Nãda Upãsanã, Gãndharva Vidyã And Manipuri Dance

The Bharata Nãtyashãstra contains an apocryphal story about the origins of drama and music. Tired of the continuous conflict with the Demons, the Gods approached Brahma the Creator and requested him to give them some form of diversion, which through sight and sound would soothe the mind and gladden the heart.

Lord Brahma meditated deeply to find a solution to this request. He proceeded to compile a fifth Veda which combined the essence of the four main Vedas. This was called “Nãtyashãstra” — the scripture dealing with dance and drama, which encapsulated the philosophies of dharma (righteous living), artha (legitimate ways of earning), kãma (love) and moksha (the path to salvation).

The first drama ever performed was “Asura Parãjaya” followed by ‘Amrita Manthana.’ The dramas were so successful that Brahma personally took all the performers to Shiva, Lord of the Cosmic Dance. For him, they performed the “Dim” called “Tripurdãh”. Inspired by their performance, Shiva danced himself. The audience, captivated by its wonders, begged to be taught the dance. It was then that Lord Shiva imparted this technique to his disciple Tandu. Tandu went forth as he was bid, to spread the teaching of this dance form, which as a result is called the ‘Tãidava.’ Similarly the female form of dance, as developed by Parvati, Shiva’s consort, is called “Lãsya.”

Tãridava and Lãsya are the two principal forms of dance.

Lãsya movements are soft and gentle, more suited to the feminine physique, while Tãndava movements are aggressive and virile, more suited to men. The legend narrated above attributes the development and mastery of dance to Shiva and Parvati. “Shãrdtanaya”, the author of “Bhãva Prakãshana” and ‘Shãradiya’ two treatises on dance, also acknowledge Shiva as the Creator of Tantrashãstra (the study of occult), Sangitashastra (music), Nãtyashãstra (dance) and Vyãkaranashästra (grammar).

Music, grammar and tantra all derive from Nda — the essence of sound vibrating in all creation.

From Nãda is created Varna(letters of the alphabet), from Varna is created Pada (words), and from Pada is created Vãni (speech). From speech springs our ability to communicate and to interact socially. In this manner everything in this world is dependent on Nãda.

Nãda is created through the combination of Prãna (vital air, breath) and Agni (the element of fire).

There are two types of sound. One is Ahata (manifest sound) and the other is Anãhata (unmanifest sound or the Divine sound).

It is the Anãhata sound which only Yogis experience. When this Anãhata sound of the Nda Brahma becomes manifest in the world, and can be heard by all, it is known as Ahata. The transition from the Ahata state to the Anãhata state is known as Muktadashã - the liberated state.