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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

Lakshana-granthas

1. Natyashastra –continued

silhoutes

The Nrtta, the dance in its abstract form, is mainly discussed in the Natyashastra. And, Dance, in general, is treated as a factor that lends beauty to a theatrical presentation. Bharata projects Dancing as an Art consisting of beautiful body movements that delight the eye. It is performed to rhythm and to the accompanying songs or instrumental music or both.

Chapters 4 and 5 of Natyashastra are of special significance to the study of Dance, as they introduce many concepts that are fundamental to Dancing, such as: Nrtta, Tandava, Sukumara (meaning Lasya), Pindibandha and Abhinaya. Apart from that, the basic units of Dance such as, Caris, Recakas and Karanas; and, primary Dance sequence Angaharas are also fully described here.  And, the Chapters 6 and 7 carry on extensive discussion on Abhinaya.

As can be seen from the Chapters mentioned above, Bharata, apart from Nrtta, also gave much importance to Angikabhinaya, where individual limb-movements convey the meaning (Artha) and emotions (Bhava) through appropriate gestures. Although such Angikabhinayas are used both in the Drama and Dance; it is, in fact, in the Dancing that they are more widely used, with eloquence and flourish (Natyadharmi).

It is obvious that Bharata had recognized the importance of Abhinaya, both in Drama and in Dancing. He introduces the related concept in Chapter Four, which principally deals with Dance. There, he uses the term Abhinaya broadly to indicate expressive movements of the body, as comprising actions appropriate to match the content of the accompanying song. Thereafter, he follows up the topic in many other Chapters, in more than 670 verses, explaining its theoretical principles, its categories and its applications in various contexts.

In a way of speaking, one can say that the Natyashastra is structured in four broad sections, each based in one of the four Abhinayas.

The Sattvika-abhinaya (that which is conveyed by the effort of the mind) and Angika-abhinaya (body-movements and gestures to suggest a meaning) are discussed in Chapters 8 to 13. Bharata describes Sattvika-abhinaya in the Chapter 8 dealing with Bhava and Angika-abhinaya. And the discussion is continued in the next few chapters where he offers detailed descriptions for executing the movements of each part and limb of the body, which has the potential to inspire beauty; to express feelings, emotions; and, to give form to ideas.

The Vachika-abhinaya (conveying the intent through speech or songs) is detailed in Chapters 14 to 20.

The Aharya (concerning costume, makeup and decor etc.,) is in Chapter 21.

Again, Satvika-abhinaya and Samanya-abhinaya, detailing the general rules pertaining to dancing, in particular, are given in Chapter 22.

The Citra-abhinaya, the special (viśea) modes of representations to indicate subtle or abstract elements in nature, inner feelings etc., are discussed in Chapter 25.

[The Samanya-abhinaya is the harmonious use of four kinds of Abhinayas; and, Citra-abhinaya applies only to the special representation of various objects and ideas.

At first, the instructions are given about the representation of five qualities (guna)of senses viz. sound (sabda), touch (sparsa), form (rupa), taste (rasa) and smell (gandha), through gestures according to their experiences (Anubhavas) and natural expressions. Then come the representation of particular objects. The various gestures and expressions are prescribed for the representation of Bhavas including Sthayi-bhavas occurring in different Rasas. The Abhinaya to show sky, morning, night, evening, day, deep darkness, the moon-light, the smoke, the fire and different seasons follow.

Abhinavagupta remarks; whether it is Samanya=abhinaya or Chitra-abhinaya, what is more important is the ardent practice (Shikshitum abhyasitam) and the state of mind of the performer (Chitt-vrtti pradanam).

Shikshitum abhyasitam va prayoktam drustam va, chitta-vrtti pradanam chedam natyamiti tadeva vakyum nyayam ]

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When you take an overview , you find that it is the principle of the two modes (dharmi) of presentation, Natya (the stylized) or Loka (the realistic); the different types of Vrittis (style), namely the Kaisiki (the graceful), Sattvati (the grand),  Arabhati (the energetic) and Bharati (the verbal); the full play of the four types of Abhinaya (acting) namely : Angika (gestures or movement), Vacika (the spoken word), Aharya (costume, make-up, stage props etc.) and Sattvika (relating to state of emotion) – are the broad principles which govern the structure of Indian drama and its  presentations. The same principles and techniques are extended to Dance also.

It is these principles, along with other related ones, such as –  the concept of Bahya (external) and Abhyantara (inner) acting; of Pravrtti (local usage); of Samanya-abhinaya  (basic representation) and  Citra-abhinaya  (special representation) technique – , which  are common to Drama as also to Dance.

We talked about Nrtta, Tandava, Sukumara-prayoga and Pindibandha, in the earlier Parts of this series.

We may now get to know some specific concepts, terms and techniques used in the Natyashastra, in regard to Abhinaya.

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Dharmi-s

Before getting into the specifics of the Abhinaya, let’s briefly talk about the Dharmi-s and the Vrtti-s, denoting the modes of depiction and styles of presentation.

Bharata in Chapter 13 discusses two divisions of Abhinaya: the Natya-dharmi and Loka-dharmi modes of presentation on the stage. Here, Natyadharmi could, almost, be understood as stylized or idealized theatrical mode of presentation. And, Lokadharmi is the realistic or the day-to-day common way of staging in the play.

dharmī yā dvividhā proktā mayā pūrva dvijottamā laukikī nāyadharmī ca tayor vakyāmi lakaam NS.13.69

These concepts were mentioned by Bharata, primarily, in the context of the Drama.

