In an autobiographical solo performance, Bharatanatyam guru and Padma Shri recipient Geeta Chandran explored the spiritual and personal notions of ‘Bhakti’ and narrated how it has impacted her life.
Titled ‘Samagama Leela’, her dance performance dived into the deep influence Bhakti had on her childhood and her journey through life as a classical dancer.
“Since the very stirrings of culture in India, spirituality and search for meaning have defined our people. The Vedic rituals and prayers crafted by our ancestors paid tribute to the wonder of nature. This ‘wonder’ is what Bhakti actually is,” Chandran told IANS over email.
On a similar note, the dance institution Natya Vriksha founder said that Bharatanatyam as a dance form was born as part of the elaborate temple rituals of southern India.
“It enshrined and amplified the devotion that the community felt towards their temple and the presiding deities. The bhakti in dance was also linked to so many other expressions of Bhakti – architecture, sculpture, paintings, crafts, textiles and also philosophy, literature and poetry. The Bhakti in dance is a function of so many other bhakti strands that culminate as a single aesthetic experience.”
Chandran also elaborated upon the ‘wonder’ factor of Bhakti in her interpretation of it.
She recounted that Bhakti has been also been deeply political.
“The Bhakti of Meera was a political act of subversion. Surdas’ outpourings enshrine the equal spaces demanded by persons with disability. Kabir’s poetry is a reaction o the polarised communal politics of his era. Andal’s paswarams reclaim space for the feminine spirit. So the wonder factor in bhakti also became a powerful instrument for change in power structures,” she explained.
Asked about her upcoming performance, she said that the solo Bharatanatyam recital will answer a question she herself has asked herself: As an urban, urbane, educated dancer and artist, what is my Bhakti story?
The artiste called the performance a personal narration of Bhakti.