What is it about the idea of Gods dancing which fascinates me so? Again and again I see myself drawn to the compositions which describe the primordial energy of the Tandava dance of Shiva or the elegance and beauty of the dance of Krishna. Why is that we want our Gods to dance?
Unlike other religions which see God as an awe-inspiring paternalistic figure who is quite removed from us mortals, we Hindus enjoy a vision of an accessible and participative God – in us, with us, around us. Why, I feel sometimes that I just need to extend my hand to touch the hand of God! Not like meeting ET as per the vision of Spielberg, for God is not alien. Not even like Michaelangelo’s remote God leaning down from heaven on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. No. Our Gods seem to reach out to us as a mother reaches out to a child or a child reaches out to its mother, familiar, comforting, very very near and dear.
These familiar and dear Gods seem to take an immense joy in their creation. And what better way to express their joy but by song and dance? Movement is so very fundamental to our world; galaxies move and suns and planets and electrons, and we move along with it all, dancing to an intricate step which, if stopped, will end this universe. This dance ties us all together with the universe, making us whole. It is not surprising therefore that we see the dance of Gods in all these movements.
My selection for today is a composition of the Tamil composer Muthu Thandavar (1560-1640, dates uncertain). He came from a family which played Nadaswaram but could not participate in the family’s musical profession due to sickness. Legends indicate that he was cured by divine intervention. He went from Sirkazhi, his hometown, to Chidambaram and composed many songs in praise of the deity there, Nataraja (Shiva as the Eternal Dancer). He is credited with developing the three-part (Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam) stucture of the kritis. Only 60 or so of his compositions are known today. They were set to music by Tiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai (1899-1961).
‘Do we not need a thousand eyes to see the wonder of His dance?’ says the poet. He describes the Lord as He who resides in all those who seek him in prayer, thus making Him as accessible as can be. The poet’s description of Shiva is as rhythmic as the dance he describes, giving us a vision of great wonder. We do indeed need a thousand eyes to take it all in! See footnote for lyrics. The song has been set to Raga Mayamalavagowla. To know more about this raga, click here.
Continuing to listen to Jaya TV’s Margazhi Mahotsavam concerts, I came upon young Amrutha Venkatesh’s performance which inspired the post of today. Listen below to her energy-filled rendition:
Alternate Link : Click here (needs free membership of Sangeethapriya.org)
Sudha Raghunathan has an excellent version of this song with jatis for dancers; click here to listen.
I like this song in the voice of Sirkazhi Sivachidambaram whose voice has the typical timbre of the Dravidian heartland. I can well imagine that Muthu Thandavar had a similar voice when he sang his songs in the temples of Seerkazhi and Chidambaram.
ஆடிக் கொண்டார் அந்த வேடிக்கை காணக் கண் ஆயிரம் வேண்டாமோ
நாடித் துதிப்பவர் பங்கில் உறைபவர்
நம்பர் திருச்செம்பொன் அம்பலவாணர் (ஆடிக்)
பங்கயச் சிலம்பைந்தாடப் பாதச் சலங்கைகள் கிண் கிணென்றாடப்
பொங்குமுடனே உரித்து உடுத்த புலித்தோல் அசைந்தாட செங்கையில் ஏந்திய மான் மழுவாட
செம்பொற்குழை கண் முயலகனாட
கங்கை இளம்பிறை செஞ்சடையாடக்
கனக சபை தனிலே
சரணம் 2 – ஆற நவமணிமாலைகளாட
ஆடும் அரவம் படம் விரித்தாட
சீரணிக் கொன்றை மலர்த் தொடையாடச்
பேரணி வேதியர் தில்லை மூவாயிரம்
பேர்களும் பூசித்துக் கொண்டு நின்றாட
காரணி காளி எதிர்த்து நின்றாடக்
கனக சபை தனிலே
நிர்த்த கணபதி வேலர் நின்றாட
நின்றயன் மாலுடன் இந்திரன் ஆட
முப்பத்து முக்கோடி தேவருடனே முனிவரும் நின்றாட
மெய்ப் பத்தி மேவும் பதஞ்சலியாட
வியாக்ரம பாதரும் நந்தியும் ஆட
ஒப்பற்ற சிவகாமியம்மையும் கூடவே நின்றாட
ADikkoNDAr anda vEDikkai kANak kaN Ayiram vENDAmO
nADith tudippavar pangil uraibavar nambar thiruch-chem ponnambalavANar
pangaya shilambaindADap pAda salangaigaL kiN kiNNenrADap-
pongumuDanE urittu udutta puliththOl asaindhADa
shengaiyil Endhiya mAn mazuvADa
shem-pork-kuzhai kaN muyalaganADa
gangai iLam pirai shen shaDaiyADak-
kanaka sabhai tanilE
ARa navamaNi mAlaigaLADa
ADum aravam paDam virittADa
scIraNi kondrai malarth-toDaiyADac
pEraNi vEdiyar tillai mUvAyiram
pErgaLum pUsittuk-konDu nindrADak-
kanaka sabai tanilE
nirtta gaNapati vElar ninDrADa
ninDrayan mAluDan indiran ADa
muppattu mukkOTi dEvaruDanE munivarum ninDrADa
meippatti mEvum patanjali ADa
vyAgrama pAdarum nandiyum ADa
oppaTRa shivakAmiyammaiyum kUDavE ninDrADa
Will we not need a thousand eyes to see the wonder of the Lord dancing?
The gold-skinned dancer, always reliable, is the Lord who resides in those that seek him through prayer.
As he dances in the golden hall in Chidambaram, the ankle bells that adorn his lotus-like feet dance, the string of bells on his feet dance producing a tinkling sound, the tiger-skin that he tore and wore sways and dances, the deer and the battle-axe that he holds in His reddened hands dance, the red-eyed dwarf Muyalagan dances, the Ganges (on Shiva’s head) dances, His matted-locks dance.
As he dances in the Golden Hall in Chidambaram, the necklaces of nine-gems dance, the snake that adorns his neck dances with his hood spread, the Kondrai flowers dance, the chariot dances, the Vediyar priests and the three throusand people of Chidambaram dance the Perani and they offer prayers, and the purposeful Kali dances in front of Him.
As the lord dances in the golden hall of cidambaram, Ganapati and Kartikeya dance, Indira dances along with Brahma and Vishnu, the sages dance with many Gods, Patanjali who lives in Chidambaram dances, Vyagrahapada dances with Nandi, the incomparable mother Sivakami (Parvati) dances in unison.
Reference: Rasikas.org forum.