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How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 10 Jan 2017, 22:37

Nick H wrote:Would it be the Abrahamic Chomsky? It's another favourite word of shankarank's that I find hard to understand in context.

Is it a synonym for Western? Or does it indeed relate to the subtle influences that the customary religions of our land have on us, whether we subscribe to them or not. This is a tough job to unravel, especially if that influence (or influences: it covers at least three major religions and a huge area of the world housing many cultures) is viewed through the lens of yet another religion.
NickH, your query was more respectful than Suresh's and hence I owe you a respectful answer. I don't know your religious identity or if you are a cosmopolitan world citizen that adopted Chennai as a home etc etc. - does not matter for this conversation.

When I mean Abrahamic - I mean the concept of God as an external entity outside of the world that governs the world and after Judaism , Christianity improvised ( I should rather say replaced with intent to purge the older) further , with the definition of original sin - that all of humans are sinners waiting to be saved and so on. This "God" conceptualization many people consider conceptualized as male - but there are revisionist attempts also, especially in Islam to define it as formless etc.

The separation in terms of secular happened precisely because of some inherent issues felt by many in this - I believe.

This is played against Indian context by arguing that the concept of Divinity is varied here in India - i.e. like everybody here in India is not the puritannical monist etc. But there are encodings of a more general/or should I say nuanced idea of that in various forms.

The Guru - Sishya tradition itself would be problematic at that point. How can I have a reverential relationship with another sinner?

Smt. Anita Ratnam's speech - she blirts out - mAta , pitA, Google deivam - and the tone implies the immense stressful fight against concept of Divinity encoded in Indian culture.

Gopalakrishna Gandhi on his tirukkuraL exposition here: https://youtu.be/2sF71PDPgAc?t=310 feels that tension too - to maneuver around the reverence of G.U. Pope - he tries to triangulate by rejecting: falling at ones feet, Indian idea of devotion and tries to derive a new semantic of human respect etc.

There is a formal term for this: Difference Anxiety!

So a working definition of Abrahamic we could use here is as I have laid out above. The Indian version of divinity is encoded in the name of our beloved RSachi - Sachidanand, I figure his full name is.

But you will have to read some thinkers - you can call me the mouth piece of one such - whose name would send this forum into a tizzy again. I am surprised that nobody taunted me with that question! But I get taunted name dropping Chomsky however. For the fear of giving the former publicity??
Last edited by shankarank on 10 Jan 2017, 22:51, edited 2 times in total.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 10 Jan 2017, 22:40

shankarank wrote: Have you all guys have read enough of the western literature to understand what TMK is saying here? :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaGF7mE2tZY
Worst TMK speech I have seen. He is as almost as incoherent as you in this video. No disrespect intended.
May just be my limitation.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 10 Jan 2017, 22:45

sureshvv wrote:
shankarank wrote: Have you all guys have read enough of the western literature to understand what TMK is saying here? :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaGF7mE2tZY
Worst TMK speech I have seen. He is as almost as incoherent as you in this video. No disrespect intended.
May just be my limitation.
OK then why don't you provide your coherent version.

Coherence is a long ordeal - something that your requested of me long back. Buddha mentions of contexts - how many there are - almost as many as grains of sand in the river Ganga.

That is why I adopted to use different threads as things come up to discuss the same. And we may have crossed - hope you read my reply to NickH.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 10 Jan 2017, 22:57

shankarank wrote:
OK then why don't you provide your coherent version.
Out of every 10 sentences, I can make sense only of 1. And that 1 sentence sounds both incorrect and wrong headed.

So I don't think I could come up with a coherent version. Best I can do is come up with a bunch of incorrect and wrong headed statements hidden inside 90% nonsense.
hope you read my reply to NickH.
I did. Which is why i had to make it clear that I am not intending any disrespect. If you point out the sentence where you perceived it, I will be happy to correct it.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 10 Jan 2017, 23:31

Then please stay off - and leave me to express what I need to, to others who may find it useful.