He meant Lokadharmi, as the ways of the world and the activity of common people, where one speaks, gesticulates and acts in a natural manner, as in ones daily life. The characters behave and speak naturally, as common people normally do, according to their professions and their standing in the society; without playful flourish of the limbs or stylized gaits and postures. It also means the ordinary presentation of objects on the stage. Abhinavagupta also explains Lokadharmi in a similar manner :

Yada kaviryatha vrttam vasthu matram varnathi natascha prayamke na tu svabuddhi-krutam ranjana vaichitram tatranu praveshayam sada tavanna kavya-bhagah prayoga-bhagascha Loka-dharmashraye atotra-dharmi

And, Natyadharmi, which follows the theatrical conventions, is the idealistic, stylized mode of acting through traditional gestures and symbolisms, considered more artistic than realistic. One could say that Natyadharmi is poetic and imaginative in its nature, following a codified manner of presenting actions, expressions and emotions, as per the time-honored conventions of the theatre. Here, in this mode, the artist enjoys a greater degree of freedom to display her or his virtuosity; and, in taking something from natural life and rendering it in an elegant ingenious stylized way. The Natyadharmi encourages innovations, endowing the play with beauty associated with the performing Arts. Abhinavagupta also says :

Sarva alamkara samyojana yuktam , yatra purusho ns svarupe thistathi , api tu stri bala-ashrati prayojyah purusho yatra na svrupastha , api tu striyah prayujyate tan Natyadharmi

Thus, the Natyadharmi is a theatrical presentation that is decisively deviated from realism. Bharata gives instances of Natyadharmi mode in a play:

If it contains speech, activity , beings and states of extraordinary kind ; and, if it requires acting with playful flourish of limbs ; and, if it possesses  characteristics of dance, where the delivery of speech follows the theatrical conventions; and , if it is dependent on emotions, it is then called Natyadharmi – (NS.13.71-72).

 If a character, instead of simply walking, dances along or moves with graceful steps and deliberate swing of the limbs, it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13.79).

If the ordinary human joys and sorrows are represented by special or exaggerated gestures, it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13. 80).

If an actor plays a female role or an actress dons a male role (asvastha-puruā), it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13.74).

If after appearing in a role, one assumes a different role in the same play on account of his being an expert in both the cases or being the sole actor available for both the roles, it is known as an instance of Natyadharmi – (NS. 13.77).

If as per the theatrical practice, a character is not supposed to hear what the character standing next is uttering; or, if a character is supposed to hear what the other character has not uttered at all, it is also called Natyadharmi – (NS.13.75).

If objects like a hill, conveyance, aerial-car, shield, armor, weapon or banner-staff are made to appear on the stage in human form, it is known as an instance of Natyadharmi – (NS 13.76).

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A dance performance is dominated by Natyadharmi. It is in the aspect of Abhinaya that Natyadharmi is abundant in Dance. The poetry, lyrical or narrative elements, set to music and rhythm, are interpreted by the dancer in varieties of manners, employing various shades of Sanchari-bhavas of the Sthayi-bhava that is on display. This is achieved through a series of variations of the Angikabhinaya, where each word of the poetry is interpreted in as many different ways as possible (Padartha-abhinaya).

Here, a dancer assumes the roles of several characters without change of dress or costume (Ekaharya), giving expressions to their actions, emotions and their state of being.

Natyadharmi does not mean imitation. No attempt is made to present things as they are. Instead, the dancer endows her performance with creative, innovative and artistic suggestions. The dancer attempts to represent the entire range of human emotions and experiences through stylized gestures. Even the tears have to be shown through the characteristic suggestive gesticulations, as per the Natyadharmi mode.

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 Vrtti

Bharata regards the Vrttis or the Styles as one among the most important constituent elements of the play. In fact, he considers the Vrttis as the mother of all poetic works – sarveāmeva kāvyānāṃ-mātkā vttaya sm(NS.18.4). In a play, the Vrtti stands for the ways of rendering a scene; or, the acting styles and the use of language, diction that different characters adopt in a scene, depending upon the nature or the Bhava that is peculiar to that character.

The Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha): Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati.

The Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful style) which characterizes the tender  Lasyanga  associated  with expressions of love, dance, song as also with charming costumes and delicate actions portrayed with care, mostly by women,   is most suited to Srngara-rasa (tatra kaisiki gita-nrtya-vilasadyair mrduh srngara- cestitaih ).

The Sattvati Vrtti (flamboyant style) is a rather gaudy style of expressing ones emotions with excessive body-movement; exuberant expressions of joy; and, underplaying mellow or sorrow moods. It is a way of expressing ones emotions (mano-vyapara) through too many words.

The Arabhati-vrtti is a loud, rather noisy and energetic style. It is a powerful exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting, particularly, in tumultuous scenes with overwhelming tension, disturbance and violence.  It involves furious physical movements (kaya-vyapara).

And, the Bharati-vrtti is mainly related to a scene where the speech or dialogue delivery is its prominent feature.  But, generally, the Bharati-vrtti, related to eloquence, is of importance in all the situations (vrttih sarvatra bharati).

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In regard to Dance and Dance-dramas, the Vrtti that is most suitable for its depiction is the Kaisiki Vrtti. It is used both in the Nrtta and the Nrtya portions of a dance performance.

Kaisiki Vrtti is most appropriate to dance and to the dance-dramas on account of the attractive costumes worn by dramatis personae, particularly the women; and also because of the Lasya and Srngara aspects that permeate its theme. It is also suitable for Hasya, for display of humor.

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Abhinaya

It is said; in the Indian dance, the different parts of the human body are like notes (Svara) of the music in a given Raga. The movements of the minor limbs (Upanga), like the eyebrows, eyelids, eyeballs, nose, lips, chin and mouth ; and their precise execution are the most essential aspects of the Abhinaya. Similarly, the movements of the major limbs (Anga), like the head, chest, waist hips, thigh and feet; and their postures are the essential elements of the Nrtta, pure Dance. Then, there are the Pratyangas, such as the neck, the elbows, the shanks and the knees , which are used in the Abhinaya as also in the Nrtta.

Perfect balance and poise is the key to Indian Dancing. In fact, all its Dance movements emerge from this point of perfect stillness. All movements start from the Sama-bhanga posture (equipoise of stance with an equal distribution of weight). And, again, all the movements return to the Sama-bhanga.

The knee, pelvis, and the shoulder joints constitute the key points from which the movements emerge in the lower and upper limbs. The neck joint is the pivot around which the movements of the head and face revolve.

The classification of body movements, in the Indian texts, is broadly categorized into those of the major and minor limbs; and, the second as the combination of the primary movements into small modulations known as Caris, Mandalas and Karanas. Each of these is governed by its own set of rules .

