100 people participated in this national symposium conducted
by IFIH at India International Centre (New Delhi) on 6-8
April 2002. The symposium was sponsored and co-organized
by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. A report by Dr. Bharat Gupt, IFIH founder
member and academic director of the symposium:
session began with a Mangalaacharana by Dr. Bharat Gupt reciting the Sarasvati
sukta in the traditonalRikpaatha
and a welcome to venerable senior scholars, paper readers,
performers, delegates, the press and other media persons.
In the Statement of the Conference Aims, he said,
that this symposium was being held to explore the philosophy,
both traditional and modern, behind the vast variety
of the Indian dramatic arts which though performed extensively
were not discussed deeply that often. He drew attention
to the plan of discussions as divided into four plenary
sessions called Srishti,
which followed not a historical and evolutionary approach
but a diachronic definition of the ever renewing dramatic
inaugural lamp was lit by Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi who gave a moving address in Hindi stating
how he aspired to understand the shaastra
of performance, the Natyashastra,
in more than one life time as the subject was so vast.
In many ways the present times seemed to him as the
age of the Natyashastra
which was being followed not only by the Indian arts
but also now in the new genres of film, video and CD-ROMs
everywhere. The Natyashastra
had a wide vision, as it wanted to show all that existed
in this world and conceal nothing. It was not a constrictive
system, as often alleged, but one open to new genres
his keynote address, Prof. Kapil Kapoor emphasized that
Indian theories of art, both of natya
and kavya traditions,
reveal a harmony between aesthetic and ethical values.
He said this was also the case with the stream of Greek
thought represented by Aristotle. The later European
thought however had lost that balance and more often
argued for either value free and or propagandist art.
But in India, the
purushaarthas, as abiding
cultural values were held a part and parcel of art.
Kireet Joshi, Chairperson, Indian Council for Philosophical
Research (ICPR), said that the main purpose of this
seminar was to draw out from the philosophy of dramatic
arts the lessons for education. Drama
like the moon not only gives light but also delight.
The Natyashastra purified
us through ananda. India had raised the important question in history, how can we see the invisible,
smriti, natyaandkavya are all means of knowing the invisible. Bharata
Muni had given us the art of capturing invisible reality.
He urged the gathering of scholars to think about the
essentials that make for the greatness and timeless
value of a dramatic work. He said that every performance
is not drama and we should not lose sight of what sustains
the works of an Aeschylus, Sophocles, Kalidasa, Shudraka,
Tagore or Shakespeare. He emphasized that the classics
have captured not just the world of appearance but also
the reality that is not apparent yet governs not only
mankind but the whole cosmos. He said,
the Indian tradition was never limited by local or smaller
concerns. It looked at universal aspirations. The philosophy
of Indian dramatic arts had a conscious possession of
the secret of the world and what was behind the world
and the important instrument of presenting it. The Natyashastra
was, therefore, the pancamaveda and was more important than
the four as it was a ladder of knowing the Supreme Veda
or Ultimate Knowledge.
said that the great dramatist shows through individual
act the great world act. What is most important is action
and not dialogue. There are many great plays with little
dialogue but much dance and music. The dramatist gives
us the experience of action and its result through which
the soul gains knowledge. Thus there is no better way
to education than drama. He wished that the philosophy
of Indian dramatic arts is manifested in our country,
we become repossessors of
that knowledge, we enact great dramas, give our students
the healing touch so that the quest for immortality,
the fundamental message of India, is
revisited and we become ‘amritasyaputraah’.
delivering the vote of thanks of the inaugural session,
Dr. Bharat Gupt pointed out that the three addresses
of the morning showed that continuous regeneration,
unity of aesthetics and ethics, and art as channel to
highest consciousness, were the guiding principles of
Indian dramatic philosophy. He added that the traditional
distinction between rasa and rasaabhaasa
(the delusion of rasa)
was meant to prevent our seeking enjoyment in the unethical.
He thanked the audience for listening with rapt attention
and announced the immediate start of the first plenary
Creation of Natya
was chaired by Shri Kireet Joshi and began with a presentation
called “Transformation in Dance, from Text to Expression,”
by Ms. SonalMansingh.
