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The President who loved Kuchipudi

posted Feb 12, 2011, 8:32 PM by Sarat Kumar Sarvepalli   [ updated Oct 13, 2011, 5:58 AM ]

The second President of the Indian Republic, Bharat Ratna Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, apart from being a supreme scholar and a man of vast erudition, was also an avid Kuchipudi aficionado. Apart from knowing intricate nuances of the dance-drama, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan , could also sing from many of the Kuchipudi songs, from memory!

He was well versed in Kuchipudi’s dance theory and rules. Today, the Tarangam remains one of the most popular items from the Kuchipudi repertoire, with its exacting dexterity and acrobatic mastery. Little do people understand the philosophical significance of the apparent acrobatic feats. Once, before the start of a Yamini Krishnamurthy performance, this is what Bharat Ratna Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan  had to say about the Tarangam:

“There is a philosophical significance to the waterpot and plate.It is an analogy for life itself. 


                                           Punkhanu punkha vishayaan upasevyamanaha
Dheeronna munchati mukunda padaravindam
                                           Sangeeta vadya laya tala vasangatapi
                                           Moulista kumbha parirakshana dheernativa! - Mukunda Moordhana


Like the dancer who concentrates on the waterpot while dancing to the music, accompanied by melodic instruments and rhythmic patterns, the Brave One contemplates the divine feet of God, although saddled with worldly worries.”

This can be further interpreted as: “We are all bound to this earth (the brass plate under the feet) and we carry heavy responsibilities on our head (signified by the waterpot, from which not a drop is supposed to spill). But just as the dancer moves joyously in rhythm, her mind in glorious contemplation of God, so too should life be lived, with grace, energy and good purpose.”

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