Homage to Krishna 
- Padma Jayaraj, Thrissur 
e-mail: padmajayaraj@gmail.com 
January 26, 2008 

Nrityanjali is a Mumbai based institute that envisions to bring the young to the many expressions of Indian culture and tradition. The artistes of Nrityanjli came all the way to the Krishna temple in Guruvayoor, Kerala, to pay homage to lord Krishna. Lata Rajesh, the founder of the institute has strong roots in Kerala and her ishta-devata is Krishna. Lata has choreographed Narayaneeyam, the story of Krishna by the famous Sanskrit poet Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri. At the end of the year it is time to pay the tribute. The group of around 25 dancers performed in Guruvayoor at the temple premises.  

Narayaneeyam is held in great reverence in Kerala. So, Lata and her troupe found themselves performing at various venues. In these days of money-centered activities, here is a humble artist who upholds human values. She took her students to perform at Hermitage, for its senior citizens. Her homage to Krishna evolved in her homage to her home state. At a time when TV viewers are besieged by reality shows, the traditional piece both in content and form was refreshingly welcome.  
Narayaneeyam is a treatise placed very high in Sanskrit literature which summarizes not only the narrative of Bhagavata, but also its philosophical and devotional teachings. The author of this great text, Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri was a Kerala Brahmin. A great devotee of lord Krishna, his work Narayaneeyam is dedicated to Krishna, the deity of the temple in Guruvayoor. The great work, a compilation of 1036 verses in various Sanskrit meters, deals with the glories of Narayana, the Supreme Being who is the ayanam, the final resting place of all jeevas and naras. The master piece of Melpatthoor is a hymn of rare devotional fervor.  
Nrityanjli offers a tribute to this immortal piece. The Sanskrit verses reverberated; ever charming stories of Krishna - his bala leela and rasa leela enchanted the audience creating a mood of love and devotion for the ever-loved Krishna. In traditional Bharatanatyam format the performance started with Mallari and Shri vignarajan bhaje... 

Going to the very beginning, the recital begins with Krishna avatharam, focusing on its purpose, destroyer of the evil: Poothana Moksham, Kaliya Mardhanam, the event of Govardhanam, Kamsa Vadhom, Draupathi Vasthrakshepam and its inevitable catastrophe are the milestones in Krishna's heroism. Yet, the human aspect of Krishna's life is its endearing part.  
The dance recital, of one hour and thirty minutes, has dramatic elements and visual treats. Chorus is effectively used to convey the moods of Nature - rain, wind and stormy waves; the moods of people - work, joy, surprise and anger. Tableaux are visual spectacles that punctuate the performance.  Krishna grows up in the enchanting environs of Gokul; charms the youth in Brindavan; fulfills his mission in Mathura; plays his role in the war of Mahabharata; becomes a deity remembered and revered to this day.  
The dramatization of the loving tale of Krishna's friendship with Kuchela needs special mention. The childhood spent together in the wilderness at the home of their guru is tenderly cast. The recital ended with a thillana showing devotees thronging the temple in Guruvayoor to pay homage, like the artistes who have come all the way from Mumbai. 

Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to narthaki.com