[INDOLOGY] Classical Tamil Poems in the hands of Bharatanatyam performers

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at gmail.com
Mon Jan 2 08:29:25 UTC 2017

Bowdlerization is a phenomenon found in many art forms /literatures of the

Researchers dislike it for its effect of hiding the original data /fact.
But they study it too as a fact to understand the motives behind it and
'the politics' behind it.

On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 1:35 PM, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

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> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at aol.com>
> To: Indology <Indology at list.indology.info>
> Cc:
> Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2017 02:05:24 -0600
> Subject: Classical Tamil Poems in the hands of Bharatanatyam performers
> Dear Members,
> Many Indologists spend a lot of their scholarly efforts towards preserving
> ancient texts or restoring them. In this context, the following recent
> Bharatanatyam performance by Ms. Rama Vaidyanathan in Chennai may be of
> interest to the members.
> (The poem in question is Kalittokai 9. A translation of that is available
> at https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/ettuthokai-kalithokai-
> palai-1-36/. You may have to scroll down a little.)
> The dancer takes an excerpt from the poem, explains it, and changes the
> text to suit her interpretation! (If the link does not begin at the right
> place, please move the cursor to 23:43.)
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrsvEyIoRFk#t=23m43s
> While the actual text says "*num makaḷ*" (your daughter), the dancer has
> changed the text to "*eṉ makaḷ*” (my daughter) and has deleted the
> reference to/utterance of the brahmin ascetic.
> What is ironic is that earlier she talks about her dance performance as a
> museum and once the museum door opens to the the visitors (the dance
> audience), special care should be taken to preserve the artifacts, i.e.,
> the dancer should pay special attention to everything including makeup,
> music, lights, etc. If the following link does not begin at the right
> place, please move the cursor to 8:08)
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrsvEyIoRFk#t=8m08s
> I am shocked at this blatant violation of the Classical Tamil poem’s
> textual fidelity. It would have been all right for her to commission a
> modern poet to write a song to suit her taste and set it to music. But to
> change the Classical Tamil poem’s content to suit her fancy and still call
> it a Caṅkam poem is an insult to the original poet, the later commentators,
> as well as all those who helped preserve the manuscripts, and scholars who
> searched for the manuscripts, critically edited, and printed the poem.
> Some years ago, when Ms. Alarmel Valli performed Puṟanāṉūṟu 242, a
> Classical Tamil poem, she had eliminated the words *ollaiyūr nāṭṭē* in
> the last line *mullaiyum pūttiyō ollaiyūr nāṭṭe. *
> Are there texts in other languages undergoing such deliberate
> modifications in the hands of performers? What do the list members think of
> such changes?
> Thanks in advance
> Regards,
> Palaniappan

Nagaraj Paturi

Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.

Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies

FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,

(Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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