Friday Review

‘Perini has lasya too’

Perini dance, popularised by the late Nataraja Ramakrishna was considered to be a tradition of war dance, hence propagated by men. But Sanskrit scholoar and poet, Rallabandi Kavitha Prasad feels that “Perini is not just a ‘thandavam’ but contains ‘lasya’, hence can be performed by women too.”

He was speaking at a discourse on Perini, organised by Natya Sangraha at Saptaparini last week.

Kavita Prasad put before the audience his erudition in Sastras of yore and gave instances when and how Perini existed, described and was practiced. While placing his point of view before the audience, he brought in the prime point when this word ‘Perini’ existed. He recalled the work of 13th century poet Nachana Somudu’s 16th century verse that mentioned the word ‘Perni’ in his verse Vadaku Pannaga Raadu, Padagala Meeda Sarvam Saha Kantha Peranamu Salupa referring to the word ‘Peranamu’ an extension of ‘Perni’. This was from ‘Uttara Harivamsam’. ‘Sarvam saha Kantha’ here meant ‘Mother Earth on which ‘Adiseshu’, multi-hooded snake did Preranamu with pleasant moves. How can in silence around the earth, this sounds of ‘Peranamu’ could be heard? Kavita Prasad brought in a scientific evidence saying ‘NASA recorded sounds that emanated while earth rotates and how Germans called these sounds ‘musical’.

Adharva Veda propounds that this entire creation (srushti) is embodiment of ‘Sakti’ that gives power to humans through art. ‘Adharva Vedam’ taught us how to conduct ourselves during our daily chores. It laid ‘bhowtika’ (physical) and ‘manasika’ (mental) ways. Of the three mantras called ‘Namaha’, ‘Swaha’ and ‘Prachodana’ the last Prachodana mantram occurs in ‘Gayatri’ meant to imbibe the powers from Surya, the sun. In chanting the Prachodana Mantram there are ‘mudras’ to hold. Noted poet of the past Veturi Prabhakara Sastry compared ‘Gayatri Mantram’ to ‘Natya Sastra’ as there are some hand gestures to perform. ‘Prachodanamu’ means inculcating ‘Preranamu’. All this goes to say that Perini exists even before Jayapa sena wrote his ‘Nritta Ratnavali’”, Kavita Prasad explained.

Kaniganti Papiraju’s Uttara Ramayanam has a line in one of the verses Neloyyaramula Nartanalu Prerana Natimpa meaning ‘apsarasas’ too performed ‘prerana’ he described Perini as ‘Vichitra Nrityam’. None of these poets mentioned that Perini was connected to war. Errapragada one of the poets who penned Mahabharata compared the waves on ‘Ksheera Samudram’ from which the epics say Lakshmi was born out of it also refers to the dances of Perini. The ‘Virata Parvam’ of Mahabharata written by Tikkana Somayaji mentions that Brihannala, in his reply to his disciple Uttara learning dance under him that he learned the art of Perini right at his young age. Vyasa Maharshi too took this name Perini in Aranya Parvam of Mahabharata. Chennamaraju of 17th century penned verse which says that apsarasas danced Perini to attract the sage who was doing penance at that time.

Thandava has two styles ‘Marga’ and ‘Desi’. Perini belongs to Desi Thandavam. In Telangana, Desi became more popular than Marga. Nataraja Ramakrishna took this perini and drew a big picture of it. Thus there was history of Perini dance by women, in olden days. “My interest is how would it be if women too take up presenting perini in Lasya Prakriya. For example ‘Veera’ and ‘Sringara’ join hands in Satyabhama’s character in the epic of ‘Narakasura Samharam’. Siva in epics did only Suddha Thandavam, not Perini Thandavam.

Perini was subjected to different influences and is fit to present all the rasas, not just Veera rasam.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 2:34:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/perini-has-lasya-too/article6571328.ece

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