Is Dance Spiritual? – S. Jayachandran

Shri. S. Jayachandran

Shri. S. Jayachandran

Dear BN&WWW readers,

Starting with this post we are bringing you series of articles by Shri. S. Jayachandran who is a dancer, dance-scholar, and an excellent orator. 

Jayachandran underwent his initial training of Bharatanatyam under Smt.Meera Narayanan and Sri.Gopinathan. Later his dancing skills were honed by Smt.Leela Samson, Prof.C.V.Chandrashekar and Smt.Jaya Chandrashekar and Smt.Bragha Bessell. Jayachandran is a Engineering graduate, majored in Electronics and Communication. He also did his Diploma is Saiva Siddhanta and under graduation in History, Masters in History  and Heritage Management and Masters in Indian philosophy. He has done considerable amount of research on the Saivaite sthalam Tiruvarur and has presented several papers on the same. Few of his papers were ‘Tiruvarur sthalam as interpreted in Smt.Rukmini Devi’s choreographic works’, ‘Brahmotsavam of Tiruvarur’, ‘Feminine Narrative – Devi – Core and Concept’, ‘Manmata – as interpreted in mythology, philosophy and art’ and ‘Significance of temple in the society – past and present’, ‘Drushti – a traditional perspective of a stapathi’, ‘Sri Nataraja in South Indian worship and literature’, ‘Iconogrpahy as an input to dance’, ‘Male dancing tradition in India’. His paper ‘Tiruvarur sthalam as interpreted in Smt.Rukmini Devi’s choreographic works’ has won him the best lecture-demonstration award from the Music Academy for the December Music Season 2008. His paper on ‘Architecture and Choreography – a comparative analysis’ has been featured in the web–site He has presented a lecture on ‘Natanam aadinar – When light moves’ as a part of Natyakala Conference, December 2012.

He is also a Bharatanatyam artiste who has done many solo shows to his credit. He has been helping various dancers with his technical, artistic and philosophical inputs whenever required. Jayachandran continues to research, write papers, teach and lecture on subjects of his interest.

BN&WWW is thankful and honored to Shri. S. Jayachandran for sharing with us his writings in this and subsequent posts.

(Note: An abridged version of the article was published in Deccan Chronicle, 23rd May 2013)

Image Source: Wikimedia, reproduced under CC licence.

Image Source: Wikimedia, reproduced under CC licence.

Can dance be defined as spiritual? If one can attempt to define it, then one could understand that the answer is both generic and abstract, akin to defining life. Dance lends such abstractness to an intellectual; queries of relevance to a thinker; and a sense of completeness for an ardent devotee of art. , In any case, it is true that such a form is disputed for its purpose; most of the questions settles down with an answer that ‘dance is spiritual’.

Is dance actually spiritual? Simply learning, practicing, and performing the art, does it give the artiste the allowance to deliver a spiritual content? Does it mean that by attending a dance kuccheri one undergoes a spiritual experience? Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavat paada in his Shiva panchakshara stotra quotes that one who recites the verses will enter the abode of Shiva and rejoice with the Shivam. Thus, it is fair enough to ask whether, just by reciting the Shiva panchakshara stotra of Sri Adi Shankara will one enter the abode of Lord Shiva? The answer is ‘yes’ and also ‘no’.

According to Smt. Rukmini Devi, dance is like a process of consecration. As consecration is one of the most empowering ritual, and often the consecrator sacrifices the fruit of their tapas acquired so far to the society and walks-out empty handed. An artiste with universal vision, and very high artistic philosophy, to the likes of Smt. T. Balasaraswathi would say that a presentation of bharatanatyam margam is like entering a temple and meeting the manifested truth in the human form and even take liberty of having a dialogue, chide or even reprimand.

Dance is spiritual. For that matter any profession in this world is spiritual, provided the means it is delivered to the society is universally aligned. When the body, mind and soul is aligned to the universal axis, the brahma sutra then anything written, spoken, sung, danced, painted, sculpted becomes a glimpse of the universal truth. In that level any professional on this earth becomes the brahmam through which the axis flows; the truth is delivered where the body serves as a sacred conduit or a vehicle. If and only if, the work of art is universally aligned with the supreme central axis, then such a work is a representative of true wisdom, which is the accumulated knowledge of the humanity for thousands of years.

One has to realize that spirituality lies in understanding and accepting the fact that any profession is spiritual and serves the God provided this Truth is realized by the professional. A journalist once asked Osho ‘Are you the God?’to which Osho replied ‘Yes, I am’. Then the journalist asked ‘then am I God?’  And, Osho replied ‘No’. The journalist was taken aback and asked ‘why not?’  Osho replied ‘I realize that I am God, but you do not’.

4 responses to “Is Dance Spiritual? – S. Jayachandran

  1. Yes I think I agree with this status that dance can be spiritual! But this will dépend on many things…

  2. Pingback: Gurupaadhaabhyaam – a Tillana in Natabhairavi – S. Jayachandran | Bharathanatyam and the worldwide web·

  3. Sir i came to know about you from an article in Gurupadabhyam a souvenier in Kerala. and also from Ranjith Babus workshop.. Thanks for the great work ….Jyothishmathy.G.

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