Some History and Some Perspectives

Mr. Ragothaman shared a few links with me that made me scout around a little more.

Dr. Avanti Meduri’s article titled ” Talibanisation of performing Arts” written way back in 2001

Well, the article being critisized in the above article can be found here. I can tell you what it is, but I dont want to take away the opportunity for you to play that guessing game.

Here’s another one. “Occidentalitis is a virus that has been slowly creeping into Indian performing arts.”- says Kollengode S Venkataraman from Pittsburgh,USA

Hmm… when it comes to the coining the name Bharathanatyam as an acronym  for Bhava Ragam and Taalam, references can even be traced to the Dikshathar’s Krithi “Kanchadalayadakshi” where he refers to Ambal as ” Bhava Raaga Thaala Vidyarini”. Whether the actual christening process had access to this source and used the inspiration, I can only make a guess. Phoneticically speaking, as this author points out and so many have pointed out before him, it may not fit..

 But do you remember Sri. Balamurali Krishna’s take on “Bharathanatyam” . We have discussed this sometime ago and you can find the same here

That’s a lot of reading right??? 🙂

7 responses to “Some History and Some Perspectives

  1. “Who shall we blame for this Taliban situation and lack of tolerance for the coexistence of multiple and different viewpoints in the cultural domain of the performing arts? Dance criticism, our patronage system, the lack of a higher educational initiative in the arts, the mafia groups operating inside cultural production, or the rewriters of dance history? While we cry for the arts today, no one seems to worry about the lack of values in the cultural production of the arts. ”

    Great article. Although, i found little relevance to the article being attacked. I thought the Sruti article was very well balanced in terms of wording. I did not find any instance of attempt to polarise.

    I completely agree with Dr. Avanti on the lack of tolerance part which shows up as completely against the implicit value system in Bharatanatyam. Everybody has strong opinions. Nobody has an objective critical eye and an open mind for a discussion. Some even stay away from healthy discussions. When i asked a famous Guru by email as to what he thought about the allegation of a certain technique in a certain style, he respectfully closed the discussion by saying said,” Enjoy dance for itself and don’t politicize it”. This would have been admirable if he was open for discussion and this was the concluding remark. He just refused to discuss it.

    And then there are scores out there wanting to change everyone (moderated ) into their own style and criticizing other styles. Others (moderated ) will do anything so that everyone other than those who follow their faith perish, ideologically at least. The core value of tolerance from the Hindu Dharma is nowhere seen in our own behavior. Even if it is only subtle words and action , in spirit it is as bad as Dictatorship.

    There should be increasing effort to decouple passion from tolerance humility to accept if not appreciate a different point of view. To encourage diplomatic and at the same time objective, to the point discussions. The attempt to polarize the world of anything is never going to lead to anything prosperous. Slandering and mudslinging in private and refusing to talk in public is not a solution and that does not make you a nice person. It just ascertains that you either refuse to think, refuse to disclose or are incapable of thinking and articulation. All three of them fail you as a dancer.

    Sangeetha: Very well said KSL!!This lack of acceptance and the difficulty posed to the co-existence of different points of view permeates every aspect of life. In general, the willingness to remain open to other views and critically research its validity, and disagree gracefully if it dosent appeal to one’s rationale may go a long way in strengthening the community. Fortunately or unfortunately passion runs high in the artistic fields and makes rationalisation hard.. very hard. When people disagree, everything about the event and consequence takes on such a negative shade that nothing positive comes out of it. Placing “self” before everything else is another cause for the discordant note. I also sometimes wonder why disagreeing with a view point of an individual comes to mean disagreement with the individual himself.

  2. “I wonder why disagreeing with a view point of an individual comes to mean disagreement with the individual himself”

    Most of the times it is because the individual considers the ideology an extension of himself than a mere reflection of his thinking at one point in time and space. I don’t have trouble if you think your opinions are irresolute. Just agree to disagree. People lack the humility to give credibility to the other person’s intelligence. Especially those who live under the false impression that if they are not a successful dancer(and hence implicitly excellent, which is the wrong way to go about it), they will cease to exist. 🙂

    Sangeetha: 🙂

  3. Sangeetha has demonstrated a lot of intolerance, to judge from the number of “moderated” places, depriving the poor readers from critically researching the validity of Ksl’s opinion! 🙂

    I protest!!!!!!! 😦 And will complain to Osama bin Laden!

    If there are “scores out there wanting to change everyone (moderated ) into their own style”, it only means that, in India, these “scores” are the instruments in the invisible but passionate battle of the gods and demons (for them, it is a matter of life and death), not merely a lifeless “discussion” of some abstract “aesthetic values”.

    “Preacher” is a popular “job” in the “tolerant” America, not in India. In the rational and egalitarian West, it is foolishly believed that “Ultimate Truth can be found through discussion and diplomatic sharing of opinions”.

    In India, we know that nothing great can come out of a “healthy”(!) chit-chat of halfwits who consider themselves very wise. The higher the Truth, the fewer individuals are capable of perceiving it with their mind’s eye.

    Of course, for the rational-minded NRIs, anything entering their heads is totally detached from their life, not worth being pursued in earnest. Make an effort? For what? Hindu temples in the USA are just branches of Disneyland.

    In India, “ideology” has never existed separately from irrational Life. This is why in the West there is an epidemics of skitsofrenia. All the time you have to pretend to “agree to disagree”, pretend to “give credibility to the other person’s intelligence” even if this person has as much intelligence as a chimp.