Indian Dancer, like the musician, uses the body-movements to evoke particular emotive states (Bhavas) through pure Dance sequences (Nrtta) ; and, through interpretation (Abhinaya) of the words of the poem or a theme, following  the characteristic Natyadharmi mode of presentation.  In either case, the musical element determines the composition and depiction of the dance. The pure Dance sequences (Nrtta) follow the patterns of the melody, rhythms and tempo of the music. And, the Abhinaya follows the nature (Sthayi-bhava) and content of the lyrics (Sahitya) ; and , interprets it accordingly by use of series of transitory states (Sanchari-bhava) and various  other innovative gestures and expressions.

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Angikabhinaya

Bharata, commencing with the Chapter Eight, describes four types of Abhinaya; the art of illustrating the meaning (Artha or Bhava) of different things, and conveying ones experiences, which are capable of evoking Rasa. The Abhinaya is of four kinds:  Angika (gestures); Vachika (words); Aharya (costumes, makeup and supporting aids); and Sattvika (emotional dispositions).

āgiko vācikaścaiva hy āhārya sāttvikastathā jñeyastv abhinayo viprā caturdhā parikalpita NS.8. 9

Here, Āgika (आङ्गिक) – ‘physical representation’- consists of the use of various gestures and postures of which the tyaśhāstra gives elaborate descriptions. Different limbs have been named and their manifold gestures and movements described, with various significance attached to each one of them.

The Angika-abhinaya involves different parts of the body:

1) Anga / अंग: The main parts of the body are known as Anga. The Natyashastra identifies them as the following six: head, hands, feet, Vaksha or the chest region, Kati or the waist and Parshava or the sides. Some experts add Griva (neck) to this as well.

2) Pratyanga / प्रत्यंग: The parts that connect the main parts of the body are Pratyanga. These too are of six types: the shoulders, the arms, the spine, the midriff, the thighs and the abdomen. Some experts also consider the neck, knees and elbows in this

3) Upanga / उऩांग: Smaller constituent parts of the body are called Upaanga. They are different according to each body part. Mainly the Upaanga exist on the head/ face, hands and legs, because the waist, chest and sides are complete on their own. There cannot be an Upanga for these.

  • Head/ face: eyes, eyebrows, eyelids, pupils, nose, cheeks, chin, jaw, face, lips, teeth and tongue.
  • Hands: elbow, wrist, fingers, palms
  • Legs: soles, heel, paws and toes

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The Aṅgikābhinaya (आङ्गिकाभिनय), the illustrative expression through gestures, postures, movements of part of the body (angapratyanga and upanga), limbs and gait, is said to be of three types; that by use of: the Śākhā (‘branch’- various movements of the hand); the Akura (‘sprout’-movements of the hand supplementing the main idea); and, the Ntta (dance movements, made up of Karaas and Agahāras).

Asya śākhā ca ntta ca tathaivā akura eva ca-NS.8.14 Agikastu bhavecchākhā hyakura sūcanā bhavet agahāra-vinipanna ntta tu karaāśrayam NS. 8.15

The subject of Angikabhinaya is elaborated under three broad categories:  Mukhaja (those emanating from the face and its different parts (Upanga) such as eyes, eyebrows, chin, nose etc); Sarira (the limbs – Anga, Pratyanga, Upanga); and, Kshetra (the entire body) including the Anga and Upanga, by use of gestures relating to posture, positioning or actions involving  movements  from one place to other on stage .

Trividhas tva āgiko dyneya śārīro mukhajas tathā tathā ceṣṭākta-ścaiva śākhā-ago-upāga-sayuta NS.8.11

[In today’s practice and teaching of Bharatanatya, besides the Natyashastra, it is the Abhinaya Darpana that is mainly used.]

[Throughout the discussion of the Anga and the Upanga in the Natyashastra, we find that Bharata first states the movements which are physically possible, and,  then  enumerates the use (viniyoga) to which they can be put in Angikabhinaya , in order to represent the dominant and transitory states (Sthayi and Vyabhicari Bhava).

For instance; he first indicates the glances (Drsti) corresponding to the sentiments (Rasa), then the glances according to the dominant states (Sthayi bhava), and then the glances corresponding to the transitory states (Vyabhicari bhava). And, the movements of the eyeball (Tara) are analysed in a similar manner.

The Natyashastra gives us two types of classification of movements. There is first the analysis of different parts of the human body from the point of view of the possibility of movement.  It, then, analyzes, in great detail, the movements of major and minor limbs, in the context of the combinations of these primary movements such as Cari, Mandala, Karana, Angahara, etc.

It classifies the human body-parts into Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga (as detailed above). The hands (Hasta) are the only parts of the body that are used both for Nrtta and in the Abhinaya; and, these are treated separately.

In the case of other parts of the body, the movement of the particular part is described first; and this is followed by its Viniyoga (uses), which contributes to the Abhinaya technique. This, is particularly true in the case of the movements of the minor limbs, especially facial (Mukhaja) ones, like those of the eyebrows, eyeballs, eyelid, chin, nose, lips, etc. And, in the case of the thighs, waist, side and chest; they are discussed, primarily, from the point of view of Nrtta.

On the basis on these movements, of the separate parts of the human body, Bharata discusses and analyzes the fundamental units of movement.

In the Indian traditions, it is believed, that particularly in Dance, the movement of each single limb of the human body has a corresponding emotional quality, which is analogous to the emotional expression of Sruti and Svara in music. And, in Dance, every gesture and movement of eyes, eyeballs, eyebrows, eyelids, nose, cheeks, lower lips, chin, mouth, neck, chest, breast, sides, belly, waist, thigh, shank, knee, feet and hands, thus assumes significance.

This language of gestures finds its complete articulation in the Hasta-abhinaya, where practically all the permutations and combinations of the fingers, palm and the writs have been worked out ; and each hand-pose (Hasta) has been employed as words are in a language.

Thus, the Nrtta and the Abhinaya portion of dancing employs the entire human form to speak a language of movement through which a Sthayi bhava can be presented and a sentiment, a mood, Rasa is evoked.

In the process; the Dance, almost, does away with the Vacika-abhinaya (speech); instead, it employs only music and song for the narration of its theme; and for presentation of the Sthayi-bhava  .

But, the manner in which the dance builds up the Sthayi-bhava is very similar to that is employed in the Drama (Natya). Both make use of the representation of the determinants (Vibhava); the consequent (Anubhava); and, the transitory states (Vyabhicari bhava). But in the case of Dance, the emphasis is more on the Vyabhicari-bhava or the Sanchari-bhava. And, the dominant state is represented by portraying through a series of gestures the transitory states of the particular dominant state.]

