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Thread: Survey of Tamil & Sanskrit Dance Treatises of Tamil Nadu

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    Author - Virarajendra

    Survey of Tamil & Sanskrit Dance Treatises of Tamil Nadu

    (1) The Tamil Dance Treatises presently available in Tamil Nadu

    Thamilar Mangala Nathaswaram Isai

    Among the Dance Treatises (Naattiya Noolkal) composed in Tamil by the great Dance Gurus of Tamil Nadu at different periods of it's early history, and that are available to us today are the follows:

    (1) Paratha Senapathiyam - Author unknown, but bears the name of an earlier text in Tamil of the same name by Aathivaayilar (and not available to us today)
    (2) Paratha Sangiraham - Aramvalarththan
    (3) Maha Paratha Chudamani - Abridged translation of the Sanskrit text known as Maha Baratham by Sarangathevan, into Tamil by Somanathan
    (4) Abinaya Tharpanam - Translation of the Sanskrit text on Abinayam by Nandikeswarer, into Tamil by Veerarahavaiyan
    (5) Baratha Siththantham - In Tamil by an unknown author
    (6) Silappathikaram - by Elango Adikal. The third chapter titled the "Arangettru Kaathai" of this great Tamil Epic of the second century A.D., provides enough informations on the original Dance Forms of Tamilnadu of that period. It also refers to a "Natya Nanool"

    Further the commentator of this Epic namely Adiyarkku Nallaar too provides useful informations on the Dance Forms of Tamil Nadu of the relevent period.

    There are few very late period Naattiya Noolkal composed in Tamil which are as follows.

    (7) Baratha Sastram written by Arapaththa Navalar
    (8) Abinaya Navaneetham written by Narayana Iyengar
    (9) Abinaya Sarasampudam written by Narayana Iyengar

    (2) The Sanskrit Dance Treatises presently available in Tamil Nadu

    Among the other Dance Treatises belonging to the earlier periods of India composed in Sanskrit, and are in use in Tamil Nadu are the follows:

    (1) Natya Sastra - by Baratha Muni
    (2) Barathanava - by Nadikeswara
    (3) Abinaya Tharpana - by Nandikeswara
    (4) Sangeetha Rathanakara - by Sarangatheva (only the last chapter deals on Niruththiya)
    (5) Natyasastra Sangraha - by unknown author
    (6) Niruththa Rathnavali - by Jayasenapathy
    (5) Baratha Kosa - by unknown author

    (3) The "Kooththa Nool" - the only Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatise available in Tamil Nadu

    In addition to the above we now have an original treatise composed in Tamil by the Dance Guru "Saaththanaar" known as the "Kooththa Nool", and belonging to the Sangam period of Tamil Nadu.

    Among the Dance treatises composed in Tamil mentioned above, none of them refer to the classification of the Dances that was in vogue in the ancient Tamil Nadu of the Sangam Period, as Veththiyal and Pothuviyal

    Veththiyal - Dance performed for the kings and nobles.
    Pothuviyal - Dance performed for the common people.

    This above classification of Tamil Dances that existed during the Sangam & Kaappiam periods is clearly indicated in the great Tamil Epics - the Silappathikarem and Manimehalai as follows:

    ".....Vethiyal Pothuviyal entru iru thiraththin
    Naattiya nannool nangu kadaipidiththu

    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihahal, Arangetru kaathai - line 39-40

    "......Vethiyal Pothuviyal ena iru thiraththu
    maaththirai arinthu mayangaa marabin

    adalum variyum paaniyum thookkum
    koodiya kuyiluva karuviyum unarnthu......"

    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihahal, Urr kaan kaathai - line 148-151

    ".......Veththiyal Pothuviyal entru iru thiraththu
    Kooththum Paattum thookkunth thunivum

    Manimekalai - by Seeththalai Saaththanaar, Uraluraiththa kaathai - line 18-19

    This same classification is also found in the Kooththa Nool, which indicates the antiquity and the period of composition of this Dance Treatise, other than our deduction of same from the other contents in this treatise. The reference is as follows:

    "......Irandu iyal Pothu Iyal Veththiyal enba
    tholil payan karuthi suvaippathu pothuve
    suvai payan suvaippa suvai uural Veththu

    paarpathu Pothu iyal padaippathu Veththu
    nadappathu Pothu iyal nadippathu Veththu
    ullathu Pothu iyal ullathai viriththu
    katpanai kaattum kanavathu Veththu.....
    Pothu Iyal ulaka pothu neri onpathum
    Veththu Iyal suvaiaayi viriththanar munoar.....
    .....onpathu kunanum onpathu suvaiaayi
    ontrudan ontrai udantrum porunthum
    palvahaiththu aakiya padaippe Veththu....."

