(Thesee-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi KaamakotiPeetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlierpart of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam,Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today weare going ahead from page No 524 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readersmay note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mailsare all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)
22. Wearing exactly similar head-gear,ornaments, facial make-up and adopting similar steps and postures in the dance,holding the sword in a manner withthe hand held close to the body from the shoulder till the elbow with the handextended from the elbow towards the front, holding the sword vertically,executing a jump while swivelling around to the right or left; has been atypical dance form in Tamil Nadu from very old times. One particular such dance in which aferocious KãLi known as Ugra-KãLi in a competitive encounter with Easwara issubdued and pacified; has been referred as Sãnthi-Koothu in an ancient Tamilliterature and that is the source and origin of KathakaLi dance form. I Quote,
"vãsigai pooNdu maNittodaNi aNindu
poosiya suNNam mugattezhudi
tesudane endu sudarvãL pidittittu
தேசுடனேஏந்து சுடர்வாள் பிடித்திட்டு
easanukkum kãLikkum sãnthik kootãdat thagum."
ஈசனுக்கும்காளிக்கும் சாந்தி கூத்தாடத்தகும்."
23. This 'vãsigai'is a 'turban' and 'mugaththu poosiya suNNam' is the facial make-up. OurÃchãryãL born in the Namboodri Brahmin family has some close connection withthis place Thiruvortriyur, where I noticed the statue depicting this dance form. For the Tripura Sundari Amman in the templethere, our ÃchãryãL has established the Yantra.Even till date the Amman Kovil priests in Thiruvortriyur are NamboodriBrahmins from Kerala. The dance form ofKathakaLi which has now remained only in Kerala, at the time of Rajaraja Sozhahas been there in Tamil Nadu, at Thiruvortriyur more brightly than elsewhere itseems. Sãnthi Koothu was not only forpacifying KãLi. Let me explain this ingreater detail.
Various Such Dance Forms
24. In theolden times the Dance-Dramas were mainly classified as Sãnthi-Koothu andVinoda-Koothu. The latter one wasevidently more oriented towards play, fun and entertainment. So, it included some amount of jugglery,balancing on rope or edges of plate while dancing, puppetry, balancing five orsix tiered pots kept one over the other on the head. Sãnthi-Koothu was of a more serious varietythan this. There were four sub-divisionsamongst them.
25. The firstsub-division is known as 'Sokkam' also known as 'Suddha Nruttam'. Instead of dancing to specific words ofsongs, like Tillãna and Jatiswaram, this is dance for dance sake purelyrelating body movements to the sound of the beat, to the accompaniment ofcontinuously changing postures by the fingers, hands and legs known as so many'Adavu' keeping up to a sense of rhythm and beauty without any loss of decencyand decorum. These are based on 108 bodypostures known as 'KaraNam' in Bharatha Sãstrã. In the Brihad Easwara Temple at thesecond-tier level Prãhãram around the Garba-Gruha, Parameswara himself isdepicted as demonstrating each one of these postures as so manysculptures.
26. Thesecond sub-division is known as 'Meik-kooththu of the inner realm known as'Agaththurai' in which from the gross sensual level of Hero – Heroine that isNayak – Nayika plane, one is virtually lifted to the ethereal heights ofspiritual union of Jivãtma with Parama Ãtma as depicted in dance to theaccompaniment of vocal and instrumental music with the beat! Thevãram, Thiruvãsagam, Thirukkovaiyar, andNãlãyira Divya Prabandam have all got songs suitable for this 'Meik-kooththu'form of dance.
27. Thethird sub-division is known as 'Avinayam', that is not to be misunderstood aswhat is not humble. The Sanskrit word 'abhinaya:'– 'अभिनय:' in Tamil becomes 'அவிநயம்', basically meaning depiction in action and poses, the feelingsand sensations as experienced by the person, as described by the words of thesongs. The fourth sub-division is the Nãdakam, that is, to take a huge story orepic and play act the same on stage as made up of so many scenes ofconversations, poems and dance. Theywere mainly based on stories of Sanskrit origins or Tamil literature. By the fact that there were adages such as 'ãriyak kooththãinãlum kãriyattileye kaN'– 'ஆரியக் கூத்தாடினாலும் காரியத்திலேயே கண்', meaning that, 'even while enacting a scene on stage, that onewas keen on his job'; one can make out that the Sanskrit dramas were quitepopular having mass appeal. Those werethe days when languages were bridges of communication and not chasms ofcontentions!