A. MUKHAJA

Bharata mentions that the Dramatic performance, in its entirety, relates to the postures and movements of the limbs, including the six major and the six minor ones. The six major limbs (Anga) are: the head, hands, chest, sides, waist and feet. And, the six minor limbs (Upanga) are: the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lower lip and chin (NS.8.12-13).

The Upanga, the Mukhaja (expressions relating to the face) is subdivided into its parts, like eyebrows, eyelids, eyeballs, nose, lips, chin and mouth.

In dance and dance-dramas, Abhinaya, the gestures reflected on the face are, indeed, the principal means of expressing, portraying and conveying a range of varieties of states, emotions and suggestions, giving forth the appropriate Rasa– (Mukhaje abhinaye, nānā bhāva rasāśraye- NS.8.16).

Head and neck 1

 Head (Siras) – Shirobheda

The text, in verses 17 to 37, of Chapter Eight , then goes to elaborately enumerate the thirteen kinds of the gestures of the head; and its uses (Viniyoga) :  Akampita, Kampita, Dhuta, Vidhuta, Parivahita, Udvahita, Avadhuta, Ancita, Nihanchita, Paravratta, Utkipta, Adhogata and Parilolita.

śirasa prathama karma gadato me nibodhat 8.16 ākampita kampita ca dhūta vidhuta meva ca parivāhitam ādhūtam avadhūta tathā añcitam 8.17

The movements of head include Akampita (up and down slow movements), which suggest giving a hint, teaching, questioning, addressing and also imparting instructions. Similarly, Kampita suggests a brisk movement of the head, with a vigorous shake. It is meant to indicate a range of moods and states, such as:  anger, argument, understanding, asserting, threatening, sickness and intolerance. Dhuta is slow movement of the head, to indicate unwillingness, sadness etc.; while, is the quick movement, as when one is attacked by cold, fever. Parivahita is when the head is turned to two sides to demonstrate surprise, intolerance, concealing or in playful mood; while, Udvahita is when the face turned upward once, in pride. Avadhuta is when the head is turned down, for communicating, beckoning one to come near or invoking a deity; while Ancita is when the head slightly bent on one side , as in sickness , intoxication etc. Nihancita is two shoulders are raised up with the head on one side, as by women in pride or play or jest. Paravrtta is when the face is turned round, as while turning round and looking back. Utkipta is when the face is slightly raised, as in looking at lofty objects. And, Parilolita is when the head is moving in all the sides, as in fainting, sickness, drowsiness or while possessed. Please click here for illustrations.

These movements of the head should be supported by the appropriate expressions of the other minor limbs like eyes, eye-brows, eyeballs, nose, lower lip and chin, in order to enhance the overall impact.

After describing the thirteen kinds of movements of head for its various uses, Bharata adds:  ‘Besides these there are many other gestures of the head, which are based on popular usage (ju-svabhāva-sasthāna). These are to be used, according to their nature (svabhāvajam) in the popular practice’.

 

Head and neck 2

Eyes

In the Abhinaya, the eyes play an extremely important role. The eyes, in fact, are widows to the soul of the dancer.  They are like a mirror to the mind. The eyes register the bhavas and speak an eloquent language, without resorting to the act of speaking.

Glances – Dṛṣṭī- lakaam

Bharata enumerates the nature of as many as 36 types of glances (trayodaśa-vidhaṃ; dṛṣṭīnāmiha lakaam NS.8 .39The glances (Rasa-Dristi) are described in detail In terms of the muscular movements of the eyeballs, eyelids and the eyebrows which indicate certain Rasa or Bhava

He starts with listing those expressions that relate to the production of eight Rasas: Kanta, Bhayanaka, Hasya, Karuna, Adbhuta, Raudri, Vira and Bibhatsa.

kāntā bhayānakā hāsyā karuā cādbhutā tathā raudro vīrā ca bībhatsā vijñeyā rasadṛṣṭaya NS.8. 40

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Bharata then provides another list of eight types of glances that relate to the mood or the state of mind in the main theme that is being depicted (Sthayi-bhavas) : Snigdha, Harsha, Dina, Krodha Dipta, Bhayanvita, Jugupsita and  Vismita.

snigdhā hṛṣṭā ca dīnā ca kruddhā dptā bhayānvitā jugupsitā vismitā ca sthāyibhāveu  dṛṣṭaya NS.8.41

The remaining twenty types of glances refer to the transitory moods (vyabhicari bnavas), aptly corresponding to each of the dominant bhavas (Sthayi-bhavas). These are listed as:

Vacant (Sunya), pale (Malina), tired (Sranta), bashful (Lajjanvita),  lazy(Glana) , apprehensive (Sankita), despair (Vishanna), sleepy, dreaming (Mukula) , contracted (Kunchita), distressed (Abhitapa), crooked as in stupor or love (Jihma), recollecting or recalling (Vitarikta), in joy of smell or touch-half open side glances  (Ardha-mukta), confused (Vibranta), disturbed (Vipluta),  half shut (Akekara), fully open (Vikosa) , frightened (Trasta)  and intoxicated (Madira)

śūnyā ca malinā caiva  śrāntā lajjānvitā tathā glānā  ca  śakitā caiva viaṇṇā mukulā tathā 42 kuñcitā cābhitaptā ca jihmā salalitā  tathā  vitarkitārdhamukulā vibhrāntā viluptā tathā 43 ākekarā  vikośā ca trastā ca madirā  tathā 44

[The Vishnudharmottara also mentions that  of these thirty-six:  first nine refer to the Rasa (nine Rasas , including Shanta); another nine to the Sthayibhavaa (the dominant states);  and,  the remaining eighteen correspond closely to the Vyabhicari-bhavas (transitory states)]

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The first sixteen types of  glances are described in great detail;  in terms of the movement of eyeballs, eyelids and the eyebrows; and, occasionally, with reference to the colour of the eyes.

