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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Alage Alage Thamil Alage
அழகே, அழகே, தமிழ் அழகே...

இங்கிருந்து எங்கே?  - இளைய பத்மநாதன்

Role of Dance Sculptures in Tamilnad - Padma Subrahmanyam

What is Bharatanatyam? - N.Pattabhi Raman

Perspective of a Bharatha Natyam Dancer - Anjali Ganda

Is Bharatha Natyam Perpetuating a Patriarchal Paradigm? - Anita Ratnam

நாட்டியக் கலை விளக்கம் - யோகி ஸ்ரீ சுத்தானந்த பாரதியார் - nATTiyakkalai viLakkam by yOki cuttAnanta pAratiyAr

Bharata Natyam Mudras
Hand Gestures

Bharatanatyam Discussion Group

Bharatanatyam on the Web

Video Clips of Bharatanatyam  Recitals

Selected Dancers


Chitra Visweswaran

Bharathiyar's Panchali Sabatham -Dance Drama - Chitra Visweswaran

Rukmini Devi Arundale

Lakshmi Knight

K N Dandayuthapani Pillai

Saroja Vaidhyanathan "...Married women, whether they agree or not with the old adage about a woman's place being in the home, often do find that if they stay away from it for too long, the exalted edifice really does begin to fall apart at an alarming rate, literally and metaphorically. Round the world and down the ages, this situation has posed a challenge to women.."

Adyar K. Lakshman

Alarmel Valli

Vidhya Subramaniam

Srinidhi Chidambaram


Chandikusum - Geneva

Pranitha J Kamat, UK

Lakshmi Ramaswamy

Hema Rajagopalan

Charulatha Jayaraman

Swarnamalya Ganesh

Sundara Swaminathan -


Priyadarshini Govind

Kay Poursine

Srinidhi Chidambaram

Urmila Sathyanarayanan

Vasumati Badrinathan
History of Bharatha Natyam


Bharathanatyam - Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir - a Centuries Old Tradition leading into the Next Century

Seven Steps to Understanding Bharata Natyam

Srividya - Dance Theory - History, Abhinaya, Basic Definitions, Repertoire, Hastas, Bhedas, Paada Bhedas, Nataraja,

Bharata Natyam On Line - "Virtually an encyclopaedia on Bharata Natyam"

About Bharata-Natyam - Amala Devi - "The symbolism of the dance of Shiva is represented by the attitude called "Ananda Tandavam". Shiva has four arms : one right hand holds the "damaru", symbol of creation through the primordial sound; in one of the left hands, the purifying fire, symbol of transformation; the other right hand makes the reassuring gesture; the other left hand, the protecting gesture; his left foot, lifted up, evokes liberation and salvation; his right foot crushes the demon of ignorance and evil. "

E.Krishna Iyer & the transition of Bharatha Natyam from temple to auditorium
Kavita Thirumalai on Bharatha Natyam at Tamil Nadu Home Page of Siddharthan Ramachandramurthi  "Classified as one of the oldest among all the contemporary classical dance forms, Bharata Natyam holds a prominent place in our culture today. Over the centuries, innovations and creativity has moulded it, without changing the original purpose and essence, into a spiritual, divine, and a meaningful addition to our society. As much as there is room for improvisations and imaginative interpretations, Bharata Natyam or classical dance as such, is a science in itself. One has to follow the parampara, shastras, sampradaya and certain technical rules to keep its originality and purpose alive. "
Bharata Natyam - Wikipedia
Planning a Bharata Natyam Arangetram


audio-video presentation
Abhinaya -

Dance Divine at Horizons

Bharata Natyam - Art India

Sangeetha Natiya Sangam, University of Peradeniya, Eelam

Malavika Sarukkai - Expanding the Canvas "..I believe that Bharata Natyam is a living, breathing art form. A language of dance. It is not to be equated solely with a repertoire that evolved at a particular point of time under certain social and historical circumstances. In doing so one restricts this magnificent and resilient style within parameters, denying its vitality and natural acceptance of change..."

