Panchamahabhutam is a journey into the idea and philosophy of the five primordial elements viz. Prithvi (Earth), Akasa (Ether/space), Jala (Water), Vayu (Wind) and Agni (Fire). This production makes a visual presentation of the various concepts on the Panchamahabhutas in the Sastras and their presence in Nature as experienced by the choreographer. In the tradition of Indian arts, literature and the Sastras the Panchabhutas are sacred and are propitiated.
The choreography adheres to the grammar of Bharatanatyam and uses the rich vocabulary of the dance style to explore the idea of the Panchabhutas. The music and the rhythmic sequences are inspired by metrical patterns from Chhandasastra and Tiruppugazh.
The work begins with an invocatory verse from Kalidasa’s Abhijnanasakuntalam dedicated to Ashtamurti Siva. Siva is invoked as the embodiment of the five elements along with Surya (Sun) Chandra (Moon) and Aham, the Self. In this prelude, offerings area made to Siva with special Upacharas (objects and practices used in worship) representing the elements. Arghya (sanctified water) represents water, Pushpa (flowers) represents Akasa, Dhupa (incense) represents Vayu, Chandana (sandal paste) personifies Prithvi and Dipa (lamp) is the offering of Agni.
The prelude is followed by five sections, one dedicated to each element as we encounter it in the World and Nature. In the practice of Vastusatra every element is assigned a certain line pattern or Rekha which is then inscribed on the stone to consecrate it for the construction of a building. The patterns in dance therefore follow this principle from Vastusastra by using horizontal lines for water, vertical lines for Fire, diagonal lines for wind, a square for Earth and a formless unspecified line for Ether. The dancers also use cloth props to give form to the line patterns. Each segment ends with a prayer to the Supreme Spirit personified as the Element.
The dancers present the choreographer’s perception of the primal element from which the living world draws sustenance. We see water as river, ocean and rain.
Agni or fire is the element which gives life energy. This is visualized as the energy of fire, the Sun and also as the fire within the human mind-the fire of desire. The vertical lines symbolize the rising flames.
Vayu keeps all beings alive. It is the pleasant breeze, it is the cyclonic gale, it is the carrier of fragrance and pollen which perpetuates plant life. Above all Vayu is Pranavayu, the very breath.
The earth element is the basis of all life. Represented by a square in the choreography the dancers follow the pattern using earthbound movements. The section ends with a prayer to Prithvi who supports the tree of life that grows from its womb and spreads heavenwards.
For the dance of the universe Akasa or Space is the theatre where life itself performs. Akasa which exists around and within us is visualized as unfixed lines which meander and permeate space. Aerial movements emphasize the intangible infinity of Akasa.
The work culminates in the dancer’s awe at witnessing the magnificence and grandeur of the five faced Siva who embodies the Panchamahabhutas.
Dancers: C V Chandrasekhar, Manjari Gayatri Balagurunathan, Krishna Chidambaram, Vijna, Balagurunathan, Nidhish Kumar, Jayakrishnan.
Text Consultant: Dr Premlata Sharma
Music: C V Chandrasekhar
Choreography: C V Chandrasekhar and Jaya Chandrasekhar
Production: Nrityshree, Chennai
- DVD show of the ballet Lilavati
- Hindustani Classical Music - Ustad Rashid Khan
- Simultaneous Chess
- English Play - A Disappearing Number
- Bharatanatyam - Prof. C V Chandrasekhar