She talked about how a dancer begins with the well defined
postures but turns them into deeply emotive experiences
that create a new spell with each rendering. She performed
portions of the Jaidevaashtapadi, “Keshiimathanamudaaram…”
with Shri Bankim Seth singing the Sanskrit text (photo
on the left). In the ensuing discussion, Prof. Sunil
Kothari elaborated upon how
the dance language is meant to reveal also the overtly
unstated meaning of the text. Dr. Bharat Gupt asked
how can the dancer add to the
language of traditional postures to facilitate modern
expression. Ms. Mansingh
said that creating novelty was achieved through emotive
expression whether the postures were old or new.
ArshiyaSethi in her paper, “Sacred
to Secular,” the Satriya of
Assam told the about the spiritual art form practitioners in the ‘kshetras’ who are now neither able to perform as of
old nor able to adjust to the new audience. She made
a strong appeal for Satriya to be recognized as a national art form of classical
dance. The discussants, SonalMansingh, Makarand Paranjape and Madhu Khanna
further investigated this problem which is acute not
only for Satriya of Assam but of other classical forms as well. Madhu
Khanna made an impassioned
plea for providing education to the audience instead
of asking the traditional artist to mould itself to
cosmopolitan markets. Dr. Gupt elaborated on how artists
have always been nurtured in the regional expanses but
the ancient or medieval capitals did not ask them to
refurbish their expression as is the case now. Tansen matured in Rewa but was rewarded
for the same music in Agra. The challenge now before the artist is not to surrender to the new
patrons. He summed up the salient points of discussion
and invited everybody for lunch.
afternoon portion was chaired by Prof. Kapil Kapoor
and began with a lecture on Koodiyattam
by Dr. SudhaGopalkrishanan
and a performance by Shri Madhu Margi as actor showing
abhinaya and artha
in Koodiyattam while the drum
accompaniment was given by Shri Rama Unni.
In an enchanting demonstration Madhu Margi enacted the
feelings of Sita in Ashok Vatika
as felt by her abductor Ravana, while SudhaGopalkrishnan gave a commentary
on the subtle aspects of abhinaya.
It was followed by a discussion by Prof. Kapil Kapoor
and Indra NathChaudhary.
next lecture was delivered by Prof. Makarand Paranjape
on “Naatyotpatti, the Origin of Natya”.
He first drew attention to the fact that the coherence
of an Indian shaastra must be always kept in mind before going into
hermeneutics. He outlined the deeper meaning of the
myth of the origin of drama as enshrined in the deva-asura
combat and the implications it has not only for theory
of performance in the Natyashastra but for all kinds of amrita, that
is spiritual, social, cultural and economic wealth.
A combat is going on today between people who believe
in the value of Indian heritage and those who don’t.
Drama and search for values have to be seen in this
context. Myth of origin is representing in Natyashastraa metaphysics of creation and of knowledge that is ever renewing
and is Vedic in that sense. It also represents the methodology
of the science of performance through the tradition
of disciplined artists and the art venues. The myth
also affirms poetics of impartial truth and universal
aesthetics in contrast with the reductionist approaches.
discussants, Sunil Kothari
talked on the difference of enactment (ekaahaaryaabhinaya) by the dancer in representing dramatic persona
in Koodiyattam and Orrisi.
Madhu Margi observed that every actor had his own way
of imagining a persona even beyond the taught skills.
Dr. A. P. Jain, a scientist, asked a general question
as to why when talking about Indian performing arts,
we always talk of “Vedic heritage” only, as it alienates
many people? An answer was that it is the oldest available
text of our heritage and another that it is also the
beginning of many performing arts as well. Besides,
‘Veda’ is just not the book but it has been clearly
defined as synonymous with all that is worth knowing,
added Prof. Paranjape.
the afternoon, we began the Second Plenary Session called
The Appreciation ofNatya, chaired by Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi.
The first presentation was made by Prof. Indra NathChaudhury on “The Concept
of Rasa, the Aesthetic Value System and the Modern Theatre.”
He argued that the only thing constant in a play is
a value system. No art can be sustained without a value
implicit or explicit. The development of the shaanta,
vaatsalya, lalitaand otherrasas was a development
in the philosophical values of medieval India. He explained the transformation of the every day world into the art
world through rasa
aesthetics which is sometimes misunderstood as escapism.
Development in the theory has been continuous since
medieval times to the present day. Bhoja
had rejected Bharata’s classification
of sthaayee and sanchaaree
and hence all feelings including the very modern ones
could consequently be seen as rasas.
very interesting discussion followed his paper. Dr.
