• Warrior Monk

Warrior Monk Conversations 017: Wellbeing Through Dance with Nirupama and Rajendra

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

In this episode, I talk to Nirupama and Rajendra—two of India’s foremost classical dancers who hail from a family of educationalist artists. We discuss traditional dance, specifically Natya Shastra, and how it was created for the sole purpose of entertainment but also drives messages and values for people to get a sense of solace and relief.

Nirupama and Rajendra also share how Indian dance is presented through the four modes of communication which are the physical representation, verbal representation, make-up and costumes, and then pure emotions using Natya Shastra as a text for all the theater forms of India such as dance and music.

In addition, they also discuss how Navarasa—which refers to the nine expressions that humans often show—is expressed in dance form. Lastly, Nirupama and Rajendra mentions how dance has affected India for the last five years.

Discover how we can bring wellbeing to the world through Natya Shastra through this episode.

Nirupama and Rajendra are the founders of Abhinava Dance Company, one of India's most popular and cutting edge production houses that is recognized worldwide. They have been working in the field of dance for 25 years.

Connect with Nirupama + Rajendra on https://www.instagram.com/nirupama_rajendra

Learn more about the Abhinava Dance Company here: https://www.abhinava.dance/who-we-are

Intro and Outro Music: Hearts on Fire by Immersive Music

Connect with me for inspiring and educational content on Instagram.com/warriormonk, Facebook.com/thewarriormonk, and Twitter.com/warriormonkiam

Read more about the Warrior Monk mission here: www.thewarriormonk.com

The repository of Warrior Monk Conversations podcast episodes are found here: https://www.thewarriormonk.me

#wellbeing #dance #expression #nirupama #rajendra #poonachamachiah


Warrior Monk Conversations 017: Wellbeing Through Dance with Nirupama and Rajendra

Welcome to Warrior Monk Conversations, a treasure trove of inspirational discussions in personal and professional development.

I am Poonacha Machaiah. Join me on this journey where I have immersive conversations with the most thought-provoking leaders and everyday heroes from our communities to inspire, educate, and empower you to build resilience and reach your highest potential. Join me on this mission to create a positive societal shift to the compassionate transformation of humankind.

Nirupama and Rajendra are one of India's foremost classical dancers who hail from a family of educationists, artists, and Harikatha Vidwans, who are traditional storytellers. As founders of Abhinava Dance Company, one of India's most popular and cutting edge production houses recognized worldwide, the duo have been instrumental in introducing a great deal of innovation, creativity, enthusiasm, and imagination to the realm of classical art.

They're not only dancers, but also, they take the role of choreographers, teachers, and storytellers. They stand today as the artistic directors of Abhinava Dance Company, with a vision of adapting traditional themes to classical media and reach out to any audience that may or may not have the context to traditional dance.

Poonacha: Okay, friends, it is indeed an honor and pleasure today to have two of the foremost, I would say, classical dance performers in India. They're also my good friends, and I have to tell you one thing that---they were actually the start of my journey to going inward. I took a trip to monaster over cailaj with them, and that has started my own journey of going inwards. So before I start and get into the detail, I want to say, namasté. Nirupama and Rajendra, it is such a pleasure.

Nirupama: Namasté. Namasté.

Rajendra: Namaste.

Poonacha: You have always been dear friends, and anytime, I can have a conversation with you all. It's always a privilege. So before I go, I want to just give a quick intro to everybody, just a little bit of a background. I can spend hours talking about them as amazing human beings but just a little bit why they are the people when it comes to understanding the arts.

So, quickly, Nirupama and Rajendra are one of India's foremost classical dancers of India belonging to a family of educationists, artists, and Harikatha Vidwans, which basically means they're traditional storytellers of Karnataka. They have come from a long lineage and then after that.

The duo have been working in the field of dance for over 25 years as dancers, choreographers, producers, and performers, and I've had the privilege of really being up close and personal, and with Shekhar Kapur, we had a performance during the early days of Qyuki. They also carved a niche for themselves in the world as one of the most versatile and creative artists.

