About Us Contact Us Help




Navarasa In Shakespearean Work

Dr .Lalitha Parameswaran

Navarasa in Shakespearean work

-       presentation supported by MA cultural council

Dr. Lalitha Parameswaran

On Saturday March 24, we were treated to an entertaining and thought-provoking multimodal artistic presentation exploring “Navarasa in Ramayana and Shakespeare”.  This two-part program was conceived and choreographed by Srimathi Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Director of the Natyanjali School of Dance.  The program highlighted parallels and contrasts in the expression of Navarasa, the nine essential emotions of valor, fear, wonder, disgust, love, anger, laughter, compassion and peace in traditional Indian Classical Bharathanatyam through exploration of the Ramayana, and in Shakespearean Literature.

Expression of Navarasa is a critical element in any Bharathanatyam performance, and we were treated to beautiful renditions of each of the emotions through enactments of key events in the Ramayana.  The performance commenced with music in the Raga Kamas, with Rama visiting King Janaka and encountering Sita as she offered prayers.  It was Shringara (Love) at first sight as each set eyes on the other for the first time, not knowing in their current incarnations that they are two parts of the Divine whole.  Then they moved on to the emotion of Adbhutam in a composition in Bilahari. We experienced the Wonder and Awe felt by the monkey army as Hanuman, Rama’s greatest devotee, was selected to carry a message of hope to Sita imprisoned in far away Lanka.  The emotion of Karunya or Compassion, sung in Charukeshi, was expertly illustrated with the story of Shabari, daughter of a hunter family.  Seeking food and shelter, she served from Sage Mathanga and his disciples who blessed her by foretelling her meeting with Lord Rama.  When Shabari finally met Rama, she bit and tasted every berry before offering to Rama ensure that the taste was right.  Rama compassionately accepted the fruit as it was offered with love and devotion.

Next we listened to Kedaragowla as we experienced Veeram or Valor, as shown in the battle between Rama and Ravana.   Sorely wounded by Rama, Ravana stood weaponless and helpless in the battlefield.  Rather than vanquishing Ravana when he was disabled, Rama addressed Ravana telling him to go home and rest and refresh himself before returning to battle the next day, embodying the valorous quality of a true Kshatriya warrior.  We then pivoted to Hasyam or Laughter in Hamsadhwani, with the Swayamvara scene to select a worthy groom for Sita.  Prince after handsome prince attempted to lift and string the great bow of Lord Shiva. One after the other they failed miserably in spite of all their contortions and expenditure of effort, creating great amusement and generating laughter from the observers. 

We viscerally felt Bibhatsam or Disgust through the a story about Soorpanaka sung in Bhatiyar.  Soorpanakha, sister of Ravana, became enamored of Rama and Lakshmana.  An annoyed Lakshmana cut off her nose to drive her away.  The humiliated Soorpanakha ran to her brother Ravana seeking revenge, but only encountered disgust expressed by the members of Ravana’s court, when they saw her mutilated face.  This incited Ravana to plan the abduction of Sita to punish Rama.  We then moved on to the emotion of Bhayanakam or Fear, rendered in Shivaranjani.  Rama and Lakshmana had gone away in search of a deer but forbade Sita to leave the boundary of the hut.  Sita was tricked by the disguised Ravana begging for alms. As she stepped out of the hut boundary to provide food Ravana seized and kidnapped Sita. In great fear, she cried out for help as she was carried away to Lanka.  We saw the expression of Roudram or Anger sung in Shanmukhapriya next.  Hanuman was sent to Lanka to plead with Ravana to release Sita or suffer Rama’s wrath. But Ravana was furious at this message and ordered his soldiers to bind Hanuman and set his tail on fire.  This enraged Hanuman who used his tail to set Lanka ablaze.

Finally the Bharatanatyam segmented ended with Shantham or Peace, sung in Revathi.  At the finale of the Ramayana, Ravana was defeated and Sita and Rama were reunited.  Rama was crowned as the rightful king of Ayodhya and the kingdom and the world  returned to Peace!  All of these memorable scenes were beautifully rendered through the nuanced Bhavas expressed and performed by Srimathi Jeyanthi, ably supported and accompanied by fellow Bharathanatyam Gurus Dhanashree Karmarkar, senior dancers Shwetha Choudhary along with Natyanjali students Charvi Veeramachaneni, Deepthika Vedavinayagam, Hamsika Vedavinayagam, Megha Veeramachaneni, Prisha Mishra and Rushika Susarla. 

Additionally, no Bharathanatyam performance is possible without carefully composed and rendered Carnatic music support.  The music for this portion of the program was set by Guru Padmini Ravi and her musical team with an expert selection of Ragas uniquely suited to each Rasa, and melodiously rendered by vocalist Srimathi Neela Ramanuja, accompanied by Sri Raghunandan on flute, Sri Balakrishna on Mridangam, and a group of artists providing support on keyboard, rhythm pads and other instruments.

After that wonderful Bharathanatyam segment, we were treated to a “gear switch” with an exploration of Navarasas in a selected set of scenes from well-known Shakespearean plays, masterfully acted by Aditya Rohit Shah, Sairam Yadavilli, and Sripriya Moorthy; Vaidehi Moorthy providing expressive narration guiding the audience through the performance.  We started again with the emotion of Love, as felt by Othello, a Moorish General who had reunited with his beloved Desdemona.  Their love was shining and pure, untouched by the tragedies that befalled them.  We then saw an expression of Laughter, as we listened to a group of simple townfolk rehearsing for a play in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  Mischievous fairies had distributed a love potion, leading to comical attempts by the townfolk to enact a drama that only generates laughter.  Another scene from this play illustrated the emotion of Wonder, as the magical misadventures generated by fairy mischief generate wonder as the characters think back on the unbelievable events they had experienced.

The tragedy “Macbeth” is a prime vehicle for expression of many of the Rasas, including Compassion as expressed by Macduff and Malcolm as they observed the suffering of their countrymen under the tyranny of Macbeth’s unjust reign.  As a result of Macbeth’s horrendous murder of the King, he was haunted by visions of a bloody dagger, and he experienced Terror, hallucinating about his eventual fate.  Heroism or Valor was shown by Macduff in his final confrontation with the usurper Macbeth.  Macduff slayed Macbeth, avenging his murdered family and restored justice to the kingdom.

We returned to “Othello” to study the emotions of Anger and Disgust.  Iago, Othello’s evil ensign, had woven a web of lies and planted the seed of doubt against Desdemona in Othello’s heart, turning his love into jealousy and disgust of her suspected infidelity.  His revulsion turned to rage, culminating in the tragic deaths of both of the lovers. 

Finally we observed the expression of Peace in “Macbeth” as he was vanquished, opening the way for the ascension of Malcolm, as the rightful heir to the throne.  Scotland could now look forward to healing, calm and peace throughout the land.

This wonderful performance was sponsored by the Mass Cultural Council through the Westford and Chelmsford local chapters.  The artists thanked Krish Velmurugan and Kanth Ghatraju for video and lighting support.  The program provided a unique perspective on the Navarasas and highlighted the common fundamental human emotions in two very different artistic styles and genres.  We hope to experience more such thought-provoking performances in the future!


Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help