Gaudiya Nritya is a historic classical composite art form of Bengal. Its origin could be traced back to the traditions in Gauda Banga (near Bangladesh-border). This dance form is rooted in Natyashastra and could be identified among the literary antiquities of historical evidence, sculptures and the guru-param para tradition of West Bengal. Gauda Nritya is renowned for being enriched in poetry, color, drama, and rhythm that is used for spiritual expressive art and was, during the ancient times, the best temple art.
According to Swami Vivekananda, during 6th-10th century BCE, Bengal was practicing various classical dance forms. The evidence states that when Jayapida, Kashmir’s king, came to visit North Bengal (Paundravardhana), he witnessed Devadasi Kamala dancing Bharata’s Natyashastra in the Kartikeya temple. Being a staunch practitioner of the mentioned dance form, he could identify Kamala’s confirmation.
Another literary evidence could be found in the story of Behula in the context of Manasa Mangal Kavya where a Bengali housewife is dancing Gaudiya Nritya in the court of Lord Indra, the king of gods. Also, there is an account of Ananda-Tandava dance of Lord Shiva.
The visual grandeur
The finesse of this ancient dance was difficult to sustain in words. Thus, it was captured and immortalized through sculptures made of wood, clay, metal, and stone. The conspicuous beauty and grandeur of this art form survived among the numerous sculptural renditions preserved in the temples and the museums of Bengal.
It’s influenced today
In modern times, Gaudiya Nritya is idolized by renowned dancers like Mrs. Mahua Mukherjee and is revered by the Ministry of Culture (Govt. of India). The Ministry of Culture has been providing junior and senior fellowships since 1996 and a number of students are currently pursuing a Ph.D. under Gaudiya Nritya.
Bengal and India have collaborated to keep this enriched classical dance of Bengal alive for centuries and its influence could be felt in the various newer classical art forms.
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