Episode # 439 – Role of music, dance & language in the context of “Punya-Kshetras” – An important discussion!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of an important discussion on “Teertha-Yatras”, “Punya-Kshetras” and what all we should do while visiting them. As part of this discussion, we witnessed the importance of feeding cows and elephants while visiting temples. This is an age-old practice that is being followed by our ancestors, and in fact, our “Sanaatana Dharma” stands out uniquely in this – No other religion in this world talks about “inclusivity” to such a deep extent as our “Sanaatana Dharma” does. If we look at all our age-old practices like these, we would observe why our “Sanaatana Dharma” is closely associated with science! This is why we say that our “Sanaatana Dharma” is a “Scientifically proven way of a healthy, prosperous and a peaceful living”. Coming back to the context of cows and other animals, we can see here that our “Sanaatana Dharma” not only talks high about human beings, but also about other animals. In fact, various deities have various animals as “Vaahanams” (Vehicles). For instance, Bhagawan Ganesha has the rat as His “Vaahanam”. Bhagawan Muruga has the peacock as His “Vaahanam”. In similar lines, Bhagawan Vishnu has the “Garuda” (Eagle) has His “Vehicle”. Goddess Devi has the lion as Her divine “Vaahanam”. Bhagawan Shiva has the dog as His “Vaahaanm” (This is why we worship Bhagawan Shiva in the form of “Kaala-Bhairava”). The list is endless! 

Thus, the point that we’ve to understand here is that, our “Sanaatana Dharma” gives equal importance and reverence to all living beings together, irrespective of whichever living being it might be! This is the reason why in our Sanaatana Dharma we have the revered practice of feeding and respecting various animals. Hence, while we visit “Punya-Kshetras”, we should adhere to all these practices. For instance, if we go to Dwaraka, there would be a thousand cows standing there inside the “Go-Shaala”. We ourselves can go inside the “Go-Shaala” and pay some ten rupees or so, obtain a full vessel of milk from there and offer it to Bhagawan Krishna, who is the presiding deity there. All of us know that Dwaraka is the erstwhile kingdom of Bhagawan Krishna, and is one of the most important “Punya-Kshetras” in our Bhaarata Desha. 

Moving on further, we shall discuss the next important point that is related closely to these “Punya-Kshetras” – All of us know that India is a land of various art forms such as music, dance, etc. In the northern part of India, Hindustani music is very popular, and so are other related forms of music that are derived from it. Similarly, there are various dance forms such as Kathak, etc. that are very popular in the North. In similar lines, if we travel towards our South India and towards Tamil Nadu, “Carnatic Music” is the most popular traditional music form. Similarly, “Bharatanatyam”, “Kuchipudi”, etc. are the most prominent dance forms here. Thus, if we analyze this a bit more, each “Raaga” (Tune), “Thaala” (Rhythm), and various forms of “Abinayam” (Dance steps) are all connected to various “Punya-Kshetras” in our Bhaarata Desha. If we consider instruments, it is the same story as well – “Veena”, a traditional classical music instrument, is closely associated with Goddess Saraswati, who is considered to be the Goddess of Knowledge and Education. Similarly, if we take the “Mridangam” (A percussion instrument), it has a divine connection with Bhagawan Shiva and His “Rudra-Thaandavam”. Every step that Bhagawan Shiva takes during His divine “Cosmic Dance”, can be captured in the Mridangam instrument. 

Like this, each and every art form that we have in India is closely associated with various “Punya-Kshetras” in India. In these lines we have the various “Sabhas” in various big temples wherein such music and dance events regularly take place even today. There are various “Sabhas” such as “Chitra-Sabha”, Taamira-Sabha”, etc. which are closely associated with performing the Bharatanatyam dance form and Bhagawan Shiva. If art forms are closely associated with “Punya-Kshetras”, so are languages too! For instance, in South India we have the famous literary works of the Alwars, Nayanmars, etc. in Tamil. The Alwars have extensively travelled all over India to sing in praise of Bhagawan Vishnu in various “Punya-Kshetras”, which are widely revered as the “Divya-Desams” of Bhagawan Vishnu. There are 108 such “Divya-Desams” which all form part of the “Punya-Kshetras”. The literary works of the Alwars who are twelve in number are in Tamil Language and are referred to as the “Naalaayira Divya Prabandhams”. Similarly, when it comes to Bhagawan Shiva, the 63 Naayanmars are ardent devotees of Bhagawan Shiva and have composed what is collectively called “Tevaram”. Here too, there are 276 “Shiva-Sthalams” which form the “Punya-Kshetras” dedicated to Bhagawan Shiva, and to all these temples, the Naayanmars have travelled and set foot there! These are located all over our Bhaarata Desha and assume enormous significance. Similarly, Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in India along with Tamil. If we look at all our literature comprising of the Vedas, Upanishads, Ithihasas, Puraanas, etc. Sanskrit is the language in which all these are written. Thus, we’re able to see how language plays a very important role in the context of “Punya-Kshetras”. 

So for today, let us understand up to this point, and let us continue this discussion even further to witness many more! Stay tuned! 🙂

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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