Among a galaxy of great scholars of Sanskrit in modern India, perhaps one name shines brighter, that of Dr. V. Raghavan, a scholar and aesthete par excellence. During his long illustrious life, he not only wrote books but also was an excellent teacher. Many of his disciples and students have occupied important positions in the field of Sanskrit and Indic studies not only in India but in many countries of the world. The incomparably rich legacy of his original interpretations of Sastric texts and elucidations on a variety of subjects concerning dance, music, fine arts, puranas, aesthetics, philosophy etc. is a source of knowledge and inspiration to scholars, students and researchers alike.
His life-long association with the great dancer T. Balasaraswati must have filled his mind with such nuances of Rasa as were seen in her abhinaya. This Rasa anubhava (experience of aesthetic delight) is what he always held close to his heart. Therefore his words were imbued with Rasa which often could cut through complex ideas, making them sound, simple and intelligible even to a lay leader. His total dedication to preservation and propagation of dance, not only Bharatanatyam but all the known styles of his time, through sharing his understanding and appreciation of this great performing art resulted in several articles, essays, lectures and books. It is heartening to see Dr. V. Raghavan Centre For Performing Arts doing a yeomen service in bringing out this volume of Dr. V.Raghavan’s collected writings on Dance. I have no doubt that this will be a worthy addition to every dancer and dance-lover’s library. That the book is being published and released on the 86the Birthday of legendary T. Balasaraswathi is no mere coincidence. This therefore, becomes a most fitting tribute, both to the dancer, dance and dance-scholar.
With a prayer to Goddess Saraswati to bless Bharat Bhoomi with such genius from time to time and with respectful Namaskar.
It is with deep love, reverence and admiration for my father Dr. V. Raghavan, I have compiled this volume containing his writings on Indian dance. I am extremely delighted to write a brief note for this publication titled – “Splendours of Indian Dance”. The works of Dr. V. Raghavan are a perennial source of reference and continued research in the spheres of Sanskrit, Music, Dance, Drama and allied aspects of Indian culture.
It is most fitting that this book is being released by one of our outstanding exponents of dance, Padma Vibhushan Smt. Sonal Mansingh, Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. I thank her for giving the Foreword for this book.
The present collection of writings by Dr. V. Raghavan offers an exposition of some of our dance traditions, their forms, content, compositions and practice. Among the forms, there is more focus on the Bharatanatyam, the antiquity of which is traced to the Rg Vedic period; on the other hand there is a detailed analysis of the folk dance theatre-Yaksa gana which makes an interesting study.
Certain topics dealing with theoretical aspects like, the Natyadharmi and Lokadharmi, provide a profound study of the terms, deliberated in an extensive manner, discussing the intricacies of the performing tradition and linking it to authentic source texts.
In this context, it is to be pointed out that among well-known writings of Dr. V. Raghavan, Kudiyattam as a form of Sanskrit drama tradition, and Vrittis, find a place in an earlier publication of the author on “Sanskrit Drama – its Aesthetics and Production” (1993).
On the practical side of Bharatanatyam, there are articles focusing on dance compositions and composers. An interesting parallel is drawn by the author between the compositions of Kandyan dance with some of the South Indian Bharatanatyam repertoire.
In his early years, Dr. V. Raghavan wrote articles and reviews of music and dance performances in the columns of well-known Journals of the past like Triveni and Sound and Shadow (under the pseudonym-Bhava Raga Tala and Bhavuka). Form those collections, a vivid picture of the interesting dance scenario of the mid 1930’s unfolds in an article on Bharatanatyam-the Sadir-Nautch controversy, which provides a deep insight into that period.
As a serious, dedicated, tireless propagator of Bharatanatyam, Dr. V. Raghavan presented a paper on Bharatanatya in the eventful first ever major Dance Seminar of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi; this paper is bound to immerse the reader into the realms of this art form, covering aspects of both Sastra (text) and Prayoga (methodology).
The author’s first person account of his music and dance experiences in the west, reveals the true Sahrudaya in him, bubbling not only with zeal, enthusiasm and an open mind to learn and absorb valuable information but also disseminate it for the benefit of some of the foremost cultural organizations of our country which he served and brought them global recognition even as early as in 1950s.
It is sincerely hoped that both the dance community, particularly the younger generation of dancers as well as researchers, and lovers of art in general would benefit through this publication which is brought out in commemoration the 29the anniversary of the author.
The mutual admiration and regard shared by Dr. V. Raghavan and the legendary Bharatanatyam exponent Sangita Kalanidhi T. Balasaraswati is too well-known. For my elder sister Smt. Priyamvada and myself who have been senior disciples of T. Balasaraswati, it gives immense joy to have this book released on the 86th (13.5.2004) Birthday of our revered teacher.
My sister Priyamvada, who was very close to our father among the four of us, is one of the foremost performer of Bharatanatyam from the 50’s, fulfilling the ambition of her scholar-father who reveled in the glory of this grand performing tradition. Priyamvada, a brilliant performer-teacher and torch bearer of the Bala tradition, is behind this publication, sharing and caring at every moment and funding this entire project. A worthy offering of a beloved daughter to a wonderful father indeed.
On this occasion the support and encouragement from the other members of Dr. V. Raghavan’s family is being appreciated.
Dr. C.S. Sundaram, close associate of Dr. V. Raghavan, is to be acknowledge for his continued involvement in the activities of the Centre. Sri Ramachandrasekhar, Sanskrit Teacher and an active member of Samskrita Ranga, (founded by Dr. V. Raghavan), is to be thanked for his keen interest and enthusiasm in sharing with me the task of proof reading and preparing the final press draft.
Some of the articles in this volumes have appeared in the Journals of the Music Academy and Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi; and in this regard, the Centre acknowledges The Music Academy, Madras, and Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi-two august bodies with which Dr. V. Raghavan was associated for many decades.
My best wishes and blessings to my daughter and disciple Smt. Sushama Ranganathan who has designed the cover for the book.
Sri Kannan and Sri Venkatesh of Kayveekay Letter prints are to be thanked for printing this work in a fitting manner.
Dr. V. Raghavan, born in Tiruvarur, was deeply attached to its presiding deity, Sri Tyagesa and His Divine Dance, known as the “Ajapa Natana”. May this Centre, on the auspicious Rathotsava of Sri Ajapa Natana Tyagesa be blessed by that Supreme Lord and continue to cherish the memory of the Scholar – Savant, who called himself the devotee of Sri Kamalamba and Sri Tyagesa.
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