Survey of Tamil & Sanskrit Dance Treatises of Tamil Nadu

Thread started by virarajendra on 13th September 2016 10:43 AM

Author - Virarajendra

Survey of Tamil & Sanskrit Dance Treatises of Tamil Nadu

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(1)The "Tamil Dance" (Dance= Nadanam = Naatiyam) associated with the "Thillai Perum Koyil" the present "Chitamparam" of Tamil Nadu A Tamil Keerththanam of Gopalakrishna Barathiyar - YouTube

(2) The Tamil Dance Treatises presently available in Tamil Nadu

Among the Dance Treatises (Naattiya Noolkal) composed in Tamil by the great Dance Gurus of Tamil Nadu at different periods of it's early history, and that are available to us today are the follows:

(1) Paratha Senapathiyam - Author unknown, but bears the name of an earlier text in Tamil of the same name by Aathivaayilar (and not available to us today)
(2) Paratha Sangiraham - Aramvalarththan
(3) Maha Paratha Chudamani - Abridged translation of the Sanskrit text
known as Maha Baratham by Sarangathevan, into Tamil by Somanathan
(4) Abinaya Tharpanam - Translation of the Sanskrit text on Abinayam by
Nandikeswarer, into Tamil by Veerarahavaiyan
(5) Baratha Siththantham - In Tamil by an unknown author
(6) Silappathikaram - by Elango Adikal. The third chapter titled the
"Arangettru Kaathai" of this great Tamil Epic of the second century
A.D., provides enough informations on the original Dance Forms of
Tamilnadu of that period. It also refers to a "Natya Nanool"

Further the commentator of this Epic namely Adiyarkku Nallaar too provides useful informations on the Dance Forms of Tamil Nadu of the relevent period.

There are few very late period Naattiya Noolkal composed in Tamil which
are as follows.

(7) Baratha Sastram written by Arapaththa Navalar
(8) Abinaya Navaneetham written by Narayana Iyengar
(9) Abinaya Sarasampudam written by Narayana Iyengar

(3) The Sanskrit Dance Treatises presently available in Tamil Nadu

Among the other Dance Treatises belonging to the earlier periods of
India composed in Sanskrit, and are in use in Tamil Nadu are the

(1) Natya Sastra - by Baratha Muni
(2) Barathanava - by Nadikeswara
(3) Abinaya Tharpana - by Nandikeswara
(4) Sangeetha Rathanakara - by Sarangatheva (only the last chapter
deals on Niruththiya)
(5) Natyasastra Sangraha - by unknown author
(6) Niruththa Rathnavali - by Jayasenapathy
(5) Baratha Kosa - by unknown author

(3) The "Kooththa Nool" - the only Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatise
available in Tamil Nadu.

In addition to the above we now have an original treatise composed in
Tamil by the Dance Guru "Saaththanaar" known as the "Kooththa Nool", and
belonging to the Sangam period of Tamil Nadu.

Among the Dance treatises composed in Tamil mentioned above, none of
them refer to the classification of the Dances that was in vogue in the
ancient Tamil Nadu of the Sangam Period, as Veththiyal and Pothuviyal

Veththiyal - Dance performed for the kings and nobles.
Pothuviyal - Dance performed for the common people.

This above classification of Tamil Dances that existed during the Sangam
& Kaappiam periods is clearly indicated in the great Tamil Epics - the
Silappathikarem and Manimehalai as follows:

".....Vethiyal Pothuviyal entru iru thiraththin
Naattiya nannool nangu kadaipidiththu..."

Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihahal, Arangetru kaathai - line 39-40

"......Vethiyal Pothuviyal ena iru thiraththu
maaththirai arinthu mayangaa marabin
adalum variyum paaniyum thookkum
koodiya kuyiluva karuviyum unarnthu......"

Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihahal, Urr kaan kaathai - line 148-151

".......Veththiyal Pothuviyal entru iru thiraththu
Kooththum Paattum thookkunth thunivum....."

Manimekalai - by Seeththalai Saaththanaar, Uraluraiththa kaathai - line

This same classification is also found in the Kooththa Nool, which
indicates the antiquity and the period of composition of this Dance
Treatise, other than our deduction of same from the other contents in
this treatise. The reference is as follows:

"......Irandu iyal Pothu Iyal Veththiyal enba
tholil payan karuthi suvaippathu pothuve
suvai payan suvaippa suvai uural Veththu
paarpathu Pothu iyal padaippathu Veththu
nadappathu Pothu iyal nadippathu Veththu
ullathu Pothu iyal ullathai viriththu
katpanai kaattum kanavathu Veththu.....
Pothu Iyal ulaka pothu neri onpathum
Veththu Iyal suvaiaayi viriththanar munoar.....
.....onpathu kunanum onpathu suvaiaayi
ontrudan ontrai udantrum porunthum
palvahaiththu aakiya padaippe Veththu....."

