Note to Myself
- VP Dhananjayan
March 15, 2023
'Note to Myself' is a YouTube portal produced by Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA) directed and produced by Savita Narasimhan with large international viewership. If you have not seen this, I recommend everyone to see and get to know musicians and dancers through their own self note.
During the pandemic - between 2020 and 2022 - every artiste engaged themselves in creative endeavours. Some were blown big and some blown out of proportion. Some got good attention among the art connoisseurs and some went obscure, swept under the carpet.
The two major ventures Bharata Kalanjali launched during the vacuum period, I should confess did not get much attention or exposure, even though they were on air for international online viewing. The local audience was least bothered to know what was brewing in Bharata Kalanjali. We also could not explore the possibilities of putting up stage performances for the discerning connoisseur audience of Chennai with adequate publicity.
In any case, the artiste fraternity is seldom seen in the auditorium with few exceptional personalities who make regular beeline to the Sabhas. The Sabhas also do not make an attempt to explore what kind of creativity or new productions are brewing in the institutions dedicated to classical performing arts. They have to be informed and pestered to present the performance, of course with no performance fee. The artiste or the art institutions have to bear all production costs and performing expenses. This adverse situation demoralizes the creative artistes or performer not to venture into new productions which involves good amount of money. In spite of this discouraging attitude of the local Sabhas, Bharata Kalanjali boldly undertook to create a few out of the box themes bringing fresh breeze into the naatya idiom. Overdrawn sringara laden varnams and padams needed a break. So I chose philosophical and moralistic themes to break the monotony with all essential ingredients for educative, elevating and entertaining aspects. Storytelling with 'abhinaya' nuances, intricate, communicating and engaging 'nritya' passages to embellish the viewing pleasure for both the knowledgeable and uninitiated Rasika. These two major items in place of the usual varnam are unusual and interestingly choreographed.
"Mukti perum vazhi" - The path to salvation is to get rid of the 'shatripu' or the six enemies of the human mind.
Knowing the traits of the ordinary human mind, one should try to get rid of them from an early age. Right kind of moral education would certainly help in cleansing the mind. Naatya, being a visual medium of education, that which lead us to Bhakti maarga (path of devotion), should be used to communicate this philosophy through creative ideas.
Therefore we try to achieve that goal through this new Nrityopahaaram "Arupagai agatral" (expel six enemies) composition in place of the main repertoire in a Bharatanaatyam performance. The lyrics are in simple chaste Tamizh penned by Nirmala Nagarajan of Kalakshetra, tuned by Dr. Vanathi Raghuraman, and the swaras (musical notes) composed by Shanta Dhananjayan and the special Jathis and Naatya composition by yours truly. We did not use the usual format of 'varnam' pattern, but used the 'jathis' as communicative expressive narration of certain ideas taken from the Puranas, Panchatantra and contemporary incidents.
RAAGAMAALIKA & TAALAMAALIKA
Stanza 1: The best way to get salvation is to get rid of the six enemies:
(1) Kaama (lust), (2) Krodha (anger), (3) Moha (greed), (4) Lobha (stinginess), (5) Mada (arrogance) and (6) Maatsarya (jealousy).
1. KAAMAM (lust) - Raagam: Kaamavardhini (Panthuvaraali), Taalam: Aadi
Indra, the king of Devas, had to live in shame due to his lustful approach to Ahalya.
2: KRODHAM (quick temper) - Raagam: Kannada, Taalam: Misra vilomam
Panchatantra story of mongoose and the snake. The outraged woman of the house kills her pet mongoose suspecting it of harming her child.
3. MOHAM (greed & hoarding of wealth) - Raagam: Rathipathipriya, Taalam: Samkeerna chaapu
People amass wealth not realising the shameful life of convict in jail or losing all instantly or on sudden death.
4. LOBHAM (The miserly, stingy) - Raagam: Kunthalavaraali, Taalam: Khanta chaapu
A stingy uncharitable merchant became saintly Purandaradaasa overnight - incident of his wife's nose ring brought by a brahmin.
