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Issue No. 170

இதழ் 170
[ ஆகஸ்ட் 2023 ]


இந்த இதழில்..
In this Issue..

பனைமலை ஓவியம் பகிரும் உண்மைகள்
நான் முதல்வன்
History of Dance in Tamil Land and Natya Sastra - 2
History of Dance in Tamil Land and Natya Sastra - 1
இராஜராஜீசுவரத்தின் 82 நந்தாவிளக்குகள் - 1
ஜப்பானியப் பழங்குறுநூறு - 42 (மறவேன் பிரியேன் என்றவளே!)
ஜப்பானியப் பழங்குறுநூறு - 41(காற்றினும் கடியது அலர்)
ஜப்பானியப் பழங்குறுநூறு - 40 (காதல் மறைத்தாலும் மறையாதது)
ஜப்பானியப் பழங்குறுநூறு - 39 (சொல்லாத காதல் எல்லாம்)
Issue No. 170 > Art & Research
History of Dance in Tamil Land and Natya Sastra - 2
மு. சுப்புலட்சுமி

II. Natya Sastra in the Tamil Spectrum

The previous introductory pages on the history of religion and dance in Tamilnadu and the slow yet steady religious inclination in the field of Dance and increased sanskritised inclusions in Tamil language and Gods, were to showcase the transformation the Land, Language and Dance scene witnessed over several centuries. This would hopefully help in better comprehension of the ambiguous entry and strong foothold of Natya Sastra aka NS in Tamil Theatre, with a 360 degree panoramic view.

Now, where and when does Bharata's Natya Sastra make its way into the Tamil Dance Spectrum? This would be an interesting sphere of analysis. The introduction not clearly known, the distinct inclusion can be first seen in sculptures of Pallava temples. Apart from sculptures, inscriptions too provide clues to this. But, there are a few other details to be discussed before the evidences that the Pallavas have recorded.

Now, Bharata's Natya Sastra can be analysed in two ways. The straightforward comprehension would be to define it as a work in Sanskrit and a treatise on Drama and Dance introduced into Tamilland, ignoring the unambiguous documentation of the glorious past in Tamil language. The other would be to view it alongside already established dance details in Tamil literature.

History always searches for evidences. Tamil is one of world's six oldest languages and two ancient living languages. History of dance in Thamilagam stands unambiguously strong on the support of archeological and literary evidences before common era and further-on with epigraphical and iconographical evidences.

Deviating from strong evidences, the practice of introducing Gods to be founders and legends associated with Gods as foundations of literature, art and culture, creates a make believe cult of antiquity. With due respects to the creator(s) of Natya Sastra, its commentators and translators, claiming it to be the fifth Veda and associating it with Brahma, Shiva and other celestial bodies, spawns more ambiguity to a historian.

I recall here, the words of Adya Rangacharya, author of 'Introduction to Bharata's Natya Sastra'-
"In the Indian tradition there is no difficulty in tracing the source of anything and everything. The explanation is very simple. The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra (or Shiva) manages the world by a sort of division of labour…….. God Brahma creates everything and so he created drama also……. Drama was created on a special requisition of the smaller gods."

The common misconception of 'One Indian tradition' may be proven wrong with numerous historical evidences available in Tamil language and art arena. But, this is not the point to be discussed now.

Although, viewing Natya Sastra alongwith already established details in Tamil literature, brings a few striking coincidences to be assessed.
1. Meippaattiyal in Tolkaappiyam and the Rasa theory of NS
2. Status of Indra during a stage performance in Silappadhikaram and NS
3. References to Indravizha in Sangam Literature and Silambu and the festival of Indra in NS
4. Indra's son sayanthan and kodiyetram in silambu
5. Story of Urvashi and Sayanthan in Silappadhikaram and NS
6. Indra's flag pole (Jarjara) and Brahma's curved stick of NS and Thalaikkol of Silappadhikaram

These 'PowerPoints' have to be analysed and put to research to find reliable origins of Natya Sastra in Tamilnadu and the change it brought to its original people centric Theatre and Dance structure. We shall be doing that at a later stage.

That Natya Sastra was an adaptation of the traditional Tamil Theatre and in many ways a sanskritised interpretation of Koothu and Aadal very clearly displayed in ancient and medieval Tamil Literature is a compelling synopsis, which cannot be undermined.