Nick H
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by Nick H » 10 Jan 2017, 23:44

NickH, your query was more respectful than Suresh's and hence I owe you a respectful answer.
Thank you, although I'm sure (already answered anyway) that Suresh was not being disrespectful.

The concept of original sin is one of the things that I have no time for in those religions. I married into a Christian family here in India (karma? :lol:) and refuse to go to christenings because, to me, the idea of casting a devil out a babe that has had no time to do anything wrong to anybody is sick. Actually, I almost prefer their satan to their god anyway! :twisted:

And I see no superiority, as claimed by them, in monotheism.

I regard Judaism as being one of the world's ancient religions. You won't find any sympathy for christianity in me. Some of my thoughts might make a VHP hardliner blush. Except that I would never harm or wish harm on another human person because of their belief. However, back in 1987, I read a book which opened my eyes to the depth of Christian influence on my society, whether we subscribe to it or not. It was a feminist work, but it taught me about a lot more than just gender discrimination.

I have plenty of room for contradiction in my life. I accept it, and no longer break my head trying to resolve it (which might be just laziness) or trying to tell religious people what they are right or wrong about --- and in the end it might turn out that it was me that was wrong all along anyway. I am an atheist, but I am not a materialist (that is a contradiction that defies many) and I believe in the human soul. It is more than enough divine for me.

But, if I go to dance (which I don't much: I'm a music person), then I expect to see some stories. I'm not too concerned about which stories they are. If it has to be something biblical as an alternative to that dice game which I have seen just too many times then I don't mind.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 01:23

Well then you should not have a problem or concern with me calling a New York times critic a schmuck with Abrahamic prejudices ( which is fine ) , which they won't admit ( that is the issue) , not respecting the fact that a dancer from a certain genre may have a sense of divinity or sacredness about her art, that in fact may not hold back anything regarding technique or expression on the actual stage - if the dancer has introspected enough about it.

When such a critic does not do a homework on something that she may criticize on a newspaper that affects/harms the human in the dancer in material ways - then do they deserve my respect?

You mentioning VHP - and not harming other humans - I sense something there - should I treat it as dis-respectful - or should I ignore it ? You pick!

Because Suresh was not sure!

Nick H
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by Nick H » 11 Jan 2017, 01:53

You should probably ignore that: I picked some initials that some would associate with somewhat extremist views.
you should not have a problem or concern with me calling a New York times critic a schmuck with Abrahamic prejudices ( which is fine )
OK: I don't.
which they won't admit ( that is the issue)
Knowing one's prejudices is a big deal; admitting them is an even bigger one

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 11:32

rshankar wrote: For example, the sangam piece performed by Smt. Rama will not have the same impact on a totally western audience, who are for the most part cool with their teenaged daughters dating, being sexually active, and letting 'go' - but it will resonate with NRI audiences who are not yet totally "integrated" into the society they live in.
Children of Indian origin have married across cultures for many decades and it still continues. With more prevalence of Indians the possibility of marriage within the culture is more.

But there is lot of anxiety regarding this obviously - that is our own doing!

Our Swamijis and philosophers who jet-setted around the world did not mainstream the Hindu religion as identity to Americans. The sense of belonging to a group is important to Americans- whilst we in India may not even think of a religious identity that way , many times shy of calling ourselves Hindus.

There was the instance of a Swamiji not knowing the difference between Judaism and Christianity - and when a Jewish boy who had sabbatical to Rishikesh came back home impressed and asked the Swamiji to ordain him into Hinduism - or give him a chant - the Swamiji asked him to recite "Om Jesus".

All of them are more interested in the claims of Universality of our tradition to the whole world and how all things are same than bringing out differences.

if they had understood this properly - they could have converted a million Americans to be Hindus. So Children of Indian origin have that opportunity to marry within a culture of acceptance of their heritage.

I have met a man named Uma Shankar Iyer - who claimed he had been ordained into Apastamba tradition by a Sastri in India. He displayed authentic Indian appearance with three Vibhuti stripes etc.