5. MADAM (arrogance) - Raagam: Mukhaari, Taalam: Tisram
An arrogant student disrespectful of his teacher or Guru meets his doom in no time.
6. MAATSARYAM (jealousy) - Raagam: Vaagadheeswari, Taalam: Aadi chaturasram
A professional jealous of another one (can be anyone, leave it to the Rasika's imagination) loses cool and lives in misery always.
NRITHYOPAHAARAM ON AMMA (Mother)
Composed during September/October 2020
Lyrics/Poem composed by V.P. Dhananjayan in Malayalam
Music composition by Babu Parameswaran (USA)
Choreography by V.P. Dhananjayan
(Dancers Divya Shivasundar, Uttia Barua & Sivadas Rajan)
RAAGAMAALIKA - AADI TAALAM
Slokam: Reethigowla, "Yaadevi sarvabhooteshu..."
"Devi or Maatha Parashakti, who lives in all beings is seen in the form of Amma or mother who gives us birth. Respect and prostrate before her and surrender to her as the Mother Goddess".
Pallavi: Raagam Reethigowla, taalam Aadi
There are no beings who do not utter the name 'Amma' whether humans or animals.
Always recite this word as the 'manthram' or chant.
(Sanchaari: Animal or human utter the word 'maa' on birth)
Anupallavi (1): Raagam Amritavarshini
If we (men & women) first chant this word, this expulses all miseries and sins.
(Sanchaari: Bow or think of your mother before commissioning any work. Story of Dhruva who was denied permission to sit on his father's lap. He takes the blessing of his mother Suneethi before doing Tapas on Mahavishnu. Mission was fulfilled.)
Anupallavi (2): Raagam Abheri
There is no parallel to Amma except the mother earth who has the ultimate patience, who bears all atrocities we commit on earth. She patiently bears the discomforts of ten months pregnancy like the mother earth.
(Sanchaari: Story of Punyakoti - a folktale of a mother cow ready to sacrifice her life to save her calf from the clutches of a tiger)
Chittaswaram: Raagam Nalinakaanthi
Amma adorns her baby with all ornaments and cosmetics; without fatigue or burden she carries her babies and gives protection like eyelids to eyeballs. She always appears as the embodiment of compassion.
Charanam (1): Raagam Reethigowla
There is no God or Goddess beyond your own mother in this world. No need to go to temples and rivers to wash your sins off if one serves one's own mother.
Charanam (2): Raagam Parameswari (created by sitar maestro Pt.Ravishankar)
Amma is the name we should meditate upon always and the Goddess we should worship.
Charanam (3): Raagam Neelaambari
She feeds with her breast milk, rocks the cradle singing lullaby to put the baby to sleep and carries the baby until it is grown up and walks.
Charanam (4): Raagam Dwijavanthi
Whenever we commit a mistake or are in distress, we call out for Amma and she is there to console you with pleasing words. She is selfless and expects nothing but just a hug or kiss from her children.
Charanam (5): Raagam Sree
The proverbial words "Mother's advice may be bitter first, later palatable and sweet like Amla fruit (gooseberry)" should verbatim bear her in mind, speech and intellectually. Amma appears calm and cool with a compassionate look and expels our sorrows. Therefore, worship her sincerely and keep her happy always. That is the ultimate duty of a human.
(The special features of the composition are the teermaanams start with "Tha, Dhi, Thom, Nam" syllables and for nritta compositions each korvai whether it is Jathi or swara confined to one particular nritta hasta only).
Nrittaangahaaram: Raagam Madhyamaavathi, Aadi taalam
Music & Choreography by Shanta Dhananjayan
Tamizh Saahityam on Nataraja by Sivadas Rajan
Danced by Uttia Barua, Sivadas Rajan & Divya Shivasundar
These new additions to Bharatanaatyam repertoire is seen in the Bharata Kalanjali website / Instagram / Facebook
Interested professionals could approach Bharata Kalanjali to learn the composition in person or buy the music and make their own choreography.
For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guru VP Dhananjayan is the director of Bharata Kalanjali, Chennai.
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