DANCE ELEMENTS RELATED WITH MYTHOLOGICAL STORIES
INTRODUCTION OF KATHAK
The word ‘Kathak’ comes from the root katha, which means story- telling. Literal meaning of the word kathak is related to katha, the art of story-telling, “Katha Kahe So Kathaka Kahave”, which means “one who tells a story is a story-teller”. According to M. Monier Williams, Katha denotes conversation, story, speech, tale or fable. Katha also means to ‘ sing in praise’, ‘to say or inform something’. Thus, kathakars were originally a caste of story-tellers who were attached to temples in certain parts of Northern India. These kathakars used to go around the countryside narrating the stories of the Epics and other Legends. The modes employed were poetry, music and dance. All these three arts were closely inter-linked. The aim of kathaks was to educate the people in the knowledge of Gods and Mythological Legends. Historically kathak dates back to the Vedic period which are full of descriptions and stories which give us an insight into the mind of those who wrote or composed jthem. Kathak dance is evolved from religious and mythological concepts. In Ramayana period, we can see many glimpses of music and dance. The Ramayana tells the story of an ideal heroic prince Rama of Ayodhya and his devoted wife Sita. This ancient tale has been treasured and retold for countless generation in every Hindu house; they worshipped Rama as the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In Ramayana we find a mention of recitors who were specialised in story-telling. Lava and Kusha, the two brave sons of Rama rendered Ramayana in verses composed by Sage Valmiki. While reciting the stories, they also added the element of acting-Abhinaya. From that time nomadic bards who narrated the Ramayana were known as ‘Kushilavas’. As a matter of fact, the term kushilavas has been associated with dancers and actors.
Likewise, many mythological stories were depicted through gestures, postures and abhinaya. The another story of Ramayana which tells us that how Ravana, the king of Lanka worshipped Lord Shiva with song and dance. Also the story of Ravana assaulting Rambha, one of the main Apsaras. According to Kapila Vatsyayan, in Ramayana, the Apsaras are the most important mythological characters who danced and performed both in heaven and earth. There are various other instances like the stories of the grand act of breaking Shiva’s bow in “Sita Swayamvar”, the evil plotting of Kaikayee, the Banishment of Rama to a fourteen-year exile, Sita’s kidnapping by Ravana and the war that ensued leading to Rama’s victory and Sita’s rescue. Thus, Ramayana is rich in incident and moral concept.
We come across many references to perfomances of dances from the Mahabharata. In this period, worship and adoration of Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh started with music and dance. Krishna is the ‘Sutradhara’ (around whom the entire Mahabharata developed) and he was an expert dancer. The Mahabharata depicts episodes of Krishna’s life that how he is adopted and raised by a family of cowherds. The stories of his childhood of stealing butter and milkmaids known as “MakhanChori”. His dance of his youth with Radha and Braj narees is known as “Rasa Lila”. His spiritual love dance with Gopis or Milkmaids by the bank of Yamuna river in moonlit night is known as “MahaRaas”. The story of “Kaliya Daman” which tells us how Krishna defeated the poisonous snake Kaliya and danced on his hoods. The story of “Govardhan Dharan” which tells us how krishna picked and hold the Govardhan mountain to protect the people of Vrindavan from heavy rain. Another important episode of Mahabharata is known as “Vastraharan”, in which Krishna saves the honour of the Pandava Queen Draupadi. The story goes that Dushasana, one of the Kaurava brothers attempted to humilate her by disrobing her. Draupadi called out to Krishna to save her and miraculously, as layer after layer of her saree was pulled, the number of sarees went on increasing. This episode...
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