Friday, March 31, 2023

Manipuri - Literary Works


Although there is a meager textual literature on Manipur dance, mention must be made of 'Sangeeta Lila Vilas'. Despite the fact that the manuscript has been the subject of considerable heated controversy in regard to its authorship, date and authenticity, its contents are significant for understanding the technique of Manipuri dance. On the whole, although it follows the 'Natysastra' tradition, it is no slavish imitation. There are significant departures. In this work, he defines tandava and lasya. The tandava is divided into the chalanam and the gunthanam. Lasya is also sub-divided into simitanga and sphuritanga. This classification is distinctive to this work and is followed to this day in contemporary practice. This classification of Natya also differed from the classification known to the other treatises which have only divided the generic term into nritta, nritya and natya. The author divides it into rasaka and rupaka. The work rupaka may be identified as a variant of the dasa rupaka and the other natika and prakarana forms of the 'Natyasastra' tradition. The rasaka comes as something new. Although rasa is mentioned in the Natyasastra, it is not elaborately described by Bharata. The author devotes  a full chapter to the rasaka and speaks in detail of the various types of rasa dances. He also speaks about the goparasa and quotes not Bharata as his authority but Gargacharya.

In Manipuri not only the purely classical tradition of the 'Natyasastra' but also the Puranic tradition of the 'Srimad Bhagvata' has been blended. An authoritative sanction is thus given to the dance. In the authors discussion of the various angas and upangas, we find  a detailed account of the knee position and hastas.

A comparison of the textual description and contemporary practices reveals that Manipuri receives its theoretical sanction from this or conversely that the text reconstructs the theory on the basis of actual practice. It gives a comprehensive account of the chalis and the bhangis known to the dance style  and the gatibhangas as also the various types of chalans and sthanakas. All these are unique to Manipur.

The work 'Mridanga Sangraha' is attributed to Chandrakirti and contains extremely valuable details of playing the particular variety of drum called the khol in Manipuri. The other treatise, 'Sri Krishna Rasa Sangita Sangraha' by Bhakti Sidhanta was written earlier than the Mridanga Sangrha, it contains many of the lyrics to which the rasa dancers are performed today.