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Nataraja in Art, Thought And Literature

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Item Code: NAB041
Author: C.Sivaramamurti
Publisher: Publications Division, Government of India
Language: English
Edition: 1994
ISBN: 8123000928
Pages: 412
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 2.17 kg
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Book Description
About The Book

Nataraja as a theme represents life force itself. The ancients visualised Nataraja as a manifestation of the cosmic energy symbolising the three aspects of creation, preservation and destruction. The dance of Nataraja has always been synony- mously viewed with truth and beauty, force and rhythm, movement and change, realisation and dissolution. Nataraja has been visualised in a variety of forms by seers, poets and artists-chiselled, painted, described and sung about in many parts of India and countries in the neighbourhood since long. This itself is a testimony to the twin aspects of time and timelessness of Nataraja, both as a per- sonality and as a theme. This book highlights Nataraja as the pre- siding deity of fine arts whether it be music, dance, painting, sculpture or epig- raphy. The Vedic roots of the cosmic dancer and the blend of tradition and modernity is woven as a thread through- out the book describing vividly the ex- ploits of the great dancer on world stage. It also contains interesting infor- mation on famous spots of the Nataraja theme and the concept of Nataraja be- yond Indian frontiers.

About The Author

Dr Sivaramamurthy has been one of the most acclaimed art historians of this coun- try. He had devoted an entire life time to iconography, especially to the Nataraja theme. This book is an outcome of his research as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship awarded to him in 1968. Some of the other books of the author include South Indian Paintings, Some Aspects of Indian Culture, Indian Sculpture and San- skrit Literature and Art.

Preface

Towards the end of 1968, I was very kindly offered a Fellowship by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund. Nothing could have made me happier than to associate myself in a dedicated work with the name of the greatest beacon of light in India in our times. This in itself I considered an augury indeed of accomplishment of the best in research on any chosen theme. I can neither forget the encouraging exhortation of Miss. Padmaja Naidu to do my very best on a chosen theme, nor the delightful choice of theme so kindly suggested by Dr. Karan Singh, both of which constituted the initial blessing for godspeed as I started on my subject of research. Nataraja has always been a favourite theme of mine. As long ago as when I was a research student in the Madras University I had my own peculiar musings on Nataraja. "How would have Nataraja been depicted in the time of Bhaqavan Patanjali?" would be my query, and I would fancy him dancing with a single pair of arms (bahubhyam uta te nemeh). wearing his locks in ushnisha fashion (namah) kapardine, UShniShine) in the dance hall of the universe (namas sabhabhyas sabhapatibhyascha) holding the snakes (ehimscha sarvan jambhayan), himself lit up with a glow (tvisbimate), sounding the drum (namo dundubhyaya chahananyaya cha). I would then wonder how wonderful he would have looked in the hey day of South Indian art, during the time of the Pallavas with the peculiar make up of his jatas, the yajnopavita flowing over his right arm, all his four arms in natyahastas or carrying attributes, a host of carvings from the Rajasimhesvara temple in Kanchipuram fleeting before my minds's eye. I would pause and sketch the pictures of my fancy in the appropriate style of the period, the second century B.C. and the eight century A.D. respectively. My fancy would next imagine my favourite sivatandavastotra to which I was always attracted by its remarkable alliteration, resonance and dance rhythm, not precluding its possible composition by a genius not inferior to Havana to whom it is traditionally attributed, and wonder how it would have been written by a scribe of Patanjali's time or by a contemporary of the Pallavas. I would then scribble it out with all the fervour and enthusiasm of a youngster fervently studying Indian palaeography. The result is in the two sketches on p. ix and the first three verses transcribed in Brahmi of the second century B.C. and in Pallava Grantha of the eighth century A.D.

Nataraja has always been a favourite theme of mine. I had discussed some aspects of Nataraja. the Lord of Dance, in appropriate context in several of my books but I could never imagine, until I took up this theme as a complete unit in itself for elaborate study, how vast was its scope. The material that I have collected is no doubt vast, but as I worked I realised that the theme is inexhaustible. Nataraja was no longer just in the golden hall at Chidambaram. His dance halls appeared all over our vast country. Nataraja ceased to be a theme mainly for sculptures in stone and metal in South India, and became manifest as a great concept spread allover the country-to the south, west, north and east. It did not stop at that. A magnificent theme like this, the very symbol of Indian art, thought and culture, undoubtedly cannot be confined to a limited sphere and I rightly found it everywhere, beyond the Indian frontiers, nearly allover Asia.

