1984-07-14 Evening Program, Leysin, Switzerland.
The basis of Kathak dance and Indian music
Today, we had a very nice session of puja in the morning. And to celebrate that session in an artistic way, we have arranged this beautiful program of Kathak dancing for you. Now, Kathak word, as you know, comes from the word ‘Katha’, Katha means the story. It means the story.
[Shri Mataji says something in Hindi, and man bows to her feet]
May God bless you [followed by namaskar]
And the story is to be told. This is a very ancient type of dancing, which was practised in the northern part of India. And then part of it also went to the south. And they used it in a different way. Now, Kathak is so ancient and so traditional that it has gone various changes and various aspects have been expressed in this style of dancing. To begin with, it was originally done to express the stories about the Gods and Goddesses. And their different way of dealing with human beings.
Then gradually it became subtler and subtler. Then they started performing the dances of the Parabramha Shakti and all those things. Later on, when the Muslims came to North India, they introduced their delicate style to this style of dancing. And one of the Nawabs of Lucknow was very much fond of Kathak dancing. And he himself introduced so many ideas in this. So, also the romanticism, not the variety of Western style, but the ‘lasia’ is the relationship between the power and its deity. And all those were performed beautifully during that time. All the delicate ways of expression were acquired, so it added another kind of a dimension to Kathak style.
Now, this style has got the beauty that it is woven with the foot work as you people have those tap dancing, you see. It has a tremendous type of an intricate, complicated, uh tap dancing, you can say, one side. But tap dancing, you don’t do anything with the face, I mean the faces remains the same. But in this the face has the bhavas, are the feeling are expressed through the face different ‘bhavas’. Then also the gait, how a person walks in different routes, in different professions, in different styles. So, the gait is also very important. So, it is not only the tap dancing which you will see at the end, mostly it builds up at the end of it, when becomes a very fast dancing. But in between, you will see the different gaits. Then the different moods, you see how they are expressed. All this is shown through the movement of the body, through the going forward backward and everything has a meaning.
Apart from that, the face changes with every feeling, with one feeling say of anger, then suddenly the another feeling of love. And this can be expressed very clearly. Sometimes one person does both the actions, like the mother of Krishna and the child of Krishna would be the same person and they can act. But sometimes two persons do this. So, I am very happy that we have a Sahaja Yogi Matthew, you know, he has taken to this dancing and there are so many other Sahaja Yogis, Pedro and other people who are learning Kathak dancing, which they find it very interesting. But it’s a study and a tremendous discipline.
And Indian dancing or any Indian instrument or any Indian music or paintings or any art cannot be learned without proper disciplining yourself. You have to have a tremendous discipline and very hard work. Indian music as you know people have to sing for hours together to get to the stage even. So, it is not that people can just do it without any practise so the technique has to be learned and spontaneity works it out, the technique in beautiful way. Now, everybody will be surprised that in Kathak dancing the tabla that is played, the avartanas the movement of the percussions are fixed but the number of these fixed, say one tala is you can go on with it. And you have to come to the first note. And number of times you might move but have to come to the first note. And it is all built up. The whole, what we call the bhol, is the sound of the tabla, whatever are the different sounds of the tabla are built up with the sound of the bells in the feet. So, it’s a very intricate science and requires very good character and very steady mind and a very upright level of understanding, otherwise you cannot acquire this great art.
I am very happy today that we have such a great artist today like Mr. Pawar with us, who is a very wellknown and of a very high repute in India. A person who is going to show us this dancing. Most surprising is that he is from Maharashtra. And you all love Maharashtra very much and you will always like Maharashtrians. And he has so many qualities of those Maharashtrians. And he is from the same cast as myself, he is what you call ‘Marathas’, he is also a Maratha. And the beauty about the whole thing, I feel is that Maharasthians, I have never seen them taking to Kathak dancing, because Maharasthians being very orthodox about dancing, as this Kathak style came to Maharastra, the cheap women learnt it and started using it for tamashas and all that. Though they are very great dancers, I must say and folk lore. So, the respectable people didn’t think it proper for their daughters, for their family people to see that dancing because according to them, it was cheap type dancing. But even that is the same style as Kathak but not to that extent so much of formal education and so much of traditional training in that is given.
So, it is more manuvering they do and they dance in that fashion, same style as the Kathak style. So, this style was a later on, also as I told you, taken up in the South. And they use it for their dancing called as tilana. The same style is used there is from the word tarana, because when these people play on the harmonium, that, that tune is used as a tarana, the word they have picked up and that’s why they call it tilana.
So, there is a very big integration of various cultures in this dance and Mr. Pawar has been so beautifully able to grasp the essence of it. And he is a Sahaja Yogi too and his wife is another Sahaja Yogi. And they are great dancers, and I really admire the way they precisely know the art, and the way they expose it and the way they do it spontaneously, it’s very remarkable that we should have such a great artist, so well known, among us to celebrate the Guru Puja. And his wife being not so well, his daughter whose name is Asavari Pawar is going to dance and she is also another very great dancer.
