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by Suprava Mishra, Rajkot
Jan 2002

The universal but unique phenomenon known as dance springs from man's innermost creative impulses, religious urges, emotions and sensibilities. The aesthetic foundations of this Indian art form are laid on the rock foundations of spiritual sadhana or rigorous discipline leading to moksha or liberation. Aesthetics as a branch of philosophy enquires into the ultimate cause and source of dance and its emotional content and significance as a thing of beauty and joy forever. Dance manifested through rhythmic movements is sensuous, but the experience of ananda (bliss) in it is transcendental and spiritual. In Indian aesthetic rasa (mood) or flavor, as the cause of ananda (bliss), is central and fundamental. It is also the essence of beauty and harmony. The ultimate Reality, or Brahman, both in its impersonal aspects, is Sachidanda (sat, chit, ananda) that is Existence Consciousness - Bliss absolute. Ananda (bliss) and Rasa (sentiment) are two aspects of the same Reality. Therefore God is Rasa as well.

Dance is a composite art, enfolding in its range several other fine arts as well, of course music goes with dance, dance has also in it the elements of sculpture, poetry and drama. In one sense it may be said to be a complete art, a comprehensive art. Dance represents a beautiful synthesis of many other art forms. Different arts, independent in their own way, actually have a common ground of the same blissful aesthetic experience. This aesthetic thread of Rasa or bliss is the basic concept, which runs through and combines all art forms into one manifestation and experience of the beautiful and blissful.

Thus they play the dual role of beneficiary and benefactor to one another and in the process enriches others and themselves. The dancer and the spectator share this common bliss and ecstatic experience. Indian classical dance pre-supposes a dancer and an audience both well oriented, initiated and cultivated so as to be possessed of the same aesthetic sensibilities forming an emotional bridge, an aesthetic rapport between the two. It is a kind of participation in an inner spiritual vision and enlightenment. This common sharing transforms a dance recital into a holy recital, a spiritual interaction or communication.

The rasa realized and experienced both by the performer and the viewer remains the same impersonal and objective entity. It is an art concealing art, totally impersonal, objective, traditional, deliberate, and elaborate in technique and appeal. It breaks a new ground of perception, opens entirely a new vision of Reality. We all as human beings desire deeply to be released from the prison of our ego, to experience that state of being which is blissful, the condition of oneness and togetherness with the universal spirit. Dance recitals help us to regain that lost heaven of unity and oneness.

The constituent elements of the state of rasa or bliss are vibhava (cause of emotion), anubhava (effect of emotion) and sanchari or vyabhichari bhava (subordinate emotions). These in proper combination transform the sthai bhava (primary emotion) into rasa or bliss. Sthai bhava are corresponding to the nine rasas or sentiments - sringar (love), vira (heroism), bibhatsa (disgust), raudra (anger), hasya (mirth), bhayanaka (terror), karuna (pity), adbhuta (wonder), shanta (tranquility). In regard to the evocation of rasa in the context of dancing, Nandikeswar wrote,

"Jato hasta stato drusti jato drusti stato mana:
jato mana stato bhavo jato bhava stato rasa:"
It means 'For wherever the hand moves, there the glances follow, where the glances go, the mind follows, where the mind goes, the mood follows, where the mood goes, there is the flavor (rasa).'

The enjoyment of rasa, in its universalized state with the help of dance, liberates a person however temporarily from the bonds of I-ness and My-ness. This state signifies release from the slavery of the senses and mind, a state of bliss and peace and liberation from the limitations of the phenomenal world.

From all the nine rasas, sringar rasa is the main rasa. It is written in Upanishad and also in general we can see that pure love is very much essential in human's life. This sringar rasa also originates from the enjoyment of pure love. According to Dhananjaya, the writer of Dasarupaka, sringar rasa is of three types.

1. Ayoga sringar: -
In this type of sringar the lovers have a deep attraction towards each other but they cannot unite due to some obstruction - it may be due to their parents or some heavenly reasons. For example in Kalidas's "Malavika Agnimitra" the love between Malavika & Agnimitra is ayoga sringar because Malavika is merely a dancer in the king Agnimitra's kingdom.