Arangham - Anita Ratnam
Bharatha Choodamani Academy of Fine Arts - Padma Shri Adyar K Laksmanan
* denotes link to Amazon.com

*Bharata Natyam from Temple to Theatre - Anne-Marie Gaston

*Bharata Natyam - Sunil Kothari

*The Music of Bharata Natyam (Aiis-Arce Series of Ethnomusicology)  Jon B. Higgins

* Cultural Rhythms in Emotions, Narratives & Dance - Nita Mathur

* Natya Sastra & National Unity -
- Padma Subrahmanyam

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"Nations are as much cultural as political forms, and the creation of a unique high culture of world significance is often central to their legitimation." - John Hutchinson, and David Aberbach in Nations & Nationalism, 1999

Nirmala Ramachandran, paper presented at
First International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1966

[see also Nirmala Ramachandran
- 40 years later, 15 December 2006]

"...the very fact that only the Tamil country has been able to preserve through the ages the Bharata Natya in its original grandeur and pristine purity points to the fact that this was the dance that had been handed down by the age old ancestors of the present Tamils which later was perfected by the early Aryans. "

மஹாபரத சூடாமணி என்னும் பாவ ராக தாள சிங்காராதி அபிநயதர்ப்பண விலாசம் - உமாபதி சிவாசாரியார் - mahAparata cUTAmaNi 

Introduction Date of Cilapathikaram Date of Natya Sastra Dance and Music in Cilapathikaram Conclusion Footnotes Bibiliography


Nirmala Ramachandran presenting her Paper on 'Classical Dance of Ancient Tamils' at the Plenary Session on Music & Dance - First International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1966

It was once generally believed that in the matter of culture and civilisation, South India was largely if not exclusively indebted to the North. A critical study of the cultural history of Ancient India would however show that the advent of the Aryans into India and their subsequent vic�torious progress ultimately resulted not so much in the Aryanisation of India as in the Indianisation of the Aryans.(1)

The excavations at Mohenjodaro and Harappa have revealed that there existed in this country a very rich and perfect civilisation even before the advent of the Aryans. "It became evident that long before the arrival of the horse-riding Northerners, there were highly organised and splendidly built brick cities in a vast area of India in which a pre-Aryan people of remarkable skill and knowledge lived. That they were some kind of Dravidian people, predecessors of the present inhabitants of South India cannot be proved with certainty, but the cumulative evidence is so strong that a few serious scholars now doubt the Dravidian character of the pre-Aryan city dwellers of Western India. After all, there is a good deal of reference to their cities in the most ancient writing of the Aryans. the Rig Veda.� (2)

The so called Aryanisation of South India was in several respects quite unlike the Aryanisation of North India. For, the most tangible result of it was the acceptance by the South Indians not of Aryan theology but of Hindu sociology as reflected in the caste system. Secondly, this movement does not seem to have evoked much opposition. On the contrary, there is evidence to show that the changes brought by it were welcomed by the Dravidians with alacrity. And, thirdly the incursions from the North were not so violent as to root out the languages and the peculiar religious culture of the South. The Aryanisation of South India may be said to have begun round about 1000 B.C. and been completed before the time of Ashoka. (3

The movement of Aryanisation was of the nature of Hinduisation rather than of Aryanisation. In this movement between the North and the South, there was more of give rather than of take on the side of the Dravidians. The greatest gift of South India to Hinduism is God Siva. The word Siva in proto-Dravidian meant �red�. There is ample evidence to show that long before the advent of the Aryans, the cult of Siva had spread far and wide in this country - different aspects of this religion being emphasised in different regions. Four gods which may be mentioned as peculiarly Tamil Gods are Siva, Balarama. Krishna and Murugan.

The contribution of South India to the totality of Indian culture is great and has a special significance. This is due to the fact that the South did not suffer from foreign invasions to the extent that the other parts of the country did.

Date of Cilapathikaram

The history of dance reveals that from the earliest times, dancing has been intimately associated with religion.

