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
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
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.
In the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh, Kalapam
is presented in Drupad style, by male artistes only.
In Krishna district the Kuchipudi Brahmin boys used
to present it in a separate style as Natya form.
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
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”
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