I have also seen a middle aged Indian Lady bring her Euro-American husband to a temple asking how he could convert to Hinduism - the husband had a small stripe of Vibhuti on his forehead. I myself was not having Vibhuti on my forehead and was going to participate in a recitation.

So things like that happen. If our Children are at least given the right grounding - irrespective of how their wedded life proceeds - they may at least keep a spec of our heritage and possibly create syncretic cultures.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 11:39

There is a huge Tamizh diaspora effort to create a Tamizh chair @ Harvard. I myself donated a little because the person collecting was so proud - I did not want to offend him. But this may lead to ill conceived studies dividing people into Dravidians and others - when genetic studies have not shown any such division.

Also no telling how the devotional works will be handled and interpreted - with what Lens.

The idea seems to be Sanskrit has a chair - why not Tamizh. They don't realize the intention behind the Sanskrit chair and how it operates - it was not setup by Indians. It is mainly to study us with a different lens and has caused lot of misinterpretations and damage.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 11:55

Smt. Alarmel Valli's speech : https://youtu.be/rjdSzDhqpOg?t=2226 She describes an organic dancer - not a synthetic one.

What she says at 38:50 on wards regarding originality is a big problem even in American academia - where they are observing that students are affected by online access material and suffering in creativity and they get reinforcing stimuli of same things.

I myself affected by a certain thinker - but then I have experiences that resonated with that thinking.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 12:15

She talks about Cadence ( a new word that I learnt today!) : https://youtu.be/rjdSzDhqpOg?t=2906 in response to a question on Shakespeare and BharatanAtyam. I believe we have a word that is equivalent: Chandas - and much more encompassing: Sanskriti. It is disappointing that such words are not in our vocabulary.

How would paiyyada padam fit into the word Sanskriti one may ask. We have come to think of Sanskrit as only having prayer Slokas!

What a contrast between Smt AlarmEl Valli's presentation and Dr Padma Subramanyam that followed? Fascinating.

If we think back in Ancient terms - Alarmel Valli - whatever her vazhi is called - the mArgam - looks like the lost tradition of Satyavati - Veda VyAsA's Mother and also the Sangam tradition of love and poetry. Both Villi Bharatam and Rajaji's Bharatam do not talk bout how Veda vyAsa was born and certainly not about how Dritirashtra, Pandu and Vidura were born.

Whilst Dr Padma represents vEda vyAsa tradition something we all believe was actually lost in dance tradition and revived in 20th Century.

Vishnu Sahasranama pUrvAnga Sloka records him as parasarAtmajam vandE Suka tAtam tapO nidhim.
Last edited by shankarank on 12 Jan 2017, 05:26, edited 1 time in total.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 12:25

As regards many great Tamizh and Sanskrit works - they begin with the references to ulagam or viSvam ( the world/universe) - pointed out by TNS on his Gita Govindam harikatha.

Vishnu SaharanAma : viswam viShnuR
Periya PuraNam
tirukkuRal
Our own Dikshitar in Sri nAthadi guruguhO - nAna prapanca vicitra karo in anu pallavi, also mAya maya viSvAdhiShTAnO in caraNam

I don't have the verse from gIta govindam itself that he mentioned - whether it is the first ashTapadi or somewhere in dhyAna Slokam - or the jaya jagadISa haRE.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 11 Jan 2017, 12:52

shankarank wrote:Then please stay off - and leave me to express what I need to, to others who may find it useful.
I try my best. It is only when you go on these wild diatribes dragging in the names of many public personalities who spring to your mind that I myself feel the "need" to stop and request you to clarify your thoughts.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 20:33

If I am doing 90% nonsense and wild diatribes - why waste time seeking clarification? Also when I asked you to cohere , you don't have to do it on my material, you can come up with your own. All I see is Ad Hominem attacks in the garb of seeking clarification.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 11 Jan 2017, 21:22

shankarank wrote:If I am doing 90% nonsense and wild diatribes - why waste time seeking clarification? Also when I asked you to cohere , you don't have to do it on my material, you can come up with your own. All I see is Ad Hominem attacks in the garb of seeking clarification.
I think you misread. "90% nonsense" was pertaining to that single TMK video. You touch upon several points but don't stick to any long enough to make a single cogent argument. When you try to pull in other personalities into the context and I am unsure as to how they fit into your argument, I request you to clarify.

