This is a sign of laziness that one thinks of writing about something quite amazing, and then takes a few weeks to get round to doing it. Especially when it is an amazing performance of the Krishna Leela, the story of the life of Lord Krishna.
As children, there are certain things we hold in very high esteem. Could be a restaurant, a particular shop which we went to with our parents, and which we thought, as children, to be something so amazing that we look forward to the day when we go back to those things as grown ups. I am sure all of us would have something which fits this description. Then life takes you away from those places or things, and after a gap of a few decades, you happen to have the chance to revisit those grand places that you so admired as a child. Usually, though, they dont quite seem to be the same, grand places that were painted in your mind’s eye. But this is an amazing exception.
I remember, as a child, watching the Krishna Leela … the story of the life of Lord Krishna. This was performed by the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and the performances used to happen around the time of Krishna Janmashthami at the Pearey Lal Bhawan, right next to Shankar’s Doll’s Museum. I also remember having been to performances of the Ram Leela, the story of Lord Rama, which used to happen at the place where the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Terminal stands today. And i remember these performances being grand, and quite a treat to watch, as a child.
Recently I got a chance to watch the same Krishna Leela after more than two decades, and nothing of what i have written seemed to hold true. The performance was every bit as grand and fascinating as it was, and enhanced by the use of technology which is available to us today.
In this performance, the story of Lord Krishna is played out in the form of a dance-drama. There are no dialogues, except only at specific points of the performance, to make specific points, and the entire story is told in the form of a play which is enacted in the form of dance. A number of dance forms, from across India, including Kathakali, Odissi, Manipuri, Bharatnatyam, Chhau performed by the players to enact different roles in the life of Lord Krishna. And each of these blend into each other quite nicely, so that you dont get the feel of a patchwork of dance forms which might happen when such disparate dance forms are brought together. Rather, you find the story being compellingly told through the brilliant harmony of the different dance forms, and the way they blend with each other, and the usage of the appropriate dance form to portray particular characters in the life of Lord Krishna.
Here are some images:
As you can see, no words are necessary. The art of the dance is used to the fullest to powerfully tell a compelling story. And these pictures are not from the performance (photography isnt allowed inside the auditorium), but as you might have guessed, these are photographs of the posters of the performance.
The same Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra also delivers equally powerful performances of the Rama Leela, so if you are in Delhi during the month of October, leading up to Deepawali, do make it a point to explore the wonderful story of Lord Rama, told beautifully.
They say that terrorism is a global phenomenon, and Pakistan is facing the scourge too. In Pakistan, Punjab, being at the heart of things, is facing a large share of this. Whats more, more and more we are seeing terrorist outfits emerging from Punjab (from what a recent article in the Times of India said, south Punjab). The reasons for this may be more economic than ideological. But the thing that is sad about this is that this trend is trying to change the very ethos of Punjab.
Throughout the history of Punjab, the people have fought innumerable wars with invaders coming to the land of the five rivers through the inhospitable mountain ranges to the north-west of the country. Sturdy were the invaders, but no less was the resistance they found in this land. And a history, a tradition of poetry, literature, song, and devotion has been inherited.
This is the land of Puran Bhagat, of Raja Rasalu, whose tales are still told. This is the land where the son of Lord Rama, Lav, founded the city of Lahore, one of the leading cities of Punjab, where his brother, Kush, founded the city of Kasur. The temple of Lav is still to be found in the Lahore fort. This is the land where Guru Nanak Dev was born, and where he taught the way and teachings of Sikhism. This is the land where Guru Nanak proclaimed:
There is neither Hindu nor Mussulman (Muslim) so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Mussulman and the path which I follow is God’s.
Not was this land to recognize the distinctions of one religion from another, but was to embrace all religions, people professing all faiths as its own. This is the land where Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Shah Sharaf, Bulle Shah, Baba Farid sang in the praise of the One True God. This is the land where the presence of God has been celebrated by people from all faiths. Where music, mausiqi, brought one closer to God, and the words of these great saints offered hope to parched souls. This is the land where love for the Divine flowered, and rained equally on people of all faiths. This is the land where Waris Shah wrote the Heer. Where the following lines were written:
Firstly and lastly, take the name of God; secondly, of the Great Muhammad, the prophet (of God)
Thirdly, take the name of father and mother, on whose milk my body throve
Fourthly, take the name of bread and water, from eating which my heart is gladdened
Fifthly, take the name of Mother Earth, on whom I place my feet.
Sixthly, take the name of Khwaja (Khazir, the Saint), that gives me cold water to drink
Seventhly, take the name of Guru Gorakh Nath whom is worshiped with a platter of milk and rice
Eighthly, take the name of Lalanwala that breaketh the bonds and the chains of the captives
This is the land where charm, romance, gaiety, and devotion all blended to create a heritage such as Punjab has. And it is in this land today that there are, more and more, Taliban style ideologies are thriving. Would they ban poetry? Would they ban Sufism? Would they ban people praying at the mazaars of the Pirs, the Saints? Would they ban the bhangra? The giddha? Or the swings of sawan? For, if they were to do that, they would ban Punjab. Is that the tomorrow for Punjab? Is the tomorrow for Punjab including terror strike at the shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh, killing innocent people? Shall the houses of God not be spared the ugly face of terror? If not, then what is to be said about the houses of man? Is this the heritage which the terror-guided fanatics believe is the rightful heritage of Punjab? Is this what they believe Punjabiyat is all about? Is this the emotion that shall flow in the loand of the five rivers? Is this the modern-day rendition of the poem:
Wagg wagg ve Chenab deya paaniya,
Tere kandeyaan te aashiqaan ne maujjaan maariyaan!
Is this the future of the beautiful Punjab?
Poetry is not something i can write, or understand for that matter. Even so …
She is sunshine, she is rain,
She is clouds and sunshine again.
How was that! 🙂