Hues of History always leave specific patterns to investigate and interrogate. Pallavas and their love for Sanskrit is one such hue. Sanskrit as a perceived elite language, primary language in inscriptions, connecting language abroad, new age elite language that required a new script to communicate with southeast asia are all distinct elements of Pallava rule in Tamilnadu. It is in such a juncture, that we find Natya Sastra enter the Tamil Dance stream.

Natya Sastra became the lone treatise on Drama and Dance in Sanskrit, that the Pallavas were ready to endorse in their Land of Rule, in place of the genetic Tamil Koothu. With all shades of Tamil Koothu and Aadal, the dance performed by koothars and viraliyar got a new star performer in Lord Shiva.

Let us now move on to the Pallava Dance scene and then to Cholas, concentrating on the influence of Natya Sastra.

Pallavas and Natya Sastra

Mahendravarman I (590-630)

The Pallava King Mahendravarman I played a major role in the inclusion of Natya Sastra in Thamilagam through temples. How?

By the time Mahendra I came to power in Thamilagam, Saivism had laid a strong foothold, gradually pushing Buddhism and Jainism behind, thanks to Nayanmars. The common man had already visualised Shiva and his fierceful Aadal through Saint Karaikkal Ammai's life and poetry portraying Him as the mesmerising Dancer in the graveyard. In continuance to Ammai's poetry, Saint Thirunavukkarasar's verses also focussed on the greatness of Shiva, especially his Dance skills. Infact, Mahendravarman previously a believer of Jainism was converted to Saivism by Thirunaavukkarasar.

1. The Mandagappattu inscription of Mahendravarman I proclaims, he built the first temple of Tamilnadu without brick, wood, metal or plaster - the first temple in stone.

2. He introduced the first version of Dancing Shiva in Tamilnadu. The Dance of Shiva portrayed in Siyamangalam is the first Dance Sculpture in the sculptural history of Tamilnadu, known till today. This is the pioneer sculpture to all Ananda Thaandava sculptures of this Southern State of India. Experts identify the bend of the left foot as kunchitham (one of the feet positions of NS), and the throw to the right side as bhujangathrasitham (one of the 108 karanas of NS).

3. The Mamandur inscription is a Sanskrit text in Pallava Grantha script. The titles, Nityavinitha, Satyasandha and Sathrumalla, names glorifying Mahendra I help identify the inscription with him. The inscription says the king was an expert in Gandharva sastra - believed to be Dance & Music and he wrote many plays namely, Mattavilasa and Bhagavadajjuka. According to the inscription, one of the plays that was narrated by one Valmiki had the character 'Bharata' as protagonist. Hence, the name Bharata enters the Tamil stream through a Sanskrit inscription.

Dr. R. Kalaikkovan states in one of his articles -
'The Mamandur inscription exhibits the musical knowledge and talent of Mahendra and introduces his inventions in the field of music. His efforts to elevate the efficiency of instrumental music to the beats of vocal music, are based on the three types of viruththis mentioned in Bharatha's Natya Sastra.'

Narasimhavarman II/Rajasimha (690-725)- Rajasimha's sculpture of Thandu

In chapter IV of Natya Sastra, Bharatha gets his play presented in front of Brahma, who after watching suggests to present it before Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva though is pleased with the presentation, recommends the inclusion of Angaharas and Karanas to the preliminaries of Drama. He calls his disciple Thandu and instructs to teach Bharatha, the usage of Angaharas and Karanas and so does Thandu.

After Mahendravarman's Mamandur inscription and Siyamangalam sculpture of dancing Shiva, in continuance of the legacy of Natya Sastra, the first sculpture of Thandu presenting his dance steps to Lord Shiva can be seen in 'Athyanthakama Pallavesvaragruham' in Mamallapuram near Chennai. Yet another interesting evidence on the influence of Natya Sastra in Tamilnadu. Colloquially and incorrectly called the 'Pancha Pandava Ratham', there is no connection between the Pandavas of Mahabharatham and this beautiful stone temple of Mamallapuram. One of several examples of historical errors in names of temples in Tamilnadu.

Apart from Siyamangalam, several other Pallavas temples especially in and around Kanchipuram are repositories of Karana sculptures, immense proof to the influence of Natya Sastra, encouraged by Kings themselves.

