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TuMeKam: Tulsi, Meera and Kabir in Bharatanatyam

Kala Kunj and Jaijaivanti Foundation presented an evening of Kathak and Bharatanatyam on the 6th of September, 2017 at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, new Delhi. Culture Minister, Dr. Mahesh Sharma graced the occasion with his presence as the chief guest of the evening.

Ms. Richa Jain, daughter and disciple of Lt. Guru Ravi Jain and Smt. Nalini Jain will presented the interpretative and technical aspects drawing from both the Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas of Kathak. In this unique presentation titled “Shyam Rang Raachi”, Richa portrayed the Krishna and Narasimha avatars of Vishnu through the traditional form of Katha Vaachan.

My performance started with a Pushpanjali composed by Vasudevan Iyengar and choreographed by my guru Smt. Geeta Chandran. This was followed by ‘Rudrashtakam’, an octet composed by Tulsidas as an ode to ‘Rudra’, the fearsome manifestation of Lord Shiva, composed by K. Venkateshwaran. In this hymn the devotee describes and praises the many facets of Shiva. He is the lord of the universe, the embodiment of Nirvana. He is formless, desireless, immeasurable, yet omnipresent. The moon is his ornament and he radiates the glory of a million suns. The Ganges flowing out of his matted locks, adorned in tiger skin and garlands of snakes and skulls, he is the destroyer of death. “Oh supreme Lord, the divine consort of Parvati! You are my saviour.”

Next I presented a Meera bhajan composed in Ragam Kalyan by Shri Vinay Chandra Maudgalya and choreographed by Smt. Geeta Chandran. Meerabai dedicated her life to lord Krishna. Her life was an eternal search for her lord, as he was the only one she desired. In this popular bhajan ‘Koi kahiyo re‘ she is eagerly waiting to hear about the arrival of Krishna and requesting everyone and everything around her, the people, the birds, the wind and the clouds to go to her lord and bring him to her.

My TuMeKam journey concluded with the soul stirring poetry of Kabir. For Tulsidas, Shiva was the one. For Meera, it was Krishna. But Kabir says whatever it is that you are looking for is within you… You are the one: Tumekam! Kabir attempts to show a mirror to society divided on religion, caste, creed, colour… and challenges us to find peace and goodness inside us, rather than seeking external validation in religious beliefs and meaningless rituals.

The very popular poem by Kabir “Moko kahan dhoondhe re bande” was composed in raag Bhatiyaar by Sudha Raghuraman and I choreographed this poem under the direction of my guru.

The artists accompanying me were:

Smt. Geeta Chandran on nattuvangam, Smt. Sudha Raghuraman on vocals, Shri G. Raghuraman on flute and Shri Manohar Balachandarine on mridangam. The evening was anchored by my father, Prof. Ashok Chakradhar.

Photo credits: Ashwini Chopra, Inni Singh and Bharat Tiwari.