Finally, when I recall how Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the scholar, statesman, with a heart as wide as the ocean for appreciation of all that was good and worthy of encouragement, called for my tiny little book, the first to see the light of day, and showered his blessings on a young and unknown scholar, I feel that this great honour conferred on me, almost towards the end of my career, is indeed a supreme satisfaction for me as an author. This call asking me to conduct research on a noble theme with a fellowship instituted in the name of the noblest son of India, so that I could have his blessings again, is almost a fulfilment of all the writing in which I have been engaged all these years. I have done my best in preparing this volume on Nataraia. for which I have gathered material both literary and artistic from all over India, nay Asia and the rest of the world. My satisfaction would be complete if this book could be, as I hope, an adequate offering to the memory of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in whose name, this fellowship has held out for me an almost impossible ideal to accomplish.

On the third of January 1969, I bowed to the Dancing Lord at Chidambaram after witnessing his sandal bath in cold mid-winter on the sacred day of the constellation of Ardra, just as did, on the selfsame day, my ancestor of the seventeenth remote, in the sixteenth century, and composed a significant verse (given on page vi) and I commenced my study of this theme, and again on the same occasion on January 10, 1971 I completed it with the satisfaction that it has been possible to elucidate to an extent the import of the Lord's dance.

I am thankful to the Ministry of Education for permission accorded to me to take up this fellowship from the day I went on leave preparatory to relinquishing charge of the Directorship of the National Museum. It is my great pleasure to thank my colleagues in the Archaeological Survey of India and from the different Museums allover India, the Archaeological Departments in different States in India, and colleagues from Museums in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Pakistan and Ceylon. In addition to help that I have received from all these colleagues, other individuals and institutions have also extended their hand of cooperation and help. I must thank here Monsieur J. Daridan, the former French Ambassador in India, the Academy of the American Institute of Indian Studies, Banaras, and the French Academy at Pondicherry for very kindly supplying me a number of photographs as an encouraging gift for helping me in this work.

For personally acquainting myself with the famous Polonnaruva bronzes, studied in the early years of this century by Dr. Coomaraswamy and Sir P. Ramanathan, as also the ones discovered just a decade ago and discussed by Dr. Godakumbura, I had requested help from Dr. D. H. P. H. de Silva, Director of the National Museum, Colombo, who very readily responded. I cannot be adequately thankful to him and to his colleagues and to Dr. R. H. de Silva, Commissioner of the Archaeological Department in Ceylon, for all the help that was accorded to me when I was there. I was specially taken to Anuradhapura at short notice, where I could study the bronzes from Polonnaruva unearthed in 1960. Mr. Haque, the Director of the Dacca Museum very kindly provided me with photographs of the dancing Siva, described by Dr. N. K. Bhattasali, and two additional ones he had collected recently for the Museum.

The very first photograph to start my study of Nataraja was kindly supplied by Mrs. Pupul Jayakar who has one of the earliest and the most magnificent of Nataraja sculptures in her own collection, a Gupta one from Nachna. I am most grateful to her for this aid.

Recently, when Mr. Khandalavala visited the Cleveland Museum of Art in the United States of America, he noticed a dancing figure of Siva of the Basohli school and thoughtfully arranged for a photograph of it to help me in my study. To him and to Mrs. Margaret Marcus of the Cleveland Museum I am most grateful for helping me with the photograph.

Photographs most difficult to obtain were those required from Vietnam. These were very kindly procured and sent by Professor M. Jean Filliozat to whom I am most beholden.

Dr. Grace Morley, Head of the ICOM Regional Agency in Asia, has not only with infinite patience gone through this large volume of text and offered many valuable suggestions, but also, whenever out touring in South East Asia, had always my 'Nataraja' in mind to obtain, if possible, rare photographs that I might require. She thus procured some photos from Vietnam and Indonesia through the kindness of her friends Mr. Carl Heffley and Mr. Lee Fickle from Vietnam and Indonesia respectively. To both of them I offer my thanks, but I know not how to adequately thank Dr. Morley for all this kindness that she has bestowed on me.

A photograph of the most beautiful Gurjara Pratihara image of Ardhanarisvara was kindly made available by Rajamata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur to whom I am most grateful.