    Kooththanool - by Saaththanaar, section Suvai nool

    (4) The other Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatises presently lost in Tamil Nadu

    Further in the Adiyaarkku Nallaar's commentry on Silappathikarem, he has mentioned the names of the other ancient original Dance Treatises composed in Tamil, which were availble during the Sangam period, but were not available even during the Adiyaarkku Nalaar's time in the twelth century A.D. They are namely the,

    (1) Baratham
    (2) Akaththiyam
    (3) Muruval
    (4) Sayantham
    (5) Kuna Nool
    (6) Seyitriyam

    All the above works on Tamil Dance Forms are now lost to us over a period of two millennium (2000 years). Adiyaarkku Nallaar's commentry on Silappathikarem also states that "......Natakath Thamil Noolaahiya Baratham, Akaththiyam muthalakavulla thon noolkal iranthana.....". From same it is clear that there had been a Tamil Treatise called Baratham earlier but lost even during his period. Also the Barathasenaapathiyam of Athivayilaar which was available during the period too is lost to us today.

    (5) The discovery of the "Kooththa Nool" in it's Ola Manuscript form

    Adiyarkku Nallaar in his commentry on Silappathikaram has also made use of another "Tamil Dancing Treatise" that was available to him at his time known as Kooththanool. This treatise after disappearence for some time, very fortunately was brought back to light by the good efforts of Thiru S.Yogiyar of TamilNadu of our period. He discovered a copy of this treatise in Ola Manuscript form with few sections damaged badly beyond recovery. However the major part of this work has now been preserved.

    (6) Further Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatises presently lost in Tamil Nadu, as gleaned from the Kooththa Nool

    From the Kooththa Nool it is very clear that during the time of Saaththanaar - the composer of this treatise, had access to the other original Tamil works on Tamil Dance Forms and Music namely the,

    (a) Agaththiyam - by Agaththiyan
    (b) Thean Isai - by Sikindi
    (c) Perisai
    (d) Narai
    (e) Kuruku
    (f) Kooththu
    (g) Sayantham
    (h) Kuna Nool
    (i) Muruval
    (j) Sayitriyam
    (k) Thanduvam
    (l) Nanthiyam
    (m) Pannisai
    (n) Thakkam
    (o) Thaalam
    (p) Thannumai
    (q) Adal Muvoththu

    (7) A brief study on the contents of the Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatise the "Koothatha Nool"

    He confirms that it was based on these he composed his Kooththa Nool on the subject of Tamil Dance. This clearly indicates the antiquity of this treatise as that of the Sangam period.

    The treatise has nine chapters. The first book on this treatise with text and detailed commentry of the first two chapters by Thiru S.Yogiyar has been put to print by the Tamil Nadu Sangitha Nataka Sangam. But before Thiru S.Yogiyar could write his commentry to the remaining chapters and put them too in print, he has passed away. The fate of the balance chapters is not known to us today. I give below the brief details of the contents of all nine chapters as indicated by Thiru S.Yogiyar himself in the first part of the treatise already available in Print.

    This masterly treatise in Tamil on the ancient art of dance is divided into nine books. The contents of each book are given below in a condensed form.

    (1) Suvai Nool (Aesthetic Emotions)
    Divine origin of dance, music, drama, the evolution of sounds, shapes and emotions both natural and aesthetic, their manifestation, in all their possibilities and limitations as a theoretical art and craft.

    (2) Thokai Nool (Dictionary of Dance Forms)
    108 Thandavas of Siva of which 12 are important. (Bangas & Abangas) Static and standind poses involved, 39 poses of the 12 Siva thandavas and the 12 types of dance derived from them developing altogether 144 dance patterns.

    (3) Vari Nool (Folk Dances)
    Pura Vari - dances representing varied natural phenomena in terms of "Inthinai" (five fold division of earth), Aha Vari - psychic dances pertaining to love, Mukha Vari personal, exhibitional and acrobatic dance in single and group patterns, Vasai Vari - ludicrous dances.

    (4) Kalai Nool (Dancing Limbs)
    This is the largest book and contains more than 1000 sutras on anatomical divisions of the human body, actions and poses of feet, toes heels, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs, standing leg poses, moving poses 360, 120, 300 and 90 single, supplementary, double and Nritya hand gestures and poses, actions of the neck, jaw, chin, ears, mouth, nose, etc and facial expressions plus their appropriate physical modifications, such as horripilations, tremors etc.

    (5) Karana Nool (Combination of Dance Gestures)
    120 Karanas with their appropriate mudras, sthanakas, and charis 90 kalasas (varpu) or angaharas, 9 thandavas in full and 6 lasyas.

