Gadugina Bharatha in Bharatanatya margam
- Radhika Shetty, Mangalore
Photos: Vasanth Rao, Mayura Studio, Mangalore

January 24, 2012

Karnata Bharatha Katha Manjari, also known as Gadugina Bharatha or Kumaravyasa Bharatha is one among the three versions of Mahabharatha written in Kannada language by Gadugina Veeranarayanappa. It is a noted work in Kannada literature for its sophisticated metaphors.  It is still studied in colleges and sung in a unique technique called Gamaka.

Through the presentation titled Kumaravyasa Nrithya Bharatha held on 18th Dec 2011 in Mangalore, Bhramari Shivaprakash tried to explore the possibility of presenting the unique, less known, but exciting scenes from the Mahabharatha story using the classical Bharatanatyam margam format. The recital was inaugurated by Bhramari’s guru Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy. Bhramari conceptualized and choreographed the two hour presentation. It was a first of its kind to present this spiritual work in the margam format. The lines from a particular sandhi or chapter were carefully chosen to fit into the Pushpanjali, Swarajathi, Shabdam, Padavarnam, Javali, Padams, Thillana and Mangalam.

The Pushpanjali, called as Mangalacharane was an offering to Gadugina Veeranarayanaswami in Raagamalike, khanda chapu taala. The Swarajathi was to depict the omnipotence of Lord Krishna who plays a major role in Mahabharatha. This was in Raagamalike set to roopaka taala.  The Shabdam, in Raagamalike and mishrachapu taala, depicted the childhood pranks of Bheema and Duryodhana. This also showed how Bheema single handedly fought against all the pranks of the Kauravas. The pranks even take the form of life threatening moments, like Bheema being bit by poisonous snakes and fed with poisonous meals. But with good fate, Bheema survives all such threats.

The Padavarnam, center piece of any Bharatanatyam recital, showed the demoness, kind hearted Hidimbi’s attraction and love for Bheema. The depiction narrated how Hidimbi united with the Supreme soul through romantic moments. Hidimbi was an abhisarika nayika in this Padavarnam set to aadi taala and Rasikapriya raaga. The Javali showcased Keechaka's possessive evil attraction towards Draupadi in King Virata's court. The lyrics were lively and expressive in Mohanakalyani raga and Taalamalike.
The first Padam highlighted the Vishwaroopadarshana of Lord Krishna. When Krishna was sent for sandhana (negotiation), Duryodhana refused to give an inch of land and tried to tie him up. To teach him a lesson, Krishna showed the Vishwaroopa to all the devotees in the court including Dritharashtra, except Duryodhana. This challenged Duryodhana not to surrender but to fight with Krishna's devotees (Pandavas) and obtain the ultimate salvation. Duryodhana is seen as arrogant but hidden in him is an ardent devotee of the supreme, Lord Vishnu. This was in Raagamalike and Taalamalike.

The second Padam of the evening, titled Gandhariya Vilapa described the scene from Kurukshetra after she loses all her children in the battle. She finds it hard to accept the situation. She knows that the Kauravas were at fault, and is jealous of the Pandavas. Ultimately she finds bliss in surrendering to Lord Krishna who is the mastermind behind this drama of life. This was set to aadi taala and Vaasanthi raaga. The Thillana depicted Dharmaraya's Pattabhisheka (coronation) in raaga Bilahari, mishrachapu thala. Mangalam for the evening was an ode to this holy scripture. 

It was indeed a good effort by Bhramari in interpreting the scripture and translating it into the Bharatanatyam idiom. The music composition and vocal support for this presentation was by Ramesh Chadaga (Bangalore). The other musicians were Manohar Rao (Mangalore) on the mridangam, and from Udipi, Pavana Rajendra on the nattuvangam, Dr. Balakrishna on the flute and Sharmila K Rao on the violin. An added attraction was singing of the text of a particular piece before the presentation in the Gamaka format by the well known Gamaka artiste Chandrashekara H Kedilaya from Udipi.

Radhika Shetty is a Bharatanatyam performer based in Mangalore.