Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 67 (Vol # 7) Dated 20 Nov 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 67 (Vol # 7) Dated 20 Nov 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from page No 524 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

22.           Wearing exactly similar head-gear, ornaments, facial make-up and adopting similar steps and postures in the dance, holding       the sword in a manner with the hand held close to the body from the shoulder till the elbow with the hand extended from the elbow towards the front, holding the sword vertically, executing a jump while swivelling around to the right or left; has been a typical dance form in Tamil Nadu from very old times.  One particular such dance in which a ferocious KãLi known as Ugra-KãLi in a competitive encounter with Easwara is subdued and pacified; has been referred as Sãnthi-Koothu in an ancient Tamil literature and that is the source and origin of KathakaLi dance form.  I Quote,
"vãsigai pooNdu maNittodaNi aNindu
வாசிகை பூண்டு மணித்தோடணியணிந்து
poosiya suNNam mugattezhudi
பூசிய சுண்ணம் முகத்தெழுதி
tesudane endu sudarvãL pidittittu
தேசுடனே ஏந்து சுடர்வாள் பிடித்திட்டு
easanukkum kãLikkum sãnthik kootãdat thagum."
ஈசனுக்கும் காளிக்கும் சாந்தி கூத்தாடத்தகும்."

23.          This 'vãsigai' is a 'turban' and 'mugaththu poosiya suNNam' is the facial make-up. Our ÃchãryãL born in the Namboodri Brahmin family has some close connection with this place Thiruvortriyur, where I noticed the statue depicting this dance form.  For the Tripura Sundari Amman in the temple there, our ÃchãryãL has established the Yantra.  Even till date the Amman Kovil priests in Thiruvortriyur are Namboodri Brahmins from Kerala.  The dance form of KathakaLi which has now remained only in Kerala, at the time of Rajaraja Sozha has been there in Tamil Nadu, at Thiruvortriyur more brightly than elsewhere it seems.  Sãnthi Koothu was not only for pacifying KãLi.  Let me explain this in greater detail. 

பலவிதக் கூத்துகள் – Various Such Dance Forms
24.          In the olden times the Dance-Dramas were mainly classified as Sãnthi-Koothu and Vinoda-Koothu.  The latter one was evidently more oriented towards play, fun and entertainment.  So, it included some amount of jugglery, balancing on rope or edges of plate while dancing, puppetry, balancing five or six tiered pots kept one over the other on the head.  Sãnthi-Koothu was of a more serious variety than this.  There were four sub-divisions amongst them.

25.          The first sub-division is known as 'Sokkam' also known as 'Suddha Nruttam'.  Instead of dancing to specific words of songs, like Tillãna and Jatiswaram, this is dance for dance sake purely relating body movements to the sound of the beat, to the accompaniment of continuously changing postures by the fingers, hands and legs known as so many 'Adavu' keeping up to a sense of rhythm and beauty without any loss of decency and decorum.  These are based on 108 body postures known as 'KaraNam' in Bharatha Sãstrã.  In the Brihad Easwara Temple at the second-tier level Prãhãram around the Garba-Gruha, Parameswara himself is depicted as demonstrating each one of these postures as so many sculptures. 

26.          The second sub-division is known as 'Meik-kooththu of the inner realm known as 'Agaththurai' in which from the gross sensual level of Hero – Heroine that is Nayak – Nayika plane, one is virtually lifted to the ethereal heights of spiritual union of Jivãtma with Parama Ãtma as depicted in dance to the accompaniment of vocal and instrumental music with the beat!  Thevãram, Thiruvãsagam, Thirukkovaiyar, and Nãlãyira Divya Prabandam have all got songs suitable for this 'Meik-kooththu' form of dance. 
27.          The third sub-division is known as 'Avinayam', that is not to be misunderstood as what is not humble.  The Sanskrit word 'abhinaya:' – 'अभिनय:' in Tamil becomes 'அவிநயம்', basically meaning depiction in action and poses, the feelings and sensations as experienced by the person, as described by the words of the songs. The fourth sub-division is the Nãdakam, that is, to take a huge story or epic and play act the same on stage as made up of so many scenes of conversations, poems and dance.  They were mainly based on stories of Sanskrit origins or Tamil literature.  By the fact that there were adages such as 'ãriyak kooththãinãlum kãriyattileye kaN' – 'ஆரியக் கூத்தாடினாலும் காரியத்திலேயே கண்', meaning that, 'even while enacting a scene on stage, that one was keen on his job'; one can make out that the Sanskrit dramas were quite popular having mass appeal.  Those were the days when languages were bridges of communication and not chasms of contentions!

