Metaphysics in Natya Dance

Reciting this prayer for knowledge

‘Om Sri Gurubhyo Namaha’ — This invocation to the Guru is intended to be singular but is projected as plural. It represents a Parampara or an unbroken chain of Gurus, up to Bharatamuni. It is the teaching tradition, exclusive to Bharatadesa. While Arthagati vidya (Money paid-Money earned) is easy, Sastravidya (higher knowledge) can be achieved only by the grace of Eshwara. In the hymn, “Om Sahanavavathu Sahanaubhunakthu...” both Guru and Shishya pray together for blessings from ‘Tat’ – that which protects (Avatu). Shishya has to pray for Guru and vice versa. Eshwara must nourish both their intellects (bhunaktu). Saha – together they have to endeavour for knowledge. What they learn has to be clear like the sun with brilliance and clarity leading to fulfilment of knowledge. Ma... – May there not be misunderstanding and may Sraddha be their innate character.

The Mantra ‘Om Shantih’ repeated three times is to obtain peace “in one piece.” The three here signifies the removal of three kinds of obstacles. Adidaivikataapam denotes those hurdles which are not in our hands, Adibhoutikataapam denotes those obstacles from other people and Adhyaatmikataapam denotes the ones created by ourselves as obstacles. Hence for any Sastra, the above prayer is a Mahasankalpam adopted from the Vedic system.

Aadi Guru Sri Dakshinamurthy faces the South. The students facing the Guru are towards North, which has the highest magnetic attraction. This position in direction, if followed for all such superior types of knowledge imparting, will ensure better learning and success. Arthagatividya is also called Apara while Sastragati is called Para by which one can get close to the indestructible or Aksharam. The Self gets revealed and the invariable consciousness descends with this knowledge. Hence the term Parampara for the tradition. Aadi Guru holds Chinmudra where the index finger is bent upon the thumb. Ahamkara is surrendered at the feet of the Aadi Purusha represented by Guru through the thumb. The remaining three fingers (middle, ring, little finger) stand for Sthula or gross, Sukshma or subtle, and Karana or causal Shariras or bodies. The message is that Jiva is not separate from Purusha . The whole is the truth and you are the whole inseparable from Purusha.

The Mahavakya TATTWAMASI is the voice of Chinmudra. The traditional arts belong to the highest forms of knowledge. The treatise, Natyasastra, which we adhere to can be comparable to a banyan tree around the Aadi Guru, Bharatamuni in the image of Dakshinamurthy. Jagat or the changing manifestation is indicated always as a banyan tree where the roots are upward and branches are below (Urdhava mulam – Adhoshakam). The Vyakta or manifested universe has its roots in the unmanifest or Avyakta. There is perfect intelligent planning and scientific methodology in every part of the manifestation, although it is usually termed as Maya. The leaves represent the Vedas.

What do the three bodies as referred to in the Chinmudra stand for ? Beyond gross body or matter, subtle body or life force and causal body or mind is the Blissful Truth. As one contemplates, the goal is discovered. The sheaths of Annamaya, Pranamaya, Jnanamaya Koshas are shed and Aanandamaya opens up. The complete submerging of the ego into the whole subject or Karta — The Purusha. The dictum “Anantamevabrahma” says that Anandam – the limitless alone is ‘That’ which is known. This discovery lies in the minutest seed of the gigantic banyan tree. As an analogy, Natya Sastra represents the manifested world drama where both the actor or artiste and the spectator are single pointedly arriving at the truth of aesthetic experience. This destination is also the path of Aananda Natanam.

Any endeavour of life is to touch this Aanandam. Simply because it is our own nature, we are endlessly pursuing it day and night. All the same, unless we realise that the abode of Aanandam rests in the unmanifested realm, we will be seeking satiation within boundaries. • To grasp the state of Aanandam is to practise the Natanam, which is encapsulated by Nataraja. ‘I was/Iwill be’ can never be equal to I AM which HE signifies. The incessant vibration of the entire universe captured in the form of this dancing deity is the one and only truth of Being. Every Natya Sadhana begins and ends at HIS feet. One foot on Maya, he indicates that He is appreciable in Maya Jagat, yet is above it as indicated by the other foot. He is ‘in’ Srishti but not ‘of’ Srishti.


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Printable version | Sep 6, 2021 10:01:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/reciting-this-prayer-for-knowledge/article25505191.ece

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