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How Lord Krishna Is The Biggest Inspiration For Classical Dancers

How Lord Krishna Is The Biggest Inspiration For Classical Dancers

Kathak and Krishna is almost an inseparable concept. Kathak dancers over all these years have considered Lord Krishna as the ultimate inspiration to their dance form. Many classical dancers have even gone to the extent of stating that Kathak is all about Shri Krishna to them. It is he who motivates them to take this dance form ahead.

Like Krishna is an integral part of Kathak, it would be wrong to assume that other dance forms lack the influence of the deity in their dance form. Bharatnatyam (Tamil Nadu), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh), Kathakali (Kerala), Mohiniattam (Kerala), Odissi (Orissa), Manipuri (Manipur), Sattariya (Assam) etc are some of the dance forms that have an everlasting influence on Krishna in them.

The nature of his character and his personality is so attractive, capturing and impressive that it is obvious for artists to turn their attention to him. With different phases of his life come different aspects to tell a story of and about. It is a pleasant challenge for the dancers, singers and other artists to bring him to life through their work.

Kathak has various aspects through which his stories are brought to the audience and similarly the other dance forms have their specialities to offer to the viewers. Mrigashrishya mudra is used to show Krishna holding his flute. Mayura Mudra is used to showing the vibrant peacock feather adorning Krishna’s head.

We all know the famous story of Kaliya Daman (Defeat of Serpent Kaliya). It is said that Krishna did his divine dance on Kaliya’s head and the sound that originated from his feet sounded like “Ta Thai Tat”. Today, the combination of these Bols are known as the base Bols of the Kathak dance. These Bols are popularly known as Natwari bol. The Bols originated from Krishna known as Natwar himself. They are used in various compositions in the dance form.

Moving a little towards the expressive part of the classical dance form – Satvik Abhinay, Krishna becomes the main character for dancers and connoisseurs to base their stories and acts on his life incidences. Dancers go on exploring Navarasa (Nine Emotions) through his stories. Shringar, Adbhut, Roudra, Veer, Karuna, Hasya, Bhayanaka, Bibhatsa & Shanta raas are the navarasas as given by Natyashastra. It is possible to depict a scene of Krishna’s life on each of these Rasas.

To give you an example – Shringaar Ras can be the base of performing an act showing the beautiful bond between Radha & Krishna and their eternal love for each other. Adbhut Ras can be used while showing Arjuna’s reaction to the Vishwarup Darshan of Krishna before the Mahabharata war. Hasya Ras can be used to show the reaction of Krishna when he steals the butter and gets caught.

Just like in the north, Krishna is very popular in the south as well. It shows through the dance form hailing from the southern regions like Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi etc. The compositions used in these forms are primarily from the southern languages.

The influence of Krishna is not only limited to the compositions and the content of the dance but it also stretches its base to the costumes, stances, poses and postures. Chaniya Choli is a widely accepted costume for Kathak dancers and we see its origin from the times of Raslila. Similarly, the dhoti for male dancers is prominent as an embodiment of Krishna’s attire. Manipuri & Sattariya have an adaptation of Krishna in their costume and other intricacies of the dance form. The base of their dance lies in Raslila.

The approach of classical dancers towards the character of Lord Krishna is a devotional, spiritual one and it continues to inspire the artists day in and day out to create some of the most classic and brilliant work.

Click here to read the fascinating story of Mathura.

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