They're also founders of the Abhinava Dance Company, and they've traveled extensively all over the world, and over 5 million plus people have really had the pleasure of seeing them express their art. As part of Abhinava Dance Company, they have about 350 plus students who are being trained in the art forms of Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Natyashastra.

So it's indeed a pleasure to have them today. So, I want to have a lot of conversation. I think I could spend hours, but I really---while I was going through this quest, we are obviously going through some very difficult times as humanity, and every time humanity was in a crisis, the world has looked to artists, and while I was thinking, I was doing my own research, I'm going, talking to energy healing medicine and ayurveda and looking at, you know, at Vastu Shastra, I kind of stumbled upon, you know, I really wanted to understand Natyashastra, and what I understand and these---and Nirupama and Rajendra, they're experts, and obviously, Dr. Ganesh, shoutout, Dhani Ganesh. He is a leading expert.

But a little bit for the viewers or people listening to us, I'm not an expert, but I, at least, this is why I want to set the stage for the conversation. Natyashastra was founded or is ascribed to Bharata Muni, right?

Nirupama: Yes.

Poonacha: And there are a lot of theories saying that it wasn't one person because it spanned across hundred years, from the second century BC to second century AD, right?

Nirupama: Right.

Poonacha: And basically, there's also one---what people say is that Bharata is basically Bha, Ra, and Ta.

Nirupama: Yes.

Poonacha: Bha is Bhava, Raga, and Kala. (Nirupama chuckles) So it could have been that. So a lot of interesting theories on that, but what I found interesting was this: apparently, and this is during the time of Tretayuga, there was a time when people were basically indulging in---over indulging desire their senses, and there was calamity, and there was hunger and anger, and at that time, the gods went to Brahma, and they asked Brahma, "can you please come up with a solution for this problem?" And that became the origin of the Natyaveda. Right?

Nirupama: Right.

Poonacha: And what I understand, the Natyaveda was actually a Veda which was ascribed for everybody because the Rig Veda had, you know, certain, only certain people could read the Rig Veda, and what I understand is that the Natyaveda was described as an object which engaged both audio and visual and was supposed to look at all problems, so it had the paathya or the repetitive(5:38) text from the Rig Veda. It had songs or gita from the Sama Veda.

Nirupama: (5:44)

Poonacha: It had abhinaya or theater and drama from Yajur Veda. It had rasa or sentiments and emotion from Atharva Veda.

Nirupama: Yes.

Poonacha: So with that as a context, I want to understand from you all, how can the world (5:58) Natyashastra?

Nirupama: You've done a lot of research, and you've actually spoken so nicely. Poonacha, thank you for the wonderful introduction of Natyashastra. Well, yes, Natya was created for the very purpose of kind of an entertainment. It is entertainment but also to bring in some, drive home some messages and values and all that, but it was done for the purpose of freedom, you know, from pain, for people to get a sense of solace and relief.

Poonacha: From grief, right? And sorrow, right?

Nirupama: Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Because, you know, we always have this beautiful story, so that is the story where Indra, you know, the head of all the gods, approached Brahma to create something that would be kind of a solace for everybody, and they---it is so interesting, and they were instructed by Brahma to do a play.

Poonacha: Uh-huh.

Nirupama: And the first ever play that they created with Natya, like, what you have said, with the four, taking four elements of text and music and values and abhinaya, you know, expressions and all, they created the first play, and they took a subject that had just happened.

See, even at that time, it was so contemporary. They have just the abimuntanaj story between the Devas and, you know, the gods and demons that they---it had happened, and the, you know, took it neckta, amlita, and so they said, "Why don't we take a team?" So this is something that---in dance, there's referential dance and non-referential, so this was referential. They wanted a story, and so they took an episode that had just happened, like now, how you see people are dancing Coronavirus in the back, you know. (all chuckle)

Poonacha: And then, and good and evil, right? So, good and evil.

