By Madhur Gupta:
“Aakhir yeh shastriya sangeet aur vaadan hai kya?”
Natyashastra, the oldest living manuscript on the science of dance and music precisely states that dance forms which follow a set rules and principles of ‘sur'(music) and ‘taal'(rhythm) are classical in nature. The keyword is that natyashatra is a science and like all sciences every experiment and reaction has to be precise.
Doesn’t this make classical dance and music rather repetitive and therefore repulsive?
Yes, the word classical entails that it will be a repetition of the same movements and expressions and also the stories depicted in them, to some it might be boring and something that they have seen already, while to others, the repetition can have the same trance-like effect again and again which happens when they go to a temple and find themselves in blissful peace.
In the Indian mode of schooling, we have to study Sanskrit till a certain age and we continuously ask as to what in the world we would do by studying an already decrepit and dead language. For such minds, I have a question to ask- we all study geography, history, maths, economics etc. but then do you become an archaeologist, a mathematician, an economist and so on and forth? NO. You chose to become only one thing so then what really is the use of studying so many subjects? We have to study them so that we know about our country, about our heritage and about the rich cultural background we belong to so that we may at least have this sense of pride in being Indians.
All things in this world are not meant to give us tangible satisfaction. Things like classical dance and music inspires people to become something. To be mischievous yet powerful like Krishna, to follow your dharma like Ram and to be focused towards your goal like Arjuna. All this is being transferred to the audience with the help of mellifluous music and graceful moments. What more can one ask for?
I know that classical dance and music is not everyone’s cup of tea but like some prefer black tea to white so in a similar way they prefer classical to jazz and bhangra to garba. Modes of entertainment can’t be forced on people but since we have solid proofs of epics like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Upanishads surviving thousands of years in our Indian society and continuing to have a lot of takers, we can be sure of the fact that classical dance and music will have a steady number of people who will enjoy it, patronize it and ultimately thrive upon it to attain utmost bliss and pleasure.