Since Kathak evolved from story-telling, at our centre we will explore the elements of Hindu scriptures with special emphasis on Sunder Kaand, where tales extolling the virtues of Bhagwan Ram will be presented in the form of Kathak ballets under the tutelage of Surabhi Tandon, our leading light.
It may be recalled that the Hindu Epic Ramayana is divided into seven kandas (books) which deals with the major events in the life of Lord Rama, the 7th avatar of Mahavishnu. Ramayana was penned by Sage Valmiki and is written in a 32-syllable meter called “anustubh”.
- Bala Kanda
- Ayodhya Kanda
- Aranya Kanda
- Kishkindha Kanda
- Sundara Kanda
- Yuddha Kanda
- Uttara Kanda
1. Bala Kanda - 1st Book
Bala Kand begins with the story of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, performing Putrakameshti Yagna - a fire sacrifice for attaining a child. As a result King Dasharatha is blessed with four children Lord Rama born to Kausalya, Bharata is born to Kaikeyi, and Lakshmana and Shatrughna are born to Sumitra. Balakanda of Ramayana depicts the life of Lord Ram’s childhood and his marriage to Sita Devi.
2. Ayodhya Kanda - 2nd Book
Ayodhya Kand of Ramayana narrates the arrangements for the coronation of Lord Rama and his exile into the forest for 14 years for the sake of his father's honour.
3. Aranya Kanda - 3rd Book
In Aranya Kand, Sage Valmiki tells the story of Lord Ram’s life in the forest and the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
4. Kishkindha Kanda - 4th Book
Kishkindha Kand narrates the story of Lord Ram and Hanuman. The story of vanara King Vali (also known as Bali) and Sugriva of the kingdom of Kishkindha also features in this kanda.
5. Sundara Kanda - 5th Book
Sundara Kand depicts the story of the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman and his travel to Lanka in search of Seetha.
6. Yuddha Kanda - 6th Book
Yuddha Kand narrates the battle of Lord Ram and King Ravana.
7. Uttara Kanda - 7th Book
Uttara Kand of Ramayan depicts the story of the birth of the two sons of Lord Ram - Lava and Kusha and their coronation as the throne of Ayodhya. Being the last part of Hindu epic Ramayana, this kanda also describes about Lord Rama’s final departure from the world.
Tales of God used to be narrated by priestly story-tellers (katha vachak). They used gestures, facial expressions and voice modulations to add interest to the story-telling. They brought to life stories from Puranas such as Srimad Bhagwat, and other equally popular traditional literature, including Ramayana, Braj Sahitya and Geet Govinda. The main characters of these stories - Krishna, Radha, Durga, Shiva, Ganesh, etc. have a historical place in Kathak. Kathak dance remains a fine instrument for story-telling with classical and modern themes. Unlike drama, Kathak is not exactly role play. It has meaning on many levels. It suggests through nuances and gestures the characters, their actions and reactions. Text book of classical dance: Natyashastra by Bharat Muni
Tradition has it that Natraj Shiva danced the famous Tandav to the accompaniment of his drum like instrument, the Damru. He is known to be the first dancer according to Natya Shastra, an ancient text book of performing arts. It was when humans and gods requested Brahma for entertainment to uplift their consciousness, that Brahma requested Bharat Muni to pen down his dictation as Natya Shastra - the art and science of dance and drama.
The ballet centre will enact Raas leela in Vrindavan.
The long-established dance form remains grounded in story-telling - Katha-Vaachan. Vrindavan's Raas leela dance-drama, a popular folk expression of the Krishna legend is recognizably comparable to Kathak. Krishna's merry dancing in Vrindavan as in the Raas dance, his performance on Kaliya Nag serpent's thousand hoods, and Shiva's Tandav dance are still popular themes in Kathak.