Nirupama: Yeah. Yes

Poonacha: Sick and healthy.

Nirupama: Yeah.

Poonacha: So, I think this is so important, but I want you to explain in the context of today, when in one way, we are being locked down or quarantined, I also believe that this is a time when expression can come out more.

Nirupama: Yeah.

Poonacha: And I really believe that there's something which can be done here. So please go ahead and explain.

Nirupama: Yes.

Poonacha: By the way, for the people listening, I forgot to tell you this, Nirupama and Rajendra are in Bangalore, India, which is my home, or Bengaluru. So I'm in San Diego. They're in Bengaluru. So, this is like a long distance love connection of two friends or three friends.

Poonacha: Reliving our moments.

Nirupama: So, they took that story, and they enacted that, and they found that, you know, they needed some more, you know, additions and, you know, elements to that. So, Shiva is supposed to have given lots of useful movements called the karanas, and in Natyashastra, it mentions---and Natyashastra is a whole, you know, a text for all the theater forms of India, you know, dance and music, and it has everything in it. It is connected with sculptures and painting and literature. Everything is there in that, and the movements of Shiva that is supposed to have been added to dance is in the fourth chapter.

Natyashastra is a text that has 36 chapters with various themes. So, movements got added to dance, and they have all the karanas. They have the most beautiful curvilinear movements that are seen in the temples. If you find and see in India, you will see. All over India, there are dance and dancelike sculptures, and it is said that they are all, you know, have connection to Natyashastra.

So, this is so interesting that it's---Natyashastra is not just about dance, but you see it in temple architecture as well. Then you can find it in paintings. So, I mean, R. Dr. Ganesh could give and make more connections to this, but as dancers---

Poonacha: And by the way, just people who are, earlier, we talked about Dr. Ganesh, so shout-out to Dhani Ganesh. Shatavadhani Ganesh is one of the most learned scholars in India, who practices this very ancient form of art called Avadhana, and he's a polyglot. He speaks 16 languages, and out of that, he speaks Italian, Latin, and Greek.

Poonacha: And so I, definitely what we should do, I think, a conversation with Dr. Ganesh, but, you know, I want to kind of get into a little bit from Natyashastra perspective, you know. One of the things which I know which you all have is discipline, right? Your practice and dance. So today, in the world we are in today, what can we learn? As an artist, what learnings do you all want to share? What can the world learn from artists like you all?

Nirupama: Dance is a very comprehensive, you know, art which has movement, which has music. It has poetry. It has emotions. And Indian dance, especially, is presented through four modes of communication. One is the physical representation called Angika, and then verbal representation through music and words and poetry and on [Vacika], and Aaharya: the costumes and makeup and lighting and all that, and then Sattvika is your emotions.

Now, for dancers, the physical training is so beautiful. That's where the discipline comes. You know, you will have a tremendous sense of dedication, what one needs, and discipline, one has to follow, because dance involves the entire body. So it helps, classical dance especially, you know, it tones every part of the body. You know, it is said there are so many, over 200 bones we have and, you know, over 600 muscles we have, and dance gives you that fitness, you know. It strengthens the body. It gives that sense of balance, and interestingly, in Natyashastra, they have, you know, that's the army carbonator the training that you will see. Human an---

Poonacha: Please do share because I think it'd be so good to see expressions. I know you are amazing, and we're doing it on Zoom and easy.

Nirupama: Human anatomy is divided into major limbs and minor limbs, you know, aṅgas and upāṅgas, and we are given training from the head to the toe for all these, you know, parts, and there are specific Sanskrit verses and the course of action for that. Now, for example, I'll tell you the 13 ways of moving heads. Here since we are only having these head variations. Like, we’ll do:

Nirupama and Rajendra: (demonstrate Shiro Bheda)

Nirupama: Shiro Bheda has 13 ways. So this was in Sanskrit. So 13 ways of moving. So now, you have fitness, you know, where they ask you to rotate the head and then move that---

Nirupama: We have enough basic training itself, then we have variations for the chest, ways of moving the sides, the hips, you know,

Rajendra: shoulders

Nirupama: the shoulders, and there are 67 ways of moving hands.

