PRINCETON, NJ (TIP): Renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Pavithra Srinivasan of Chennai mesmerized the audience at the Whig Hall of Princeton University during a lecture and dance presentation on the Yoga of Dance last week.
Acclaimed dancer and educator Pavithra Srinivasan explored the intersections and suggested India’s venerable classical dance tradition as a vehicle to connect to deeper truths and spiritual awareness. She drew on decades of rigorous dance training, deep study of sacred texts, and personal guidance from her guru–the renowned Param Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati
She enacted stories from the Pancha Tantra, Ramayana, and Bhaja Govindam, a popular 8th century devotional composition in Sanskrit attributed to Sri Adi Sankaracharya, a great seer of Advaita philosophy of India. The program was sponsored by the Princeton University Hindu Life Program and The Yoga Council.
Pavithra began by explaining Yoga and demonstrated the Surya Namaskar chanting “Om Mitraya Namaha”, “Om Ravaye Namaha”. She told the audience Surya Namaskar not only includes asanas and pranayama, but also includes mantra and meditation techniques, expressing gratitude to the Sun as a life and light giving source to all forms in the planet. For dancers, it is also an exercise for stretching, strengthening of muscles, massaging of joints and internal organs of the body, she said.
Both yoga and the classical dances of India are a gift to the world. Both disciplines, yoga with its admirable precision and alignment and dance with its graceful hand gestures coordinated movements and meaningful facial expressions, have been blended for centuries
She explained to students that Vedic culture, that includes customs, food, dress, language, literature, scriptures, music, dance … anything that gives examples of great heroes who lived a life of profound truths and courageous deeds that help the human mind and life to grow, mature and evolve. This helps in discovering the true purpose of life, to unite and to help others unite themselves with their highest nature, so all can live in a life of harmony and freedom from misery. In this exploration, both yoga and dance point the way.
Pavithra, adorned with jewels and clad in a radiant green saree, looked beautiful and her dance with excellent storytelling captivated the audience. Pavithra concluded with a scene from the immortal hymn Bhaja Govindam written by Saint Sankara in which he urges man to turn towards the Self and sing His glory instead of being distracted, deluded and destroyed by mundane matters.
Yoga of dance is thus the union of the physical, psychological and spiritual plane to transcend the ordinary and to be established in one’s own true nature in one’s own self, which is the ultimate freedom from all unhappiness, she narrated.