Prevalence of Dance Schools

Tamil Bhakthi literature that radiated from the energy of Bhakthi Movement, is a great source on Dance during the Pallavas. A scene depicted in the Thevaram hymns of Thirugnanasambandhar is one of the several available facts related to Dance. When Sambandhar (7th century CE) enters the city of Thiruvaiyaaru to visit the temple, he sees beautiful women performing Dance to the classical tunes of Gandhara Pan on stages in the streets. (Sambandhar, Thiruvaiyaaru, 01.130.6). It is evident from Sambandhar's verses that there were dance schools that taught classical dance and several stages that hosted dance performances. This shows Dance continued to be an established institution, following the Sangam and Silambu ages, during the Pallavas.

Gender in Dance

According to available Tamil literary sources, the Music and Dance scene of ancient Tamilagam has been a field with gender equality. Paanar, the vocal artists had Paadiniyar; and Koothar, Kodiyar and Vayiriyar- the dancers had Virali as their female counterparts respectively to perform alongside. Both men and women were instrumentalists too. In fact, till date the most adored dance artist in Tamil literature is the young girl Madhavi in Silappadhikaram, who was bestowed upon with the reverred sceptre of Dance - Thalaikol in recognition of her great maiden performance. The talented Madhavi is also showered with the highest rewards of the State— special garland from the King, the honour of Thalaikoli, and 1008 kazhanju of gold. (Silambu, Arangetru Kaathai, 158-165).

Chapter I of NS talks of Brahma creating Apsaras (23 in number whose names are also mentioned) to perform the Kaisiki (Graceful) style in Drama and one Svati being employed to play musical instruments. Yet, there are several instances in Natya Sastra where common women are co-related with 'inferior and uncultured people'. In Chapter VII, Bharatha speaks about 'Bhava' or the emotional states. While explaining portrayal of sorrow, disgust and apprehension, he relates these emotions with women and persons of inferior type kept in the same frame (as translated by Dr. Manmohan Ghosh). Also, Dr. Ghosh mentions few lines from Abhinavagupta's commentary on Natya Sastra's Purvaranga (N.S.VI.16/ the preliminaries of a play). Nine items of preliminaries that were performed from behind the curtains to keep the early audiences engaged were meant for women, children and fools.

Among the several mysterious clues of history to be explored, another unanswered enigma is the elevation of Shiva as the cosmic, ecstatic and exceptional performer and the Lord of Dance in Tamil Land. The stage had always belonged to Kali, the Goddess of Dance and the Pallava temples seem to stress the victory of Shiva over Kali in a Dance competition. Karaikkal Ammaiyar's verse- 'வீசி எடுத்த பாதம் அண்டமுற நிமிர்ந்தாடும்' (the pose of Shiva with the leg raised to the sky), is aptly depicted in the Pallava sculptures of 'Oorthuva Thandavar'.

Cholas and Natya Sastra

The contribution of Cholas to Dance is a separate field of analysis. The point of focus here, is the connection of Chola Dance with Natya Sastra. Cholas took forward several main stream sectors in relation to temple, sculptures and dance from the Pallavas, with great style and character. Be it the immersive temple architecture, deeply engaging sculptures or the glorification of Dance, Dancers and the most talked about Thalichery/ residential Dance schools, the Chola grandeur is awe inspiring even today. As an extension of these, was the establishment of Temples as educational institutions of Dance and Music.

As per Natya Sastra, Bharatha learnt Angaharas and Karanas from Thandu, who learnt them from Shiva, his Teacher. Taking forward the legacy of Natya Sastra, the Cholas took up the task of recreating the 108 Karanas taught by Thandu to Bharatha in three of their temples.
• Thanjavur Rajarajeshwaram
• Cholamarthanda Chathurvedimangalam Thirumayanamudaiyar Kovil
• Vengadathanthuraiur Thiruvaalishwaram

There is always ambiguity regarding Karanas taught by Shiva getting a special place in the Vaishnavite Sarngapani temple. When Thirumayanamudaiyar temple went into ruins, the karana sculptures were shifted to Kumbakonam Sarngapani temple. Similarly, when Thiruvaalishwaram went to shambles, the karana sculptures were moved to nearby Madhurakaliamman temple. Several other Chola temples also portray karana sculptures, prominent among them being Chidambaram and Thiruvannamalai. For more details on these, please refer 'Cholar Kaala Aadar Kalai' by Dr. Kalaikkovan.