The Tamil country or Tamilakam can boast of an antique and original culture. The geographical limits of Tamilakam have been defined in an old work as �Venkatam�, in the North, �Kumari� in the South and the Sea to the East and West. It is well known that long before the beginning of the Christian era, the Tamil language had built for itself a great literature and moulded it according to the genius of its people as is seen in the Sangam works of the Tamils

The Sangam epoch has been assigned to the period commencing with the 5th Century B.C. and ending with the 4th Century A.D. The Sangam age in Tamil Literature was a period of great literary glory never to be surpassed in the history of any literature whatsoever. It was the production of a colossal volume of Tamil poetry in its pristine purity. The age was a period of national awakening when the arts and the sciences flourished alike, when the peo�ple obtained all social amenities and when far flung trade and commerce secured to the Tamils prosperity and power. The second century of the Christian era is called the �Golden Age� in Tamil letters. (4)

Cilapathikaram and Manim�khalai, 2 of the 5 major epics are believed to have been written during this Golden Age. They are the Iliad and Odyssey of Tamil poetry and it is impossible to exaggerate their importance. Silappadik�ram, classified under the category of totar�nilaicceyyal amazes us, by its perfect sense of form, its harmonised blending of (iyal) poetry, isai (music) and natakam (drama), its gorgeous and picturesque descriptions, epic dignity civilisation in which the theatre, music, dancing, poetry, architecture, painting and seasonal feasts celebrated with enchanting fantasy formed part of the daily life of every class and occupation. 

Cilapathikaram is not only one of the world�s greatest literary masterpieces, but it is also a vast storehouse of information on the arts of music, dancing, building and other activities of the Ancient Tamils. Wood carving, stone cutting, clay modelling, bronze casting are all phases of the sculptural art, and the Tamils attained a high degree of proficiency and perfection in all these forms of art at a very early period. (5) In fact, the earliest literary reference to the art of image-making in South India is found in Cilapathikaram. A perfect South Indian bronze is one of the highest achievements in the plastic arts, as it combines in a remarkable manner deep spiritual vision, technical skill and an age-old tradition. South Indian bronzes have won worldwide reputation for their intrinsic beauty and artistic merit. What is so extra�ordinary in the images of Siva Nataraja whose five functions are creation, preservation, destruction, purification and grace is the tremendous display of energy revealed in transcendental calm.

On a critical study of the dances and music mentioned in the Cilapathikaram, it is clear that the ancient Tamils had developed a very high standard of technique in dance and music, which probably formed the basis for the Aryans to develop and write a highly systematised and perfect technique on the art of dancing and dramaturgy like Bharata�s Natya Sastra and Nandikeswara�s Abihinaya Darpana.

Date of Natya Sastra

The Natya Sastra is the most important and authoritative treatise on Sanskrit dramaturgy dealing exhaustively on poetics, metre, music and drama as they affect the composition and representation of the drama. Nandikeswara�s Abhinaya Darpana on the other hand, deals exhaustively on the art of Bharata Natyam only.

Nothing definite can be said about the date of the Natya Sastra. It has been assigned by different scholars to various dates between the 2nd century B.C. to 3rd century AD. In fact, the date of the Natya Sastra, according to some, is placed in the 3rd century A.D., i.e. a 100 years after the date of Silappadik�ram.

The prakrits recognised by the Natya Sastra are later than those of Asvagosha. It recognises the use of the Ardha-Magadi which is not found in the dramas other than those of Asvagosha and Bhasa. On the other hand, it ignores the Maharashtri which it freely used in the later classical dramas. The fact that Bhasa violates some of the rules of Bharata suggests that in his days, the Natya Sastra had not obtained sufficient sanctity. All this evidence goes to suggest the 3rd century AD, as a probable date of this work.(6)

Dance and Music in Cilapathikaram

As mentioned already, Silappadik�ram gives a fund of information about the music and dance of the ancient Tamils 2000 years back. While giving the necessary qualifications of the ideal dance master in �Arang�eru Kadai�, Silappadik�ra;n mentions that an ideal master must have thorough knowledge of the characteristics of the 2 broad divisions of Ahakkoothu and Purakkoothu. 