2. Bipra Prayog Sringar: -
This is the stage of the lovers after they have met each other once. It is again of two types,
Pravasrupa Viyog
Manarupa Viyog

In pravasrupa viyog, the hero is not home, he has gone outside the country due to some reason. So the heroine is in the state of viraha, she is waiting for her hero to come back very anxiously. Like the wife of Yakhaya in Kalidas's 'Meghadoot'.

In manarupa Viyog, the heroine is angry with her hero because he has been attracted to another woman. Her anger is due to jealousy. It is described in the Jaydev's Geeta-Govinda "Yahee Madhava Yahee Kesava ma bada kaitava bada". It means Radha was angry with Shrikrishna and told him to go away from her place. This is due to jealousy since Krishna had spent the night with Chandravali before he came to meet Radha.

3. Sambhog Sringar: -
Here the lovers are involved in making love with each other, like in Jaydev's Geeta-Govinda, the sambhog sringar between Shrikrishna and Radha. The description is "Sakhihe kesimathan Mudaram". Radha is narrating to her sakhi how she has enjoyed the sringar with Shrikrishna.

From world history, we can also see that the story of Laila-Majnu, Hir-Ranja, Shakespeare's drama Romeo - Juliet, all are based on the union or separation of lovers, the pure love which are all based on sringar rasa. Here I have tried to establish the sringar rasa in Odissi dance through Sanskrit text like Jaydev's Geeta Govinda, Kalidas's Meghdoot, Malavika -Agnimitra, Bhartuhari's Sringar Satak etc. On stage with the famous lasya bhangi of Odissi, we can establish the sringar rasa. We can perform solo as well as dance dramas in accordance with these Sanskrit texts. In this way we can popularize this dance form because, man all around the world, by nature, is attracted by Sringar Rasa. So it is the best method to popularize the dance form of Odissi through the display of sringar rasa in the dance drama form or the solo dance form by using Sanskrit literature, so more people will get involved in this dance form. Odissi is also a very soft dance and there is vast scope of abhinayas in this dance form where a dancer can express oneself and explain to the audience the concept of sringar rasa. Here I would like to take some Sanskrit literature as follows to explain above concept.

(1) Jayadev's Shri Geeta Govinda: -
"Ratisukhasare gatamabhisare madan manohara besam,
na kuru nitambini gaman bilambini manusarat hridayesam (1)
Dhirasamire yamunatire basati bane banamali,
Pinapayodhara parisaramardana chanchala karayugasali (2)

Here, the sakhi is narrating to Radha that Shrikrishna is in a hilarious mood sitting on the bank of the river Jamuna waiting for her. His heart is full of love for Radha. So the sakhi is requesting Radha to go to Krishna without any delay, decorating herself as abhisarika nayika.

(2) Kalidas's Meghadootam: -
I will briefly describe here regarding Meghdoot of the great poet Kalidas. In Meghdoot, he describes the sorrowful condition of Yakhaya who lives in Ramgiri Mountain separated from his wife who is in Alkapuri. He was the servant of Kuber in Alkapuri and due to some mistake committed by him, Kuber cursed him and sent him to Ramagiri. He passed eight months there and when the rainy season set in, he was totally upset. He was thinking about his wife when he saw the cloud in the sky. He was so blind and so immersed with his love that he assumed the cloud as a person and tried to send the message to his lover who was in Alkapuri through the cloud.

Haste lilakamalake balakundanubidhei
Meeta lodhraprasavarajasa pandutamanane shree:
Chudapase nabkuradake charu karne shirisham
Simante cha twadupagamajam yatra nipam badhunam(1)
Tanwi shyama shikharadasana pakwabimbadharosthi
Madhye khyama chakitahariniprekhyana nimnanabhi:
Shronibharadalasagamana stokanamra stanabhyam
Ya tatra syadubatibipaye srustiradyeba dhatu:(2)
Aloke te nipatati pura sa balibyakula ba
Matsyadrusyam virahatanu ba bhavagamyam likhanti
Pruchanti ba madhurabachanam sarikaam panjarasyam
Kachidbhartu: smarasi rasike twam hi tasya priyeti (3)
Utsange ba malinabasane somya nikhipta veena
Madrotranka birachitapadam geyamudratukama
Tanwimadra nayanasalileye: sarayetwa kathancheet
Drayo bhuya: swamapi kruta murchanam bismaranti (4)
Shyamaswanga chakitahariniprekhyane drustipatam
Baktrachaya sasine shikhinam bahirbharesu kesan
Utpashami pratanusu nadibichisu bhrubilasa
Hantekasminkachidapi na te chandi sadrushyamasti (5)

