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 Table of Contents  
BOOK REVIEW
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 40-41

Tantra the Science and Natya the Art – The Two-Faceted Reality


Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission24-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance20-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication17-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Aarti Jagannathan
Department of Psychiatric Social Work, Room No: 106, Govindaswamy Building, 1st Floor, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Hombegowda Nagar, Hosur Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijny.ijoyppp_14_20

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How to cite this article:
Jagannathan A. Tantra the Science and Natya the Art – The Two-Faceted Reality. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol 2021;9:40-1

How to cite this URL:
Jagannathan A. Tantra the Science and Natya the Art – The Two-Faceted Reality. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jul 25];9:40-1. Available from: https://www.ijoyppp.org/text.asp?2021/9/1/40/311399





Book Name : Tantra the Science and Natya the Art – The Two Faceted Reality 1st Edition

Year : 2013

Author : Dr. Padmaja Suresh

Publisher : Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India

In keeping with the title of this book “Tantra the Science and Natya the Art,” the author Dr. Padmaja Suresh eloquently discusses how Natya and Tantra are correlated with each other in multiple aspects through detailing concepts, ancient wisdom, facts, ideas, and processes to establish this connection. Though each chapter in this book discusses a different facet of Tantra and Natya, the ultimate aim of this book is to discover the interconnectedness between various concepts discussed across chapters.

The first chapter “Antiquity and meaning of Natya and Tantra” provides a platform to understand the basic concepts in the field of Tantra and Natya, which lay the foundation for understanding the deeper aspects of the interconnectedness in the latter half of the book. As an introduction to Tantra, this chapter discusses the meaning of tantra, its origins and history, its interpretation as given in the Vedas and introducing the esoteric and tantric guru–Dattatreya. An introduction to Natya includes the origin of Natya, Natya Veda, the experience of dance (”leading to an incomparable experience of bliss and sublime unification of the individual with the universe”), and qualities of a dancer – especially in the context of Bharatanatyam. The chapter concludes by making subtle connections between Tantra and Natya through a discussion of rituals followed during worship and the importance of temples and its design.

Chapter 2 discusses in detail the various processes and practices followed in Tantra and Natya. It discusses that Tantra has a deeper meaning in the Vedas where Parabrahman – the universal self and the starting point of Brahman – is embodied in Tantra. The tantra practices such as mantra and yantra thus are discussed as three-dimensional medium to propitiate God. The meditation aspects of body composition and chakras are discussed in detail to explain the flow of energy; this energy also observed as being transmitted as knowledge from the Guru to the Shishya in the process of learning. In the field of Natya, this chapter focuses especially on Bharatanatyam – the qualities of the dancer, the geometric steps, and aspects involving abhinaya, rasa – which invoke the male and female principles of Tantra. The interrelation between the two streams is brought out clearly through examples where both (1) enable the tantric/dancer to undergo the process of “self-experience, (2) use the “Body” as a medium of spiritual awakening, and (3) are open to all people irrespective of caste, class, and gender.

The third chapter discusses about “Symbolism and its relevance” in Tantra and Natya, especially the “Shri Yantra,” sixty-four tantras, planets, yoginis, symbols in Hinduism, and symbols of deities – the culmination being that of the Nataraja, the tantric yogi. The chapter also discussed in detail about varied mudras used in Tantra and Natya (as in Yoga), which are important positions to initiate the flow energy within the individual.

In the next chapter, the author informs the readers about the various schools of Tantra and Natya such as the Hindu Tantra, Saivism and its subsects, Saktism, Buddism etc., along with discussing about the Tantric practices followed in each of these schools. Similarly, the various schools and styles of dance based on rhythmic features of the natya have been discussed in detail. The author here professes that “If Tantra is a way of life, then Natya reflects life.” To substantiate this interconnectedness, the author discusses two aspects: (1) the origin of syllables used in Nritta (Beeja askara/matras) has brought forth from the syllables used in the Tantric worship of the Chakras and (2) the aspect of Kundalini Sakti in Tantra being generated through the practice of “Aramandi” in Natya (dance) due to its perfect geometric alignment.

The final chapter discusses the “Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Vedanta philosophies in relation to Tantra and Natya.” After the initial introduction of varied schools of thought, the author presents the debate whether the expression of natya is true or false in this perceived reality. The chapter concludes by stating that as in the case of Bhakti saints, dance too allows the dancer to soak in the Bahkti bhava and become one with the dance, sometimes leading to the dancer and the audience experiencing the presence of interconnected energy and exchange at the higher levels of consciousness.

In conclusion, the author concludes that “Natya is fulfilling Tantra in the highest order and is correlated to Tantra in every aspect.” This book is a reference manual for those wanting to understand the finer aspects of Tantra and Natya and its correlation. It is food for thought for scholars, philosophers, danseuses, and spiritualists who understand the nuances of theory and/or practice of Tantra and Natya. Overall, the author has done justice to the idea of simplistically and effectively bringing out the underlining connectedness between Tanta and Natya, which for many is still in the realm of abstract.

(Book is available with (1) Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India – Virendra Gupta: +91-9953613555; (2) India Book Centre: +91-99536154555, or (3) Dr. Padmaja Suresh: +91-9448068993).






 

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