The Drstis (glances), including the movement of the eyeballs, the iris and the pupil of the eye, the eyelids and the eye brows form an important part of the Abhinaya technique of Indian dance, dance-drama and drama.  And, this is particularly so in the Angikabhinaya element of the dance, where speech is not used. Instead, various ideas, the states of the mind and body, as also the emotions, are most effectively conveyed through expressions of the eyes and other facial features.

The Mukhaja-abhinaya has, therefore, been accorded a very significant role in the conventions and techniques of Indian dance traditions. And, Natyashastra devotes as many as 56 verses of Chapter Eight (from verse 39 to verse 95) to describe, in detail, various types of glances and their applications in dramatic and dance situations.

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Eyes-Eyeballs (Tara)

Bharata says the eyeballs (Tara) can express gestures of nine kinds (Verses 8.95-102): Bhramana (moving round) Valana (turning obliquely), Patana (relaxing), Calana (trembling), Sampravesana (drawing inside), Vivartana (turning sideways), Samudvrtta (rising up), Niskramana (going out) and Prakrta (natural).

Tārayor bhramaa valana gamana tryasra pātana srastatā tathā calana kampana jñeya praveśo’ntapraveśanam NS. 8.100

The eyeball movements (Taraka karma) may be either with reference to the object of perception or without It, which suggest the positions of the eyeballs in different parts of the eye. Up and down or circular movements of the eyeballs are possible.

Bharata also mentions about the use of such eyeball-movements. For instance; Bhramana, Valana and Samudvrtta are used in the heroic (Vira) and furious (Raudra) Rasas. And, Vivartana is used in erotic (Srngara) situations. And, so on.

eyes 01

Bharata, next, enumerates eight additional types of eyeball positions, their appearances and their uses (verses 8. 103-108): Sama (level, at rest), Saci (sidelong, covered by eyelashes), Anuvrtta (probing), Alokita (eyes wide open and his eyes looking around), Vilokita (looking round or looking back) , Pralokita (carefully looking, turning from side to side),  Ullokita (looking up) and Avalokita (looking down towards the ground). This classification is according to the object of perception. These are all utilized to express states (Bhavas) and emotions (Rasas).

Samam Alokitam Saachi pralokita Nimility  Ullokita-anuvritte cha tatha chaiva-avalokitam  Ithyashtho drishthi bhedaha syu kirtitah purvasuribhi

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[ The Abhinaya Darpana does not enumerate the movements of the eyeballs. But, it talks, in detail, about Dristi.]

The position and the movement of the eyeball, according to Bharata do help in explicitly project the Bhavas and the Rasas. Please click here for illustration.

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Eyes-eyelids (Puta)

 Bharata, then, goes on to discuss the eyelids (Puta) – verses 108-115; and eyebrows (Bhru) –verses 116 to125; their movements and uses.

The gestures of the eyelids follow the movements of eyeballs. They are:  Unmesa (opening, separating the eyelids), Nimesa (closing, bringing together), Prasrta (expanding widely), Kuncita (contracting the eyelids), Sama (level, natural), Vivartita (rising up), Sphurita (throbbing eyelids), Pihita (resting, closed) and Vitadita (driven, struck accidently).

unmeaśca nimeaśca prasta kuñcita samam 111 vivartita sa sphurita pihita savitāitam NS.8. 112

Then, the applications (Viniyogam) of the eyelid-movements are explained. For instance; while in anger, the eyelids rise up (Vivartita), close (Nimesa) and open widely (Unmesa).And, in joy and wonder, the eyelids expand (Prastra). On seeing an undesired object, the eyelids contract (Kuncita). And, so on.

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Eyes- Eyebrows (Bhru)

The gestures of the eye-brows (Bhru) are described in Verses 116-125 of Chapter Eight. Its movements are to be harmonized with those of the eye-balls (Tara) and eyelids (Puta).

The artistic movements of the eyebrows are said to be seven in number: Utksepa (rising simultaneously or one after another); Patana (lowering simultaneously or one after another); Bhrukuti (knitting); Catura (clever, extending in a pleasing manner), Kuncita (contracting, bending one by one or together); Recita (rising one in an amorous way); and, Sahaja (natural).  

utkepa pātanaścaiva bhrukuī catura bhruvo 119kuñcita recita caiva sahaja ceti saptadhā NS.8.120

As regards the use or the application of the eyebrow movements (verses 121-125), it is said: Utksepa (rising) is used to show anger, deliberation, passion, playfulness. While in seeing and hearing only one eyebrow is raised; but, in surprise, joy and violent anger both the eyebrows are raised up. Patana is for show of envy, disgust etc. And, Catura is for display of love; and, to indicate playful mood, pleasing object or pleasing touch. And so on.

Bharata Natyam.33jpg

Nose (Nasa), cheeks (Ganda), lower lips (Adhara) and chin (Cibuka)

That is followed by descriptions of

:- Six types of gestures of the nose (Nasa) or nostrils  and its uses, viniyojanam : Nata; Manda; Vikrta;Suchavas; Vikunita; and, Svabhaviki (verses 126-132);

:- Six kinds of cheeks (Ganda) and its uses :  Kamsa (dropping); Pulla (blown); Purna (full); Kampita (trembling); Kunchitaka (contracted); Sama or Prakata (natural) – (verses 127-132) ;

:- Six kinds of gestures of the lower lips (Adhara) and their uses : Vivartana (narrowing); Kampa (quavering); Visarga (protruding); Vighuna (concealing); Samugda (contracting) and Svabhavaja (natural movement)- (verses 137-142); and,

:- Seven kinds of gestures of the chin (Cibuka)- with combined actions of the teeth, lips and the tongue –  and its uses : Kuttam (biting with force); Khandana (pressing together); Chinna (lower and upper row of teeth meeting closely); Cukkita (opening wide);  and Samata (wide) – (verses 143-149).

These gestures are then talked about in relation to the teeth, the lips and the tongue.

[Natyashastra does not describe; and, it does not even mention the movements of the tongue – Jihva.  However in dance and also dance-drama traditions in depiction of Lord Narasimha, the tongue is often stuck out by the dancer.

Similarly, the Natyashastra doesn’t also analyze movements of the knee (janu), the anklets (gulpha) and the toes of the feet, which is done by other texts ]

 

Bharata Natyam.22jpg

 

Mouth (Mukha)

The movements of the mouth (Mukha) are also enumerated in verses 149 to 157 of Chapter Eight. In verses 157 to 165, four types of the colours of the face (Mukha-raga) are mentioned. These are the natural (Svabhavika); bright and delightful (Prasanna); reddish (Raktha); and, dark (Shyama).