28.          In these Sãnthi Koothu, though there were a variety of mood changes and feelings galore, the net and end effect was one of peace and calmness.   Nowadays to titillate, agitate and excite seem to be the meaning of entertainment.  But in the olden days, to elevate and ennoble was understood to be the main purpose of all entertainment.  However much roughening of the senses by Nataraja, the ending was always one of the 'Satyam, Sãntam and Sivam' of DakshiNa Murthy, as that is how the Upanishad describes him!

29.          In this Aryan Sãnthi Koothu, a particular deviation was known as 'Chedam'.  Any type of slight change from the original in this adaptation or deviation, in the interest of making it interesting without making the deviation by itself masquerade as the original; they used to call these adaptations as such.  This word 'Chedam' is a Sanskrit word meaning cut, changed and adapted. So the stories were adapted from Sanskrit PurãNãs, Itihãsãs and or Kãvya.  The actor was known as Sãkkai.  Some time back I had quoted that Rajaraja had detailed someone by the name of 'Thiru VeLLarai Sãkkai', do you remember?   This Koothu of the variety known as 'Chedam' has been there from very old times.  The story about how Parameswara hard burnt the whole of Tiripura, in the name of 'Kotti-chedam', which had been demonstrated by one Paraiyur Kotti Sãkkaiyan before the King Cheran Senguttuvan is mentioned in Silappadikãram, one of the Tamil Classics.

30.          Sãkkai and Sãkkaiyan are in singular, while in the plural are referred to as Sãkkaiyar or Sãkkiyãr Koothu.  Like KathakaLi another dance/drama form in Kerala is called 'Sãkkiyãr Koothu'.  In our Matam Sadas also artists from Kerala have conducted this Sãkkiyãr Koothu.  This instead of being totally in Malayalam, it is a type of Ãryã Koothu only.  First there are some Sanskrit slokas which are later explained by a mix of Malayalam cum Sanskrit with songs and dance, are enacted on the stage. 

One Stone Dropping Three Mangoes
31.          In our this Tamil Land thus, in the olden times, there used to be this sort of Ãryã Koothu giving the audience a mix of Sanskrit and Tamil songs cum dance and drama.  But now when the situation is one of infatuation towards one and denial with hatred towards the other; I cannot help but wish and wonder, will there not be somebody coming forward to revive and rekindle, this KathakaLi like art form with some modern ideas thrown in, reviving interest in both the languages, while simultaneously bringing to focus our religious and spiritual uplift and ennoblement?  Such venture would prove to be revival of an art form, useful mode of entertainment and rekindling of interest in Sanskrit; thereby achieving three hits with one missile!

32.          Rajaraja had organized the conduct of both Ãryã Koothu and Tamil Koothu every day in the Brihad Easwara Temple.  Those who are now organizing a celebration in his memory would do well to revive this equal and balanced approach to the languages than thinking of it as being thrust down their throats!  If this eclipse that is overshadowing our vision may be lifted leading to a reawakening, that would be the best method of remembering an integrating influence of such a great King of Tamil Nadu. 

33.          Approaching Divinity through Art.  Chanting Vedas and Thevãram, singing Sanskrit slokas and Tamil SeyyuL, conducting dramas with Sanskrit and Tamil operas; easily and in a very attractive manner; Rajaraja Sozha enabled the common masses of this South India to approach divinity.  If we are proud of him and wish to honour his memory, we should also imbibe this attitude of respectful equality towards Sanskrit and Tamil (or whatever our mother tongue) and revive our devotedness and worshipfulness.  He could do whatever he did on such a grand scale because of his this sense of equality.  Instead of letting the Art Forms go in every which way lacking in morality and a sense of purpose, let us proceed with love in our hearts towards all, respect for languages and traditions; offering all our endeavour as obeisance before God and proceed on the path shown by Siva Pãda Sekharan Rajaraja Sozha!




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