I was reworking on one of the asthapadi’s of Poet Jayadeva, who is known for his erotic and equally spiritual writing of Geeta Govinda. The imagery used by the poet about the different moods of Radha across all his work, also known as Asthapadi’s made me relook into how women are written from a male gaze.
The current movement of POV, or point of view which started taking trends in Instagram and across all social media, rearing the challenge of how women are seen from a man’s vision. The idea of an ideal women to be coy, shyful, wanting to meet the lover were something seen in both the earlier literature work and Bollywood movies. As I don’t base my work with reference to Bollywood movies, I rather started retrospection it with the literature. All of these women or moods of women were strongly driven inspiration from the Alankara Shastra, a scripture of dressing up, and there we could see the early mention of Astha Nayikas, the eight characterizations of a woman in context. Now, I was not surprised to know that these characterizations didn’t include Independent, Sex positive, Self-Aware, Emotionally strong, Opinionated women. Rather it included characterizations which were wanted to be dependent on man for their emotional, romantical support.
Also, I see a common debate across the entire idea of sexuality vs Love. the idea of patriarchy believes that love is the true essence of a human being and sexuality is rather something an unavoidable sin which people need not talk about. This very perspective of sexuality vs Love is also something seen in these characterizations, here the Asthanayikas are heroines veining for Love and not to empower their sexuality. But as and when I see the parity my artistic instinct throws questions like “who changes these notions?”, “how to change this perceptive”, “can we reimaging it differently?” and as an answer I thought to use my art of drag. I planned to reshape this shift of move sexuality positive, in depended and not veining Ashtanaikays with my imagination of drag. I with the help of a friend Santosh Gangala recreated the Asthanaikays and reimagined it to see these concepts in a gender less, more agile, trans/nonbinary inclusive female forms and here they are.
Abhisarika (one who moves) is that femininity, which sets aside their so-called social modesty and makes the move of their home to secretly meet their lover. They do not have any problem in being the action taker; they are at the door of their house and on their way to the tryst, defying all kinds of difficulties like the traffic, sunlight and pollution of the city. They are prepared to leave the house and go on for a self date. Their cab is ready and they don’t seem to care about who makes the first move. They are empowered to walk agile and they are a free bird, looking to explore their ultimate potential.
Kalahantarita (one separated by quarrel) is a femininity separated from their lover due to a fight or jealousy or their own arrogance. Their lover is usually depicted leaving their apartment disheartened, while they too become heartsick and repentant without him. They go on venting out their frustration about their situation. They are empowered enough to support their self and don’t care about the patriarchal abnodation insisted on them. They are enraged and streams up their voice loud and proud
Khandita (one enraged with their lover) is an enraged femininity, whose lover had promised there to spend the night with them, but instead comes to their house the next morning after spending the night with another woman. They are depicted offended, rebuking their lover for his infidelity. They are glamorous as They is untouched but feels pity on the lover who choose other one instead of them. They are sassy and read to read his lover to filth. Their rage filled eyes tells all the pain They was put through surviving the earlier night. They are uppity and doesn’t spare a word of his lover and fans him out.
Vipralabdha (one deceived by their lover), is a deceived femininity, who waited for their lover the whole night. They are throwing away their self on the floor to pain and void as their lover did not keep his promise. Their body coils up as they are left to feel the coldness of their sexuality. They are deceived and wets in pain of their own self.
Virahotkanthita (one distressed by separation) is the distressed femininity pining for their lover, who, due to his preoccupation, fails to return home. They are dazzled and bored to wait for their lover, by blowing up their makeup and prepares to water down as sweat. Their fire gets cold as they pins themselves into the ground to tone it down with the coldness of the surface. Their cheeks leave imprints of the sorrow and loathing They fringed to have with their partner. Vasakasajja Vasakasajja (one dressed up for union) or Vasakasajjika is waiting for their lover returning from a long journey. They are dressing their self for the union with their lover and “eager with expectation of love’s pleasure.” They are ready to surprise their lover with kink and beauty. They dress up their hair, tightens their stockings and keeps themselves ready to impress and charm the lover.
Swadhin Bhartruka or Swadhin Patika is Nayika who is loved by their beloved and they try controlling him. Their admirer is subjected and enthralled by their goodness and character. They prevail upon his richness and the wealth, command dominance both in and out of bed. They are the dominatrix, the dominant and one who kicks the strata of an alpha-ness.
Proshitabhartruka (one with a sojourning husband) is the person whose partner has gone away from them and does not return at all. They are depicted, seated mourning the loneliness the partner has left her under, tearing apart her true self to the mirror of reflection. The artificiality is gone, and they felt to be real, surrounded by them thoughts and memories of dream they weaved with a wrong person, but refusing to be consoled. They are unhiding herself, depleting the covers one by one and feeling their own skin. These imageries definitively helped me relook into the larger aspect of seeing femininity as an access to all gender and sexuality and reinstate the thought that its not always women or feminin0ity which needs to be seen something as submissive or seeking. It was a high time to rethink and reflect the art with progressive thinking and this project enabled me to tap into the same. Photographs