An ode to the Reclining Lord

Pavitra Bhat   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Pavitra Bhat is always on his feet — dancing at various national and international venues, training and getting trained, driven by a deep-rooted passion for Bharatanatyam. The recent grand premier of his new venture ‘Shri Ranga — The Reclining Lord’ at Swatantrya Veer Savarkar auditorium drew a full house.

The solo presentation was from the point of view of a devotee who comes to Srirangam to have a darshan of Ranganatha. He bathes in the holy Cauvery to sanctify his body and mind. The Kaveri Prarthana with swaravalis describing the scenic beauty and fertility of the river set the tone. In sequel was the Vedic chanting from Narayana Upanishad by pilgrims, whom the devotee joins in his spiritual sojourn.

‘Sudaroli parandana’ from Divya Prabandham implores the Lord to wake up. The moon is setting and stars are fading and the sun, as bright as the Sudarshan Chakra, is rising. Then followed the pasuram “Pachhai maa malai pol meni,” dedicated to Ranganatha.

Geometric movements

The devotee meets Garuda who extols Vishnu. The energetic Garuda Kauthuvam with novel geometric movements and formations received approbation. Pasuram “Kuda disai mudi vaithu” posed many questions. To the West is Sesha Sayana’s curly haired head; to the East are his lotus feet; his huge back is towards North. Why is his countenance towards South facing Lanka?

The famous Rangapuravihara was deployed from the Anupallavi ‘Angada Janaka Deva,’ with a Trikala Jati in Rupakam. The story woven through the sancharis was about the Ranganatha idol. An exclusive idol is given by Vishnu himself to Sun God, from the Sun clan to Dasaratha, worshipped by Rama and gifted by Rama to Vibheeshana with the diktat to carry it to Lanka for installation, without putting it down. A deva disguised as a cowherd offers to hold the idol while Vibheeshana performs his Sandhyavandanam but puts it down, and the idol gets fixed, never to be moved. Vibheeshana laments and to soothe him Rama says the deity’s eyes will be fixed on Lanka. That’s why Ranganatha’s face is turned towards South, bestowing his benign gaze on Lanka.

In the pallavi after the charanam there was ample scope for nritta with the devotee-dancer entering the temple through the many gopurams. The temple procession using the majestic mallari format and the lyrics of Ramanujar on consort Ranganayaki celebrated the consecration.

In ‘Vadinen’, the devotee having imbibed the Ashtakshara mantram wants to merge with the Lord. A brief tillana incorporated elements of phala shruti, Ranganathashtam with sahityam venerating Ranga as Kamaladwaja, Trailokyaraja and so on. The pre-recorded music, special effects and suitable lighting added to the research, concept, choreography and performance by Pavitra Bhat.

The dancer had sourced guidance from various cities for this production: concept: Dr. Malati Agneeswaran, Mumbai, music score: Dr. S. Vasudevan, Delhi, and Garuda Kauthuvam: Ramachandra Murlidharan, Chennai, special effects: D.V. Prasannakumar and recording with Chennai orchestra (Nattuvangam by D.V. Prasannakumar, vocal by G. Srikant, percussion by Haribabu and N.P. Kesavan, flute by Shrutisagar and violin by K.P. Nandini).

“The reclining form of Lord Vishnu has always attracted me since boyhood. My recent visit to the temple and hearing the sthala purana inspired me further and this production happened,” says Bhat.

The prolonged standing ovation at the end of the program summed it all up.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 4:26:15 PM |

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