Kooththanool - by Saaththanaar, section Suvai nool

(4) The other Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatises presently lost in
Tamil Nadu

Further in the Adiyaarkku Nallaar's commentry on Silappathikarem, he has
mentioned the names of the other ancient original Dance Treatises
composed in Tamil, which were availble during the Sangam period, but
were not available even during the Adiyaarkku Nalaar's time in the
twelth century A.D. They are namely the,

(1) Baratham
(2) Akaththiyam
(3) Muruval
(4) Sayantham
(5) Kuna Nool
(6) Seyitriyam

All the above works on Tamil Dance Forms are now lost to us over a
period of two millennium (2000 years). Adiyaarkku Nallaar's commentry on
Silappathikarem also states that "......Natakath Thamil Noolaahiya
Baratham, Akaththiyam muthalakavulla thon noolkal iranthana.....". From
same it is clear that there had been a Tamil Treatise called Baratham
earlier but lost even during his period.

Also the Barathasenaapathiyam of Athivayilaar which was available during
the period too is lost to us today.

(5) The discovery of the "Kooththa Nool" in it's Ola Manuscript form

Adiyarkku Nallaar in his commentry on Silappathikaram has also made use
of another Tamil Dancing Treatise that was available to him at his time
known as Kooththanool. This treatise after disappearence for some time,
very fortunately was brought back to light by the good efforts of Thiru
S.Yogiyar of TamilNadu of our period. He discovered a copy of this
treatise in Ola Manuscript form with few sections damaged badly beyond
recovery. However the major part of this work has now been preserved.

(6) Further Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatises presently lost in Tamil
Nadu, as gleaned from the Kooththa Nool

Saaththanaar - the composer of this treatise, had access to the other
original Tamil works on Tamil Dance Forms and Music during the period of Third Thamil Sangam namely the,

(a) Agathiyam by Agaththiyan
(b) Thean Isai of Sikindi
(c) Perisai
(d) Narai
(e) Kuruku
(f) Kooththu
(g) Sayantham
(h) Kuna Nool
(i) Muruval
(j) Sayitriyam
(k) Thanduvam
(l) Nanthiyam
(m) Pannisai
(n) Thakkam
(o) Thaalam
(p) Thannumai
(q) Adal Muvoththu

(7) A brief study on the contents of the Sangam Period Tamil Dance
Treatise the "Koothatha Nool"

He confirms that it was based on these he composed his Kooththa Nool on
the subject of Tamil Dance. This clearly indicates the antiquity of this
treatise as that of the Sangam period.

The treatise has nine chapters. The first book on this treatise with
text and detailed commentry of the first two chapters by Thiru S.Yogiyar
has been put to print by the Tamil Nadu Sangitha Nataka Sangam. But
before Thiru S.Yogiyar could write his commentry to the remaining
chapters and put them too in print, he has passed away. The fate of the
balance chapters is not known to us today.

I give below the brief details of the contents of all nine chapters as
indicated by Thiru S.Yogiyar himself in the first part of the treatise
already available in Print.

This masterly treatise in Tamil on the ancient art of dance is divided
into nine books. The contents of each book are given below in a
condensed form.

(1) Suvai Nool (Aesthetic Emotions)
Divine origin of dance, music, drama, the evolution of sounds, shapes
and emotions both natural and aesthetic, their manifestation, in all
their possibilities and limitations as a theoretical art and craft.

(2) Thokai Nool (Dictionary of Dance Forms)
108 Thandavas of Siva of which 12 are important. (Bangas & Abangas)
Static and standind poses involved, 39 poses of the 12 Siva thandavas
and the 12 types of dance derived from them developing altogether 144
dance patterns.

(3) Vari Nool (Folk Dances)
Pura Vari - dances representing varied natural phenomena in terms of
"Inthinai" (five fold division of earth), Aha Vari - psychic dances
pertaining to love, Mukha Vari personal, exhibitional and acrobatic
dance in single and group patterns, Vasai Vari - ludicrous dances.

(4) Kalai Nool (Dancing Limbs)
This is the largest book and contains more than 1000 sutras on
anatomical divisions of the human body, actions and poses of feet, toes
heels, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs, standing leg poses, moving
poses 360, 120, 300 and 90 single, supplementary, double and Nritya hand
gestures and poses, actions of the neck, jaw, chin, ears, mouth, nose,
etc and facial expressions plus their appropriate physical
modifications, such as horripilations, tremors etc.

