Navajanardana Parijatam

 


Navajanardana Parijatam is a unique dance which was developed and propagated by artistes from Andhra Pradesh state in India. This Navajanardanam is as old as Jayadeva’s Geeta Govindam. This is a Shringara Drusya Divya Prabandham.

This Parijatham does not possess much of a story. It is more or less an episode of love between Satyabhama and Sri Krishna. In this, Satyabhama is the heroine. The portrayal of Satyabhama in this Parijatham is a rare and unique one. In the history of Indian Dance and drama there is no one else who is so sweet and pleasing. This can be said as a specialty if Andhra Dance creators.

Satyabhama the heroine in Parijatam is one of the eight wives of Lord Krishna. She was the daughter of a very rich king, Satrajit. She is a very beautiful, proud, commanding and above all a warrior queen. While Krishna commanded the whole universe, Satyabhama commanded him. All these qualities of Satyabhama are portrayed in Navajanardanam. She is adored as a daughter, living in the hearts of Andhras ever since. The legend goes that Satyabhama will stay in our hearts as long as Andhra race exists.

There are any stores, dramas and poetic works in Telugu, in which Satyabhama is the heroine, since the time of Emperor Krishna Devaraya or Vijayanagaram.

Growth and development of Navajanardana Parijatham: There are 20 Parijatha in Telugu, our Navajanardana Parijatham is quite different from all these Kalapams. There are three regional varieties of Parijatams in Andhra Pradesh namely a) Northern districts – Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam b) East Godavari district c) Kuchipudi in Krishna district at present. There was a 4th variety in Rayalaseema region, which it is now extinct. But, the artistes of the adjoining districts in Karnataka adopted this variety and they are presenting this art form in Kannada language.

 

  1. In the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh, Kalapam is presented in Drupad style, by male artistes only.

  2. In Krishna district the Kuchipudi Brahmin boys used to present it in a separate style as Natya form.

  3. In East Godavari it was presented by women artistes in Lasya style

As we are now concerned with Navajanardanam of East Godavari district, which was presented in the nine temples of Lord Janardana. We like to mention that it was performed for nearly 400 years till the temple dance worship was banned. The nine temples where Navajanadanam was presented are at 1) Mandapeta 2) Kadiyam 3) Dhavaleswaram 4) Kapileswarapuram 5) Alamuru 6) Jonnada 7) Madiki 8) Kotipalli 9) Korumilli. There is one more temple in Pithapuram by the name Kunti Madhava where it was also presented. All these temples are in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

The women artistes of Mandapeta in East Godavari district, which was once known as Mandavyapuram, believed that they would get salvation if they could perform Navajanardanam 3 times for 9 nights with 9 artistes enacting as Lord Krishna, 9 artistes as Satyabhama and nine sets of musical accompaniments on one stage at a time. They had to perform each DARUVU one batch after another, in order to perform this Yagna. They successfully completed it twice, under the leadership of Late Sangeeta Saraswati Mandapeta Manikyamba, but could not present it for the 3rd time, as their leader expired and there was no one else to take cue.

The dance artistes of Pendyala families used to worship Kunti Madhava or Pithapuram by performing this Navajanardanam. The last artists who worshipped the Lord by performing this Navajanardanam were Pendyala Satyabhama from whom Gurudeva Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna learnt this art.

The Patrons of Navajanardanam:  The Rajas pf Pithapuram estate, the descendents of Rao dynasty were devotees of Kunti Madhava. They maintained this temple. There was dance worship in this temple according to Agama Sastra. The last Raja who patronized this Kalapam was Late Sri Rao Malipati Gangadhara Rama Rao.

Name – Navajanardanam: As this Parijatham was performed for nine consecutive nights and in nine Janardana Temples it was names as Navajanardanam.

It was believed that if nine artistes perform this Navajanardanam on the same stage with nine Satyabhama characters, with their own orchestra at a time, they would get divine fruits of a Yagna.

