Dance: In Hindu Civilization

In Hindu traditions, dance is believed to have been conceived by Brahma. Brahma inspired the sage Bharata Muni to write the Natya Shastra, a treatise on performing arts, from which a codified practice of dance and drama emerged.

Bharata Muni used pathya (words) from the Rigveda, abhinaya (gestures) from the Yajurveda, geet (music) from the Sāmaveda and rasa (emotions) from the Atharvaveda to form the Natyaveda (knowledge about dance & drama).

Dancers usually performed in temples, on festive occasions and seasonal harvests. Dance was also performed on a regular basis before deities as a form of worship. Even today deities are invoked through religious folk dance forms from ancient times.

Classical dance forms such as Bharata Natyam use mudrās or hand gestures also to retell episodes of Hindu legends & epics. Gradually dancers, particularly from South India, moved from temples to palaces of royal families under patronage.

Hindu culture offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the subcontinent. Classical and folk dance forms emerge from local traditions & inspiration from the Hindu epics like Ramayana & Mahābhārata.

Many Hindu deities such as Shiva, Pārvati and Krishna, are typically represented dancing. Shiva's cosmic dance Tāndava, Pārvati's dance of love - Lāsya, Krishna's dance with the gopikäs - Rāsalīlā are popular motifs in Hindu iconography.

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