Ramesh Rishikalp wondered
if modern authors like Sircar
and Tendulkar, ideologues
of a different kind, could fit into the harmonious system
of rasa theory. Prof. SatyadevChaudhary reiterated that
Bharata Muni’s classification
of sthaayee and sanchaaree was a psychological reality and all enactment
in whatever age fell into that category. The newest
sanchaaree always enforced the oldest sthaayee. Many from the audience wanted to join issues
with the speaker but the session had to be terminated
by Dr. Gupt as the auditorium had to be vacated for
the day and the tea was waiting.
plenary session which continued the next day was chaired
by Prof. R. C. Pradhan,
Member Secretary, ICPR. While
welcoming the audience and speakers, Dr. Bharat Gupt
said that as shown by the intensity of yesterday’s discussion
the term rasa still
evoked the greatest involvement as it was one of those
classical terms that are used by the pandit and commoner
alike with equal complexity.
Ranjan Ghosh reading his paper, “Two Approaches to the
Theory of Rasa” said that in the West the notion
of aesthetic experience is now often debunked and rasa
has to be seen in that atmosphere. The Indian approach
centres around the experience of art or art emotion
often transcending any life emotion, whereas the Western
is concerned with the nature of the art object. He then
proceeded to expound the two modern approaches to rasa,
namely that of K.C. Bhattacharya and Barlinge.
KCB, he said, postulates three grades of feelings, such
as a child’s feeling in play not even aware that he
is playing, a person’s identifying with the happiness
of the child, and third, the feeling of another person
who sympathizes with the feeling of the child observer
either as projecting himself into the observer’s feelings
or assimilating the observer’s feelings. The assimilative
way transcends the object and takes only the feeling
and is actually the rasa experience. Barlinge
on the other hand, said Prof. Ghosh, was concerned
with the enactment on the stage (aasvadya)
and not the tasting or aasvaada. It was the art on the stage that contained
the rasa. It was an
objectified emotion on the stage and not in life. Barlinge
he said made a clear distinction between art and life
and was hence a better analysis of rasa.
to the paper, Shri Kireet Joshi raised three points.
Is everything we see on stage drama, he asked. He shared
the view of KCB that the object is transcended in art
as that rising above is the crux of aesthetic experience.
A fact of experience must become a value and not remain
a mere fact. When Radha says that she holds the lord
of the three worlds on her breasts and is thus greater
than Krishna who held the mountain
Govardhana, she is talking of a value (and not the lover).
He added that the best dramatist was one who made the
audience feel like a dramatist or creator. In his reply,
Prof. Ghosh said he was not aiming to discuss evaluative
criteria but only as to where and how the pleasure arose
Patnaik was happy that Prof.
Ghosh has shown that in India even
modern thinkers were reinterpreting the classical texts.
Here the reader, the writer and the text all three are
taken together and is not like Structuralism overthrown
by Formalism, and that by New Criticism, by Reader Response
Theories, by Deconstruction, and so on. He then said,
we should not forget that enactment in life was accidental
but on the stage it was intentional. Also he asked about
the nature of emotion on stage, was it just visible
or suggestive? Prof. Kapoor pleaded for a more careful
use of translated terms.
SatyadevChaudhary reiterated that Barlinge
is wrong in presuming that the Natyashastra
defines rasa as residing
in enactment, rasa is aasvaada not
asvaadya else the epithets
would never have been used. Also one should not overlook
their closeness. And there should be no confusion that
Bharata Muni was prescribing
rasa only for natya
and not for kavya.
He also pointed out that the discussions were overlooking
the sutra that sthaayee
alone transforms into rasa.
Socially taught feelings are not strong enough to be
sthaayee. Another member
of the audience drew attention to the idea of Muktibodh that creative experience has its rasa and there can be no rasa
without creativity. In his winding up, Prof. Ghosh declined
to respond to the exegetical points related to the Natyashastra,
but reiterated that he believed in the ideal construct
of the art and in the unity of the tasted and taste
worthy. Taking up the exegetical issues, Dr. Gupt quoted
the sutra and drew attention to the point that the text
of Natyashastra uses the term ‘aasvaadyatva’
and not aasvaadya.
Bharat Muni was not talking
about the aasvaadya
or the performance but the aasvaadyatva
or the capacity of the performance in yielding rasa.