28. Inthese Sãnthi Koothu, though there were a variety of mood changes and feelingsgalore, the net and end effect was one of peace and calmness. Nowadaysto titillate, agitate and excite seem to be the meaning of entertainment. But in the olden days, to elevate and ennoblewas understood to be the main purpose of all entertainment. However much roughening of the senses byNataraja, the ending was always one of the 'Satyam, Sãntam and Sivam' ofDakshiNa Murthy, as that is how the Upanishad describes him!
29. In thisAryan Sãnthi Koothu, a particular deviation was known as 'Chedam'. Any type of slight change from the originalin this adaptation or deviation, in the interest of making it interestingwithout making the deviation by itself masquerade as the original; they used tocall these adaptations as such. Thisword 'Chedam' is a Sanskrit word meaning cut, changed and adapted. So the storieswere adapted from Sanskrit PurãNãs, Itihãsãs and or Kãvya. The actor was known as Sãkkai. Some time back I had quoted that Rajaraja haddetailed someone by the name of 'Thiru VeLLarai Sãkkai', do you remember? This Koothu of the variety known as 'Chedam'has been there from very old times. Thestory about how Parameswara hard burnt the whole of Tiripura, in the name of'Kotti-chedam', which had been demonstrated by one Paraiyur Kotti Sãkkaiyanbefore the King Cheran Senguttuvan is mentioned in Silappadikãram, one of theTamil Classics.
30. Sãkkaiand Sãkkaiyan are in singular, while in the plural are referred to as Sãkkaiyaror Sãkkiyãr Koothu. Like KathakaLianother dance/drama form in Kerala is called 'Sãkkiyãr Koothu'. In our Matam Sadas also artists from Keralahave conducted this Sãkkiyãr Koothu.This instead of being totally in Malayalam, it is a type of Ãryã Koothuonly. First there are some Sanskritslokas which are later explained by a mix of Malayalam cum Sanskrit with songsand dance, are enacted on the stage.
One Stone Dropping Three Mangoes
31. In ourthis Tamil Land thus, in the olden times, there used to be this sort of ÃryãKoothu giving the audience a mix of Sanskrit and Tamil songs cum dance anddrama. But now when the situation is oneof infatuation towards one and denial with hatred towards the other; I cannothelp but wish and wonder, will there not be somebody coming forward to reviveand rekindle, this KathakaLi like art form with some modern ideas thrown in,reviving interest in both the languages, while simultaneously bringing to focusour religious and spiritual uplift and ennoblement? Such venture would prove to be revival of anart form, useful mode of entertainment and rekindling of interest in Sanskrit;thereby achieving three hits with one missile!
32. Rajarajahad organized the conduct of both Ãryã Koothu and Tamil Koothu every day in theBrihad Easwara Temple. Those who are noworganizing a celebration in his memory would do well to revive this equal andbalanced approach to the languages than thinking of it as being thrust downtheir throats! If this eclipse that isovershadowing our vision may be lifted leading to a reawakening, that would bethe best method of remembering an integrating influence of such a great King ofTamil Nadu.
33. ApproachingDivinity through Art. ChantingVedas and Thevãram, singing Sanskrit slokas and Tamil SeyyuL, conducting dramaswith Sanskrit and Tamil operas; easily and in a very attractive manner;Rajaraja Sozha enabled the common masses of this South India to approachdivinity. If we are proud of him andwish to honour his memory, we should also imbibe this attitude of respectfulequality towards Sanskrit and Tamil (or whatever our mother tongue) and reviveour devotedness and worshipfulness. Hecould do whatever he did on such a grand scale because of his this sense ofequality. Instead of letting the ArtForms go in every which way lacking in morality and a sense of purpose, let usproceed with love in our hearts towards all, respect for languages andtraditions; offering all our endeavour as obeisance before God and proceed onthe path shown by Siva Pãda Sekharan Rajaraja Sozha!