Svābhāvika prasannaś ca rakta śyāmo artha saśraya svābhāvikastu kartavya svabhāvā-abhinayāśraya  NS.8.163

The natural colour indicate ordinary state; the bright face is indicative of love, joy, wonder and laughter; the reddish face may indicate an intoxicated state or grieving in sorrow; and. The dark face is for representing terrible (Bhayanaka) and odious (Bhibhatsa) Rasas.

The colours of the face deemed suitable for representation of corresponding Bhavas and Rasas, should go with every gestures of the eye (glance), the eyebrow and the mouth.  All these together project the requisite Bhava, to properly evoke its associated Rasa.

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Neck (Griva)

And, that is followed by the descriptions of nine types of neck (Griva) movements and their uses (verses 166 to 173). These are : Sama (natural , straight as  in meditation); Nata ( face bent down, as while wearing an ornament or putting arms around another neck); Unnata (neck turned high, looking up) Tryasra (neck turned sideways , as while lifting a weight); Recita (shaking of neck , as while churning or in dance); Kunchita (head bent down , as in protecting ones neck); Vahita (face turned sideways , or turning the neck and looking behind); and, Vivrtta ( looking ahead , as while walking towards ones seat).

samā nato-unnatā tryasrā recitā kuñcitāñcitā 171 vahitā ca vivttā ca grīvā  nava vidhā rthata .. 172

These nine movements suggest posture that is suitable for the state of being (Bhava) of the character. For instance; Unnata neck position with the face up turned is used in looking up; the Tryasra position has neck with the face turned sideways; and, it suggests as if one is carrying a weight or is in sorrow. The neck gestures are also associated with the social status of the concerned persons.

The neck-movement is very important in Dance; because the movements of the head and the face pivot around it.

Gestures of the neck are all to follow the gestures of the head; and, the head gestures are also reflected in those of the neck. And, in this manner, Bharata enumerates and describes the gestures of the head and the connected minor limbs (upanga) and their uses.

Bharata says, he would discuss the other elements of Angikabhinaya in the next Chapter.

śirasa karmaa karma grīvāyā sampravartate ityetal lakaa prokta śīro-upāga samāśrayam agakarmāi śeāi gadato me nibodhata  ॥NS.8.179

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We shall continue with the Angikabhinaya in the next part also, where we may take a look at the Hastha (hand gestures) and Sarira (the limbs; and, Kshetra (the entire body) including the Anga and Upanga.

Continued

In

Part Eight

 

References and Sources

  1. Movement and Mimesis: The Idea of Dance in the Sanskritic Tradition

 By Dr Mandakranta Bose

  1. Theory and Technique by Dr. Sunil Kothari

ALL PICTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS ARE FROM INTERNET

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Art, Natya

 

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Music of India – a brief outline – Part One

carnatic_music

Part One (of 22) – Overview

Samgita

1.1. It is said; Music and musical thoughts are the expressions of a range of diverse emotions that co-exist within the hearts or in the inner worlds of a community. It has its roots in its total cultural context, in its traditions, in its philosophy of life and in its aspirations. A  Music can truly be understood and appreciated only when it is viewed as part of the integral experience of that community.

1.2. That is particularly true with regard to India where Music had been woven into the fabric of its various philosophical, religious, cultural and literary traditions for over long ages, stretching back to the forgotten periods of its un-recorded History. Apart from this, a special branch of study devoted to the theory and practice of Music (Samgita-shastra) was developed and enlarged, in stages.  Samgita-shastra, right from the ancient times, is deemed as an integral part of the broad framework of ideas that systematically explain the philosophical basis of sound (Nada); the Grammar and language of Music; and, the aesthetics of Music,

Thus, Music and its study have flourished in all the intellectual traditions of India. Here, Music was valued not only as a delightful sensory experience but also as a vision (Darshana) providing a glimpse of the reality that is beyond the reach of the senses. It is, therefore, held in high esteem and invested with an aura of spiritual pursuit (Sadhana) leading to liberation from earthly-attachments. It is said; for both the performer and the good-hearted listener (sah-hrudaya), pure-music (Samgita) can be a fulfilling blessed experience. Some traditions even elevate Music to the level of sacred lore, the Vedas; calling it as the fifth Veda (Panchama-veda).

1.3. Sage Yajnavalkya (Yajnavalkyasmrti-III-4-115) describes Samgita as the most sublime of all the fine-arts that pleases and has the potential to convey all shades of emotions (). It is a Vidya that, if practiced diligently, can lead the aspirant towards liberation- mokṣamārgaṃ niyacchati

vīṇāvādanatattvajñaḥ śrutijātiviśāradaḥ / tālajñaś cāprayāsena mokṣamārgaṃ niyacchati // Yj_3.115 //

gītajño yadi yogena nāpnoti paramaṃ padam /rudrasyānucaro bhūtvā tenaiva saha modate // Yj_3.116 //

The Kalyana Chalukya King Someshwara III (1127-1139 AD ) in his Manasollasa (also called Abhjilashitarta Chintamani )  describes  chaste Music as that which educates (Shikshartham), entertains (Vinodartham), delights (Moda Sadanam) and liberates (Moksha Sadahanam) – Shikshartham Vinodartham Cha, Moda Sadanam, Moksha Sadhaanam Cha.

1.4. Rabindranath Tagore speaking of the Music of India said: “To me it seems that Indian Music concerns itself more with human experience in its relation to God and nature, than with the day-to-day world of common living. The mystic world of Indian Music, like the starry night, has certain serenity, pure, deep and tenderness about it. The Indian Ragas stir our imagination and move us away from mundane towards the ideal. For us, Music has a transcendental significance. ”

lotus-flower-and-bud

Evolution

2.1. The Music of India, over the centuries, has evolved in several stages. Samgita in the ancient context was a composite art comprising Gita (singing), Vadya (instruments) and Nrtya (limb movements). It was only much later that Nrtya began to develop independently. And, in Music, Gita (singing) had importance over Vadya (instrumental music); and, instrumental music generally follows the vocal styles and nuances. . Ahobala Pandita   in his Samgita Parijata pravashika (17th century) says it is because of that reason the singing itself came to be known as Samgita ( Samgita, Gita-vadhittra nrityanama trayam samgitam uccyate; Ganasytra pradhanatvat samgita mitiriyam).

