Of mood, melody and metaphor    


Radhika Srinivasan's book "Sacred Spaces'' will be released in the city. "Raga Mandala'', a classical dance presentation, coincides with the function.

In space through structure 
In form through sculpture 
In body through dance 
In sound through music 
In thought through yoga 
When man discovers order

And rhythm he touches the divine...

THIS SANSKRIT verse inspired Radhika Srinivasan to write a book on"Sacred Spaces'' dealing with the spaces considered sacred in South East Asia. The book published by Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, will be released by Swami Dayananda Saraswati on February 9 at 6.30 p.m. at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. "Raga Mandala'', a classical dance presentation, choreographed by Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, former Principal of Kalakshetra, will follow the release.

Bhagavathulu Seetarama Sarma has composed the music with script and direction by Radhika Srinivasan. The dancers are Nirmala Sheshadri, Gayatri Balagurunathan, Shilpa Chandran, T.K.Thiruchelwam, J.Suryanarayana Murthy and Sheejith Krishna. Raga Mandala is a classical Indian mythic creation conceived as a dance-dialogue with a difference. It seeks to explore the concept of Raga and Mandala at three levels — physical, emotional and spiritual to highlight an all-pervading Asian world-view, at once enriching and ennobling, even as it journeys through the processes of creation at the gross, subtle and causal levels.

Raga means colour. It also means mood, melody and the human qualities of attachment. Mandala means the universe, with its endless cycles of change. As a diagram, it is an object of meditation; a square and circle are its basic motifs that provide symmetry and harmony at the centre. As a concept, it is an aid to the principle of centering. Exploring all these ideas at different levels through a classical Indian dance presentation interspersed with English dialogues, this artistic endeavour seeks to create many sacred patterns of Mandala that merge and separate in the process of unravelling the myth of creation and transmuting baser human instincts into sublime energies and attributes. Raga Mandala attempts to throw open several unexplored elements in both Raga and Mandala with a view to discovering one's own sacred centre space. Each line of the sloka cited above has become a chapter for the book "Sacred Spaces.''

Radhika Srinivasan has learnt both Carnatic and Hindustani music and has developed quite a few dance drama programmes in Singapore where she lived. Now settled in Chennai, she had earlier published a book "The Lotus Unfolds'' on Asian forms of poetry, proverbs, Mudras and gestures used in dance, sculpture, ritual and black magic. She explained the Raga Mandala illustration as "the yin yang of the lowersa and the higher sa in the Carnatic music scale as being the same. They blossom into the Swara Mandala of ri ga ma pa da ni and further blossom into the tala mandala. Thus, space and time merge. But then only notes do not make music. They need an inner life guiding them and the outer border of the Bhupura Rekha sanctifies the notes and the tala and then we get music."

The Raga Mandala dance presentation focusses more on the philosophy of the different mandalas than on the structure of the dance form. The Adhara Shadja, the fixed central note, along with its six corresponding notes, goes on a quest to know its origins and recreates the creator in a poetic outburst. Then the dance delves into Nature's spectrum of colours and its impact on human emotions. The Sun, symbolic of the Master Charioteer, when in control of the five senses and the mind, leads the Adheya swaras back to the Adhara and beyond, into the Mandala sans colours and attributes, into the mandala of Vi-raga or detachment. Verses from Gana Bhaskaram, Upanishads, Kalidasa's Ritu Samhara, Bhagavad Gita, Tatwa Bhoda and others have provided inspiration to the dance. " Through the Raga Mandala, we invite the audience to journey with us into the subtle universe of moods and metaphors.'' Says Radhika.


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