(5) Karana Nool (Combination of Dance Gestures)
120 Karanas with their appropriate mudras, sthanakas, and charis 90
kalasas (varpu) or angaharas, 9 thandavas in full and 6 lasyas.

(6) Thala Nool (Time Measure)
Thala samudra or the ocean of angas, grahas, murchanas etc (Iyal Thalam)
5 original thalas and 35 derived from them with their accompanying
swaras and jathis, (Atta Thalam) 108 thalams of Agastya and 52 of
others, their jathis, etc.

(7) Isai Nool (Music)
This books deplorably mutilated, still we get here only the arohanas and
avarohanas of 30 extinct panns some of which are used by Thevarem

(8) Avai Nool (Theatre Architecture)
Theatre architecture, lighting, curtains, dress, theatrical effects,
makeup, green room problems, etc.

(9) Kan Nool (Summation)
The aim of Dance, yoga through Dance, medicines, oinments and exercises
to keep health and voice fit in tact, pranayama in dance, Dhyana
(meditation) of dancers, Moksha.

This is the first book of its kind and stands out singular and
distinguished in many respects.

The first part of this book with Thiru Yogiyar's commentry for the first
two chapters of this treatise namely the Suvai Nool and Thokai Nool has
been published (September 1968) in printed form by the Tamilnadu
Sangita Nataka Sangam of Chennai. (Printed at Shanthi Press, 135,
Pavalakkarath theru, Chennai).

It was very unfortunate Thiru Yogiyar died thereafter. The fate of the
remaining seven valuable chapters of this treatise is unknown.

By way of this Hub Portal column, I request the authorities of the Tamil
Dance & Music Institutions of Chennai, or the leading Dance exponents
of Chennai, or individuals with the assistance of the Tamilnadu
Sangitha Nathaka Sangam of Chennai trace the present whereabout of the
remaining chapters of the Kooththa Nool and publish same in printed
form, and preserve this only original Tamil Treatise on Tamil Dance of
the Sangam Period for the benefit of or Tamilians.

Now there are few sections in the first book of this treatise, available
to us in the printed form, which I wish to reproduce below both in
English for the benefit of those who wish to know of the,

(a) Antiquity of this treatise
(b) The other original Dance & Music treatises that were available
to the author of Koothanool namely Saththanar during Sangam
(c) The antiquity of the concept of God Siva's form as Nadarajar
(d) The first available referance to the "Om" pranava manthiram to
be found in any ancient Tamil Literary work known to us.

The readers could make use of them for their own research in the
respective fields and make their own deductions with help of same.

(a) Manthira Maamalai yanthira thavisil
vadakku parithi kidakkap poamvali
nalvarkku Thanthira Nanmarai koorum
Kooththanum Kooththium iyatriya kooththaik
kandaan Akaththiyan kannuthal seppa
iyatrinaan Kooththin Ilakkana vaippe.

(b) Akathithiyan iyatriya Akaththiya
muthal nool, Sikindi iyatriya Thenisai sarbu,
Perisai, Naarai, Kuruhu, Kooththu,
Sayantham, Kunannool, Muruval, Sayitriyam,
Thanduvam, Nadhiyam, Pannisai, Thakkam,
Thalam, Thannumai, Adalmuvoththum,
valinool avattrin valivakai vahuththuk
kooththin vilakkam kuravan yane

(c) Oruthal uuntri oruthal yettri
oru kai mariththu marukai amaiththu
irukaiyil aakkamum iruthiyum yetru
aru-vuru aakkum ammai koothu aattap
peruveli nadikkum perumaan arulath
Thennavan venda munai nool aayinthu
Senthamil nilaththum ser pala nilaththum
vantha meik kooththin vakai elaam kandu
Kooththanoor Nanmukakooththan Saaththan
Veth Thavai ellam viyappath thanthathe

(d) Udukkaiyil piranthathu Om enum oliye
Om enum oliye naattiyaththu oliyam
Om enum uruve naattiyaththu uruvaam
Om enum unarve naatiyaththu unarvu
av vuv im enal athuve Om oli
av enal akame uv enal ulame
im enal isaiye iyalvathu thalam.

There are also further references to Siva, Sakthi, Thirumal and Murukan.

This treatise should be preserved,and efforts should be taken by all
Tamil Fine Art lovers to bring the remaining portions of this great work
on Tamil Dance in to print.

(8) A few 'Tamil - Naattiya' Performances with associated 'Tamil Songs' from Tamil Films


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