Diversity of Languages:
The 1961 and 1971 census had listed 1652 languages as mother tongues spoken in India.
Of the 1652 mother tongues listed in the census, 33 are spoken by people numbering over a lakh. The following table shows the names of mother tongues and the number of speakers.
The dances of India can be classified into the following 3 categories.
I. Main Styles of Classical Dance:
This category includes Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali and manipuri. These are explained below.
The earliest exponents of Bharatanatyam were the devadasis (temple dancers) in south India. They would perform the dance daily at the time of worship or on festive occasions. It came to be patronized by the Cholas, the Pandyas, Nayaks, Vijayanagar rulers and the Marathas. In course of time devadasis started dancing in the royal courts and thus, its religious sanctity was lost.
The technique of Bharatanatyam consists of 64 principles of coordinated hand, food, face and body movements which are performed to the accompaniment of dance syllables, popularly known as bols.
The musical instruments which accompany a dancer are a midrange, a ghatam, a violin, a flute, and a pair of cymbals. The dance starts with a slow tempo but gathers momentum and eventually there is a very swift movement of hands, feet, twists of body and facial expression.
Its format consists of Alarippu (invocation), Jathi Swaram (note combinations), Shabdam (notes and lyrics), Varnam (a combination of pure dance and abhinaya), lighter items like Padatns and Javalis (all erotic) and finally the Thillana (again pure dance).
The maestros in Bharatanatyam are Bala Saraswathi Shanta Rao, Mrinalini Sarabahai, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Kamala, Vaijayantimala, Sonal Man Singh, Samyukta Panigrahi and Rukhmini Devi.
The word kathak is derived from katha which means story. Its origin dates back to ancient times when a band of story tellers went about reciting episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata using music and dance. It soon turned into dance-drama in which actors took part.
It is confined mostly to Northern India-Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. The main centers are Lucknow, Banaras, Jaipur and Delhi.
The characteristic features of the Kathak dance are emphasis on foot work, the swift swirl or chakor of the body followed by its sudden stillness. The execution of foot work is within a time cycle.
The Kathak dance goes through a regular format mostly concentrating on rhythm, variously called paltas, thoras, amad and parans.
A pair of tables and Che sarangi is the musical instruments that accompany it Hindustani music.
The maestros in Kathak are Sitara Devi, Birju Maharaj, Gopi Krishna, Binda Din Maharaj, Kalkadin, Aachan Maharaj and Uma Sharma.
Kathakali is the most refined, the most scientific and elaborately defined dance form of Kerala.
Kathakali is not a solo dance like Bharatanatyam but combines music, poetry, mime and drama. This dance-drama is usually performed in the open and usually lasts the whole night. The themes are taken from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Hindu mythology.
The costumes show a great variety of colour. The musical instruments are quite simple, viz. drums and cymbals. The actors put on masks of various types to represent deities or the demons.
The maestros in Kathakali are Guru Krishan Kutty, Kanak Rele and Raghavan.
This dance belongs to the state of Manipur in North-East India.
Manipuri is purely religious dance which is used to invoke divine blessing. Original only Siva and Parvatri were propitiated but later on, Krishna and Radha too were included
Manipur involves a movement of head, hands and feet in complete harmony. Another feature of this dance is that the men and women dance together.
Its orchestra consists of khol (a kind of drum), the manjira (cymbals) and the flute. In recent years more instruments have been added.
The credit goes to a ruler, Bhagya Chandra for devising a beautiful dress known as Kamil, which is invariably worn by the dancers.
II. Other Classical Dances:
This category includes the other equally important forms of dance with their distinct tradition am style. In this connection, Odissi of Orissa, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh and Mohini Atam Kerala have become quite popular.
Besides, there are many other forms of dances such as Bhagavat Mela Nataka of Tanjore, Krishanattam of Kerala, Satriya of Assam, Ottan Thullal and Koodiyattan of Kerala and Chhau of Mayurbhanj and Purulia.
It is a classical dance of Orissa. It is considered to be the oldest form of classical dance dating back to pre-Christian era.
Odissi is built on the principle that the human body is meant to be employed in deflection The main emphasis is on the statuesque poses of the dancer. Thus, the characteristic of the Odissi style is the ‘bhanga or breaking of the human body with deflection of the head, the torso and the hips’.
The dress consists of a bright coloured sari hanging loosely and a tight fitted blouse. The musical instruments accompanying the dance performances are a drum, a pair of cymbal a flute and a stringed instrument.
