Talk by Prof. Raghuraman on Koothanool (கூத்தநூல்) – Video

NYC_met_dancing celestial
Dancing Celestial, 12th Century, India
Image Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Here is the video of the talk (Earlier post) given by Dr. Raghuraman on Koothanool. The talk is in Tamil. So, for the benefit of readers who do not know/understand Tamil I have listed some interesting timestamps:

06:30 – The work Koothanool referenced by other authors. First one authored by Nakeeranar, commentary on a text by Irayanaar. Second one in Silapadikkaram by Ilango mentions “Natya nan nool”, which is an alias for Koothanool. Third by Nachinarkiniyar in Civaga Cintamani. Koothanool and Panchamarabu are the only two texts, written in Tamil that describe dance that predate everything else.

09:38 – Attam and Koothu, these two are the “root” words in Tamil for describing dance and dance related words that predate the word Natanam, this is before Tolkappiyam. The word Natanam did not originate from the sanskrit root “Nat” (नट) but from the Tamil word “Nad” (நட).

12:27 – Recovery of the text done by Kaviyogi/Yogiyar, who found only 6 volumes out of 9. This was later published by Sangeet Natak Akademi and Tamil Iyal Isai Mandram. There are evidences that point that Kaviyogi did not author Koothanool, but only transcribed and commented them from manuscripts since the etymology of the words used in Koothanool can be traced to Sangam period not to words invented at later point of time. He establishes how this work predates Natyashastra.

16:30 – The word Karana was used by Tolkappiyar and Koothanool in Sangam period.

18:04 – Out of the 6 volumes, the first two have extensive commentary. But, for the remaining 4 the commentary was lost due to a servant throwing away them as trash and other books (more than 6000!) from their family given away to a second-hand shop when the house he lived was rebuilt as apartment complex, an anecdote from Yogiyar’s son as told to Raghuraman. [I felt sad after hearing the rest of the anecdote 😦 ]

20:00 – Recounting anecdote about some interesting history titbits of the Koothanool, published as “Aindiram(?)” (1000 copies) by TN government and from Kalakshetra.

25:38 – It was after the 5th century a dancing form for Shiva was created. In Sangam literature Shiva was referred as Nilachudi, Neer anindha netriyan, Aala mara selvan etc., and not as “Sivan” or “Nataraja”. Chronologically, Manimegalai (3rd or 5th century) mentions the word “Sivan” for the first time. In Koothanool, the word Sivan occurs too, however the context was not religious only to describe his . This created as issue when determining the date of the work. The static aka Nerai Sakhti was called as siva (சிவா for masculine) and the dynamic aka Iyakkum sakthi as sivi (சிவி for feminine). Koothanool describes the origin of dancer, where a thought conceived internally or siva, is then projected out or sivi. Prof. Raghuraman explains further how Sivan and Bhakti period related him to dance.

33:24 – He talks about Rasa and how the Shanta Rasa (the 9th one) has been dealt in Koothanool. He explains that it is a transitory rasa, while emoting different ones. All these are described in the Suvainool chapter. Sound ( தட்டு ) leads to movement/dance.

41:59 – He talks about another chapter Thogainool. It describes all the 108 tandavas and the 12 special ones.

44:21 – Varinool, talks about folk/village art or desi. It claims that the marga came from desi, which is exactly opposite of what Natya Shastra claims! This Vari appears in Silapaddikaram, where it relates to folk dance only. For each of the five different sangam landscape there was a dance associated with (Nila saar koothu நிலம்சார் கூத்து), which was performed/created by the villagers belonging to that particular landscape. Examples are given from other sangam literature sources.

47:47 – Natya Sastra aka Panchama Veda, a new interpretative twist, not as a fifth veda but as Panchamar (பஞ்சமர்) Vedam (Panchamar means the people belonging to the professions of blacksmith, cobbler, carpenter, potter, and weaver)! They went to war with the king to repair weapons, accommodation, and creating barriers. After their work, at the end of the day, they entertain the soldiers and king by doing a dance called Viduthaga koothu (dance that humors about the defeat of the opponent). He explains that this can be seen even today in villages where the people associated with these occupations arrange the koothu.

Koothanool describes the context based dance, i.e., dance based on the local mythology, politics and folklore, where the dance is performed.

52:20 – Kalainool, describes hand and limbs. Has 360 different hand gestures that are more than Natya Sastra. He has published a book with photos of the 360 hand gestures with Lakshmi Ramaswamy.

53:56 – The jathis have to be contextual with the Bhava of the lyric. Koothanool describes for each bhava the intensity/reason has to be understood. The pain of losing a wallet depends on how much money was lost with it. The analogy was hilarious! Pain can be minimal with loss of 5Rs but might induce tears with the loss of 5000Rs. 🙂

57:39 – Karananool, describes the various body positions. Raghuraman explains the various permutation and combination of the positions described, if explained in layman’s terms the text might run for 3000 pages with 5000 stick figures! The karanas described in Koothanool predates the Karanas in Chidambaram, Kumbakonam and Thanjavur temples.

1:02:20 – Talanool, describes rhythm. Koothanool mentions that the Tala for dance (92 types) and Tala for music (12 types) and they are different from each other. This is mentioned in Panchamarabu as well.

1:03:59 – The further volumes were not recovered, Isainool, describes the various pann (பண்).

1:07:00 – Avainool, also lost, describes the stage and architecture. He also explains his angst about not able to get hold of copies of texts for academic interest, since they have been out of reach for scholars due to politics.

1:11:45 – Kannnool, describes the therapies, oils, ointments, physical exercises for dancers and treating their ailments.

His angst about how scholars and dancers like Padma Subrahmanyam have avoided Koothanool in their research.

1:15:31 – Q  and A section.

See full video below:

Further Reading:

http://nasa2000.livejournal.com/56144.html

https://sangeethas.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/dance-and-early-tamil-literature-a-reading/

History of Tamizh Dance by Dr. S. Raghuraman, Nandini Pathippagam, Chennai, 2007

Koothanool by Thiru S. Yogiyar, Tamilnadu Sangita Nataka Sangam of Chennai, 1968

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4 responses to “Talk by Prof. Raghuraman on Koothanool (கூத்தநூல்) – Video

  1. Excellent post. Great commentary! Actually, this is a revelation to me. Never heard of Kootha nool and I thought Natya Shastra was the bible of Dance. Thank you.

    Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
    Ragothaman

  2. superb. my name is kadir. i am ghatam and khanjira artiste and sound engineer.i am doing research in thalam. and south indian percussion instruments. i want to talk to prof. raguraman sir . if anybody have is number contact means plz forward me . i am in chennai only and my mobile number is 9600039954

    Thanks for the comment. Please check your email.
    Ragothaman

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