SwarTaal was conceived in 2017 by Jagriti Theatre to bring the Whitefield community closer together, through a shared love of the Arts. This is an Indian Classical Dance & Music festival and was conducted in Sep 2018 at Jagriti Theatre Whitefield. This year’s theme was “Krishna Katha” and the first day of the festival witnessed a plethora of wonderful performances by ace artistes after the inauguration and invocation performances of 2 young artists – Nikita Subramani and Veena Sreenarayanan.
As the name “Krishna Katha” suggests – the performances were around stories of Sri Krishna – the innocent child and the lovable young one who plays flute for his beloved Gopikas.
Lord Krishna says – “Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, righteousness declines and unrighteousness prevails, I manifest Myself. For the protection of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of religion, I come into being from age to age.”
Krishna was born in prison to devout parents – Devaki and Vasudeva. At the time of his birth, his life was in danger because the tyrant Kamsa was seeing to kill him – as it was foretold that Kamsa would be killed by Devaki’s eighth child. Since Sri Krishna was the eighth child, he was smuggled out of prison to be raised by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda in Gokula. Nanda lived a simple lifestyle and was a chief in the local cow-herding community. The young Sri Krishna is often depicted as being a mischievous child, who enjoyed playing pranks and having fun. Some worship Sri Krishna as the ideal child of innocence.
Sri Krishna in Vrindavan – In the early stages of his life, Sri Krishna is also depicted playing the flute for his beloved Gopikas – the female devotees. Of these Radha was the greatest devotee. This life episode was crucial in the development of Hindu Bhakti devotional tradition. Sri Krishna teaches that there are many paths to reach the goal of self-realization but love and devotion were the shortest path.
“However, individual try to reach me, I return their love with my love; whatever path they may travel, it leads to me in the end.”
On 27th September, at around 6:45 PM the Krishna Katha presentation kicked off with Bharatanatyam performance by Smt. Aparna Vinod, who completed her masters in Bharatanatyam from University of Tanjavur and also has completed Visharad degree in Bharatanatyam from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. Recently she was awarded Kerala state Natyaratna award for contributions to the field of Bharathanatyam, by Vayalar Samskarika Vedi. She was honored with National Nrityashiromani award for Bharatanatyam at Cuttack Mahotsav for her outstanding dance performances and contribution to promote Indian Classical arts. Smt. Aparna Vinod – is graded artist of Doordarshan and is the Director of Tharang Academy of Arts, which promotes Indian classical dance and music.
The first performance by Smt. Aparna was a Purandara Kriti. Here, mother Yashoda notices that the kadakol, used for churning butter is missing. She spots Krishna playing with it and becomes frantic as breaking it is perceived as a bad omen. She offers to tie fireflies on his cradle, in exchange of kadakol, but all in vain. She is petrified when Krishna spins it like a top and plays with it. She tries to entice him into giving her the kadakol and offers him butter and sugar which he likes the most. When all else fails, she re-iterates how Krishna defeated kalia, the snake. He returns the churning stick on hearing the words of praise from his mother. This was in Raga Yaman Kalyani and Talam Aadi. The expressions were very delightful to watch, and audience were taken virtually to Vrindavan where Yasoda and Krishna lived.
Smt. Aparna moved to a beautiful Ashtapadi in Hameer Kalyani Raga and Adi Tala. In this love opera of Krishna and Radha, we witness the extreme guilt of lord Krishna of having ignored Radha while he was amongst the blissful company of other gopikas. He repents” Alas! What a blunderous mistake did I commit? Revelling with other gopikas I ignored her, and she left anguished and agonized, not uttering a single word to me. How can I even face her or speak to her having done this? Not anymore do I need wealth and people when a part of me, my Radha has left me. Is she lost in tears and anger suffering the separation? I see her in the moon, hear her in the cuckoo’s song, feel her in the breeze, hearing jingles of her anklets in the sound of river. I miss her that I keep searching her in everyone and everywhere. When shall she come to me with all her joy and love as before and hug me? I am burning in the fire of love and guilt. Oh, Radha! I beg your pardon, and never ever will I repeat this mistake.