The format consists of Bhumi Prana, Batu Pallavi and lighter items like the Ashtapai I ending in moksha approximating to the Thillana of the South.
Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Andhra Pradesh.
Kuchipudi derives its name from the name of a village (Kuchelapuram) of its origin.
It closely resembles Bharatanatyam, however, its movements are much faster and style freer.
It is a classical dance of Kerala. The word ‘Mohini’ literally means a maidal who exerts desire or steals the heart of the onlooker.
In format, this is similar to Bharatanatyam. The movements are graceful like Odissi an I the costumes sober and attractive. It is essentially a solo dance.
The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in Vyavaharamala, composed Mazhamangalam Narayanan Nambudiri assigned to the 16th century AD.
III. Folk and Tribal Dances:
India has a number of local dances performed on the occasion of the harvest season, the festivals, on marriage to please the gods, to pray for rains and for recreation. Each region has its special dances, for example, Rajasthan has its Ghumar, Gujarat its Garba, Punjab its Bhangra and Giddha and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka their Kolatam.
The rural or semi-urban theatre forms like Jatras in Bengal, Bhands in Punjab, Nautanki in Uttar Pradesh, Bhavi in Gujarat, Tamasha (a robust forms of folk theatre) in Maharashtra and Yaksghana (a folk dance-drama) in Karnataka are keeping up their tradition.
Some of the well known tribal dances are the masked-Chhow dance of the Santhals of Bihar and Orissa, Karma dance of the Gonds and the dances of the Banjaras and the Lambadis. The list of folk and tribal dances of India is given below.
India Theatre and Drama:
The birth of Indian theatre is closely related to the ancient religious rituals and seasonal festivals. Its origin can be traced to the vedic times. The fifth Veda (Natyaveda) contains references on dramatic performances.
Later on, Kautilya’s Arthshastra (4th century BC), Patanjali’s Mahabhasya (2nd century BC) and Bhasa’s Swapna-Vasavadatta refers to dramatic shows. However, Bharata’s Natya Sastra was the first comprehensive work on dramaturgy.
The Indian drama reached its peak in the 4th century AD with the contributions of Kalidasa. He wrote a number of plays, the most famous being Abigyan Shakuntalam.
Other popular works on drama include Sudraka’s Mrichchakatika, Harsha’s Ratnavali, Bhavabhusi’s Mahavira Charita and Uttarama-Charita, Mehandra Vikram Pallava’s Mattavilasa and so on.
In 1765, Horasim Lebedev, a Russian theatre enthusiast and Golaknath Das, a Bengali theatre lover, established the Bengali Theatre. This was the beginning of the modern Indian theatre. In 1872, Girishchandra Ghosh established the National Theatre. This led to the growth of theatre in other linguistic regions, that is Marathi Gujarati Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Hindiand Telugu. The
pioneers of dramatic revival are Bharatendu Harishchandra in Hindi; Kirloskar, Deval and Khadilkaf in Marathi; Lakshminath Bezarua in Assamese, C.V. Raman Pillai and Varma Thampuran Malayalam; P. Sambandhi Madaliar in Tamil; Ranchhodbhai and Nanalal Kavi in Gujarati Guruzada Appa Rao and B. Raghavachar in Telugu; Ram Sankar Rai and Kalicharan Patnaiki Oriya.
After Independence, the Indian theatre developed rapidly. The various universities including Punjab, Madras, Kolkata and Baroda have established Drama Departments. The National Sacha of Drama, founded in 1959 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi (1953), is actively engaged in the promotion of Indian theatre.
The following rural or semi urban theatre forms are keeping up their tradition.
10. Raasleela & Raamleela
Indian Music Systems of Music:
The broad systems of Indian music-the Hindustani and the Karnataka (Carnatic) have evolve through the centuries. The difference between them is more in practice than theoretical. Both of them derive their basic principles from Bharata’s Natya Shastra and Sarangadeva’s Sangeet Ratnakar.
The Hindustani music which bears the imprint of Persian influence is prevalent in the whole o north and east India and upper half of Deccan. In the rest of the country (i.e. karnataka, A.P. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondichery) Karnataka Music predominates.
There is a fundamental difference between Indian and Western music. The Indian music i based on melody. It moves in a circle and successive exposition of notes creates melody. The western music, on the other hand, is linear and based on harmony.
Indian music is built on raga and tala concepts. Raga literally means that ‘which pleases’ am may, therefore, be defined as ‘mood’. Tala is the ‘cyclirhythm’ of the song. It is always demonstrated) on the drum There are about 250 ragas in the North and South.
