Odissi Impresses Japanese PM  
Text & Photos © Thakur Paramjit 

May 18, 2005 

The recent visit of Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, was significant in more ways than one.  Apart from political and other aspects, it was significant from a cultural angle also as he was quite impressed by an Indian classical dance form. 

A special recital of Odissi dance was performed by Masako Ono before the Prime Minister and a very select gathering of prominent persons from different fields at Taj, Delhi.  Koizumi enjoyed the dance recital and after it was finished he admiringly said, "Wow! The hand movements of Indian classical dance are just amazing." 

Masako performed Shiva Panchakshari.   Also known as Mool Mantra, the Panchakshra devotes five sacred words - Na, Ma, Shi, Va, Ya.  Adi Shankaracharya composed Shiva Panchakshra stotra, which reads as: 

Stotra 1: 
Nagendra Haaraaya Thrilochanaaya 
Bhasmaanga Raagaaya Maheshvaraaya 
Nityaaya Suddhaaya Digambaraaya 
Tasmai Nakaaraaya Namah Shivaaya 

I offer my humble salutations to Lord Maheshvara - who has a garland of serpents around the neck; who has three eyes; whose body is covered with ash (vibhuti); who is eternal; who is pure; who has the entire sky as His garb and who is embodied as the first letter Na.  

Stotra 3: 
Shivaaya Gauri Vadana Aravinda  
Sooryaaya Dakshaadhvara Naashakaaya 
Sree Neelakantaaya Vrisha Dhvajaaya 
Tasmai Shikaaraaya Namah Shivaaya  

I offer my salutations to Lord Shiva, who is the resplendent sun for mother Gauri's lotus face, who is the destroyer of Daksha's sacrificial ritual, who is the blue necked Lord (due to Halahal, the poison, which he consumed to save deities), whose banner bears the emblem of a bull and who is embodied as the letter Shi. 
Shivling is worshipped while reciting the stotra and offering bilva leaves. 

While conversing with the Prime Minister, Masako put forward the difficulties being faced by her in getting scholarship for her artistic pursuits, "I have been learning Indian classical dance, but I am not able to get sponsorship from Indian organizations because I am Japanese. Japanese organizations don't help me because I am not advertising Japanese culture. Now, I have come to the point where I could do a multicultural choreography. For example, I have recently choreographed a dance piece on Haiku. I would like to do such an experimental work in the future, and I need support for that." 

Japan has a rich cultural tradition.  So, impressing the prime minister of such a country with an Indian classical dance carries its own significance.  Usually foreigners are more conversant with Bharatanatyam, but sculptural poses and rhythmic flow of body and hands in Odissi carries its own charm. Koizumi's appreciative remarks speak a lot about the effect an adept dancer can create. 

Thakur Paramjit is a writer/photographer based in Chandigarh. He is a regular contributor to He can be contacted on his mobile: +91-94172-10101.