For eg., I asked you in what sense you have been using "Chomskian" and if that characterization is your own or shared by others. You are yet to answer that rather simple and straight question.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 11 Jan 2017, 22:59

sureshvv wrote:For eg., I asked you in what sense you have been using "Chomskian" and if that characterization is your own or shared by others. You are yet to answer that rather simple and straight question.
People use - ian suffix with great personalities commonly. Chomsky was brought in by N. Ram into the Mecca of music - the Music Academy - as a venue - not a MA event I suppose - but still he was there in a physical sense. He gave a great speech - I did remember reading a transcript. There were reports of intense discussions in the corridors post that speech. I don't know if any of our artistes, musicians or dancers who are well read on Western classics ( both in terms of the language - I mean English - as well the content - the culture and its contexts ) ever cared to attend.

He had also spoken to all the Left forums in India. So I gather he is well read by those scholars. So in that sense I presume the term Chomskian is shared!

But here we are with one of the artistes speaking a similar language. Others seem to have taken the outlines of the arguments - that we sidelined the original practitioners of music. We have sidelined content not seen as Bhakti oriented. We have brought in Sanskrit and Sankritised everything. And suddenly we see a rush to include all those things we have sidelined and react.

We have to do more than that. We have to be reading the original source - as we have been challenged with "Have they read?"

We will be tempted to ask: what does this all have do with Carnatic music and Bharata nATyam? The answer is there in Smt. Anita Ratnam's presentation. The dance conferences are organized in the west not by dancers , but by scholars and thinkers - the content providers - not the technique executors. Akin to how the coaches are more of significance in American football than the players. Or if you want a corporate example: at&t is vying to acquire Time Warner. at&t ( I use small case as that is the correct one now) has the cables and the distribution mechanisms and the technology - but it needs content - new content.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 12 Jan 2017, 03:41

sureshvv wrote:I think you misread. "90% nonsense" was pertaining to that single TMK video

sureshvv wrote:He is as almost as incoherent as you in this video


Since you lumped me with him earlier, I thought all of it applied to me as well - lump and attack technique :?
sureshvv wrote:You are yet to answer that rather simple and straight question


So I had to ensure you made your question straight and simple first.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 12 Jan 2017, 04:06

shankarank wrote:The dance conferences are organized in the west not by dancers , but by scholars and thinkers - the content providers - not the technique executors
To expand on that - we heard from Smt. Anita Ratnam in her presentation that the crowd which is there in Mount Batten Mani's kitchen and Zakir's Upanyasam is not there here in concerts or dance.

That is the scholar's work that is waiting to happen. If scholars in India don't do the work to expand the themes and improvise on puraNa and other heritage as well us deal with contemporary themes - scholars in the west will provide the content instead.

The kids born to NRIs have started doing Women's empowerment dance dramas based on the story of Amba in Maharabharta - and I suppose the content provider is Githa Hariharan - the feminist writer. We have to see if the theme takes an unfair view against the whole Sanskriti.

We can create new Smriti/purANic themes emphasizing the new outlook without compromising on what we can accept from heritage.
There was also the mention of Chennai as a software hub and how outreach is needed. Related to that I also heard from some of my friends that they felt not fitting in the traditional urbanized agraharams - where parents of NRIs left to themselves are residing and all you see is their sorry state of affairs every time you step out of your apartment.

The venues also have to move to the where the new demographics as well! Don't the sponsors and banners need to appeal to the right demographic?

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 12 Jan 2017, 09:46

I also appeal to professional artistes of Guru parampara tradition not to use the word Hindu Mythology - as the word Myth has so many negative connotations - especially on first usage negates the various types of truths in the itihAsa. It is better to refer to them as itihAsa and puraNa and leave the interpretation to traditional scholars.

This is not argue that these are literally believed to be true in the sense of archaeologically proven history. None of the Abrahamic traditional texts are ever considered Mythology.

