Mahua Mukherjee

Gaudiya Nritya is a composite art form. It is enriched with drama, music, poetry, colour and rhythm. The antiquity of Gaudiya Nritya is also based on literature, sculpture and historical evidences. Besides its roots in Natyashastra, its evolution and growth can be traced to the traditions of dance and some of dance forms existing in Gauda Banga. Gaudiya Nritya is an art that is meant primarily for spiritual expression and it was obviously a temple art at the outset. The tradition of Devadasis existed in Bengal from ancient time in temples, till now as the relic of the past we could see Vaishnavite Sevadasis and Nachnis of western part of Bengal.

Many references supporting the existence of dance forms in ancient Bengal are to be found also in literature. In the story on Behula, given in the Manasa Mangal Kavya, we come across an instance of a housewife of the soil of Bengal dancing in the court of Lord Indra, the king of the Gods. In Vijaya Gupta's Manasa Mangal there is a description of Ananda-Tandava dance of Shiva. Mahua Mukherjee

During the time of the Pala dynasty we could know from Ramcharita Kavya about the devadasi dancers of Gauda Banga. The Gita-Govinda of Jayadeva, court poet of king Laxmansena (12th century A.D.) and the legendary dancer Padmavati, Jayadeva's wife, are well known to us. After 12th century the main resource books are available on songs and dance of this region. These are Sangita-Damodara, Srihastamuktavali, Govinda Lilamritam, Sri Sri Bhaktiratnakara etc.

The visual grandeur, which could not be captured in words, was immortalized by sculptures in metal, stone, wood and clay. The unabashed beauty of this glorious dance tradition is conveyed through several sculptural representations found in many of the temples and preserved in the museums of Bengal. However, the temple sculptures and literature have remained a mute, yet irrefutable proof of dance in this part of India, though clay and mud do not stand a test of time usually.

So Gaudiya Nritya included among the manifold expressions of dance, drama, sculpture, painting and all the other fine-art-forms, It is a classical art but this genre of dancing, curiously endures in the villages, in the temples, in the guru-parampara dance tradition, group dancing, dance-drama. However, researches through history, archaeology, literature and music of ancient Bengal have led us to get the conclusion that Bengal too had a rich and prolific, disciplined and codified dance form i.e. Gaudiya Nritya.

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