    The New York-educated (or rather, New York-brainwashed) Dr. Avanti does not understand the difference between education and indoctrination. In the “democratic” America, everyone’s intelligence is limited to their ability to juggle with “rational” ideas the way Barack Obama does. He does not have tolerance for the coexistence of multiple and different viewpoints, for example, Osama bin Laden’s viewpoints on polygamy or child labour. The police state of America, where practically everything is outlawed, is the opposite of India where laws, if any, are not enforced at all. Who should speak of tolerance then?

    It is in America, not in India, where there is a nearly total lack of values in the cultural production of the arts. India is the country in search for the ultimate Truth and Beauty. America is the country satisfied with Ugliness and Mediocrity presented as Beauty and Excellence. Every chimp is lauded as a great painter. Every cripple is praised for his dancing skills. Very democratic.

    As for Occidentalitis, this virus was transmitted to us by those influenced by the rational and primitive West: from Rukmini Devi to Sudharani Raghupathi or Chitra Visweswaran. When dancers apply for funding from the western institutions, they should understand how adversely that money will affect their brain. It’s a trade-off.

    Sangeetha: So you know who KSL is? How come?

  4. As for the bharatamuni’s daughter, she is a great stalker. She will find every detail about you so that she has enough ammunition to fire with assumed steretypes and acrid humor. Also on her bog she asked me gracefully ‘agreed to disagree’ on her sycophancy with the melattur style where she will write a rave review dedicated to one mediocre daughter and slander Rukmini Devi at every possible oppurtunity. And i agreed to do the first part 😀

    @ Ashwini:

    a. Tolerance and mediocrity are two different things. They MAY overlap for some poor souls. Dictatorship is very effective (like your blog) but if in wrong hands, (like your blog :D) can make a lot of people suffer. You may argue that if people need to suffer for the art to be elevated, be so. It is not my style or taste (jump to part e of this discussion).

    So I agree to disagree and contribute to your blog stats. See, how it works? Your blog is NOT MEDIOCRE. But i TOLERATE you TAKING THE GOOD INFORMATION PART OUT OF IT and sighing silently or pointing out to you where i think it is wrong. There are scores of other blogs which are mediocre. I responsibly IGNORE them.

    b. Nobody is arguing anything about America and India. I am not here to argue that Americans are idiots. I dont think they are. I am not here to undermine Indian culture and beauty. I dont think i can.

    c. You think Dictatorship is effective. That is true but its not that simple. Intolerance should be in your OWN mediocrity, excelling yourself and being an exemplary example to others such that others REALISE that they should be as good as you and follow you by THEIR OWN CHOICE. Dont tell others what to do. its not your business.

    d. If Kalkshetra has grown, it is not because they hogged the internet and wikipedia to claim they are ‘authentic Bharatanatyam’. Self Propaganda is the worst way to tell u are good. It is funny how you write an article about Swarnamukhi falling prey to christian missionaries and still want to convert everyone to melattur style. 😀

    Your critical research of my ideas (I am so flattered!) is very confusing.

    e. I dont like sweets. You probably do. Thats my taste. And thats your taste. I dont go around closing sweet shops or deriding them because i dont like sweets. Because i give space to your taste and credibility to your taste buds. Even if you are a chimp. 🙂 We are arguing about people with different tastes. Not about the health dept in America which closes places with unhygienic food. You obviously think anything not sweet is unhygienic. Thankfully the law is not on your side. 😀

  5. Converting everyone to melattur style (which one of them?) is not what I want to do. Wherever the dancers use a rich, original technique (especially borrowing from Kuchipudi or Odissi) that has its root in Natya Shastra rather than in disco or break dance, I will appreciate it. And it is because of your Kuchipudi background that you love the Melattur style. 🙂

    “one mediocre daughter” is far from being mediocre in many respects, even if she is yet to improve a lot. First go and watch her good performance (not when she is having fever). 90% of your remarks on my articles were absolutely fair (even though often you need to put some things in the right perspective), but the rest 10% are the revenge for my Kalakshetra “crusade”.


    If Kalakshetra has grown, it is because of Rukmini Devi’s and her husband’s political connections, money, and government support. Not because of some “intrinsically high aesthetic values” of the Kalakshetra style.

    For example, have a look at . Can you tell me why Kalakshetra, the Dhananjayan’s and even Sangeetha Eswaran’s are “recognized” and approved by the ICCR for their international scholarship schemes, while, for example, Padma Subramaniam’s school is not? This is vicious and corrupt. And it has to be remedied. I will do it, don’t worry. I will have enough ammunition. Don’t tell me what to do. Its not your business. (darling, I am quoting your sweet words 🙂

    As for the tolerance in tastes…. The tribals in Tamil Nadu eat cats, dogs, rats, lizards, termites, snakes, and god knows what else. It is my duty to tell such people that their taste is… BAD. The Chinese love fresh monkey brains, rotten eggs, and live white worms. Sometimes they even serve human infants in the elite restaurants. In central Africa they love cooking apes (and occasionally humans too). In Japan they love eating live octopus (they say it’s nice to feel it wriggling inside your mouth while you are chewing it).

    The health dept in America does not close the places that serve GM beef or sausages stuffed with human fingers, but – in my view – it doesn’t make such places any cleaner than the dirtiest pavement eatery in Chennai.

    Sangeetha : Dear Ashwini,
    The last two sentences are out of context . They have been removed for their malicious content.

  6. hi, ksl!
    what was the allegation of a certain technique in a certain style?
    what are the main mafia groups operating inside cultural production?

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