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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

    "Under Re-Construction"

    (1)The "Tamil Dance" (Dance= Nadanam = Naatiyam) associated with the "Thillai Perum Koyil" the present "Chitamparam" of Tamil Nadu

    A Tamil Keerththanam of Gopalakrishna Barathiyar - YouTube

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

    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

    (3) 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

    (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

    (4) The "Kooththa Nool" - the only Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatises available in Tamil Nadu[/b][/u][/color]

    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

    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[

    (5) 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.

    (6) 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.

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

    Saaththanaar - the composer of this treatise, had access to the other
    original Tamil works on Tamil Dance Forms and Music during the period of Third Thamil Sangam namely the,

    (a) Agathiyam by Agaththiyan
    (b) Thean Isai of 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

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

    He confirms that it was based on the above 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

    (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
    (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 who publised the first part of the Kooththa Nool - is now known as the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Naataka Mantram and is located at Chennai - 28.

    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. 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.

    (9) A few 'Tamil - Naattiya' Performances with associated 'Tamil Songs' from Tamil Films

    Last edited by virarajendra; 12th November 2017 at 12:01 AM.

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