The earliest form of singing  that we know about is the Sama-gana or the Saman, the musical way of rendering Sama Veda. That was followed by Gandharva or Marga, an ancient type of sacred music making a pleasant appeal to the gods. Gandharva or Marga or Margi, tended to be rather intellectual; leaving little room for flexibility and imagination. These limitations had to necessarily bring in several changes. Gandharva, therefore, underwent considerable transformation. And, more importantly, it gave place to Gana, a form of art-music (laukika) that aimed to entertain the spectators at the theatre.

2.2. Gana was the Music of the songs – Dhruva Gana – sung during the course of play by the actors on the stage as also by the musicians behind the curtain to the accompaniment of instrumental music. Natyashastra deals elaborately with the theoretical and practical aspects of the Dhruva Gana – its various types, structures, grammar, as also the type of songs to be sung in various contexts in a play.

2.3. Desi  category of music that flourished from around 5th century onwards , in contrast to Margi, was essentially a music springing out of inspiration derived  from various regional musical forms and tones , each having a unique flavour of the sub-culture in which it was rooted. Desi, which is enjoyed by all, is said to be the music of the people, as it is, relatively, free from strict adherence to rules. Desi Music flowered in various ways; it initiated or refined the concept of Raga; developed it further; classified Ragas according to the system of Mela or Melakarta (basic Raga) and its derivatives; and, it introduced new sets of instruments into musical performances.

2.4. For about a thousand years thereafter, which is till about the 17th century, the musical scene of India as also the dance-drama (geya-nataka) was dominated by a class of regulated (Nibaddha) Music called Prabandha, in its various forms. Prabandha is a variety of Khandakavya bound by certain specified elements (Dhatu and Anga). It is a tightly structured (Nibaddha Samgita) song format having specific characteristics that are governed by a set of rules. At times, the faithfulness to a prescribed format was carried to its limits. And, the Prabandha form, in due course, grew rather rigid; and, had to give place to improvised, easier and innovative (manodharma samgita) forms of music, such as Kriti and Dhruvapada (Drupad).

2.5. In the Music of South India, the churning of the Prabandhas and the Padas gave rise to a music format called Kriti (sometimes also called Kirtana, though there is a subtle difference between the two). Though several composers of repute prior to 17th century experimented with the Kriti format, it was the celebrated Trinity of Karnataka Samgita that, later, perfected it during the 18th century.  A Kriti which is explained as that which is constructed (yat krtam tat kritih) is primarily a pre-composed music (kalpitha Samgita), comprising pallavi, anu-pallavi and charanas, set to Taala.  And, it is the most advanced form of musical composition in Karnataka-samgita.

A Kriti is also the ultimate test of a composer. The Raga of Kriti should be in harmony with its structure, its lyrics and its musical content. Generally, a Kriti should strikes a good   balance between its words, its structure and its music (Mathu and Dhathu). A good Kriti should succeed in not only capturing the essence of its Raga, but also in aptly bringing out the inner meaning, the Bhava, of its lyrics (Sahitya).

Such a Kriti provides ample scope to the performer to delineate the true nature of a Raga in all its vibrant colours and also to draw out his creative (Mano- dharma), innovative expressions in Raga and Laya. The Musical performances of the present day are dominated by Kriti-rendering along with expanding on Raga-Alapa and Laya vinyasa (Taala or rhythmic patterns).

Along with the Kriti several other song formats with special reference to dance (Varna, Svarajit, and Javali etc) have come into being.

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Raga

3.1. A landmark step towards the evolution of the Raga was taken when the concept of Raga was introduced into Music of India by Matanga and others. The music-treatises of the second half of the 17th century were concerned primarily with the iconography of the Raga and were eager to connect the Raga with a deity or a season or a mood or even an environment.

3.2. The Music of Ragas, as we know it today, is the culmination of a long process of development in musical thinking that aimed to meaningfully organise melodic and tonal material. During the earlier times, Sama-gana gave way to Gandharva – gana as the mainstream of the sacred music. And, by the second half of the 17th century the ancient Gandharva Music that figured in Natyashastra was no longer in practice. The system of 17th century was closer to the one we have in the present day.

A familiarity with the traditions within the larger canvas of musical changes over centuries will help us to gain a better understanding of our Music.

musical instruments

 

Lakshana-granthas

4.1. As said before, the evolution of Music of India in all its forms, including the sacred music, art music, dance music, opera, instrumental music and other recognized forms (Gita prabandha, Vadya prabandha, Nritya prabandha and Lakshana prabandha) is a long process spread over many centuries. It took a long time for music to come to its present-day form. What we have today is the result of a long unbroken tradition and the fruit of accumulated heritage of centuries, stretching from the notes (Svara) of Sama-gana to the Mela-kartas of Govindacarya.

4.2. What is remarkable about the Music of India is its systematic way of developing musical thinking that aimed to organise and arrive at a golden mean between melody (Raga) and the structure of the compositions (Sahitya). This has lent our music an inner-strength and an identity of its own.

4.3. There followed a very long period stretching over a thousand years – from Natyashatra to Chaturdandi prashika – which produced most wonderful texts providing substance , structure and a sense of identity to what we now call as Classical Music. These texts on Samgita-shastra (Musicology), classified as Lakshana-granthas, brought together the various strands of the past Music traditions; established a sound theoretical basis for the structural framework Music, its related issues and practise.  Each genre of these texts also provided a model for the subsequent treatises to elaborate on music-theories and practices (Samgita Shastra).

4.4. The authors of ancient Indian musical texts seemed to be concerned with precise ways to describe Music as it should be; how it should be taught, learnt and performed; and, how it should be experienced and enjoyed.  It was an evolutionary process cascading towards greater sophistication.