When conducting the 2 general varieties of dance Ahakkoothu and Purakkoothu that include the songs, the tales and their combinations, he should have an eye upon the movements with the single and double hands, beauty hands and expressive hands known as Pindi and Pinayal, Ezhirkai and Thozhirkai respectively. The Ahakkoothu and Purakkoothu referred to by Ilango Adigal are only the Nritta and Nritya aspects of Bharatanatyam which are the 2 major aspects of this great art. 

Purakkoothu or Nritta is pure dance which consists of movements of the body and limbs which are performed to create beauty and decorative effect and not to convey any specific meaning or idea to the beholder. 

Ahakkoothu or Nritya on the other hand is dance with facial expressions. i.e. a dance which is performed specifically to convey the meaning or import of a theme or an idea to the beholder. This Nritya is accomplished through the use of suggestive facial expressions and codified gestures of the hands. The Pindi and Pinayal mentioned here are the single handed gestures or Asamyuta Hastas and double handed gestures or Samyuta Hastas.

The Pindi or single handed gestures are 28 in number and they are: � Pataka, Tripataka, Ardha-Pataka. Kartari-Mukha, Mayura, Ardha-chandra, Arala, Sukatunda. Mushti. Sikjara. Kapittha. Kataka-Muk�ha. Suci, Chandra-kala. Padma-kosa, Sarpa-sirsa, Mrga-sirsha, Simha�Mukha, Kangula. Sola-padma, Chatura, Bhramara. Hamsasya. Hamsa�paksha,  Samdamsa, Mukula, Tamrachuda. Trisula. 

The Pinayal or double-handed gestures which are 24 in number are Anjali Kapotha, Kar�kata, Swastika, Dolahasta. Pushpa puta. Utsanga. Sivalinga, Katakavar�dhana, Kartari-Swastika, Sakata. Sanku, Chakra, Samouta, Pasa, Kilaka, Matsya. Kurrna. Veraha, Garuda, Nagabanda. Khadva, Berunda, Avhit�din.

Of these 28 and 24 hand gestures. only some are used while performing the pure dance or Purakkodoothu. Such of those hand gestures that are used in Pure Dance as ornamental adjuncts are called 'Ezhirkai� (hand used to create beauty) and all those that are employed for expressing some idea or meaning are called �Thozhirkai� as they serve the purpose of conveying an idea. Thus, while the �Thozhirkai� are 28 plus 24 52 in number, used in the Nritya aspect of Bharatanatyam, �Ezhirkai� are comparatively less in number. i.e. 13 in number as they serve only as ornamental adjuncts.

The dance master should see that pure dance does not get mixed up with dance with expressions and vice versa, and he should not mix-up the foot movements of the Kuravaikkoothu with those of Varikkoothu.

On the other hand, a dancer had to undergo rigorous training for 7 years starting from her 5th year in music and dance. She was expected to be able to sing songs composed in foreign languages as well as play on the Yal, flute and drum. This compares well with the verse in the Abhinava Darpana�.

�Kantena lambayeth geetham
Has-the nartham pradarsayeth
Chakshurbhyam darsayeth bhavam
Padabhyam talamachareth.�

The dancer must sing producing music from the throat, bring out the meaning of the song by appropriate gestures of the hand, her eyes must speak out the bhava or expression and feet must keep perfect time.

�Yatho hasthas tha tho drushtir
Yatho drushtis tha tho manaha
Yatho manas tha tho bhavo
Yatho bhavastha tho rasaha.�

Eyes should follow the hand, mind should follow the eye. where the mind goes there is expression and where there is bhava or expression. there is rasa.

The dance master must be able to choreograph harmoniously the various kinds of Purakkoothu with the 14 types of vilakku or songs. Besides, he should have thorough mastery over the eleven types of dances from Alliyam to Kodu-kotti. These eleven types are :�Alliyam. Kodu�kotti, Kudaj, Kudam, Pedi. Kadayam, Pandarangam. Mal, Tudi, Marak�kal and Pavai. The dances referred to are that of Siva, Muruga. Kama, Durga, Krishna, Lakshmi and Indrani. While the Cilapathikaram gives slight descriptions of the context and occasion for these dances, they do not throw much light as to how they were danced - the technique and manner of presentation.

