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Indian Dancer by Sarojini Naidu

Eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting,
what passionate bosoms aflaming with fire
Drink deep of the hush of the hyacinth heavens
that glimmer around them in fountains of light;
O wild and entrancing the strain of keen music
that cleaveth the stars like a wail of desire,
And beautiful dancers with houri-like faces
bewitch the voluptuous watches of night.

The scents of red roses and sandalwood flutter and die
in the maze of their gem-tangled hair,
And smiles are entwining like magical serpents
the poppies of lips that are opiate-sweet;
Their glittering garments of purple are burning
like tremulous dawns in the quivering air,
And exquisite, subtle and slow are the tinkle
and tread of their rhythmical, slumber-soft feet.

Now silent, now singing and swaying and swinging,
like blossoms that bend to the breezes or showers,
Now wantonly winding, they flash, now they falter,
and, lingering, languish in radiant choir;
Their jewel-girt arms and warm, wavering,
lily-long fingers enchant through melodious hours,
Eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting,
what passionate bosoms aflaming with fire!

Indian dancer, we do  not know what dancer is she describing it here, Bharatanatyam dancer, Kuchipudi dancer, Odissi dancer, Kathak dancer, Kathakali dancer, Mohiniyattam dancer, Sattriya dancer, Manipuri dancer or other from these? Or the folk dance full of beat and romance, hullabaloo and hilarious pandemonium? But here the poses and postures in words hint towards the classical dance in which the eyes, moods and gestures speak it. The replica of a nautch girl embossed on the temple walls carved out of stone or the terracotta plates fitted on the lime clay and small brick made olden temples of yore weaving our myths and motifs as priceless sculptures and terracotta works. The  Indian rajahs and the their durbars have always admired the replica of the nautch girls. The stance speaks it in the dance if it is classical. But the story of sur-sangam-madhuri, note-alignment-sweetness; music, dance and drama have a history and legacy of own.

In a very flowery and figurative language, metaphoric enough, she starts the poem with the brush of paints and colours. The eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting, so full of fire and passion, so bedecking and beautiful, catching the cadences, beats, rhythms and vibes taking us by strike, so enthralling and musical casting an impact of own.

The Indian dancers in beautiful attire, make-up and dress-up, beautified and bespangled taking the stage with their poses and postures, how lovely to look at, see them performing, with their stuti, vandana, namaskaram, seeking blessings from the Almighty or making an obeisance really to revoke the images. The hair bespangled with or flowers stuck into hair take the canvas  away from. Without seeing their photos and pictures, one may not the poem.

The folk artistes sticking the wild blooms into their hair, the palash blooms or other local flowers too have not lagged behind in giving joviality and hilarity, sometimes when the dhols and mridangs with flutes and cymbals sound in the wooded hilly tracts, vibrating the sea, what it to tell about the effect, but whatever be that, the dream sequence is really great. A dance is a gesture in poses and postures, the same script produced through the pantomime or through music, song and beats. There was a time when Buddha got a lesson from the dancers about this madhyam marga, the middle path, as for to be neither so strict nor too loose in his sadhna, do not loosen the strings of the lute so that notes come it not and do not tighten them so much that break they. Even the frescoes, figures and figurines sculpted by or carved out of stone as a rock-cut image or the terracotta plates made out clay are no less than as they picture them ditto.

There is a beauty in similes and metaphors; there is an art of picturizing the dance with poetic words which many cannot do it as she has so nicely winning our acclaim and admiration, applause and appreciation.

When we read the poem, the picture of a dancer comes before the eyes, a South Indian girl with the white jasmines stuck into hair, rajanigandha blooms or gandharajas. When we read the poem, a night full of kaaminis dances before the eyes, we mean a small tree full of tiny and clustered blooms and a litter around. A hand full of tiny but fragrant seuli blooms, how to say namaskaram and scatter it over! But side by side it pains us when we think of the devadasis and their plight, the woeful situations of life.

Eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting, so passionate and abloom with flaming fire, they keep pulsating like the beauty queens, dream girls going with the heartbeats, heartthrobs, performing under the silent skies but full of twinkles and the things arising out of silence, moving with the beat, pitch of fall, the thud and the sound syllabic. The houri-like faces bewitch the voluptuous watches of night. We do not know if they are apsaras or gandharvas? The dancers in beauty and attire with gems and flowers appear to be stars or the flowers so mysterious and lighting, glowing and glimmering like fireflies, dancing yoginis, flying butterflies. Call them live kaaminis, raatranis, gandharajas, mogras, champas, kanchans, juhis, chameilis, belis or so on. The dancers when they begin to dance pray to the Almighty in silence, looking heavenwards, whispering prayers, reverting to, touching the earth do it all in which the skies, heavens, nights, earths, gods and goddesses seem to be partaking in. The dancers seem to have plucked stars to put into hair.

The scents of red roses and sandalwood seem to be entangled in her braid and are having bouts combined with the smiles so intriguing and magical adding to the lips which appear to be luscious. The purple-coloured glittering garments just appear to be like the dawns glistening and glimmering. So is the tinkle of the bells and the movement rhythmic and the stepping splendid heralding the arrival of a celestial damsel. Have you ever thought of Raatrani? Rajanigandha as a beauty queen? Just suppose you of a Western girl with a red rose into her hair.

Sometimes silent, sometimes swinging and sometimes swaying they keep it doing the rounds, taking the turns with ever new, ever fresh poses and postures. Just like the blossoms bend they to the breezes or showers. Sometimes flaunt and falter they, sometimes stagger and linger on. Jewelled and bedecked they keep dancing and charming with the presence. The fingers are so just lily-like.

The sandalwood paste touches give an aura of its own. So the embroidery work on the silken sari with the bespangled stuffs give a glaze of own.

Indian Dancer as a poem is all about the Indian dancers, their art-forms, practice, costume, attire, stepping, dancing to the beat, tune of music, sound and rhythm in consonance with, at parity with it all which is but a replication of Satyam Shivam Sundaram, the aesthetic sense as upheld by us.

‘Eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting, what passionate bosoms aflaming with fire’ adds beauty and lyricism to the poem as it adorns and decorates it well with thought, idea and imagery. How lovely the simile, the metaphor and the comparison, ‘Drink deep of the hush of the hyacinth heavens that glimmer around them in fountains of light’! ‘O wild and entrancing the strain of keen music that cleaveth the stars like a wail of desire’, how to tell of that if that is mystical and mysterious telling of some supernatural aspect in planning! Can music be so alluring? Can dance be as such? Can melody reach such a height? How do bodily posture, musical beat and the thud of footfall mix in dance, sound, rhythm and balance? The fine arts and the creational aspect tell of something as that connects with Divinity, the heart with the Greater Heart, the soul with the Greater Soul, the mind with the Greater Mind. The Flame, the Divine Flame is the same which keeps it burning in us. But through the wail of desire we long and yearn for a meeting which is so written as per the writ of destiny, human fate and its unknown workings.

Image (c)


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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