The Bharatamuni Foundation fondation laid!

A foundation for Asian arts RUPA SRIKANTH

The Hindu dated Friday, Sep 21, 2007

The Bharatamuni Foundation plans to create an Asian cultural corridor for scholars and artists.

Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Historic: Muthiah Sthapathi receiving the stone casket from Padma Subrahmanyam and K.J.Sarasa. Sudharani Raghupathy is in the background. Just before Mamallapuram, off the scenic East Coast Road (ECR), Chennai, lies Pattipulam, a quiet hamlet. It was quiet until Thursday last, when a large group, people from all walks of life, gathered there to lay the foundation for a memorial to Bharatamuni.To be christened the ‘Bharatamuni Foundation for Asian Culture’ after Sage Bharata, author of Natya Sastra,’ the organisation seeks to research cultural identities and enhance dialogue between scholars and Asian artists, both performing and those associated with puppet theatre, painting and sculpture. The vision is of an ‘Asian cultural corridor.’

The moving force behind the project is dancer-scholar Padma Subrahmanyam, the other trustees being M. Muthiah Sthapathi, B. Kannan, Gayathri Kannan, R. Krishnaswami, M. Krishna Kishore, Dr.P.R.Krishnakumar and V. Jayaraman.

If the study of the 108 karanas led Padma to connect all dance forms to Natya Sastra, the Paramacharya gave her a pan-Asian perspective as she was interpreting the 2000-year-old text and designing sculptures for the Uttara Chidambaram Nataraja Mandir at Satara, Maharashtra.

This perspective was endorsed by her subsequent discovery of 52 karana sculptures in the ninth century Prambanan temple complex in Indonesia. And it was near Pattipulam that the earliest structural temple in South-East Asia dating back to the second century was discovered after the December 2004 tsunami. That included some tablets that seemed to carry significance to the project.

Large gathering Anyway, on Thursday last, there was a large gathering of people, from artists and scholars to administrators and media personalities, seated under the simple shamianas that had been erected around a square pit in the barren five-acre site.

Vazhuvoor veteran Guru K.J.Sarasa, summed up the mood thus: “Padma has been bestowed with the privilege of building a temple for sage Bharata. It will stand testimony to her single-minded devotion to dance.”

A rendering of a few verses from Natya Sastra and from Appar’s “Thiru Angamalai” while Padma offered flowers to the ‘Jarjara,’ a symbolic flag staff, marked the auspicious beginning.

The first stone casket with the nine gems was laid by Swami Mitrananda of the Chinmaya Mission, aided by renowned sculptor and architect M. Muthiah Sthapathi. Prema Pandurang of Kshetropasana was another luminary who participated. Members of the local panchayat of Pattipulam were there as well and showed their support by renaming the approach road “Bharatamuni Road.”

While stalwarts like AVM Saravanan and Haridwaramangalam A.K.Palanivel appreciated Padma’s initiative and were happy to participate, Dr. Rathi Jafer of the Indo-Korean Cultural and Information Centre was excited about the prospect of increased dialogue and collaboration between Asian cultural ambassadors.

Kalanidhi Narayanan lauded Padma’s generosity in sharing the platform with artists from various fields. “It is fitting that it is a joint effort because Bharatamuni belongs to all artists,” she said.

M. Murali of Krishna Sweets called the memorial ‘an energy centre.’ Subbu Arumugam, Villuppaattu maestro, felt that its impact will be tremendous in future. At the end of the morning’s programme, Muthiah Sthapathi drew the image of the first karana, ‘Talapushpaputam’ on a stone tablet with charcoal and began sculpting it with his chisel, while Padma demonstrated the karana.

Padma is full of ‘Asian self-esteem.’ She believes that the text of Natya Sastra is scattered all over Asia and speaks of Bharatamuni being worshipped in Thailand as ‘Phrot Rishi’ or ‘Khru Muni’ and the fact that one day in a year is devoted to His worship, when initiation into the arts is considered auspicious.

There is also an interesting titbit about the scientific study of the names of places. Asia is thought to be ‘a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples rather than a homogenous, physical entity.’ It vindicates the pan-Asian vision and the thought that we share an undeniable cultural connection.