After performing this for nine nights they used to complete it by reciting the 10th canto of Maha Bhagavatam on the 10th night.

What is Navajanardanam?
Nava Janardanam is a special Kalapam – a solo dance ballet. Kalapams were also called as “Parijatams” in olden days. Kalapam or Parijatha is in turn a “Prabandha” (a type of poetic work). The main ingredient of a Prabandha is a presiding mood, say Sringara (romance) or Bhakti (devotion) or Veera (courage) etc., with subordinate moods comprising a few other eight moods. The Nritya Prabandha has “Nritta” (pure dance), “Nritya” (interpretative dance) and Abhinaya (expressing a “Rasa” or “Bhava” which means feelings).

“Bhamakalapam” is one such Prabandha with “Sringara” as the presiding mood followed by “Karuna” (sympathy) as the subordinate mood. “Bhama” refers to Satyabhama and “Kalapam” is the ballet with heroine as “Satyabhama”. In fact, Kalapam is much more than a ballet. The Kalapam tradition of dancing is a rare, valuable and difficult type, peculiar to the Telugu speaking region. After the four types of dance, viz, Nritta, Nritya, Naatya and Abhinaya, “Kalapam” comes as the fifth type practiced by Telugu dancers and it is a typical Telugu style. A “Kalapam” is made as detailed as possible. It is an all embracing dance form, in fact a total dance by itself. Hence it was called as Shringara (Romantic), Drusya (sightful), Divya (Divine) Prabandham.

There are 150 Daruvus in this Navajanardanam which are addressed to the presiding deity where it was originally composed. In some Daruvus the name of author is also mentioned. In addition to these Daruvus there are verses, songs in desi prosody. Besides these, dances are performed to Sanskrit slokas including Navagraha Narthanas and Ashta-Dikpalaka Nartanas.

Nayaka Daruvus: Out of the 150 Daruvus, 20 of them are called as ‘Nayaka Daruvus’. They are so called because they are complex ones and difficult to execute. Only masterly artistes can perform them successfully and without a flaw. It is the challenge for an artiste’s caliber in Nritta, Nritya and Abhinaya.

In Navajanardanam, the “Daruvu” is addressed to a presiding deity of the region where the item is originally composed and danced. “Daruvus” of “Nava Janardanam” are addressed to the presiding deities of Nellimarla, Kesavapur, Dwarakapuri, Korukonda, Kodavalur, Kaluvayi etc. The 150 Daruvus in Navajanardanam are preceded by 150 poems or verses. The poems are in “Desi Chando Reeti” (Rural prosody). There are “Kandams”, and “Kandardhams”, “Seesa Padyams” and “Seesardhams”, Dwipada and Dwipada Ardha”, “Ardha Chandrika”, “Yela”, “Davalamu”, “Jola”, “Triputa” and “Vennela” type of songs. Besides these, there are Sanskrit Slokas. The dance songs also include “Nava Graha Narthanams”, “Ashta Dikpalaka Narthanams”, etc.

Raagas: The Raagas used in Navajanardanam are pure classical ones found in Carnatic Classical music. They are however sung in “Desi” (regional” tradition.

Thaalas: The Thaala of Carnatic Music which are used in this ballet is adapted to Desi tradition.

Sabdams: There are 50 sabdams that occur in this ballet. These Sabdams are also called as “Salaam Jathis”.

“Alankara Sastra” and Navajanardanam: The “Alankara Sastra” catalogues among other things the “Nayikas” (types of heroines). There are eight types of Nayikas according too this Sastra (Scientific analysis). All eight types are 1) Swadheena Patika 2) Khandita 3) Kalahantarita 4) Virahotkanthita 5) Vipralamba 6) Abhisarika 7) Vasakasajjika and 8) Proshita Bhartruka. The heroine in this Kalapam is “Sweeya”, (a chaste woman loyal to her husband).