ALLIYAM: Sri Krishna and his brother Balarama, had to pass through many a peril when they were brought to Mathura, the capital of King Kamsa to be slain. One such was the royal elephant Kuvalaya�peeda which was driven furiously on them. On that occasion, it is said that Krishna dances a wonderful dance when he pulled out the tusks of the maddened beast and struck it dead.

KODU-KOTTI is ascribed to Lord Siva. The 3 invincible Asura brothers who ruled the 3 cities made of gold, silver and iron could be slain only when they came together once in many thousands of years for a second and that, too, with a single arrow only. Only Lord Siva could undertake that mighty task. Slaying them and standing on the battle field where lay the ashes of the burnt cities, he danced a fierce dance of triumph and victory clapping his hands in glee while his consort Bhairavi was alone left to keep time to his weird measures known as Kodu-kotti.

KUDAI: In the great battle between the Asuras and Devas, the Divine Boy, Skanda, the leader of the Divine Armies, lowered his great umbrella and using it as a side curtain danced a dance of disdain and merriment (Kudai-umbrella).

KUDAM: Usha, daughter of Bana, the Asura king of Shontapura fell in love with Anirudda, son of Kama and grandson of Sri Krishna. Bana on coming to know if it was enraged and put Anirudda in jail after a hard fight. Then, Sri Krishna who went in disguise to the city of Bana to see his grandson danced a strange dance with a pot in his hands (made of clay and five metals) that was always kept moving to keep time to his evolutions (Kudam � pot).

PEDI: The dance of Kama along the streets of the city of Shonta�puram to effect the release of his son held in captivity changing himself into a combination of man and woman (Pedi � Eunuch).

KADAYAM was the dance performed by Indrani in the same city of doom. She is said to have danced the last of the dances (Kadai � last).

PANDARANGAM is also another dance of Lord Siva white with the ashes of the vast crematorium, on the battle field after the burning of the Tripura.

MAL: The dance of Govinda disguised as a wrestler when he challenged and crushed Bana. the Asura in fair fight. The evolutions during the bout are given the name of a dance, because it was so simple and merry a feat to the Lord.

TUDI: The dance of victory of Lord Skanda keeping time on the Tudi on one hand, over Sura Padma. the mighty Asura who took refuge on top of the waves in mid-ocean.

MARAKKAL: Mahadevi. sister of Vishnu was enraged when the Asuras took refuge by changing themselves into poisonous snakes and scorpions. The Devi, with legs of wood danced, crushing the life out of the poisonous brood (Marakkal � wooden leg).

PAVAI: Lakshmi assumed a wondrous form that melted the hearts of the Asuras and put chaos into their brains, and they ran after her madly. The beautiful gait and charming movements of Lakshmi are known as Pavai.

These eleven dances with their appropriate songs and tales and the sentiments underlying each, should be part of the equipment of the teacher and the pupil in dance.

The mention of 2 types of Koothu have been interpreted in various ways as:

Shanthikkoothu as against Vinodakkoothu
Kuravaikkoothu as against Varikkoothu
Vasaikkoothu as against Varisanthikkoothu
Tamil as against Aryan
Desi as acainst Margi.

From the standard works on music and dance used as references by Adiyarkunallar in his commentary on Cilapathikaram, Shanthikkoothu may be taken to mean the classical dance or Bharatanatya and Vinodakkoothu the folk dances. As under Shanthikkoothu. mention is made of Chokkam or Pure Dance consisting of 108 Karanas. Mai is divided into Desi, Vadugu and Singala.

Abhiriaya is the interpretation of a song with facial expressions and Nataka is dance with the dramatic element. Under the Vinodakkoothu comes the Kuravai in which 7, 8 or 9 persons take part. Love and conquest form the subject.

The songs are composed in the metre Kuravai.

Kalinatam � acrobatics of professional gymnasts and tumblers.
Kudam � is a dance with water pots on the head.
Nokku � marked by stateliness, afility and seductiveness.
Tholpavai � is the dance of the puppets or Tholubommalatham with figures of leather and an illuminated curtain as the back ground.
Vasai � also called Vinodakkoothu related to sentiments of merriment and laughter admitting of 2 divisions � one before the kings � Vettiyal and the other before the common people �� Poduviyal.