So, we have on tabla Mr. Misra, who you have heard many times, who is another great, very well-known tabla player. You can see from the way he has acquired this great art of playing tabla. Now, tabla is as you see is a simple thing, made out of hollow wood and covered with a parched…you can say a parched skin and a little bit of…this black thing is nothing but like carbon is put on top. And the way it is played at different points by putting your fingers on the percussions, the way it is done, I mean the amount of varieties people can create out of a simple things is really so remarkable and to practice it one has to really dedicate to it. And one has to have really rhythm within yourself. So, the whole thing is interwoven between each other and it’s a very beautiful blending with our Sahaja Yoga.
We have to say that it’s a great blessing that such a great artist like him has taken to Sahaja Yoga. It’s a very big thing for us. There are many other artists that we have who have taken to Sahaja Yoga, as you know those, as like Debu Chaudhary is another Sahaja Yogi we have.
We have another one Jasraj, and also we have Pandit Bhimsen Joshi who is another artist, Karekar is another artist. There are so many artisits who are musicians who have taken to Sahaja Yoga. But as far as the dancing is concerned, I will give the highest marks to Mr. Pawar who is taking so much interest in it. By God’s grace today he could make it to come here and we all should give him a great hand for coming down and honouring this occasion.
First of all, he will be doing Saraswati Vandana, Saraswati you know very well. He will be doing Saraswati Vandana and perhaps it will be the same shloka you know where they describe Saraswati with the white dress and the way she is sitting with the Veena. All the descriptions are shown by various movements.
[Gregoire makes announcement and program starts]
I mean our joy has reached a new dimension, and I should say dimensions. Just fluttering with beautiful music of your heart. We have to thank Mr. Pawar, his gracious wife, and Pandit Misra Ji, his disciples, and his daughter, son, and all the Sahaja Yogis who have worked it out so well. I mean have no words to thank them, if a mother has to thank, she just weeps, she just doesn’t know how to thank, you see. May God bless them in their venture and to you.
Now, I have to tell one more thing, how Indian music is so much connected with the Kundalini awakening, which perhaps I have never talked to you about, is that when the Kundalini rises she passes through various centres and sub-plexuses. When she is rising, she makes a sound altogether is OM. But when you try to refract all these different into different sounds, it becomes from the first chakra if you start SA, RE, GA, MA, PA, DHA, NI – at the Sahasrara it is NI. So, there are seven chakras it makes the sound. Now, when the Kundalini rises she has to pass through all these sub-plexuses. Now as you know, there is, the first centre has four subplexus, so the tala is built on four. Then you have six plexuses, we have a tala on six. Then there is, it passes through the ten, so we have a tala in ten. Then there is it passes through twelve so we have a tala of twelve.
Last of all is Shri Krishna, Shri Krishna’s place where it has got sixteen sub-plexuses, so it passes through sixteen sub-plexuses. So you can imagine how it works out, at the time of Agnya chakra as you know is only the two matras are there so one has to play on two matras, where you reduce everything to two matras, so far I don’t think Indian music has reached that stage where it just plays with two matras, it will be very difficult. But in the South I think sometimes they play with three matras, is something suprising, which the triguna, what we call the three matras. So that from four it becomes two, and then in the Sahasrara it is three. But at the end of it is thousand petals. And where, when all these start dancing, the thousand petal start dancing with the permutations and combinations of all these sub-plexuses.
So it is so woven into the classical music, the whole awakening of the kundalini, for which perhaps the modern artist may not be aware of. But it is said everyone knows that Indian music is based on the first sound is OM, the Omkara. So, this is how all these talas are based that’s why you are so overjoyed, though maybe you may not have understood the classical intricacies of the whole thing but the whole thing was so spontaneous and elevating your Kundalini so well that it gave you the joy ultimately after all what you have to have the joy and not the intellectual analysis of it. So the whole thing, the sub-total of it was tremendous joy and we have to thank all of them for that.
May God bless you.
Sixteen matras you know of Shri Krishna is divided into two, you see, two halves. First half, is the right side and the second half is the left side. So at the left side when it goes is called ‘kaal’ means lower position, lower beat or say a milder beat. So from the Shukla Paksha to the Krishna Paksha as you call it or you can call it from the right to the left. And he goes playing on the left side there, so this is the two sides of the Vishuddhi chakra very well expressed.
[Says something in Hindi about ek tala] We have ‘ek tala’ of twelve matras [12 bits] and this is as you know of the Shiva. Shiva has got twelve sub-plexuses and that how it is the twelve matras and it is very, ek tala is a very solid thing. Like DHIN DHIN and sometimes they play it so slowly that between the two there is big gap and that’s how Shiva’s work is. So it is all very symbolic, gradually you will evolve into it and you will see to it how Indian music is built around the basic primodial music.
May God bless you.