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: Can you believe? Sixty-seven ways of moving! You know, we have four ways of moving the wrist. So beautiful angles. The, the

Rajendra: fingers

Nirupama: Yeah, the fingers. How we flex. So, from head to toe, when we are given these exercises. As for Natyashastra, you get tremendous fit. One, fitness, and two,

Poonacha: So, in Natyashastra, they talk about Kuchela, right? That means, for you, you have to be, you have to have the ability, right? So, Kuchela.

Nirupama: The ability, yeah.


Nirupama: Just heal. Yeah.


Nirupama: Yeah. Yeah.

Poonacha: So I think, what I actually think, it’s very beautiful, if you all can actually, will take notes, if you can actually share with the world in subsequent series, hopefully, an online course, but, I mean, just preparation of this movement, right? Today, when people are stuck at homes all over the world, or next time, work is going to change.

Nirupama: Yes.

Poonacha: Work is going to go online, and people are going to be at homes, and obviously, we talked about carpal tunnel syndrome, typing all the time or looking at the monitor all the time. If you can actually move to dance and music, how beautiful is that? When you were actually moving your head, I'm like, people ask me to move my head, I don't want to do it, but if I can, if somebody can tell me through a word, I probably will do it. (chuckles)

Nirupama: Actually, you’re already doing, you know.

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: One is at the physical level. Another is at the expression level, you know. Children when they are taught dancing, they develop a new sense of language for communication, and it is such a beautiful codified language, beautiful Natyashastra.

See, shastra is what? It is the codification of the art of dancing. It is the science of the art of dancing. It is a practical thing, but then give a--Natyashastra not only describes, it prescribes also, you know, how to do it, and so we take that, and then we train the children, and then the, you know, the expressions. It also enhances creativity, you know, because in Indian dance, it's not just about moving, but also we tell stories, you know.

Poonacha: Expressions. Beautiful.

Nirupama: At the physical level, at the emotional level, and at the communicative level, how dance brings in such a beautiful change in a person. I've seen the children or even youngsters, you know, who are so used to gadgets, who are so used to, you know, not expressing, they start, they start beautifully speaking, beautifully, you know, they're able to see eye-to-eye, you know, at the world, and see, just think about it, you know, when you play music, you just want to move to music, you know.

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: Music cheers you up so much. Dance is something that is, you know, cheering you hundred percent, you know, hundred percent---

Poonacha: It’s connecting the body/mind, right? It's connecting both. So it's like, almost like yoga, movement and yoga coming together.

Nirupama: It is found that it’s another form of yoga, you know, because of its synthesis of physical energy and spiritual power.

Poonacha: Beautiful.

Nirupama: You know, it is so beautiful. We're talking about nature, conservation of nature, respect nature, and all that. You know, in dance, the first thing that we're taught is how to do namasté to the earth.

Rajendra: Respect the--

Nirupama: How to respect earth because we are stomping Earth, and in India, we consider Earth, Bhumi, and Gemini, and Magumi, you know. She's like a, a,

Rajendra: a mother

Nirupama: A mother to us.

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: So, children are taught, or even adults, everybody, we are first taught how to respect earth, you know, show respect and partake pardon of stomping her, you know, and we should not like utilize or abuse earth. So we kind of respectfully replace our feet. This is such a beautiful feeling, you know.

Poonacha: And I think that's so beautiful you say that because, you know, the world, one thing what I've been, we've been taught today with this whole Corona thing is that humans are optional. The animals will do much better without us. Nature will do much better without us. It's actually thriving, you know. So we are learning to now live, coexist, and respect. When we met the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama talked about karuna, it being very important. Compassion, right?

Nirupama and Rajendra: Compassion.