Cilapathikaram gives the legendary origin of dancing. Once in the Sabha of Indra, Indra�s son Jayantha is said to have lost his balance in his behaviour towards the celestial dancer Urvasi, which enraged Sage Agastya who cursed him to be born as a Bamboo stick in the Vindhya Hills and Urvasi a Courtesan on the earth. Urvasi was to be freed from the curse on being presented with the �Talaikkol� which was symbolical of Jayantha on her Arangetral day. The talaikkol was usually the central shaft of a white umbrella captured in the battlefield from monarchs of great repute and symbolical of Jayantha. Thus Jayantha is celebrated in the ceremony and worship of �Talaikkol�. 

This ancient ceremony of Talaikkol finds a parallel in the ceremony of �Thandiam Pidithal� practised by the Devadasis of more recent times. The Devadasis as the name implies were professional temple dancers attached to the temples and they preserved the highest traditions of Bharatanatya in their original grandeur and pristine purity. The young daughters of the Devadasis started learning dancing at the age of five, first by watching the elder student dancers and practising by themselves. In about the 7th year when they were initiated for practice, the ceremony �Thandiam Pidithal� (holding the pole) is held. 

On an auspicious day and hour, a quantity of paddy is spread in the centre of the Silambakkoodam in a square or rectangular form and a pole or stick is held across the centre by 2 elderly Devadasis firmly at both sides. The girl commencing her practice has to hold the middle of the stick with both her hands and begin to dance the first movements, with her feet over the paddy as the teacher beats the timing with his stick (Thattu.kazhi). The seed of Bharathanatyam is thus sown in her. Thus after 7 years of rigorous training in dancing the Arangetral or the first appearance on the stage is made as did Madavi of Cilapathikaram 2000 years ago.

The mention that Madavi danced both the Desi and Margi styles of dance may well mean the indigenous style developed by the ancient Tamils as against the alien style of the Aryans though essentially the technique of Bharatnatya was the same.

Thus, Cilapathikaram gives ample evidence to a high state of evolution in the art of dancing. We also find that the instruments used by the ancient Tamils were the yal, kuzhal and maddalam. The qualifications of the songster, drummer, flutist and the vina player are also elaborately given. The detailed and technical description of the musical instruments and players clearly indicate that the ancient Tamils had a highly developed musical system and used a scale of 22 srutis � that is the scale of just intonation.

Apart from the fund of information that we get about classical dancing and music in the Arangerukadai of Cilapathikaram, we also come across the various ritual and folk dances that were popular in those ancient days. The ancient Tamils believed in invoking the blessing of Gods during times of great distress and calamity and this they did by singing. dancing, fasting and feasting.

The chief gods invoked by them were Murugan, Mayon, Siva, Korravai or the Goddess of Victory, Bala�rama, Varuna. Indra etc. Among the ritual dances, we come across Vettuvavari in honour of Korravai which was often performed by the Maravar tribe. The ritual dance Kuravaikkoothu was performed by the women of the community in honour of Lord Krishna who married the cowherdess Pinnai. The Kuravaikkoothu, we are told, was performed by Madari and her daughter in order to invoke the blessing of Lord Krishna as a number of ill-omens indicated some disaster to the city and its people. So in order to avert the impending danger, the Kuravaikkoothu was arranged.


In summing up the paper, the following are mentioned as worthy of note: -

The ancient Tamils had developed a unique and original culture long before the beginning of the Christian era when literature and fine arts flourished. But, by the time of the Cilapathikaram, that is the 2nd century AD, Aryanisation had already started which had its effect in influencing all phases of life including the arts and literature. It is probable that soon after the early Aryans penetrated the South, many Sanskrit or Prakrit words gained general currency.

This was before the Christian era, and may have extended over a period of some centuries.(7) The influence of Aryan culture is clearly seen in the life described in the Cilapathikaram. That is the reason, we find the introduction of a number of Aryan gods, and Sanskrit beliefs in the work. But, this need not lead one to believe that all fine arts were borrowed from the Aryans and that Sanskrit alone gave the key to the whole of Indian culture.