Contents

CHAPTER 1NATARAJA-THE LORD OF DANCE1
CHAPTER 2NATYA8
A Peasant Ocular Sacrifice
Its Scope
Purpose of Natya
Its Varieties: Tandava and Lasya
Marga and Desi Varieties
The Occasion of Dance
Dance as Vyanjana or Suggestion Superior to Abhidha Utterance
Formless Siva Assumes From to Enjoy Dance
Other Important Deities also Delight in Dance
Appreciation of Dance
Knowledge of Dance a Blessing
The Quality of a Dancer
Essentials of Dance
Sculptor's Interpretation of Dance
Antiquity of Natya
CHAPTER 3THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SIVA'S DANCE21
Dance of Bliss
Dance of Omnipotence
Dance of Immanence
Dance of Time and Eternity
Dance of Omniscience
Dance Symbol of Creation and Sustenance
Maya
Ashtamurti
The Import of the Decoration of Siva's Jatas (Aharya)
Creation and Destruction only Transformation and Rejuvenation
Symbol of Life
Siva Auspicious
Destroys Fear from the Three Miseries
Architecture of the Universe
Significance of Siva on the Bull as on Apasmara
Dvandvasama
Isvara's Preeminence
Siva the Universal Soul Dancing in the Heart-Lotus
Nataraja and Ranganatha as Dynamic and Static Aspects of Identical Concept
CHAPTER 4KARANAS PRESENTED IN SIVA'S TANDAVA39
CHAPTER 5KARANAS PRESENTED BY VISHNU AS KRISHNA56
CHAPTER 6GANESHA, DIKPALAS AND MATRIKAS DANCE IN ACCOMPANIMENT66
CHAPTER 7THE VEDIC ROOTS OF THE CONCEPT OF THE DANCER74
Siva as Dancer in the Mahabharata
Siva Propounds Grammar
Siva, Master of Music
Sabhapati
Vyaghrapada and Patanjali
Dance and Music in the Veda
Indra and Other Vedic Deities as Dancer
Siva's Dance against this Background
Remover of Maya
Sahasraksha
Pasupati
Maddens Rishipantnis
Khatvangi
Gajantaka
Dance with Matrikas
CHAPTER 8NATARAJA PICTURED IN LITERATURE81
Literature Description of Siva's Form
Play of Clours
Blend of Iconographic Forms
The Third Eye
Ardhanarisvara Aspect
Aharya
Tandava: Mountains Tossed
Against Elephant Hide
Handicaps in Dance Movements
Raudra Rasa of Tandava and Bhavabhinaya
Nilakantha and Nilakantha
Forest of Arms in Motion
Ganga's Movement
Stars Scattered
Ashes Scattered
The Moon Slips
Effect of swift Movement of Hands and Feet
Skulls Vivified Chant Laudatory Hymns
Rechaka of Neck
Siva's Dance of Deluge also for Creation
Weird Effect of the Dance
Ganga as Curtain Background
Velocity of Dance Movement
A Pause
Dance Again
Abhinaya
Music and Dance
Siva Natyacharya
Siva Withesses Dance as a Rasika
CHAPTER 9NATARAJA IN HYMNAL LITERATURE112
Onomatopoeic
Poetic Fancy
Siva Connoisseur, Dancer, Dance Master
Difficult Dance
Multi-armed
Immaculate
Purana
Philosophic Import
Composite Iconographic Import
Vedic Hemistichs to Elucidate
Sabhapati
Ardhanarisvara
Stores on Nataraja at Chidambaram
Devi Witness of Siva's Dance
CHAPTER 10NATARAJA IN EPIGRAPHICAL LITERATURE131
Dedication of and to Nataraja in Inscription
Synonyms of Nataraja
Siva Dance concept Popular All Over
Nilakantha
Violent Tandava
Tandava and Lasya in One: Ardhanarisvara
Siva Dance Gathers Momentum
Varied Fancy on Ganga Split
Skulls Revived
Kailasa is no Dance Hall
Siva Dance and Expounds Grammar
Ashes to Purify
Panchakritya
Thunderous Foot Pats
Beautifying Nataraja
Onomatopoeic
Abhinaya of Devi
Padmanabha Fond of Dance
Contradictory Qualities
CHAPTER 11VARIETIES OF NATARAJA AS DESCRIBED IN SILPA TEXTS139
Sakaladhikara
Sritattvanidhi
Silparatna
Amsumadbhedagama
Silpa Prakasa
Devatamurtiprakarana
Vishnudharmottara
Matsyapurana
Kurmapurana
Chaturvargachintamani
Stotra
CHAPTER 12AESTHETIC QUALITY OF THE CONCEPT149
CHAPTER 13NATARAJA FORM IN SCULPTURE AND PAINTING156
Early Siva Forms
Gupta
Vakataka
Early Bhanja
Vishnukundin
Early Pallava
Early Western Chalukya
Easter Chalukya
Pallava
Early Pandya
Early Chera
Nolamba
Rashtrakuta
Chola
Late Chalukya
Hoysala
Kakatiya
Reddi
Vijayanagara
Nayak
Medieval Kerala
Eastern Ganga
Pala and Sena
Kamarupa
Karkota and Utpala
Gurjara Pratihara
Chaulukya
Paramara
Chandella
Haihaya
Gahadavala
Late Medieval Paintings from the Hills
CHAPTER 14THE NATARAJA CONCEPT BEYOND INDIAN FRONTIERS336
Introduction
Indonesia
Bali
Cambodia
Champa
Thailand
Central Asia
Nepal
Ceylon
CHAPTER 15SPOTS SPECIALLY ASSOCIATED WITH NATARAJA AND THEIR IMPORTANCE365
Adrisabha
Adichitsabha
Ratnasabha
Rajatasabha
Ramrasabha
Chitrasabha
Kanakasabha
APPENDIX A373
APPENDIX B375
BIBLIOGRAPHY383
INDEX389















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