In Pallava style The 108 karanas sculpted in Chola style will be the highlight of the proposed complex.

On paper: The sculptor’s sketch. The floor plan for the stone complex is complete. It is to be built in the Pallava style. “We decided to use granite from the foundation upwards because of the memorial’s proximity to the sea. It will take longer to build and cost more, b ut we did not have a choice.“The 108 karanas sculpted in Chola style will be the highlight of this complex,” says Muthiah Sthapathi. Padma would like dancers and dance teachers to come forward and sponsor them. Each tablet with the relevant couplet from Natya Sastra would amount to Rs.30,000. The central shrine is to be dedicated to Bharatamuni and the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva with their consorts, Thirumoolar and Pathanjali. Around the shrine in the praakaram will be the Bharatamuni Museum of Asian Performing Arts.

The Abhinava Gupta Auditorium named after the Kashmiri commentator, Ilango Adigal Conference Hall and Kanchi Mahaswami Library are also planned.

3 Responses to “The Bharatamuni Foundation fondation laid!”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    Foundation stone laid for pan-Asian cultural centre
    Special Correspondent

    FOCUS ON ART: Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi laying the foundation stone for Bharata–Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture at Pattipulam, near Mamallapuram on Sunday. Managing trustee of BIFAC Padma Subrahmanyam , Labour Welfare Minister T.M. Anbarasan and Member of Parliament Kanimozhi, are in the picture. Photo: A. Muralitharan
    The Hindu

    FOCUS ON ART: Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi laying the foundation stone for Bharata–Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture at Pattipulam, near Mamallapuram on Sunday. Managing trustee of BIFAC Padma Subrahmanyam , Labour Welfare Minister T.M. Anbarasan and Member of Parliament Kanimozhi, are in the picture. Photo: A. Muralitharan

    Bharata–Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture to come up at Pattipulam

    Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Sunday laid the foundation stone for Bharata–Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture at Pattipulam Village off East Coast Road near Mamallapuram on Sunday and stated that any dance form was not restricted to one particular section.

    While stating that he did not dispute that Bharata Muni was the author of ‘natya shastra,’ Mr. Karunanidhi said classical dance was not restricted to any particular section and that graceful movements and artistry alone were required “as the language” for an artist.

    Stating that he was happy to note that Indian art, especially its dance forms were widely popular and followed in many parts of the world, especially all over South and South East Asia, Mr. Karunanidhi hoped that the centre would serve as a platform for artists from all over the world to come together, research and express their views. The Chief Minister also said the government would extend its support to the project.

    Mr. Karunanidhi said a legal tussle surrounded the project and eminent Bharatanatyam exponent and managing trustee of BIFAC, Padma Subrahmanyam had stated that she would resort to legal recourse for establishing the centre. However, he had told her that the issue could be settled and it was resolved when Ms. Padma Subrahmanyam agreed to include the name of Ilango (Tamil poet Ilango Adigal, author of Silappathikaram) in the centre’s name.

    Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, wanted Ms. Padma Subrahmanyam to include folk arts of Tamil Nadu in the activities of BIFAC.

    Folk arts, she said, was an integral part of classical arts as well. Ms. Kanimozhi said she was glad at this initiative to promote classical arts.

    She hoped that the centre would create artists visiting the centre for research and dialogue with a “holistic approach.”

    Ms. Padma Subrahmanyam said Ilango Adigal’s “Silappathikaram’ gave details about the technique of music and dance of Tamil Nadu pertaining to that period and that there were extraordinary links between it and Bharat Muni’s natya shastra.”

    Chief Minister’s wife, Rajathi Ammal, Labour Welfare Minister T.M. Anbarasan, Kancheepuram Collector Ashish Chatterjee, were also present.

    Later in a brief chat with reporters, Ms. Padma Subrahmanyam said the estimated cost of the project was Rs.15 crore. They were hoping to complete it in 18 months.

    Reacting to Ms. Kanimozhi’s appeal, she said folk arts would be an integral part of the centre’s activities.


  2. Lizzie Says:

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