Abstract philosophy is best explained through effective metaphors. Ancient Indian mythology and classical dance are reflective of this; having been integral to the propagation of philosophical thought from one generation to another. Over centuries, both these mediums have simultaneously evolved by virtue of being influenced by the prevalent socio-cultural scene. And the perspectives that we have therein developed reflect our cultural and spiritual evolution.We trace the evolution of such perspective through the popular tale of Savitri from the Mahabharata. Classical dance is an effective medium to portray the details of the story but is not limited to it. The use of theatrical elements within the framework of classical dance allows the artiste to intersperse dramatization with narratives of philosophy- be it the poetry of Sufi-mystic Rumi or verses from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; be it the magnum work of Sri Aurobindo in explaining the abstraction of ‘Savitri’ or the modern philosophy of 20th century thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore.The presentation format of classical dance today has evolved to allow a dialogue between theatre, classical movement and thought. It provides a deeper connect and understanding of the metaphors that these stories signify. By exploring the multitude of opportunities that this provides in delving into ancient wisdom, one is able to present a multi-dimensional vision of Indian mythology to the current generation. And in this juxtaposition of literal and metaphorical, lies our narrative of spiritual growth and cultural identity.
Janani Murali, Padmalaya Dance Foundation, India
Stream: Philosophy - Philosophy and the Arts
This paper is part of the ECERP2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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