Sunday, 15 May 2016

Vividh Mat tickles the intellect and regales the senses - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

World Dance Day celebrations in the capital, have taken on unique dimensions. In the case of Kathak professional Shovana Narayan, the last three years have linked dance productions of her institution Asawari to themes pertinent to life as lived today. After a mind-tickling intellectual discussion with top names from different disciplines contributing their individual points of view, the Kathak artistic statement comes as a finale – contextualising as it were, the entire performance, giving the presentation an immediacy and relevance.
The two day event entitled ‘Vividh-Mat’ (varied opinions), in other words ‘Bhinna ruchi’ as the Sanskrit text would say about subjective individual preferences in life, the objective of the exercise was to look at inner man transcending differing perceptions - the first evening’s topic “Dharma-Adharma” ruminating on the ever relevant question of right and wrong act. Inevitably, this subject spurs quotes from the Mahabharata action and the Gita. Is the Indian, over the years becoming more religious, was a query. Said Dr. Pushpesh Pant, noted Indian academic, combining the unlikely disciplines of food critic (his book India: the cookbook was named by The New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of the year) and historian, the definition of Dharma as “Dharayati iti dharma” shows the word having little to do with Hinduism. Dharma is a ‘vyavasaya’. Describing the religious identity as something one cannot however shake away no matter what, he preferred to think of Dharma/Adharma in terms of Just and Unjust – as a code of conduct without straying into religious sanctions of right and wrong – which invariably create fissures among people. 

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