- Classifieds – Main
by Thara Narasimhan
The essence of Srimad Bhagavatam is entwined into one phenomenal trait in human nature, which is a feeling of adoration towards God known as “Bhakti” or Devotion. If one could practice Bhakti yoga and behold God through all their senses of hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling, and smell in all they do, they become one with God. Namadwaar, Houston presented an exposition of exquisite music combined with exclusive Bharatanatyam dance “Bhakti Sugandham” which is Devotional Fragrance. It was depicted as “Navadha Bhakti” which comprises the nine ways of connecting with God. The dance performance was embodied with expressions of nine different emotions called “Nava Rasa” and the Global Organizations of Divinity produced the program with the music compositions created by His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji.
To depict the nine different forms of Rasa or emotion many episodes were taken from Srimad Bhagavatham and woven into expressive performance through narrative Bharatanatyam. The concept being sublime, important extra efforts were contributed by dance choreography of Surabhi Veeraraghavan and exclusive music rendition of Uma Ranganathan. Both the Artistic directors spent a whole year of planning, preparations with creativity and production of phenomenal orchestra accompaniments and costumes. The program began with a video message from HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, who spoke about the purpose and essence of Nama and Namadwaar and the relative merits of listening and chanting the Divine names, as pointed out in Srimad Bhagavatham and conveyed his blessings for the success of the Bhakti Sugandham.
Beginning with the Dhyana Sloka the dance commenced with carrying the Text of Srimad Bhagavatham in a palanquin, as the scripture itself is an embodiment of the deity Lord Krishna Himself. The music for this piece was delightfully rendered in Raga Mallari, a classical invocatory Bharatanatyam prelude. This was followed by soulful poetical tribute to Srimad Bhagavatham. It was interesting to witness how Srimad Bhagavatham originated. SageVeda Vyasa compiled almost all scriptures in Sanatana Dharma including the Vedas, Bramha Samihtas, the Puranas, the Mahabharatha.and the Yoga Bhashya. He has left a treasure of pragmatic philosophy that contains everything that is beneficial to mankind at anytime especially in the Kali Yuga. Sage Vyasa propagated Srimad Bhagavatham by initiating the scriptures to his son Shuka, who later instructed it to King Parikshit who was cursed by Sage Sringan to die of snake bite in seven days. When King Parikshit heard the curse, he immediately gave up the throne and prayed to Lord Krishna for remorse. At that instant Sage Suka appeared and became his Guru and narrated the whole of Bhagawad Purana in the next seven days. As Parikshit listened to the stories, his fear of death went away. He realized the ultimate truth of life and death and gave up his body to attain moksha.
“Bhakti Sugandham” dance ballet opened with a group dance of swift Jathis portraying the Nava Rasa content of Courage, Disgust, Anger, Compassion, Humor, Fearfulness, Wonder, Love and Peace that was presented through popular stories taken from Srimad Bhagavatam, the crown jewel of all Indian sacred texts. Each one of the nine emotions was individually presented with beautiful “Bhava” or expression by every dancer in the whole group. One can see that Rasa Abhinaya was predominant in all of the nine different emotions. Veeram or Courage of Bhishma was well depicted by showering arrows on Arjuna nearly killing him when Krishna picked up a wheel and helped Bhishma to keep his vow of either killing Arjuna or forcing Krishna to pick up a weapon. Bibatsa or disgust was conveyed by the transition of soul passing through the disgusting Vaitrani River as it goes through the cycle of birth and death until redeemed by chanting of the sacred name of God was effectively shown in this dance. The emotion of Anger “Raudram” or Anger story was depicted with excellent choreography with fast paced Jathis. It was spun around the Daksha Yagna where Daksha not only insults his daughter Sati as an uninvited guest but also abuses her consort Lord Shiva as well. She emulates herself in the yogic fire and arouses the anger of Lord Shiva. The Karunya or Compassion of the Lord Krishna was very touching with the story of a poor childhood friend classmate Sudama who visited him and was treated with royal welcome by Dwarakadheesh, Lord Krishna. Hasyam or humor came out of Samudra manthan, among other things, a well-known episode in Hindu Mythology. When Asuras and Devas fought to obtain celestial Nectar “Amrita” by churning the Ocean of Milk. The Devas appealed to Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini as an enchanting damsel, who tricked and distracted the Asuras, took the Amrita, and distributed it between the Devas. Bhayam or Fear was well depicted from the story of the ferocious Narasimha Avatar. The ingenuity of Surabhi Veeraraghavan who superbly performed as Lord Narasimha presented the posture precisely in Bharatanatyam style. Shobita Arun portrayal of some the wicked personalities in the scripture were laudable and her Angikabhinaya was awesome. Soujanya Madhusudhan presentation was very authentic and as original as her school of training from the branch of the Kalakhetra style of dance. The Adbhutam and Shringaram had episodes of Vamana avatar and Bhakti of Gopis of Vrndhavana respectively. The Gopis dancing with vitrtual dandia was extraordinary and remarkable. Shantham was shown as the Eternal Peace by taking us to the tranquility of SriVaikunta where Lord Sriman Narayana reposes along with his consort Sri Mahalakshmi.
Other star studded participants included little ones from age 6 onwards, Sandhya Raghuraman, Meenakshi Venkataraman, Divya Koothan, Hema Naren, Jwalanti Prasad, Krishnaya Corbett, Pavithra Chandrasekaran, Radha Venkat, Ratna Ramaraju, Selvi Samy, Shriya Fruitwala, Shruti Natarajan, Usha Prashanth, Varsha Vasu, Zenitha Ram, Advaith Subramanian, Ananya Hariharasudhan, Madhura Sriram, Maithreyi Asthagiri, Maya Shankar, Sahana Thothadri. Each and every one of the dancers brought out the gestures and facial expressions in different episodes that were outstanding.
The emcees were Ravi Thottadhri and Malathi Krishnan. Uma Ranganathan melodiously rendered the invocation. Dr. Lekshmi Nair welcomed everyone and gave an introduction about Namadwaar. She pointed out the activities of Global Organization of Divinity (G.O.D.) that included enrichment and value classes for the young and youth empowerment, help with Love to Share Foundation and many other outreach programs by holding Health fair and food and clothing drive and meditation classes. She expressed that G.O.D under the direction of their Guru and guidance of Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamigal, they believe that service to Humanity and Divinity are inseparable. Contrary to the norm Vote of thanks was given by Nisha Giri even before the main event began. Nisha was integral part of the production concept and stories that were included. She thanked the Spiritual Guruji of G.O.D. and Sri M.K. Ramanujam Ji, for their blessings and Priya Murale for the idea of the production of Bhakti Sugandham. She acknowledged all the donors, well-wishers, Global Organization of Divinity in India and USA, and the Honorable Mayors of Pearland, Tom Reid, and Mayor of Manvel, Delores Martin, Music and dance directors of the show Surabhi and Uma, participants of the show and their parents, the dance teachers in Houston, City of Pearland, Margo, Chris and Muktha Nair the sound management team and congratulated the members of Namadwaar for their excellent community services and tireless dedication.
It is believed that there are two easy paths of devotion or Bhakti, which are Shravanam (To hear) and Kirtanam (sing Lord’s Praise). I would add “Natyam” dance as a form of worship as this beautiful dance production of “Bhakti Sugandham” created one such experience.