Forms of Northern Music:
Some of the popular forms of music in the North are 1. Dhrupad, 2. Dhamar, 3. Khayal 4. Thumri, 5. Tappa, 6. Qawwali, 7. Dadra and 8. Ghazal.
Forms of Carnatic Music:
In the South, the well known forms are 1. Varnam, 2. Kriti, 3. Ragamalika, 4. Thillana, 5. Javali, I 6. Padam, and 7. Slokam.
The indifference of the British rulers to Indian music led to the establishment of gharanas (musical dialect schools) where the master taught his pupils the intricacies of his art which thus, remained confined to a selected circle.
The important centres of Hindustani music (Gharanas) were Lucknow, Jaipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gwalior, Agra Indore, Delhi and Hyderabad.
To Bhatkhande (1860-1936) and Vishnu Digamber Paluskar (1872-1921) goes the credit of putting the Hindustani music on a scientific basis.
The Karnataka music continued to follow the old Shastric traditions and flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries in the South. Some of the great masters of the system were Tyagaraja (1767- 1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar (1776-1835) and Shyama Shastri (1762-1827).
Sarangi in the North and violin in the South remain quite popular. There are also percussion instruments of which the tabla, the mirdangam, the pakhawaj, the chanda and the dholak are quite popular.
Veena is an ancient instrument which is associated with Saraswati the Goddess of Learning. Sitar was invented by Amir Khusrau in the 14th century; Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Ali Khan and Amjad Ali Khan are most distinguished exponents of Sitar.
Sarod is loved for its deep and vibrant notes. Ali Akbar Khan and his father the late Ustad Ala-Udin Khan were experts in it. The other important Indian instruments are gottuvadyam of the South, tanpura (a string instrument) and the flute. On festive occasions such as marriages and other parties, shahnai and nagaswaram are played in the North and South respectively.
Among the most distinguished exponents of Classical style of Indian music both in vocal and instrumental fields, the names of Onkar Nath Thakur, Bade Ghulam Ali khan, Gopeswar Bandopadhya, Swami Pragyananda, Sunanda Patnaik, D.V. Paluskar, Vinayak Rao Patwardhan Narayan Rao Vyas, Dagar brothers, Kumsr Ghandharva, Siddeshvari Devi, Girja Devi and V.G. Jog deserve mention.
It is a mixture of Hindustani music and folk music of Bengal, evolved by the great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941).
Paintings of Ancient India:
The mural paintings of Ajanta (Maharashtra) belong to the 1st century BC to 8th century AD. These frescoes are associated with the life history of the Buddha and the Jataka stories. In other words, they depict the scenes from the life of Buddha. The fauna and flora, all types of men and women, forest, city and countryside are mentioned in these mural paintings.
The mural tradition of Ajanta were continued in Badami of Chalukya (6th century), Panamalai of Pallava (7th century), Sittannavasal of Pandya (9th century) and Tanjore (Thanjavur) of Chola (10th 11th century).
May 28. June 1. H.D. Deve Gowda’s 21-member Central cabinet sworn in. 1997 April 21 I.K. Gujral sworn in Pm. July 25. K.R. Narayana sworn in Precedent of India. Sept. 5. Mother Teresa, 87, dies. Oct. 14. Arundhati Roy wins Booker Prize. Nov 28. IK Gujral resigns as PM. 1998 March 14. Sonia Gandhi takes over as Cong. (I) president. 19. A.B. Vajpayee takes over as PM. Oct. 14. Amartya Sen wins the Nobel Prize for Economics 1999 Feb. 20.
PM Vajpayee arrives in Pakistan by Delhi-Lahore bus. June-July: Intense fighting in Kargil. July 26 India declares its territory is completely free of Pak intruders. Sept. 5. Lok Sabha election begins. Oct. 10. 13th Lok Sabha constituted. 13.70 members Vajpayee Govt. sworn in. 19.
Devastating cyclone hits Orissa and A.P. 2000 Mr 19. US President Clinton visits India. July 31. Matinee idol Rajkumar abducted by Veerappan (released Nov. 15). Sept. 14.
Bill Gates in Delhi 19 Karnam Malleswari wins a bronze at Sydney Olympics. Oct. 30. Azharuddin and four others named by CBI in cricket match- fixing. Nov 1-15: New states Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand formed. Dec. 24 Viswanathan Anand becomes world chess champion.