Poonacha: And I think it's time for us to embrace ahimsa, embrace karuna, as a way of life, right? So I want to talk about---talking about dance, and I want to really maybe get into one more thing about expression, and---today, people---expression is hard. We talked about Navarasa, right?

Nirupama: Uh-huh.

Poonacha: Can you all just share the emotions and express it from dance form? You know, using the eyes and things, uh (Nirupama laughs)

Nirupama: Okay. (laughs)

Rajendra: We will show the--

Nirupama: Okay. I will show. There are---Navarasa or nine, you know,

Rajendra: emotions

Nirupama: emotions, but actually, the ninth one, shantha, peace, is actually a state of fulfillment.

Nirupama: Which means, yeah, culmination of all these eight is a fulfilling experience. So, sringara is love. Love is one---universal emotion that everybody feels, whether you are Japanese, or an American, or an Indian, or, you know, an African. Love, you know, send them different degrees of love and variations of love. So, how we use the eyes and the smile. I can show you an example. (demonstrates) That is sringara. You know.

Now, veera. Veera is a sense of valor. Now, valor, the seed of valor is enthusiasm. So a person who learns dance, you know, he needs---he may not be an enthusiastic person, but through dance, he learned to be enthusiastic. Now, veera is (demonstrates). The valor, the valor of a warrior. Well, you know what it is. You know, all these people, now, these doctors, these, you know, whatever---you've been into firefighting, so, you know, the firefighters, the policemen, everybody, that is veera. In dance, we show veera like this (demonstrates). The courage to show, the power, all that.

So, you know, sringara, veera, and then hasya. See, laughter is something that is so much lacking in today's world. It's so important to be laughing, and through dance,

Poonacha: Joyful. Joyful, right?

Nirupama: To be, yeah, now, hasya is actually, yeah, they’re in different degrees. So watch this, (demonstrates). I will be acting it, you know, but one, things, how to feel emotion. Sringara, veera, hasya. Now, adbhuta, a sense of wonder. See, this is so important for a human being to stay into---that is why children are so special because they have the sense of wonder, and as adults, we tend to forget that, you know.

Poonacha: We become boring. Adults become boring. (Nirupama and Rajendra chuckle)

Nirupama: So, wonder is shown like this, (demonstrates).

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: You hear something. So, how the cheeks work, the eyes work, the eyebrows work, and the lips, through that, we express the sense of wonder. It is an inner emotion, you know, but that, you know, brings---I’d like to finish this series and tell you how this helps---a sense of wonder, and karuna, compassion for yourself, whether it is a pet, with the people, see the world, or even sadness. People don't know how to express grief, you know. So, it's okay to cry and how---dance things.

In angika, we show sadness like this, (demonstrates), tears or even if it's sattvika, we actually bring the tears, you know, in the eyes. So dance as an experience as one dances as an expression is another. So there are trained actions for the body, there're untrained actions, and untrained actions are what you see in cinema and in dramas and all, where they actually do realistic actions, you know. So realistic action, like for example, to see the sense of fire, okay? That sudden reflex like (demonstrates). You don't train them, you know. It's a human experience that you feel. How it gets stylized in dance, we have shringara, veera, hasya, karuna, adbhuta, now, anger, and roudra. (20:53)

Rajendra: Or adbhuta

Nirupama: Yeah, we finished. No, roudra.

Poonacha: Roudra

Nirupama: How the breathing changes (demonstrates), how the eyes go (demonstrates), how you grit the teeth (demonstrates). That. So, style is action. Can you see the expressions?

Poonacha: It’s amazing! It's amazing.