5.1. The most notable among the texts of ancient and medieval India that deal with Music, briefly , are:

: – Bharatha’s Natya-shastra (Ca.200 BC) – though it treats Music as ancillary to theatre production;

: – Dattilam (around first century), which follows Bharatha closely, ascribed to Dattila marks the transition from Sama-gana to Gandharva, describing musical elements of Svara (scales), Sthana (base notes) and Grama (tonal framework) in terms of Sruti (micro-tonal intervals);

:- Brihadesi ascribed to Matanga (around 5th century) , a landmark text, that established the concept of Raga , dealt with Raga as a special subject,  spoke of Nada as (sound) in metaphysical terms , recognized Desi Music and established it in place of Margi , and became the source-text for the musicologists of the later periods for developing Mela-karta (parent scale) system of classifying Music;

: – Sangeeta Makaranda by Narada (11th century), is virtually a compendium which enumerates 93 Ragas and classifies them into  Raga (masculine) and Ragini ( feminine)  species;

: – Manasollasa (also called Abhjilashitarta Chintamani) ascribed to the Kalyana Chalukya King Someshwara III (12th century) covers a wide range of subjects related to Music (e.g. the desired qualities of a singer, voice culture, ways of elaborating a song etc) besides clearly stating the structure and the components of a class of Music called Prabandha which dominated Indian Music till about the end of 17th century;

: – Sangita-Cudamani of Jagadekamalla (1138 to 1150 AD ) –   son of king Someshwara ,  author of Manasollasa –  covers many topics related to music , such as  : Alapana  and Gamaka;   the desired qualities of a singer, of a composer; the voice culture; design of  the auditorium, and so on .

:- Sangita Samarasya of Prasavadeva, a Jain (monk?) of 12-13th century, which discusses various topics relating to Nada (sound), Dhvani (pitch), Shaarira  ( resonating musical voice) , Gita (song), Alapti ( free flowing elaboration of Raga), Sthaya (phrases), Varna ( lines) , Taala (rhythm) and Alamkara (ornamentation)  . It is said; Prasavadeva explained Gamaka as: “When a note produces the colour of Sruthis other than those which are its own, it is known as Gamaka.”

:- the 13th century monumental text Samgita-ratnakara of Sarangadeva ( perhaps the last of the integral Music texts of India before the distinctions of North and South appeared) , which brought together various strands of the past music traditions, defined almost 264 Ragas, established a sound theoretical basis for music and provided a model for the later musicology (Samgita Shastra);

:- Swaramela-Kalanidhi  by Ramamatya (Ca.1550) a poet-scholar in the court of Vijayanagar , which laid the foundation for the theoretical framework for classifying Ragas according to 19  Mela (parent scale) and 166 Janya (derived ) Ragas – this is said to be an improvement over Sage Vidyaranya’s  (1320 – 1380)  initiative  , in his Sangita-sara , to group (Mela ) about 50 Ragas according to their parent scale;

:- Raga-vibodha of Somanatha (1609 A.D) pays special attention to Alamkara (ornamentation) or Vadana-bedha – the techniques of plying on stringed musical instruments (Veena) – such as deflections, slides and others. His exposition of Vadana-bedha (finger-techniques), emphasizing the subtleties of the instrument, is said be based mainly on the vocal techniques of Gamaka-s and Sthaya-s (components of a raga) as described in Sangita-Ratnakara of Sarangadeva (13th century). He is also said to have brought into vogue the practice of writing notations (Raga-sanchara).

:- the fundamental treatise of present Music, Chaturdandi-Prakasika  by Venkatamakhin (ca. 1635) corrected Ramamatya’s Mela system from 19 to 17  and  , more importantly , in its appendix (anubandha) introduced the  possibility of classifying Ragas (Kanakangi to Rasikapriya) under a  72 Mela-karta scheme made into two groups of 36 each (Shuddha Madhyama and Prathi Madhyama)  ;

:- Sangraha Chudamani  by Govindacharya (late 17th – early 18th century),  which  expanding on Venkatamakhi’s  Chaturdandi-Prakasika introduced the  Sampoorna Melakarta scheme as well as delineating  Lakshanas for 294 janya  ragas, many of which were till then unknown, with their Arohana and  Avarohana , and also refined the Katyapadi prefixes  by linking the Mela Ragas to their first two syllables;

:- and, the voluminous  Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini by Sri Subbarama Dikshitar (1839-1906) , the grandson of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar , running into about 1700 pages is a source-book on Music of India , tracing the history of Music from Sarangadeva to the 20th century through a series of biographies of noteworthy musicians and music-scholars ; and also providing exhaustive details on 72 Melas  as also tables of Ragas, Ragangas, Upanga-s, Bhashangas with their Murcchanas, Gamakas, in addition to details of the  Taalas.

In addition, there were numbers other Lakshana-granthas of great merit that were written by musician-scholars spread over long periods.

5.2. These works, with the exception of Sangita-parijata, follow the Mela system of classifying the Ragas. For this reason, these texts are closer to the present day than those that were rooted in Murchanas, the important Amsa and the final note Nyasa (which is followed in Sangita-ratnakara).

{We will briefly talk about each of these texts, separately, later in the series]

6.1. As can be seen; the 16th and 17th centuries were of great importance for Music-texts of India. Several important texts touching upon the Music of North India were also written during this period. Of these, the Raga-tarangini of Lochana Kavi (?); Sad-raga-chandrodaya and other works of Pundarika Vittala; Hrdaya-kautaka and Hrdaya-prakasha of Hrdaya–Narayana (Ca.1660) and Sangita-parijata of Ahobala (Ca.1665) are considered important for their bearing on the present day music.

Continued in Part Two

–  Overview (2) continued

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Sources and References

 

Music and Musical Thought in Early India by Lewis Rowell

The Traditional Indian Theory and Practice of Music and Dance-  Edited by Jonathan Katz

Early Indian musical speculation and the theory of melody by Lewis Rowell

Abhinavagupta’s theory of musical transcendence

http://pages.pathcom.com/~ericp/Bansuri13Slawek.pdf

Important Treatises on Carnatic Music by Harini Raghavan

http://www.nadasurabhi.org/articles/39-important-treatises-on-carnatic-music

Lakshanagranthas

http://www.indian-heritage.org/music/grandhas.htm

http://www.srinivasreddy.org/summer/Early%20Music.pdf

http://sitardivin.globat.com/seminar2013/017BisakhaGoswamiPoske.pdf

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Sangita

 

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