March, 2016

 

Post No. 2614

 

Time uploaded in London :–  19-21

 

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thiyagarajakoil

 

I came across a very rare TAMIL book on Rudrakanikas or Devadasis of the Tamil Speaking World. It was written by Anjukam of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka in 1911. I consider this book not only rare but also valuable for future researchers. Devadasis were women dedicated to temples and they devoted their full time to dance and sing at the temple. It is part of daily worship. Dance and music are part of honours offered to God every day. Nowadays devotees do this.

 

There are no books written by Devadasis available now. Miss Anjukam also belongs to the community of Rudrakanikas alias Devadasis. She collected details from Tamil literature starting from Tamil Epics Silappadikaram and Manimegalai to the modern day. Her mother Kamalambikai was also a Rudrakanika serving a Siva temple in Colombo.

 

Old women writers are not recognised. They are completely ignored by the male dominated literary world. I come across a new woman writer every week at the British Library who found no place in the later Tamil writings. Tamils knew only KarIkal Ammaiyar, Andal and Avvaiyar and the later writers were not listed.

 

Rig Veda, the oldest religious book in the world mentioned at least 20 poetesses. Sangam Tamil literature which came 1500 years after the Vedas also had the poems of over 20 poetesses. Several souvenirs released by the popular Tamil magazines and World Tamil Conferences forgot to mention the contribution of 19th and 20th century women writers. Lot of novels and poems were written by them.

 

Anjukam is one of those forgotten writers. She was bold enough to write about a subject which no one else would dare to touch. She was well versed in Saivite literature and knew very well about the Devadasi system that existed in Shiva temples of ancient Tamil Nadu. Anjukam has consulted Saivite scholars and took references from 45 Tamil works. RAJARAJAN, one of the greatest Choza Kings, inscribed the beautiful names of all the 400 Devadasis employed by him n the Big Temple in Thanjavur.

 

Anjukam had collected the profile of 30 temple or Royal dancers and had written in a high style. Stories of Madhavi and Manimegalai are known to many Tamils . She had collected more names who were famous in the regions where they lived. She divided them into two groups of good and bad women. Epic woman Madhavi earned a bad name because she lived with a married man Kovalan. Paravai, wife of the Saivite Saint Sundaramurthy Nayanar and others lead a decent life.

aazhi-ther

 

Several Unknown stories or locally known stories in the book are very interesting to read. One of them is the story of Kondiammal of Tiruvarur. She was a devoted dancing girl attached to the famous Shiva temple there. Tiruvarur chariot (Ther) is one of the biggest chariots in Tamil Nadu. During the Panguni Uttaram festival it will be pulled like the chariots of Puri Jagannath. During Chola period the chariot festival day was celebrated on a grand scale. During one year they met with a problem. In spite of the efforts of thousands of devotees assembled there the chariot did not budge even an inch. The king tried all the tricks but it did not work. He went to bed with the worries and he had a strange dream. God told him that If he called the dancer Kondiammal to honour the god with chowries (Whisk, bushy tail of a Yak) then the chariot would move. As soon as he woke up in the morning, he sent for Kondiammal and she was brought to the chariot with all the Royal honours. She willingly came forward to do the job ordered by the king,  but put a few conditions to the King. The conditions were that she should be cremated on the banks of River Kaveri after her death. She also asked the king to erect one Ganesh temple at every mile from her house to the river banks. Choza king not only accepted her conditions, but also executed them faithfully after her death. Thus Devadasi Kondiammal left her memories for posterity.

 

Short life story the following Devadasis are found in Anjukam’s book:-

 

Anajanakshi, Abirami, Abishekavalli, Amporsilambi, Arunagirinathar’s mother, Kuththaal, Kondiammal, Shanmukavadivu, Chintamaniratnam, Silambi, Sirkazik Kanikai, Somi, Njanavalli, Tiruvaranai Panneerayiravar, Tiruvarunaik kanikai,Paravaiyar, Punkotai, Ponnanaiyar,Manimegalai,Madanasundari, Madanabishekam,Manonmani, Manikkavalli, Her daughter, Manikka Nachiyar, Madhavi, Mananthai, Mohanangi, Vilasavathy, Vellaiyammal, Kamatchi, Kamalambikai, Santhanavalli and Anjukam.