In the first shloka the poet describes how the lover of Yakhaya is decorating herself with different flowers and the second shloka describes her beauty. Her body is compared with branches of the tree and her eyes with those of the deer. Yakhaya was narrating to the cloud how she was feeling without him. In the condition of separation i.e. viraha she may be asking the parrot whether her lover remembers her or not. She may be playing the veena whose strings are wet with her tears. Her hair is compared with the peacock's feathers. So all these descriptions establish viraha vinod. Sringar rasa can be communicated to the audience very well with condition of separation i.e. Viraha than the condition of union. The eagerness to meet his priya has compelled Yakhaya to compare nature with her beauty and also send the message to her through the cloud. So onstage we can establish sringar rasa with the help of anubhavas and sancharibhavas in Odissi dance form.

(3) Bhartuhari's Sringar Satak: -
Smitena bhabena cha lajjaya bhiya
Bachobhirisyarkalahen lilaya
Samastabhabeye: khalu bandhanam striya: (1)
Bhruchaturyatkuchhitakhya: katakhya:
Snigdha bacho lajjaitantaswa hasa:
Leelamandam prasthitam cha sthitam cha
Strinametabhusanam chayudham cha (2)
Kimkandarpa saram kadarthayasi re kodandatankaritam
Re re kokila komalam kalaraba kim ba brutha jalpasi
Mugdhe snigdhabidagdhacharumadhureyelolete:katakhyaralam
Chetashumbitachandrachudacharanadhyanamrutam bartate (3)
Kim gaten yadi sa na Jivati
Praneti priyatama tathapi kim
Ityadikhya nabameghamalikam
Na pryati pathika: swamandiram (4)

From Bhartuhari's Sringar Satak I have taken the stanza where there is a description of the features of a woman, which she uses as her weapon as well as her ornament to attract her male counter part. In the next stanza there is description of vairagya where the poet describes about Madan, Kokila and with this sancharibhava establishes sringar rasa. In the last stanza the man who is living alone in a distant place without his wife does not return home thinking that if she really loves him, she cannot live without him. Is she does live, then she cannot be his true lover. So this is vairagya, the ultimate realization of sringar rasa. We can also show this through abhinaya in Odissi dance.

(4) Kalidas's Malvika Agnimitra: -
Dirghakhyam saradindukanti badanam bahu natabasayo:
Sankhiptam nibidonnatastanasura: parswe pramruste iba
Madhya: Panimitonmitam cha jaghanam padorbarilanguli
Chhando nartituryatheiba manasi slistam tathasya: bapu (1)
Durlabha: priyo me tasmin bhaba hrudaya nirasam
Aho apangako me prasphurati kimapi bamaka:
Esa sa chiradrusta: kathamupanetabyo
Natha mam paradhinam twai ganaya Satrusnam.(2)

In this I have taken some shlokas from Kalidas's drama Malavika Agnimitra. Here Agnimitra was the king and Malavika was just a dancer but the king shows his love towards her and the king's two queens Dharini and Iravati stood as obstruction between their love. This is how story goes. Here is the description of 'Ayog Bipralambha Sringar'. For Malavika who is a mere dancer it is just impossible to get the love of the king. Here I have taken first shlokas where there is description of Malavika's beauty and in second shlokas, Malavika singing and dancing in the king's darbar showing her love towards the king and also mentioning that it is impossible to get the love of the king using the word 'Durlabha Priya '.


In this 21st century at the advent of globalization the whole world is becoming one crossing all national barriers. So to know each other's culture is very much essential at this age. Dance is a very powerful media through which one can express the cultural heritage of the country and here I have chosen the sringar rasa, which means pure love as my mode of expression. Since love is immortal and the inner need of human beings we can see its presence in any literature like in Greece, Egypt, Rome and all around the world. In my view it is an event to establish Odissi dance as an International dance form so we can universalize this dance form through the concept of Sringar rasa by choreographing the literature of different cultures. So in this process we all can bind in this one platform of dance and feel united.

Suprava Mishra is the director of Aum Arts Dance Academy in Rajkot, Gujarat.

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