Kathak is one of the adaptors of Lord Krishna and his infamous love stories. Kathak dancers use these stories to enhance their abhinaya (expressions & acting) and put together a mesmerising act for the viewers.
When we speak of Kathak, Krishna and Stories of Love, the composition of Ashtapadi have to be spoken about. It is famously known as a composition with 8 verses but it should be remembered that any song with 8 verses cannot be called an Ashtapadi. Jayadeva in geet Govinda has presented the world with traditionally known Ashtapadis.
We see that Ashtapadis have become rare in the Kathak dance form today due to various reasons. They are intricately composed making it very crucial for the dancers to understand their meaning thoroughly before attempting a choreography on it. The few dancers that still perform this act know of the great happiness that this act brings to life after being performed.
Before we dwell deeper into Ashtapadi it is important to understand a little background about Geet Govind. It is a text that dates back to the 12th century. The beautiful love story of Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radha and gopis of Vrindavan is told in the Sanskrit language.
The act generally starts with a setting of lord Krishna and gopis. It is said that a certain gopi is trying to bring Krishna’s romance to Radha’s notice, making Radha furious and jealous. It speaks of divine romance and romance through devotion. From historical learnings and observations, it is understood that Ashtapadi was created for musical and dance representation. The Sringara Bhava which signifies the depiction of love is seen in abundance in this composition. Kathak dancers perform many Ashtapadis in today’s time like “Chandan Charchit”, “Niratata Dhang” and “Lalita Lavang Lata”.
Other examples of depicting love stories of Krishna and Radha are Hori. Hori is a semi-classical musical composition that is famous in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It speaks of the various fun activities that take place between Shri Krishna and Radha. Right from preparing for the day of colours to thinking of ways to pull Radha’s leg, Krishna goes on and on about experimenting with what can be done and cannot be done to make this day memorable as ever. He even goes to the extent of dressing up like a girl and applying colour to himself. He hopes to make Radha jealous and mad with this act of his.
Love stories are heartwarming for anyone to witness may it be through a movie, a video or a book. One always enjoys the simple pleasures of a simple love story and so kathak dancers have taken that up too. We thoroughly enjoy expressing emotions, challenging ourselves with complex expressions and situations to bring to life the charming love stories of Lord Krishna. These stories present themselves as a challenge to each kathak dancer to bring out the abhinaya in the purest form.
If one takes interest in Kathak, reading and understanding the stories of Lord Krishna are very important. More so, go into deep and study the nuances of the love stories.