Shakespeare's works - the mythology there refers to mythical references he used from Greek mythology. But then nobody ever says his literary imaginations are myths.

Using the word mythology for itihAsa also inadvertently subscribes us to the history centric construction of Abrahamic religions as truth.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 12 Jan 2017, 10:06

sureshvv wrote:I think you misread. "90% nonsense" was pertaining to that single TMK video

sureshvv wrote:He is as almost as incoherent as you in this video

shankarank wrote: Since you lumped me with him earlier, I thought all of it applied to me as well - lump and attack technique :?
Incoherent =/= (not equal to) 90% nonsense. Incoherent is when one is unable to articulate the intended point in a clear and lucid manner.

Now that I have compared you and TMK, here I will attempt to contrast your styles. Hopefully this will unruffle some feathers.

Your sentences individually make sense. But there is no clear transition from one line of thought to the next. The whole post appears like a well shuffled pack of cards dropped on the unsuspecting reader.

TMK, on the other hand, does not even appear to have a point in this particular video. He is so focused on his nuanced self referential thoughts that he labors on the nuance without ever getting to the point to be made. So it mostly appears like some pseudo intellectual self gratification.
sureshvv wrote:You are yet to answer that rather simple and straight question


Your last answer to this question (Whew! That was like pulling teeth) seemed to suggest that you are using "Chomskian" to mean "leftist". That is woefully inadequate and is just scratching the surface. I would recommend "The Chomsky Reader" for a full 3 dimensional perspective.

Nick H
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by Nick H » 12 Jan 2017, 14:55

shankarank wrote:Shakespeare's works - the mythology there refers to mythical references he used from Greek mythology. But then nobody ever says his literary imaginations are myths.
I am no scholar, but I think you ought to think about the word "fiction." Whilst Shakespeare's works are classified as "comedy," "history," etc, nobody reads Shakespeare to study English, or any other, history. Not does anybody elevate them to the standing of "mythology."
Using the word mythology for itihAsa also inadvertently subscribes us to the history centric construction of Abrahamic religions as truth.
I don't know what you mean by history-centric. Or what use there is in speaking about the different Old-Testament-related religions as a monolith.

You might have observed, and probably experienced, that people in a given culture grow up with the idea that the prevalent religion is, using the word loosely, "truth." Differences in comparative religion and the mindsets that they encourage might be interesting, and, no doubt is a subject of study to researchers, but the setting of one religion against another is a futile exercise. I am not saying that you are doing this, but I am reminded, in this context, of some of the "discourse" stuff that I have heard in India, where the speaker, no doubt deeply knowledgeable about his texts, makes comments about "western culture" which are completely rubbish. Worse: the one I have in mind made equivalents comments about his own culture that were equally ridiculous outside the context of a tourist brochure.

sureshvv
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by sureshvv » 12 Jan 2017, 15:21

shankarank wrote: I also appeal to professional artistes of Guru parampara tradition not to use the word Hindu Mythology - as the word Myth has so many negative connotations -
It has some very positive connotations too. Check out Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth".

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 13 Jan 2017, 03:27

We have to consider it in light of how it is played in the dominant discourse - to understand the usage of it and in what sense it is used against Hindus.

shankarank
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Re: How to keep bharatanATyam relevant to today's audience

Post by shankarank » 13 Jan 2017, 04:50

sureshvv wrote: Your last answer to this question (Whew! That was like pulling teeth) seemed to suggest that you are using "Chomskian" to mean "leftist". That is woefully inadequate and is just scratching the surface. I would recommend "The Chomsky Reader" for a full 3 dimensional perspective.
I am not claiming here that I understand Chomsky in all his dimensions. But I have read quite a bit. I only said his general welcoming audience all belong to what is considered as the Left. Never labelled him directly leftist. He himself prefers different labels like Anarchic (in its classical sense) Socialist etc or sometimes tries to reject labels etc.

But in the context of nation states and armies - I have read his characterization of armies as mercenary. So If I had to use Leftist I would have used that why would I coin a term Chomskian?

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