He also showed how the four ancient commentators from
Lollata to Abhinavagupta had
taken up the issues raised by modern theories of formalism,
reader response, universalisation
and personal projection.
second paper was by Dr. Bharat Gupt, “Indian and Greek
Drama: Are they East and West?” Dr. Gupt started by
saying that the Indians had viewed Greek culture as
‘Western’ because they were taught to think so by the
post-renaissance European colonialists. The ancient
Greek and Indian cultures belonged to the Indo-European
belt (a historical reality to be acknowledged irrespective
of the debate about the location of its cradle) and
so did their theatres. He then expounded how Indo-European
beliefs, concepts and techniques of performance that
were found in the two dramatic practices and play texts.
Both the theatres he said were sacred and were performed
at such religious festivals. He then gave detailed similarities
between the treatment of myth and itivritta,
katharsis and rasa,
use of dance, music and semiotized
gesture in the two traditions. He also challenged the
notion that Greek theatre pursued conflict while the
Indian went for conciliation. He showed that there were
so many Indian genres of aaviddha
category like vyayoga and samavakaara
that were only agonic. He asserted that definition of
a tragedy as a single play ending with death and misery
was not Greek (who believed in the cycle of fortune
like the Indians) but later European. The Greeks showed
the cycle of fortune like the Indians and there was
plenty of pathos in both theatres. There were many other
aspects of Greek theatre that were not European and
therefore, it was best to categorize Greek and Indian
theatres as Indo-European.
the ensuing discussion on the paper, Shri Kireet Joshi
commented that it was one of the most educative experiences
given to the audience. He found the thesis highly acceptable
as it was furnished with so much evidence. The division
of the East and West was disastrous for mankind. Prof.
Tripathi said that Dr. Gupt had rigorously demolished
so many well established notions about Greek theatre
and his book was well known to scholars here and abroad
for quite some time. He had, however, some ‘shamkaas’
such as, why should the notions of purity and impurity
(not taken up today, but in his books) be seen in the
Natyashaastra and why
should cathartic purgation be compared with the filling
in of rasa. He said
that the Natyashastra
also has the tradition of unhappy ending in some genres,
and he asked why does Dr. Gupt call
both theatres sacred when Indian plays were performed
even in secular places including bars. Dr. Gupt said
it was true that sauca was not stated in the Natyashastra
formally but Natyashastra
does talk of elevation and change in the psychological
state of the onlooker and the analysts from Nayaka
onwards have explicitly held that without a cleansing
of the emotions (satvodreka)
there can be no rasa.
That catharsis and rasa are the two ends of the same spectrum, was his
thesis. As for the sacredness of theatre, he was talking
about the best of the genres in the two cultures. Not
only the Indians, the Greeks also had a vast tradition
of secular performances like memos, satyrikon
etc. However, even the trivial in the two cultures was
located in the ambit of the cosmologically sacred value,
as Indian ‘purushaarthas’
or Greek ‘arete.’
the next paper, “Natya as
a Vehicle of Purushaartha,”
Prof. Radha Vallabh Tripathi, showed a detailed relationship between the
four purushaarthas¾Kama, Dharma, Artha and Moksha and
the four rasas, Sringara,
and Bibhatsa. He then brilliantly elaborated how other
rasas and the other aspects of the ancient plays like
etc, were connected with the purushaarthas
or the well defined aims of life. He asserted that there
could be no predominance of any one purushaartha
in drama. Life had to be shown in its completeness.
He pointed out that there were two streams in the ancient
times, one didactic like Ashvaghosha’s
and the other more pleasure centric like Kalidasa’s.
They demanded two aesthetics. In the rasika
tradition, pleasure also created an ethical resolution
After performance the onlooker had acquired better samskaaras
or morally intuitive abilities and was a better educated
person. As Abhinavgupta said the poet through recreating (anuvyaaharana), the actor through redoing (anukarana) and the onlooker through revisualizing (anudarshana)
attain the understanding of aims of purushaarthas.
There can be no rasa
if the realization of purushaarthas is not present.
the discussion that followed Dr. Bharat Gupt observed
that though ethics was a desirable concern for the ancients
and there could be no purusharathahina
or value less pleasure, ethics however did not constitute
the aesthetic pleasure, the main aim of natya.
a social not an aesthetic construct. Prof. Tripathi
agreed and said that achaaryas only claimed that drama created ‘purushartha-dhee’ and not the action. Prof. Kapil Kapoor
said ethical values can be generated only if the art
experience is affirmative. If it is postmodern there
may be no rasa and
no ethics either. Prof. SatyadevChaudhury asserted that rasa
was distinct and independent and the didactic functions
such as ‘kavyaprayojanas’
or ‘kaantaasamopadesha’ were outside ‘rasanishpatti.’