Rajaraja Chola, creator of the Big Temple in Thanjavur was an admirer of Rajasimha's Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram. Rajaraja's Rajasimheshwaram inscription calls the temple - 'Kachippettu Periya Thirukkatrali'- The Big Temple of Kanchipuram.
a) Pallava Rajasimha II introduced Thandu alongside Shiva
b) Rajaraja made Shiva the eternal Dancer perform the Karanas in his magnum opus Thanjai Peruvudaiyar Temple, on the inner walls of circumambulatory passage of sanctum sanctorium in the second floor of vimana. Among the 108, for reasons not known only 81 could be completed in Thanjavur
c) Thandu teaching Karanas to Bharatha is depicted in Kumbakonam Sarngapani temple, 101 karanas with names of karanas scripted in chola grantha are available.

Such is the continuous representation of Natya Sastra in Tamilnadu, in terms of legends, stories associated and the exclusive karanas. Dr. Kalaikkovan, whose exclusive research and Doctoral Thesis has been on the 'Dance during the Cholas' feels, "No other state in present day India, possesses such proximity and impressive inclination to the teachings of Thandu and thereby Natya Sastra".

With literary, sculptural and inscriptional evidences on Dance available from the ages of Tolkappiyam as documented resources in today's Tamilnadu, it is certainly not right to attribute one literary creation as a sole 'ancient Indian Record on Drama', as there was no one ancient India, but several cultural and linguistic kingdoms in the neighbourhood. Additionally, ignoring such recorded literature, inscriptions and meaningful sculptures on related subjects could lead to more prejudice.

Undoubtedly, the Natya Sastra is an exhaustive and extensive work in Theatre and Dance. But, was Bharatha's Natya Sastra a completely new scenario to Tamil theatre and artists? Did Natya Sastra bring in a set framework of Drama and Dance, which the Tamils did not possess previously? Or, Was Bharatha himself truly an alien to Tamil Land?

Scholars of the West, who first published different volumes of the Natya Sastra in the 19th century or the 20th century dancers and new age learners, with apparently less introduction to and appreciation of Tamil Dance heritage could accept that. However, sitting with a huge corpus of Tamil Literature, epigraphy, sculptures and inscriptions of Thamilagam, one would agree that these queries need further deeper research and analysis, as expansive or rather more expansive than the Dance of Shiva itself.

The primary purpose of this analysis is the identification of Karana sculptures of Sarngapani Temple, Kumbakonam. Before moving on to this identification, I felt these introductory pages would serve as a prelude towards better understanding of the Dance Field in ancient and medieval Thamilagam. At this juncture, it would be an incomplete analysis if sources from the captivating Chola temples that served as sculptural galleries and exclusive institutions on Dance and Music were ignored. In timeline, the Sarngapani sculptures fall later to the glorious representation of karanas of Natya Sastra by Rajaraja I in his magnum opus Thanjavur temple. Hence, a brief study on Dance that flourished splendidly under the Cholas comes next.

References -
1. இரா. கலைக்கோவன் சோழர் கால ஆடற்கலை
2. இரா. கலைக்கோவன், பேரறிவாளர், http://www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=387
3. க. வெள்ளை வாரணர், தொல்காப்பியம் மெய்ப்பாட்டியல் உரைவளம்
4. காரைக்கால் அம்மையார் பதிகங்கள், பதினோராம் திருமுறை, நம்பியாண்டார் நம்பி தொகுப்பு, மதுரை தமிழ் இலக்கிய மின்தொகுப்புத் திட்டம்
5. சிலப்பதிகாரம்- மூலமும் அரும்பத உரையும் அடியார்க்கு நல்லார் உரையும், உ.வே.சா. பதிப்பு
6. தமிழ் இலக்கண இலக்கியக் கால ஆராய்ச்சி, டாக்டர் மா. இராசமாணிக்கனார்
7. கலித்தொகை, நச்சினார்க்கினியர் உரை
8. Mamandur inscriptions of Mahendravarman I , South Indian Inscriptions Volume IV- https://archive.org/details/in.gov.ignca.73014/page/n30/mode/1up?view=theater
9. Manomohan Ghosh, The NatyaSastra
10. Adya Rangacharya, Introduction of Bharata's Natya Sastra
11. The Silappadhikaaram, translated by V.R. Ramachandra Dikshitar
       
இப்படைப்பு குறித்த தங்கள் கருத்துக்கள் வரவேற்கப்படுகின்றன. கீழுள்ள படிவத்தில் தமிழிலோ ஆங்கிலத்திலோ பின்னூட்டமிடலாம். தமிழில் பின்னூட்டமிட ஏதேனும் ஒரு தமிழ்ச் செயலி பின்னணி செயல்பாட்டில் இருக்க வேண்டும்.
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