Saturday, 16 January 2016

Article - Nayika: The modern woman - Shruti Patki

It is a well known fact that literature has always been the wealth of our country. Indian classical arts and literature go hand in hand.  Many dance treatises have been written by ancient Indian authors (not dancers) that are popular even today as handbooks and encyclopaedias. One such piece of literature is Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra. It is believed to be one of the oldest treatises and the one which talks about all Indian arts combined; viz  dance, drama and music. It contains information as well as courses of action so as to help artists design their performance. The Natyashastra talks about how an ideal auditorium should be, and also gives detailed information about the various kinds of plays that can be performed. With dance in mind, Bharata lays down certain guidelines regarding use of hand gestures (mudras), eye movements (drishti bheda), movements and positions of feet (pada bheda and charis), postures arising due to combination of the above (karanas) etc.
 
In the layman’s terms, “Nayika” means a heroine; the principal subject of any storyline. But does Bharata Muni have the same conception in mind while he describes the Nayikas? I think the answer is negative; the obvious reason being that the text was written sometime between 200 BC and 400 AD, and with the then status of women in mind.


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