Nava Rasas: The “Alankara Sastra” catalogues nine “Rasas” called the “Nava Rasas” They are Sringara (romance/love), Veera (courage), Karuna (compassion), Bhayanaka (fear), Bhibhatsa (disgust), Raudra (anger), Adbhuta (surprise), Hasya (laughter) and Santha (peace). In this Kalapam, the Vipralambha Sringara or Sringara coupled with Karuna Rasa is expostulated. Other Rasas come as “Upa Rasas” or the subordinate rasas.

The “Dasa Avasthas”: The “Dasa Avasthas” (ten states of mind) described in the Alankara Sastra are depicted in this ballet.

 

The old times witnessed this performance for nine consecutive nights. Now it is reduced to a 7-night show. The reduction is effected by pruning the excessive “Haasya” (humorous) part. The elegant humour is left untouched.

The Specialty of Navajanardanam” variations: In the northern India, the cult of “Madhura Bhakti” was popularized through the episodes of Radha and Krishna and the Rasaleela. In Andhra Pradesh, this idea is popularized through the episode of Krishna and Satyabhama from Bhagavadgita. The role of Satyabhama is well depicted in the “Bhamakalapam”. The “Bhamakalapam” is so called also because it describes the “Vignana” (knowledge) of Satyabhama or the versatility of Satyabhama. The divine romance of Krishna and Satyabhama is described in this Kalapam.

Story: There is usually not much of a story in the Kalapams or Parijatams. In this Parijatam, the story is very brief. It goes thus:


Satyabhama enters and describes her tale of woe. She is suffering from pangs of separation from her Lord – Krishna. She describes the cause of the lovers’ tiff between her and her husband thus:

 

One day, she is resting in her chamber when Lord Krishna comes in. Satyabhama received him. Krishna decorates Satyabhama according to his choice. They both stand before a mirror and Krishna asks Satyabhama in a jocular mood. “Who is more beautiful, you or me?”. Satyabhama is both proud and thoughtless, hence she asserts that she is more beautiful than her Lord-Krishna. Then ensues the quarrel, and Krishna walks away in a huff from Satyabhama’s Palace and does not show up again, which is quite unusual. Satyabhama is now worried whether and when Krishna will return to her. The Kalapam describes the pangs of separation suffered by Satyabhama, and how she ultimately repents for her vanity and sends her maid, Madhavi, with a letter requesting the Lord to return and save her from certain death.

This is an allegoric story. Satyabhama is compared to the “Jeevatma” (Human or the individual soul) while Lord Krishna is the “Paramatma” (Almighty or the Total Soul). The humans are steeped in vanity. Even the most devoted devotee is prone to forget the almighty God, the Paramatma or the Total Soul. The Jeevatma yearns to meet the Paramatma and succeeds only with help of total surrender to the Almighty. This episode is related as a “Prabandham” by sages like Sri Siddhendra Yogi of Kuchipudi and other saints, and is danced as Bhamakalapam, Navajanardanam, Parijatam etc.

The story is but small and it is elaborated with descriptions like the “Ritu Varnanam”, the descriptions of seasons, “Ashtavidha Nayikas” (eight types of heroines in yearning), “Chandra” (moon), the mild wind, the Manmadha (cupid) and his ways, etc. The nine moods and 33 Sanchari Bhavas are elaborated in this Kalapam.

The “Nava Janardanam” opens with Satyabhama finding herself separated and neglected by her Lord, and going in search of him and concludes with her joy in hearing his divine flute indicating his arrival.

Popularisation: This Parijatam was presented in olden days to propagate our religion, culture among the common people through songs and dance. We believe that we can recreate the enthusiasm, creating awareness in the younger generation about Indian culture, by once again popularizing this Parijatam. This Parijatam is an ideal example for understanding Abhinaya Sastra, Alankara Sastra, Rasa Sastra, history, mythology, ethics and culture. The coming generations will be able to appreciate our ancient culture and save it from extinction.

 

Sri Kalakrishna enacting as Satyabhama in Navajanardana Parijatam

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