Pursuit of Natya: Prof. Ranjan Ghosh was the chairperson. It was both in the personal
and social sphere that the pursuit of drama was sought
to be examined in this session. Dr. PriyadarshiPatnaik read the first paper,
“A Case for Self-Reflexivity in Aesthetics Studies in
He said, globalisation of culture
has put Indian aestheticians at crossroads. Earlier
methods cannot be simply discarded or abandoned, but
new methods cannot develop overnight. Interest in the
ancient traditions continues, but a postmodern indeterminacy
and suspicion of universals, instability of meaning
and method, have pervaded both Indian critical thought
and cultural products. He was curious how we should
evaluate the present day fusion arts which are neither
eastern nor western. Even the western movies had abandoned
traditional western genres and the Indian movies are
also entirely mixed and classified as thrillers or carnival
songs. So what are the canons now?
paper was extensively commented upon by Drs. Sunil Kothari,
ArshiyaSethi and Ranjan Ghosh. The speaker was profusely congratulated
for focusing on the Indian situation today.
was followed by a paper in Hindi plus recital session
of Tagore songs by Dr. Manju
Singh. In her paper, ‘NatyaKalakeSanskritikMulya.’ She traced the pursuit of modern Indian playwrights
like Bhartendu, Tagore, Jai
Shankar Prasad, and the poets like Tulsi,
Nirala and others who reaffirmed
a fresh value system through their highly musical poetry
and the difference music makes to the power of drama.
She also demonstrated how she used theatre to acquaint
the diffident students with difficult texts. She ended
her presentation by singing a composition of Tagore
and then a Hindi gita
of her own that drew great applause.
generated a round of lengthy discussion in which Drs.
Ramesh Rishikalp and BhartenduMishra held the floor.
Dr. Rishikalp congratulated
Dr. Singh for translating into action the theory of
ethical values in drama that was discussed by scholars
in the earlier session. Mrs. RashmaKalsi asked how the educators could hope that when the world
is changing the choice of plays by the young will not
change. If theatre reflects life then the young want
to see that new life. They see so much television and
newer art forms now and so why will they not take the
new aesthetics and values. Is it possible to take just
modern technology and not the contemporary western mores?
Dr. Khwaja said this was only
because India has yielded easily. He said, education should
have an indigenous thrust to be effective and not be
looking to the West. Dr. Raja Ganesan reiterated the
same point and said educational institutions must be
made centres of these arts for imparting values in the
healthiest way. After all, Gandhi has recorded how the
street play Harishchandra
inspired his moral being. The chairperson Prof. Ghosh
speaking in Hindi, concluded the session by observing
that it was a laudable attempt to apply theory in education.
later part of this plenary session was chaired by Dr.
Madhu Khanna in which Dr.
BhartenduMishra spoke in Hindi
on “LokadharmiParampara se VidyalayeeManch.” He said, the Natyashastra has laid down a system of teaching and
representing the nature of the world or loka.
It was a powerful didactic tool for pedagogy and was
yet not interested in any particular ideology. In his
opinion there was no better medium than theatre for
introducing the students to an understanding of the
world. The films could not do this today as they are
made for commerce and titillation. Theatre in schools
could counter this impact. He then addressed the problems
of producing plays in schools and the constraints under
which theatre is unable to become a powerful vehicle
of cultural transmission and educational recreation.
His was a strong plea for improving theatre activity
in education. Dr. Khanna remarked
that this paper has proposed a new responsibility on
the school teachers as preservers of theatrical medium.
very interesting paper was presented by Dr. Pratibha
Bhattacharya on “Story Telling and Traditional Education.”
She elaborated on story telling as a great cultural
technique practiced in myriad forms in families, schools,
gatherings and professional performance but now in erosion
by westernisation and info technology. She elaborated
on the variety of tale telling techniques that are practiced
in societies from cosmopolitan to primitive. If the
great wealth of culture preserved by story telling has
to be saved, the family and educational systems now
need to imbibe something that can fulfil the same function.
Story telling represented values of cooperation and
unity with other humans and nature whereas the present
day narratives are full of conflict and suppression.
Khanna commented that a myth
or a story was not just a collection of events but a
reflection of the cognitive structure of our consciousness.
And the speaker had shown nothing less than that and
her anguish was justified.
The katha was a natya
also. As the clock showed closing time and the next
users of auditorium hovered outside, the discussant
participation was cut short by the chair and the conference
director (by now reputed as ‘remote control’) invited
everybody to tea.