Nirupama: That is roudra, and then, bibhatsa, disgust (demonstrates). I mean, I'm using this space to communicate. I’m like, I’m this (Poonacha chuckles) Now, shantha, the last one. The ninth one is shantha. Shantha is a peaceful state of fulfilling, you know, kind of state of being that we've got all our, you know, the meditation, in the meditation that you do

Poonacha: bliss

Nirupama: Oh, the bliss, yeah, and also, like kind of a sense of satisfaction, you know,

Poonacha: Fulfillment

Nirupama: The fulfillment that you get, which you get, you know, by watching---see, one is for the, all these Navarasas, is one for the actor or dancer but also to the people who are watching. You see a good movie, you know, you feel so you feel so satisfied. You see a good---you watch a good dance performance, good art, you get a sense of wellbeing, you get a sense of satisfaction because here, the best part of Natya is, it's a very impersonal thing.

Like it is, at one level, it is a suspension, a temporary suspension of disbelief. You know that there is no ocean there, but then the actor is doing, the dancer is solely showing the ocean or, you know, of eating a mango, you know, like (acts eating a mango). You know there is no mango in the hand, you know, but the acting is that you also feel and you say, “oh my God, what a beautiful acting. What a beautiful dance that was!” the dance of the peacock or dance of the deers. So in dancing Natya, what is in the three loka, three low power gift, V and Okita. Now, we know, we don't just translate, but then we transform,

Poonacha: and transcend.

Nirupama: We transcend. Not only we transcend the time and space but even the audience, they transcend. That's why, you know, even today, our Ramayana, our Mahabharata, or our stories, or the folklore, everything, you know, it is so beautiful. It has so many emotions, and the dancers depict those through these four modes of communication, and the audience also get transported, so they say that in dancing Natya, you create a world, another world, a better world. That is.

Poonacha: It's amazing. You know, I was reading some place, I don't know the exact numbers, they say 55% is actually the body communication, and then 38% is through tone, and only about 8% [7%] is through words, right? That means your body and your emotions, it actually transcends anything you say, right? So it's important for communication.

So I want to get back to, you know, where do we take this from here? So one of the things I wanted to talk to you all because you all have a wealth of knowledge. I mean, the world needs to understand these deep, deep sec---ancient secrets which you, I think, are the custodians of, and it’ll be amazing if we can actually start sharing some of these things online. There's one thing for sure. The world as we know it has changed forever, right?

Nirupama: Uh-huh.

Poonacha: Everything is going to go online, and that's beautiful too because now---look at this. I'm in San Diego. You are in Bangalore. People are connecting all over the world, and you're having this Natya, like, we're having this almost as a performance, and everybody is watching, and adbhuta, and amazement.

Nirupama: Firstly, this is there to bring cheer and beauty, you know. That is something that is so required.

Nirupama: A simple, you know, sense of joy and happiness, and we have such amazing music to which we all move, and Natya is for everybody, you know, at different levels. It is said---it seems they have done research, and they said that, you know, I have to tell you about something very interesting of what's happening in India, that in the last five years, we've had a lot of adults who have joined our dance classes, people who are CEOs of companies, people who are engineers, who are doctors, who are mothers,

Rajendra: Professionals

Nirupama: who are in different professions, who are between 30 and 60. People are joining dance classes. This is such a great step for Indian dance. Earlier, it used to be only children, even if I started when I was four, and, like, we've been dancing for the last 40, you know, 40 years.

Poonacha: By the way, for people listening, Nirupama and Rajendra, ageless and timeless. (Nirupama and Rajendra laugh) How they worked 10 years ago, and they still look the same. I think it's all the dancing. (all chuckle)

Rajendra: Absolutely. That’s true.

Nirupama: Yeah, we’re happy people. You know, dance makes people happy, and happy people, I think, don't age. (laughs)

Poonacha: Absolutely, absolutely true. Absolutely.

Nirupama: So that’s what you see in the research, and it seems that people who read, 35% only helps in controlling dementia. People read, 35%. Now, people who do these crossword puzzles and which involve the brain, up to about 56%, it helps, you know, for dementia controlling, and with playing golf or swimming, there is no help.

Poonacha: Right.

