Nataraja: The Hindu Dance Lord
By Deepak Bhattacharya
The percussions that are positioned on the floor beside B N are vadya jodi (percussion set ). Either have diagonal poly fasteners holding the two sides. One drum is placed horizontally, another vertically (right angle to each other). Either drum had to be played at a time is clearly indicated 34. The pair may be said to represent two different type of drums having two different range of acoustics i.e. sound waves from the horizontal vadya waft at floor level sound waves waft towards the ceiling from the vertically positioned vadya is the nidarsana. E N depicts only one vadya having a single strand of fastener running diagonally to each other, being played by a single person with both hands 35. This could be proto dholaka (drum ]. C N self holds the damaru (kettle drum) in one of his raised arms 36. P N medallion depicts vadya jodi, being played by another person having tri-netra (triple-eyed) fig - 7 who is well ornamented. P N is tri-netra fig – 1. The vadya jodi appears to be more tapered towards the top, while they rest on circular muchula (rope coils) which absorb the vibrations, avoid direct contact with hard ground and give angular stability for player&rsquos convenience. The player is seated on a manchia (low footed stool ). In Mukteswar dasabhuja Nataraja murti 37 double drums are placed on muchala pair, while the player is perched on a manchia . Vadya jodi have a height upto the player&rsquos lower chest, which approx. works out to 24-30 inches of any avgerage Indian when seated in such posture. A oddisi mardala & Hindusthani pakhawaz measures 23-25 inches. Simultaneous play is indicated in P N medallion. Simultaneous play of vertically placed vadya jodi sans muchula & manchia is indicated in extra Orissan art 38.
fig – 7
Membranorgan alias percussion are also noted in BSP 39. Percussion that is associated with Indian classical dance is known as pakhawaz in north & west India and as mridamgam (subtler) in south and as mardala (intoxicating) in Orissa. Mardala & pakhawaz are similar but not identical. The instrument khol (hollow ) as in Bangla dialect is a different item and is used only in dance & music of Manupuri eitiology, in kirtans (hymns) & sugam sangeet (light music). Mardala & pakhawaz&rsquos acoustics is very rewaji (gorgeous), between the two, mardala&rsquos acoustics is more sonant, while khol&rsquos acoustics is mridu (subtle). Casual study of Sanskrit, Bangla & Tamil lexicons including Sabda Kalpa Druma, do not have the term mardala, whereas Oriya dictionary does have 40 . Mardala therefore could be a ancient Oriya term of original genealogy. The term mridangam in this study here-onwards denotes khol.
The vadya jodi has typical fasteners that is even to this date is noted on mardalas in Orissa. Genealogy of the term pakhawaj is from Sanskrit. It is therefore conjectured that the term pakhawaj could well have evolved out of philological decomposition of two Prakrit words namely pakha ( side) & awaz (sound) i.e. ‘ a instrument that produces sound from its sides &rsquo. Such vadya jodi as in fig – 7 may de-facto signify the two sides of a percussion. It could be the signature of proto mardala . Natyasastra terms drummers as mardangikas 41. Mardala & mardangika are inter homologus. Thus, in co-lateral domain of vadya as noted in ancient stone art of co-linear members K S offers interesting contrast with that of KMS, TS & BSP.
To the opposite of the divine drum player sits four arm, pasupat (thunder bolt) yielding, tri-netra Siva in sukhasana (pleasure pose), his lips are open, has mustache as alike aghora / vairava / viravadra et.al. The position of left arm is much alike shastriya (classical ) singer, as if the singer is straining himself or tapping his thigh in tandem with tala. Tandava nritya is related to Siva. The tandava has two formats [ a ] vairava (severe) and [ b ] lasya (harmonic) 42 later being performed by Vairava in late night . History of classical music has not indicated any raga (melody) to have Orissan genesis 43. There however is a ancient raga called Kalingada that is sung late at night, has close homology with vairava thata (severe platform), it is much simpler & more melodious than vairava raga 44. Two meanings can be attributed to the term Kalingada (i) fort of Kalinga (ii) Kalinga-[re]-gadha i.e. made in Kalinga. Fig – 2 and 8 could be the art signature of Tandavanritya & vocal rendering of tala or raga Kalingada by Vairava as accompaniment to Siva when he is
Nataraja. Both are tamasic (dark / severe) 45 in ethos, composition & performance. Tamasic countenance may be noted in fig - 1.