Sahridayataa: Sensitivity and Natya was chaired by Prof. Indra NathChaudhury. It started with Mrs. Veena
Pani, director, dancetroupAdi Shakti speaking on “Transforming Concepts
into Theatre.” She declared that she belonged to the
two worlds, the traditional and the newly globalised
one and hence her work was a hybrid. Ganapati
was envisaged by her as transition from the old to the
new but being both at the same time. Ganapati was a revolutionary and yet the son of traditional
as Shiva and hence a hybrid. But the core that hybridizes
is that which you are and what you wish to become, it
is a yoga. For her, rasa was also a reaching out and a
yoga and an expansion, otherwise it would be
merely art for art’s sake. Art thus also an expansion
of consciousness. In creating
her art, she relied most on using the body in a non-functional
non everyday manner and thus enhancing the consciousness.
The other reliance was inclusivity of genres as it was pluralistic. The contemporary
mind can see many things at the same time. In Ganapati
she was using Kalaripayattu
and taala and connecting it to the cakras
the ensuing discussion Shri Kireet Joshi asked Veena
Pani what she considered to be the essence of drama
or theatre. All the angika
and genres etc, were merely
tools but the essence has to be something else. Mrs.
Veena Pani said that the essence
in art was the emotion expressed through gestures etc.,
but behind which it also was the consciousness of the
artist. Shri Joshi said emotion was common to all arts,
but the essence of drama was action, which was initiated,
developed and concluded in drama and was also to be
seen at the cosmic level also. Dr. Gupt observed that
Veena Pani has based her pluralism
on the sound basis of the development of consciousness,
an old precept that art leads to the divine but he wanted
to know if her eclecticism in genres would also not
exclude certain things?Veena said that exclusion was decided upon by the awareness
of the artist, it was not a
matter of rules. Prof. Ghosh appreciated that Veena
Pani was concentrating on non lifelike motions for her
art as that was essential for creation of art as this
truth has been overlooked for too long.
In the paper that followed Dr. Madhu
Khanna talked about “An Experiment
in Meditational Art,” that
presented her experiences with children
from four countries which she conducted several years
ago. The experiment was based on the premise that the
psychological technique of aesthetic vision discussed
in the Shilpa texts, and its signs of revelation, cited in scriptures, arise from
a universal archetypal source. They are as valid today
as they were in ancient times. The experiment demonstrated
that the works produced by children during this experiment
revealed the genesis of artistic form. Further, in this
paper Indian arts are seen as a system of vertical and
horizontal alignments. Verticality reflects the profound
goals of the arts and links it to the four purushaarthas; horizontal alignments
interconnect all the arts¾performative,
visual and literary¾into an integral whole.
In the light of this observation, the creative process
of meditational art can be
applied to all forms of artistic expression. In contemporary
India the technique can be reinvoked for promoting a value based education to children.
Radha Vallabh Tripathi pointed
out that the Natyashastra in its own idiom talks
of actor entering a role as a yogi enters another’s
body, and the achaaryas also talk of the use of mental concentration particularly
by actresses but how can the exercises that Madhu conducted
be useful for theatre? Madhu said that there were many
experiments on how meditation helped the artist. Priyadarshi
who was working on relationship between image and text,
asked Madhu if she had conducted experiments with painting
after listening to music or seeing a river.
Kireet Joshi said that Madhu has combined meditation
well with the values of learning. He said value education
was not a set of dos and don’ts but the faith in something
higher than we already know. There are three ways of
gaining knowledge, namely through science, philosophy
and art. Art is not only expression but also a way of
grasping knowledge. In meditation all three ways combine.
The greatest seeker is an artist as well as a yogi.
The best example of this was Gautam Buddha who made
his life into an art and influenced millions in his
Lokesh Chandra spoke on “Globalization and the Indian
Arts.” It was a paper that looked at globalization as
a western cultural force interacting with India in
the last three centuries. Also he was primarily concerned
with the notion of classicism which he said was a western
construct brought into modern India. Among
the Indian arts, he said, dance is the only form that
remains culturally untainted and this is very important.
He began by noting that our land had been called India by many nations but the Tibetans called it the ‘land of dance.’ This
was similar to the Egyptians naming Greece as
the land of celebration of life. Solon
was told by the Egyptians that while they celebrated
death in pyramids, the Greeks celebrated life as children.
Celebration of life was an Indo-European characteristic.