Nirupama: Whereas with dancing, it is said that 76%, it will help in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's. In India, you see, there are gurus who are in their 90s,

Rajendra: 80s

Nirupama: who are in their 80s. There are professors, and Chandrasekhar in Chennai, who dances. He is 80 plus. You have Vyjayanthimala Bali, you know, the famous dancer and actress. She's still dancing. She's in her 80s, and we have

Rajendra: our guru

Nirupama: our guru, Kumudini Lakhia. She's 90, and she's so active. She’s still choreographing. So in dance, you can be teaching, you can be choreographing, you can be practicing, you can be performing, at all levels, it gives you a sense of wellness, creativity, and the best part of dancing, which Rajendra and I were discussing, was about sharing, you know. That it's not just we are benefiting for our sake, but we are sharing with the world, you know.

Poonacha: And, I mean, this is something I can attest to, right? So, when you're dancing, I think there are a couple of things which happen. One is that your body-mind is constantly coordinating. So neurologically, there are neural connections being made constantly. Two, you’re having fun. So it's actually reducing inflammation in the body. There's less stress. Third, you actually have a childlike mind, a beginner's mind, right?

Rajendra: Yes.

Poonacha: So when you get older, you get stiff in the body and you get stiff in the mind, and I think with dance, you're constantly, you have this childlike, innocent childlike mind. If you can actually, like, have a hasya, the laughing clubs in India, right? If you actually notice the signs, if I can actually put a pencil, and I smile. It tricks the brain to say I'm smiling. So even the fact of watching somebody smile actually triggers the connections in your brain to make you joyful, right?

Nirupama: Absolutely, yes.

Poonacha: So I think this is where I believe that the work you all are doing, and this is just the beginning conversation, I really believe that art and Natyashastra has something, or Natyaveda, has something to do, can be done for the world in general, right?

Rajendra: Absolutely.

Nirupama: We hope, our aim, actually, to create, you know, capsules of, you know, these dances for people of all ages, you know, because if you want to dance, you don't have to be a performer, but you can just dance for joy, dance for health, dance to understand the cultural roots, because all of our dances, they come with songs, with Sanskrit, of course, and that also brings so much of peace of mind.

You know that our dancers who come to our studio, they say that that one hour of dancing, they just forget everything. They forget their name, they forget their home, their school, their work, their families, they even, you know, it kind of, it negates the individual ego, but then it puts you on another dimension of sheer joy, you know.

Poonacha: So this is the homework I would, I guess, I'm requesting you all, right? Is that, with you and you guys have---so well-connected in India with the top artists, and maybe this is something we should look at: how can we bring wellbeing to the world through Natyashastra? Right? I was reading this one sentence, and I'm not very good in Sanskrit, so please translate this for me. It says loka viti---vitunna karanam, right? And this was actually loka vitunna karanam, and it is actually, they're Natyashastra, which basically says it is actually a solution. So, loka vitunna, vitunna karanam. See, I don't know what it means, but it basically says how it actually, Natyashastra can bring wellbeing and actually bring joy to all of us, right?

So I want to kind of, maybe as part of our ongoing conversation, maybe create small programs, you know, online, which, today, it’s so beautiful. It can actually---even just the movement of the head, that's amazing. Even the fingers and the hands and, you know, emotion, right?

Rajendra: And basically, the dance is like wellbeing, of course, yes, and especially with the Indian dancing, it has got multi layered, with the storytelling, with the expressions, with the bodily movements, hand gestures, and with the rhythms going on the foot, so different layers. It's like avadana, kind of an avadana.

Nirupama: Yeah, yeah. You know, it is so beautiful for people to feel like a flower, to be an oxion, to become a bird, to be having the emotions of a mother, to have emotions of a father, of a child. You know, we have everything in it. Every science comes into Natya.

Poonacha: I think, especially what I'm finding is that in this very digital age, right? Today, what we have is that we have a kid sitting down, and they're texting, you know. The parents are sitting down, and they’re texting too, you know, in the household. This concept of eye contact, right? And expressing emotion, really having the ability to communicate feelings, right?