    (6) Thala Nool (Time Measure)
    Thala samudra or the ocean of angas, grahas, murchanas etc (Iyal Thalam) 5 original thalas and 35 derived from them with their accompanying swaras and jathis, (Atta Thalam) 108 thalams of Agastya and 52 of others, their jathis, etc.

    (7) Isai Nool (Music)
    This books deplorably mutilated, still we get here only the arohanas and avarohanas of 30 extinct panns some of which are used by Thevarem Saints.

    (8) Avai Nool (Theatre Architecture)
    Theatre architecture, lighting, curtains, dress, theatrical effects, makeup, green room problems, etc.

    (9) Kan Nool (Summation)
    The aim of Dance, yoga through Dance, medicines, oinments and exercises to keep health and voice fit in tact, pranayama in dance, Dhyana (meditation) of dancers, Moksha.

    This is the first book of its kind and stands out singular and distinguished in many respects. The first part of this book with Thiru Yogiyar's commentry for the first two chapters of this treatise namely the Suvai Nool and Thokai Nool has been published (September 1968) in printed form by the Tamilnadu Sangita Nataka Sangam of Chennai. (Printed at Shanthi Press, 135, Pavalakkarath theru, Chennai). It was very unfortunate Thiru Yogiyar died thereafter. The fate of the remaining seven valuable chapters of this treatise is unknown.

    By way of this Hub Portal column, I request the authorities of the Tamil Dance & Music Institutions of Chennai, or the leading Dance exponents of Chennai, or individuals with the assistance of the Tamilnadu Sangitha Nathaka Sangam of Chennai trace the present whereabout of the remaining chapters of the Kooththa Nool and publish same in printed form, and preserve this only original Tamil Treatise on Tamil Dance of the Sangam Period for the benefit of or Tamilians.

    Now there are few sections in the first book of this treatise, available to us in the printed form, which I wish to reproduce below both in English for the benefit of those who wish to know of the,

    (a) Antiquity of this treatise
    (b) The other original Dance & Music treatises that were available to the author of Koothanool namely Saththanar during Sangam period.
    (c) The antiquity of the concept of God Siva's form as Nadarajar
    (d) The first available referance to the "Om" pranava manthiram to be found in any ancient Tamil Literary work known to us.

    The readers could make use of them for their own research in the respective fields and make their own deductions with help of same.

    (a) Manthira Maamalai yanthira thavisil
    vadakku parithi kidakkap poamvali
    nalvarkku Thanthira Nanmarai koorum
    Kooththanum Kooththium iyatriya kooththaik
    kandaan Akaththiyan kannuthal seppa
    iyatrinaan Kooththin Ilakkana vaippe.

    (b) Akathithiyan iyatriya Akaththiya
    muthal nool, Sikindi iyatriya Thenisai sarbu,
    Perisai, Naarai, Kuruhu, Kooththu,
    Sayantham, Kunannool, Muruval, Sayitriyam,
    Thanduvam, Nadhiyam, Pannisai, Thakkam,
    Thalam, Thannumai, Adalmuvoththum,
    valinool avattrin valivakai vahuththuk
    kooththin vilakkam kuravan yane

    (c) Oruthal uuntri oruthal yettri
    oru kai mariththu marukai amaiththu
    irukaiyil aakkamum iruthiyum yetru
    aru-vuru aakkum ammai koothu aattap
    peruveli nadikkum perumaan arulath
    Thennavan venda munai nool aayinthu
    Senthamil nilaththum ser pala nilaththum
    vantha meik kooththin vakai elaam kandu
    Kooththanoor Nanmukakooththan Saaththan
    Veth Thavai ellam viyappath thanthathe

    (d) Udukkaiyil piranthathu Om enum oliye
    Om enum oliye naattiyaththu oliyam
    Om enum uruve naattiyaththu uruvaam
    Om enum unarve naatiyaththu unarvu
    av vuv im enal athuve Om oli
    av enal akame uv enal ulame
    im enal isaiye iyalvathu thalam.

    There are also further references to Siva, Sakthi, Thirumal and Murukan.

    This treatise should be preserved,and efforts should be taken by all Tamil Fine Art lovers to bring the remaining portions of this great work on Tamil Dance in to print.


    New addition to the existing Thread - 14/9/2008

    In my efforts to trace the balance chapters of this valued original Tamil Dance Treatise belonging to the Sangam period of Tamil Nadu, I came to know that the Tamil Nadu Sangitha Nataka Sangam now known as the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Naataka Mantram and located at Chennai - 28, has publised the first part of the Kooththa Nool.

    After the death of Thiru S.Yogiyar this Mantram obtained all the manuscripts of this Treatise that was left with Thirumathi Yogiyar, and with her kind permission published only the Text of the available lot of chapters "as they are", without editing or giving any explanatory notes or commentry on same - as Part 2.