Dr. Lokesh Chandra said that the Greek facets of classical
culture have not been studied with Indic eyes in spite
of the fact that there were so many instances of closeness
with India. The
Greek notions of dance and music were crucial in giving
rise to ballet in 16th century Europe under Louis XIV who got dances representing the ancients Greek gods.
Classicism encouraged many other aspects of European
culture which led to the growth of modern science and
Rome, the Europeans came to look upon China and
India also as classical cultures. They started acquaintance with China through
widely imported porcelain and were soon impressed by
it as a three thousand year old nation state. They also
noted the great impact of Buddhism on China and began studying that formally. By the end of the eighteenth century
a common origin for Greek, Latin and Sanskrit was postulated
and soon the greatness of Indian drama as the only one
besides the Greek was recognized. But the colonial bias
did not take long to set in and in 1801,
Jones admired the Greek poets for representing Europe as a princess and Asia as her handmaid. However
the elevation of Sanskrit was first formulated in Europe for philological reasons
and not in India. As part of the search for classical India, the
search for classical dances of India also
started. Classicism is a vital component of the Western
mind but Indians are very shy of it. Prof. Lokesh Chandra
said that so long as India remains
removed from its own classical moorings, it shall not
rise in any sphere of life because classicism stands
second wave of cultural renaissance came to India through the impact of Japanese painting or the Bengal school. In the search for
the history of Indian painting and sculpture, the evidence
of dancing figures convinced the Europeans that there
was a classical Indian dance. Hence began the revival
of traditional Indian dances and their acceptance as
classical. This was not a return to the past but an
identity for the future.
the same in spite of recognizing the classicism of India, a cultural downsizing of Asia began as early as in 1890 in the book by Reinach,
called Le Mirage Orientale.
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) denied Sanskrit its oldest status and
hypothesized that Proto-Indo-European with its European
vocabulary was the oldest form and related it to Lithuanian.
There was the beginning of a denial of a shared history
between the Indian and the ancient Greeks and Roman
cultures which cannot be understood in all its profundity
without the help of Sanskrit. The significance of the
Greek theatrical forms, the nine Muses, the Olympic
games and so on cannot be realized without the acknowledging
the shared past with India.
there is a great threat to Indian value system now which
is portrayed as anti-European and backward. He quoted
from Huntington’s Cultural Matters where traditional religion is damned as
an obstacle to modernization. Most Indian arts have
fallen prey to utter modernization.
Only music and dance have managed to remain traditional.
But what he had heard at this seminar in the last three
days had thrilled him as it was evident that the deeper
springs of culture emerge from our deeper self or chidaakasha.
his reaction, Dr. D K Pabby asked how can we cure the rot that has set in except
by making big changes in the educational system?
He shared the anguish of the speaker and said that this
pain may be bad for health but was good for mind. He
said there was no way except by taking texts that uphold
our values and teach them at all levels and through
the media as well. Madhu Khanna
said that the time had come to hammer out an Indian
modernity and last 15 years are an awakening. She said
every Indian must go through a foundation course in
Gupt said in the interest of our cultural distinctiveness
we should now be calm and analytical. India must
become culturally free and for that we have to challenge
the West. Our universities and research places have
to become non-derivative. For freedom, one has to make
a confrontation. Shall we challenge the West by just
a display of Indian arts, export of khadi
textiles, software and fashion designs? Or intellectually
by attacking the very values the West promotes? Just
as the West interprets us we have to interpret them.
It can’t be done by saying Shakespeare is the Kalidasa
of India but by asking if they are doing the right thing
by trivializing their own bard. When we talk of the
Natyashastra the values behind it go as a challenge,
the text should come across not merely as performance
but as a different set of values.
Kireet Joshi remarked that according to Sri Aurobindo,
it was the ‘brain of India’ that
shall save us and not emotionalism. With the robustness
of the intellect of Mahabharata’s
Vyasa we have to confront the clash, dialogue and the
sharing of civilizations. Our message to the world has
to be universality and to let the good thoughts from
all over, thus promoting the vishvabhaarati
or the really global. That is the character of India. It had experimented with universality and globalization for the longest
time. Its culture is not merely dance and music and
poetry but the spirit of transcendence. The arts are
merely expressions of culture.
second last paper of the day was read in Hindi by Dr.