I, unfortunately, do a lot of work in mental health, and every 40 seconds, somebody comes in and see the world, every 40 seconds, right? And this is a tragedy of our times. Right? And we---and only what we have to do is to really get people to connect, right? And I think with music and art, there’s a difference between being lonely and being alone and being in solitude, right? And I think fine art, as we do this, I believe we can, I think it’d be a great service to humanity in general.

So I know---how is, by the way, for music, how is Praveen D Rao doing?

Nirupama: He’s doing very, very, ever creative, ever enthusiastic, and we've done a lot of new work, and he's created some mind blowing music, mind blowing music.

Poonacha: So I think before we end, I want to, I know---I want to request, maybe you can chant, a mantra for , for the planet, for the world we live in. So, peace, you know, and if you don't mind, I would love for you to share your knowledge and wisdom.

Nirupama: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rajendra: Yes.

Nirupama: Surely. There is this beautiful mantra, you know. Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam,

Nirupama and Rajendra: Vayu-Mangalam,

Nirupama: Now, something like that.

Poonacha: Okay.

Nirupama: (starts chanting) We’ll just do it with dance?

Poonacha: Okay, perfect! (Nirupama laughs)

Nirupama and Rajendra: Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam,

Nirupama: This means: let there be auspiciousness of Bhumi, for Earth, for Udaka, for

Nirupama and Rajendra: water,

Nirupama: and for Agni, for

Nirupama and Rajendra: fire,

Nirupama: and for space.

Nirupama and Rajendra: Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam, Bhumi-Mangalam, Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam, Gagana-Mangalam, Deha-Mangalam, Jiva-Mangalam, Mano-Mangalam, Atma-Mangalam, Sarva-Mangalam-Bhavatu

Nirupama: Let there be, let there be auspiciousness for the

Nirupama and Rajendra: body, for the mind

Nirupama: for the atma, for the soul, and everywhere, let there be auspiciousness. This is the prayer that we would like to, you know, give to the world and also to everybody, the ones who are fighting now, illnesses, the ones who are fighting, the doctors, the, you know, the healthcare workers, and everybody who’s striving, yoga teachers, artists who are striving to do good to the society. This is our prayer that all, we may all be well and be happy.

Poonacha: I'm just gonna thank you so much, and this won't be the last time we speak. I really believe that you all are a treasure to the world. I've always admired your work, and everybody, from Praveen D Rao, Ganesh, and you all are like extended friends and family for me, and I think now's the time for us to bring this magic you all have and the world at large. I think we are---one thing is proven today, that we're all intrinsically connected.

Poonacha and Nirupama: Doesn't matter,

Poonacha: you know, if you're in India, China, Africa, Italy, Germany. We all are one, right? And if we do something, the little thing to raise the nation, raise wellbeing, now is the chance, and I think it is not so much, but I think the future generations, I think our children, our children’s children, and the generations to come, will always ask, “what did they do when they went through this?” Right? And for the unprecedented times in human history, we have actually come to a complete standstill, right?

Rajendra: Yes.

Poonacha: Never has happened with the entire human, watched virtually same day at the human capital. I was in almost in tears. I was alone singing. I don't think ever since he double was Bill ever happened. Right? And when humanity is watching somebody sing alone, Easter Sunday in a kid to the world, I believe as humanity we have a responsibility, and with that, you know, I am grateful. Thank you again, and let's talk again.

Nirupama: Thank you for featuring us.

Rajendra: I, too.

Nirupama: We don't know how much we helped, but then, we just love

Poonacha: It was beautiful!

Nirupama: what we’re doing. We just love what we do, and we thank you so much for asking to share something which we love.

Poonacha: No, this is beautiful. Thank you so much.

Imagine a world where no one ever feels helpless or hopeless. Join me on the Warrior Monk mission to create a positive shift through the compassionate transformation of humankind.

Warrior Monk Conversations 017: Wellbeing Through Dance with Nirupama and Rajendra

16 views0 comments