 

–Subham-

What is Dance, Drama?-1 (Post No. 2459)

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COMPILED LONDON SWAMINATHAN

 

Date: 4 January 2016

 

Post No. 2459

 

Time uploaded in London :–  9-52 AM

 

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natyasastra

“In it (Natya) there is no exclusive representation of you or of the gods; for drama is a representation of the state (Bhaavaanikiirtana) of the three worlds.

 

In it sometimes there is a reference to duty, sometimes to game, sometimes to money, sometimes to peace, and sometimes laughter is found in it, sometimes fight, sometimes love making and sometimes killing of people.

 

This teaches duty to those bent on doing their duty, love to those eager for its fulfilment and it chastises those who are ill-bred or unruly, promotes self-restraint, in those who are disciplined, gives courage to cowards, energy to heroic persons, enlightens men of poor intellect and gives wisdom to the learned.

 

This gives diversions to kings, and firmness (of mind) to persons afflicted with sorrow, and (hints of acquiring) money to those who are for earning it, and it brings composure to persons agitated in mind.

 

The drama as I have devised it, is a mimicry of actions and conducts of people, which is rich in various emotions, and which depicts different situations. This will relate to actions of men good, bad and indifferent, and will give courage, amusement and happiness as well as counsel to them all.

 

The drama will thus be instructive to all, through actions and States (Bhaava) depicted in it, and through Sentiments arising out of it.

 

It will give relief to unlucky persons who are afflicted with sorrow and grief or over work, and will be conducive to observance of duty (dharma) as well as to fame, long life, intellect and general good, and will educate people.

 

There is no wise maxim, no learning, no rt or craft, no device, no action that is not found in the drama (natya)

 

Hence I have devised the drama in which meet all the departments of knowledge, different arts and various actions.so (O daityas) you should not have any anger towards the gods;for a mimicry of the world with its Seven Divisions (Sapta Dvipa) has been made a rule of, in the drama.

 

Stories taken out of Vedic works as well as semi historical tales (Itihasa) so embellished that they are, capable of giving pleasure, is called drama (natya).

 

A mimicry of the exploits of gods, Asuras, kings as well as house-holders in this world, is called drama.

 

An when human nature with its joys and sorrows, is depicted by means of Representation through Gestures, and the like (Words, Costume and Temperament) it is called Drama”.

 

—Bharata’s Natya Sastra (200 BCE)

abhinava darpana

What is Drama?-2

“Brahma explains to the Daanavaas:-

This play is not merely for your pleasure or the pleasure of the Devas, but exhibits mood (bhava) for all the Three Worlds. I made this play as following the movement f the world, whether in work or play, profit, peace, laughter, battle, lust or slaughter; yielding the fruit of righteousness to those who follow the moral law, pleasure to those who follow lust, a restraint for the unruly, a discipline for the followers of a rule, creating vigour in the impotent, zeal in warriors, wisdom in the ignorant, learning in scholars, sport to kings, endurance to the sorrow-smitten, profit to those who seek advantage, courage to the broken-willed; replete with diverse moods (Bhaavas), informed with the varying passions of the soul, linked to the deeds of all mankind, the best, the middling, and the low, affording excellent counsel, pastime, weal and all else.

This drama shall be the source of all counsel in matters of flavour (rasa), mood (Bhaava), and every rite; it shall serve as a timely resting-place for those who are grieved, weary, unhappy, or engaged in an arduous discipline; bestowing righteousness, renowned, long life, fortune, increase of reason; affording counsel to the world. That which is not found to be herein in not knowledge, nor craft, nor wisdom, nor any art, nor deeds, nor Union (yoga).

 

I made this drama according to the Seven Lands, and so you should not feel resentment towards the immortals. The drama is to be understood as witnessing the deeds of gods and Titans, kings of the sphere, and Brahma-prophets. Drama is that which accords with the nature (Svabhaava) of the world, with its weal and woe, and it consists in movements of the body and other arts of expressive gesture (Abhinaya). The theatre is such as to afford a means of entertainment in the world, and a place of audience for the Vedas, for philosophy, for history and other matters.

 

He adds that no performance should be begun without fulfilling the Office of the Stage (Ranga-Puja), and those that neglect this ritual will be ruined”.

Abhinaya Darpana

 

FROM THE BOOK ‘ASIA THROUGH ASIAN EYES’, YEAR 1959,SOAS,UNIVERSITY OF LONDON LIBRARY

 

–Subham–