It may be assumed that the style of dancing and music developed by the ancient Tamils were studied and perfected by the early Aryans. who wrote such great treatises like the �Natya Sastra� and �Abhinaya Darpana�.

It may also be argued that the very fact that only the Tamil country has been able to preserve through the ages the Bharata Natya in its original grandeur and pristine purity points to the fact that this was the dance that had been handed down by the age old ancestors of the present Tamils which later was perfected by the early Aryans. 

The Tamil country especially Tanjore, has always been the seat and centre of learning and culture. It was the famous quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during King Saraboji�s time (1798- 1824) which made a rich contribution to music and Bharatanatyam and also completed the process of re-editing the Bharathanatyam programme into its present shape with its various forms like the Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Sabdham, Varnam, Tillana etc. 

The descendants of these 4 brothers formed the original stock of Nattuvanars or dance teachers of Bharatanatyam in Tanjore. Originally, they formed a community by themselves and most of them were Saivite non-brahmins, their mother tongue being Tamil. Probably they were the direct descendants of the ancient Tamils. who tried to preserve the age-old traditions of dance and music passed on by their ancestors.

Though Bharatnatyam is over 2000 years old, it has always been a growing art. Its basic principles and ideals have remained practically unchanged although its repertoire and forms of presentation have been changing from time to time to suit changing conditions and concepts of artistry. Thus the arts of India, especially music and dance are a revelation of many thousands of years of culture and civilisation.


1. R N. Dandekar, Mythology, Contribution of the South to the Heritage of India, p. 15; The Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Delhi, 1961.

2. Dr. Charles Fabri, 'Art and Architecture�, Contribution of the South to the Heritage of India, p. 22; The Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Delhi 1961.

3. R. N. Dandekar, Mythology, Contribution of the South to the Heritage of India, p. 18; The Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Delhi, 1961.

4. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Chapter XVI, B, �Dravidian Languages and literature,� The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol. II, p. 300, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Bombay, 1951.

5. G. Venkatchalam, �South Indian Temple Images�, Leaves from my scrap Book, p. 96, Raj Book House, Bangalore, 1961.

6. M. A. Mehendale, Chapter XVI, A, �Sanskrit Language and Literature�, The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol. II, p. 270, Bharatiya Vidya Rhavan. Bombay, 1951.

7. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar. Chapter XVI B, �Dravidian Languages and Literature�, The History and culture of the Indian People, Vol. II, p. 288, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1951.


1. Ramachnadra Dikshitar �The Silappadikararn of Ilango Adigal, Eng. trans., Oxford University Press, 1939.

2. Man Mohan Gosh, �The Natya Sastra� ascribed to Bharata Muni, Eng. trans., Royal Asiatic Society, Bengal, 1951.

3. The History and Culture of the Indian People. Vol. II, �The Imperial Unity Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan�, Bombay, 1951.

4. Ragini Devi, Dances of India, Susil Gupta (India) Ltd., Calcutta, 1953.

5. Beryl de Zoete, The Other Mind - A Study of Dance in South India, Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1953.

6. Srinivasa Iyengar, C. R., Sangeetha Bheeshma Keerthanacharya, Indian Dance, Blaze Publications, Madras, 1948.

7. The Dance in India, Tourist Division, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Government of India, New Delhi, 1958.

8. Kay Ambrose, Classical Dances and Costumes of India, A. & C. Black, London, 1950.

9. Venkatachalam G., Leaves from my Scrap Book, Hosali Press, Bangalore, 1961.

10. Veeraraghavan (trans.), Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara, V. Swaminatha Iyer Library, Adyar, Madras, 1957.

11. Indian Dance, Pub. Div., Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

12. Contribution of the South to the Heritage of India, Pub. Div., Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1961.

13. "Bharatha Natyam�, Marg -  A Magazine of Arts, Marg Publications. Bombay, 1957.

14. Souvenirs of the 8th, 9th and 10th South Indian Natya Kala Conferences, Indian Institute of Fine Arts, Madras.



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