    The first part of this treatise publised by them has 162 Sooththirams. The second part publised by them has 1339 Soothirams on Dance including the original 162 Sooththirams of first part. [u]However I feel there are some more sections missing in same, when compared with the classification of the chapters made by Thiru Yogiyar himself based on the Ola Leaf Manuscripts. I met the family members of Thiru Yogiyar in Chennai, but was informed the fate of the "original Ola Manuscripts" after the death of Thiru Yogiyar is not known.

    Hence I suggest a team of leading Dance Exponents of Tamil Nadu to get together, and obtain a copy of the (printed) second Part of this Treatise from the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Naataka Mantram - Chennai, study through them, and arrange the subject matter in the Text of the Treatise in accordance with the classification already made by Thiru Yogiyar, and bring forth this Dance Treatise in a format which will be usefull in preserving the ancient Dance traditions of Tamil Nadu, complete with explanatory notes on the Text prepared by this qualified team in Dance, for the posterity of the Tamilians and others, and for adoption of same into the modern 'Dance Forms' of Tamil Nadu.

    We are very thankfull to the great services done by Late Thiru Yogiyar and Thirumathi Yogiyar, by preserving and providing the Text of this great Treatise for Print - preventing it being entirely lost to the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in the world. We are also thankfull to the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Naataka Mantram - Chennai, for printing and publishing same, entirely at their own cost..

    A Tamil Keerththanam of Gopalakrishna Barathiyar - YouTube

    A Tamil Keerththanam by Uuththukaadu Venkada Subbaiyer

    - A Tamil gem from Naachiyaar (Aandaal's) Thirumoli from Tamil Naalaayira Thivya Pirapantham

    A song by Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyaar

    Bharathanatyam by 1000 Dancers on the occasion of the 1000th Anniversary of the first Kudamulukku (Kumbaabishekam) of Rajarajaeswarem Koyil at Thanjavur also known as Thanjai Periya Koyil and as Brahatheeswarer Temple.

    A song of the Pathikam by Tamil Saiva Saint 'Karuvur Thevar' on Thanjavur Rajarajaeswarem Thirukkoyil sung at the group Dance seen in the above Video.

    "நெற்றியிற்கண் என் கண்ணில் நின்றகலா
    நெஞ்சினில் அஞ்சிலம்(பு) அலைக்கும்
    பொற்றிருவடி என்குடி முழு தாளப்
    புகுந்தன போந்தன இல்லை
    மற்றெனக்(கு) உறவேன் மறிதிரை வடவாற்
    றிடுபுனல் மதகில் வாழ் முதலை
    ஏற்றி நீர்க்கிடங்கில் இஞ்சிசூழு தஞ்சை
    இராசராசேச்சரத் திவர்க்கே"

    Last edited by virarajendra; 28th December 2015 at 09:21 PM.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Devoted Hubber
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    "Kal thonri man thontra kalathay mun thonri mootha kudi"- a second century literature- means when before stone became sand in earth the tamil tribes were formulated

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    Veerarajendra wrote,

    "It was very unfortunate Thiru Yogiyar died thereafter".

    Is their any other diciple / follower live any part of TamilNadu ?

    I heard panthanallur Pillai and his generations are doing that. Is it correct ? I want to make my 4 years old daughter to learn dance in panthanallur.

    And you have not mentioned about 'Sathurattam' which was the base of present 'Paratha Natitiyam' which I happened to study in "Manorama" tamil yearly release quoting tamil University research.

    Can you give anymore information regarding that if possible ?

    Thanking you.

    "Kal thonri man thontra kalathay mun thonri mootha kudi"- a second century literature- means when before stone became sand in earth the tamil tribes were formulated

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    Doesn't TN Govt have a department charged with the duties of looking for ancient texts and preserving them?

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by F.S.Gandhi vandayar
    I want to make my 4 years old daughter to learn dance in panthanallur
    You should not want to make her learn, you should want to support her learning, sir.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber wrap07's Avatar
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    great and phenomenal information.

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    The reference below from the Kooththa Nool mentioned above in this thread gives an explanation on the "Omkaara Thathuvam"

    Udukkaiyil piranthathu Om enum oliye
    Om enum oliye naattiyaththu oliyam
    Om enum uruve naattiyaththu uruvaam
    Om enum unarve naatiyaththu unarvu
    av uv im enal athuve Om oli
    av enal akame uv enal ulame
    im enal isaiye iyalvathu thalam.

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    brought forward

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    brought forward

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    brought forward
    Last edited by virarajendra; 12th October 2014 at 07:56 AM.

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