Next came an Odiya Abhinaya by Smt. Yasomati Mishra who is an exponent in Odissi Dance and started her dance journey at a very tender age under the guidance of Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Ratikanta Mohapatra from Bhubaneshwar. She had the privilege of showcasing her talent in many dance festivals and performed in Odisha Doordarshan under the able guidance and tutelage of Guru Raghunath Dutta. Apart from being a performer herself, she is also a teacher with tremendous potential. She is the creative Director of NRITYADHWANI school of Odissi dance at Bangalore.
The Oriya abhinaya gave us a glimpse into Krishna's Leela. Here in anticipation to meet Krishna, Radha enters the groove to collect flowers for the morning prayers. Krishna on seeing her blocks her path. Radha both excited and taken aback pleaded him to move from her path and stop creating a scene. She says, “enough …you dare to dart glances at me with your sultry eyes, I am not a flirtatious character like your dear Chandrabali. Due to your behavior people of Braja are slandering my reputation. I request you to please clear my path”. What follows next is the different nuances of the eternal love between Radha and Krishna. Krishna explores the most profound and serious aspects of life, but playfully. This was set in Raga Saberi and Taal Ektaali.
Then we witnessed the Mohiniyattam performance by Smt. Nisha Ranjith who is a naturally endowed and an impressive Mohiniyattom performer from the present generation of young dancers. She has completed her graduation in Dance securing 3rd Rank and post-graduation in Mohiniyattom securing 2nd Rank, she is currently perusing PhD from Delhi Music and Art collage under the guidance of Smt. Deepthi Omcheri Bhalla. She is being fine-tuned by Kalamadalam Prasheeja, Kalanilayam Gopinath and Smt. Gopika Varma.
Natha Hare… was set in Raga Vasatha, and Adi Taala. Natha hare is the 6th chapter of Jayadevas Geeta Govinda, where Radha's friend returns to Krishna to inform about the ecstatic state of Radha.
Hey Krishna master of world's stealer is sin, Radha is in bower and she looks for you, desperately in all directions, separated from you. She compares herself to a pair of bird who are together and flower and bee, but why she is left all alone without you. Muzzy with enthusiasm to meet you she looks at her ornaments and adjusts them to look better, she adjusts her head ornament as peacock feather and necklace as flute and declares herself as Krishna, brooding on you Krishna Radha is in ecstasy, she begs sakhi to bring back his lord.
Krishna Katha was concluded by a beautiful Tarangam presentation in Kuchipudi by Guru Deepa Narayanan – my dear Guru 😊. She is a fine versatile artiste of the Kuchipudi dance style of this generation mastered the art form for more than 3 decades initially under renowned Kuchipudi exponent Guru Smt. Manju Barggavee since the age of 8 as her prime disciple and few new choreographies under Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar. She is a thinking Artist with creative organizational abilities and has received lot of accolades for her vivacious dance technique, spellbound performances not only in India but North Americas, Dubai, Doha, Abudhabi, and recently at Bahrain organized by Indian Embassy as part of Festival of India. Her natural charm for the Kuchipudi idiom sets her apart as an offbeat artiste of the generation. Currently donning many roles, she curates signature dance festival, Natya Parampara Utsav at Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation, Bangalore a Non-profit trust that she founded with eminent advisory committee to propagate Indian art forms and has been empaneled with Central Ministry of Culture for festivals of India Abroad, Empaneled member of International art organization Spicmacay, Recognised artist of Kannada & Culture Govt. of Karnataka.
Tarangam is an indispensable and traditional repertoire in Kuchipudi style introduced by Kuchipudi doyen Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastry who is also known to have initiated women to perform the Kuchipudi art form. Tarangams are mostly taken from Krishna Leela Tharangini of Saint Narayana Theertha's famous compositions. One such masterpiece being performed today begins with slokham taken from Krishkarnamritham and musical verses from Krishna Leela Tarangini that describes Krishna's adolescence in Brindavan with Radha and other Gopis at the same time describing his protection to women as ultimate reality and always prevailing and the repetoire culminates with rasaleela of Krishna. The highlight of this item is the rhythmic movement of the artists in entwined toes known as padabedas and dancing on a brass plate. Set to Ragamalika and Adi talam, music set by Smt. Sweta Prasad and choreographed by Guru Deepa Narayanan Sashindran, Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation.
It was a day well spent immersed in Art – me and my daughter enjoyed every performance and I am already eager to learn the Tarangam presented by my Guru 😊