Sonal Mansingh



The Samanvaya presentation has been conceived with a view to reveal the inner link of unity among the diverse traditions of performing arts of this country, even those which have deep associations with different religions. It aims at integrating various traditions of performing art, from the tribal and folk to classical, not as a variety presentation, but as different limbs of the same body of Indian Culture. Influenced by the Western cultures, many of us put the myriad different forms of our performing arts in different pigeonholes, totally ignoring the inherent conceptual unity among them. Again, influenced by the West, we have broadly divided our performing art traditions into folk and classical. This kind of classification is totally irrelevant in India. If carefully observed, it will be revealed that the folk tradition is as deep and as aesthetically conceived as the classical. For instance, let us take the garbs dance tradition of Gujarat.

Garba is the colloquial derivation of the word garbha meanings the ‘womb’. In the dance, a perforated earthen pitcher with a lamp inside it is called garbs. Symbolically it represents the womb of the devi, the mother of the entire creation. The dancers dance around the garbs mostly in circular motion symbolizing the cyclic movements of the various bodies in the universe. This concept is the echo of that reflected in the devi sukta of the Rig-veda. In the Samanvaya presentation the two will be juxtaposed, the latter in Odissi style to show that though differently performed the two say the same thing.

We all know that the different religions have the same inherent intention of establishing a divine life in the world. The Samanvaya presentation reveals this aspect from the perspective of performing arts. For instance, in Jainism the goddess Saraswati is also worshipped through devotional singing. Although the concept of the goddess is somewhat different, the inner symbolism is the same. To reveal this aspect, the Jaina prayer for Saraswati will be rendered in Odissi dance style, side by side with the connected ritual.

In fact, in India the word secular is irrelevant. Indian culture is basically secular right from the beginning of the Millenniums. What is now known as Hindu religion is neither a religion nor was it named as Hindu. The vedic muni-s and rishi-s who originated it, named it as Sanaatana Dharma. Sanaatana means eternal, but dharma cannot be translated as religion. The word dharma has been formed from the verbal root dhri that means ‘to hold’. Therefore, dharma aims at holding a person, not to bind hint. The originators of Sanaatana Dharma shaped it in such way that it will be way of life that is totally secular. Therefore, there was no system of conversion in this dharma. Thus the concept of dharma is closer to culture than religion.

It is worthwhile to know how the Sanaatana Dharnsa came to be known as Hindu religion. The originators of Vedic culture and Sanaatana Dharma were living in the region close to the bank of the Sindhu river. The foreigners who first came into contact with the Vedic culture were from Middle East. In their language ‘S’ is pronounced as Therefore, they called the Sindhu river as Hindu river, and the people who were residing near its banks as the is they who made our culture and dharma known to the Westerners. Therefore, they Ailed us the Hindu-s and our Sanaatana dharma as the Hindu religion. In Greek language H is pronounced softly. They called the Sindhu river as Indus. Thus our country Bhaarat came to be known as India. Thus both Hindu and India are misnomers which we have unfortunately accepted.

The lofty concept of Sanaatana dharma now lies shattered. Dharma has been metamorphosed into a religion. The integral perspective of the Bhaarat is now lost in countless pigeonholes. Therefore, in the 50th Year of Independence, Samanvaya humbly aims at persuading the Bhaaratvaasi’s to re-assess their culture and to return to their roots.

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