Ramesh Rishikalp. It was called
Rashtriya Chetana.” He started by pointing out that things have
drastically changed from the times the best of the Hindi
plays were written in pre-independence period. He said
that today we are no longer nationalist as we have become
entirely derivative and enamoured by the consumerism
of the West. We have mistaken commercialism for modernity
which was not the case with earlier stalwarts of Hindi
playwriting like Bhartendu
and Prasad. For Bhartendu,
theatre was a better medium of creating national awareness,
than poetry or fiction, as preferred by nearly all the
writers of the times. In his struggle for nationalism
he ended up writing and producing 24 plays and even
attempted to get them prescribed for schools all on
his own. The credit of reviving Chanakya for modern
to Bhartendu. Prasad took
up the lead and reaffirmed Chanakya as a dramatic character.
While Prasad wrote highly suggestive and symbolic poetry,
his plays were full of lively characters representing
a political and cultural vision for free India. He
created powerful women characters, religious reformers
and lovers of freedom. After Independence a period of disillusionment and hopelessness set in which too the
Hindi plays reflected very strongly.
hour-long discussion followed on how globalization is
dislocating and deprivileging
Indian languages, culture and pluralism. Most of the
speakers came from the audience. Shri Kireet Joshi pointed
out that the Indian dramatic texts do not have an adequate
representation in our educational curriculum at any
level and this should be remedied quickly as these texts
can be the best detergent to clean Macaulayism.
last paper of the symposium was read by Shri Kailash
Mishra on the popular hero
from the fisherman community (nishada)
of Mithila, Bihar, ‘Raja Sehles, the
Hero God of Mithila.’ He said
that Mithila is one of the best known regions for intellectual
traditions and as much for folk stories. Tantra came
to Mithila from Nepal and Assam and was taken up by women and lower castes, and so did the story of
Raja Sehles. The paper reader
narrated in Hindi and Maithili. He elaborated how the cult of Sehles
created a priestly class called Bhagat
and established the ritual visitation of Sehles
as a possession of the medium in a community festival.
The cult has followers in all sections of Maithil
society. It represents a wonderful intertwining of popular
and elite, upper and lower caste cultures. He said the
cult was an example of how Indian society has been willing
to preserve elements of culture from all sections. In
order to encourage this habit in our times, cultural
heritage activity should be introduced as a curriculum
at the school level so that the elitist approach of
money making and commercial success can be toppled.
his vote of thanks, Dr. Gupt expressed his gratefulness
to all the participants and daily listeners who made
the flow of rasa and
abound for three days and which, he said, was not to
be terminated but taken out of the bounds of the auditorium.
He was pleased to see that nearly a hundred persons
attended every day and at no time from in the morning till less than a seventy were
present. He asked forgiveness for frequently stepping
on some toes so that the march could go on.
Kireet Joshi observed that this was one of the best
seminars that he had attended. He suggested that deliberations
such as these should be made available to the whole
country. On national holidays like Diwali, Holi
etc., the University Grants Commission and such bodies
should buy television time and telecast scholarly gatherings
that analyze, discuss and present dance, drama, recitations
and the performances as national celebrations without
commercials and advertisements that nowadays have come
to represent anticulture.
thanked the ICPR Staff, the IFIH organizers in particular
Mrs. Sarita Saraf, Dr. Gupt and Dr. Rishikalp. He felt that he was encouraged to organize a few
more seminars of this kind on the philosophy of Indian
music, handicrafts, poetics and so on to explore how Indian life is rooted in darshana or the philosophic vision. In India, philosophy
was not an isolated analysis but the driving agent of
the behalf of the paper readers and the audience, Ms.
delivered the ‘bharati’
vakya. She recited a verse
praising the assembly as the sacred tree (kalpataru),with branches of
knowledge (Vedas), flowers of the disciplines
(shaastras) and seekers
of aesthetic pleasure (rasikas).
She thanked ‘Kireet Bhai’
for lending his mind presence for an incomparable symposium
that did something practically for reinstating our own
values and waking up the nation. She thanked ‘Bharat
Bhai, the gentle pugilist, for collecting such learned combatants.’
She was glad that the North American model of the seminars
based on academic-performer dichotomy was not followed
here and the artist (kalavant) and the scholar (shastri)
were on equal footing as practitioners of the same knowledge
(vidya). She said, a
rare feature of the seminar that greatly moved her,
was the equal participation of women at all levels.
lunch a performance of the play Ganapati was held in the main auditorium of IIC seen
by another hundred and fifty people besides the participants.
is a plan to bring out a volume containing the articles
read and the discussions held at the symposium when
funds are available.