Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sonal Mansingh on Spirituality.

The following account by Sonal Mansingh, the renowned Odissi dancer

on “God and I”

makes an interesting reading.

Though she seems to be a little confused about what she thinks spirituality is,

she however seems to have touched the core issue in the second paragraph.

The passion with which one does a thing is the basis for spiritual experience.

The authenticity for this comes from Bhagavad Gita in verse,

“SruthivaprathipannathE yadhaasthaasyathi nischala /

smaadhavachala buddhi: thatha yogam avapsyasi//” (Gita 2-53)

When buddhi is unshaken and concentrated –

without succumbing to any disturbance, that is the state of Yoga.

Yoga means combination of more than one factor.

In Yogasana, the mind and the body are combined.

When mind is combined with a vision, yoga is attained.

Such in-depth concentration is attained in the chores that are done with a passion.

In dance, Sonal seems to be achieving it.

When the mind achieves that yoga in combination with divine thoughts

which are nothing but sattwa,

closeness to Divinity is achieved.

That is how the mind is inching towards God-hood

that ensures liberation from suffering and cycle of birth.

Based on this rationale only,

Paramacharyal of Kanchi justified

how the total devotion of a wife to her husband, even is he is a loafer,

would make her divine and will lead her to achieve higher realms.

The husband is not a god.

But the kind of devotion with passion she shows to her husband

is the ‘yoga’ capable of ploughing her mind into higher levels

of concentration, selflessness and renunciation.

That passion and devotion help her achieve higher realms,

while her husband who has not exhibited these attributes

will continue to be in lower realms of thought and existence.

In this way women are psychologically better equipped

to be spiritual.

Dance or music or any avocation is capable of

steering one into such mode.



(from ‘God and I’ Column, Deccan chronicle, August 14, 2008)

Dance is spiritual, it’s a celebration of life


Sonal Mansingh

In India, I don’t think there is any difference between the kind of dances that we do and spirituality. Spirituality is inherent in dance. They cannot be compartmentalised, the way you can do for economics and science, for instance. The problem arises when you talk of key words like religion, spirituality and God. They are so full of complex meanings. I can only talk about my interpretations.

Spirituality is nothing that can be taught or explained. Anyone who believes with passion in what one is doing is spiritual.

It could be a potter making clay pots or a clown in a circus. I have inherited this passion from birth. Maybe it is in my karma. All that I have experienced and all that I do, reaffirms my faith in life. It brought me out from a near fatal accident in 1974, when my spinal column was broken. I was white as a sheet and for months I didn’t respond to any treatment. A Canadian doctor who heard of my case simply told me I could dance!

And those words gave me back my life, my faith. Spirituality is not neeras. Neeras is something to be to be condemned and thrown away.

It is rasa — the vibrant and beautiful force present everywhere. Prana, that is all pervading, is present in every tree, every flower and each atom. From our tiny vantage point on earth, we can look at the stars, the moon, the sun. We are an infinitesimal part of the universe. One feels so humble and at the time so elated to be given this gift called life. I feel wonderful in everything I do, see, when I am interacting with people or when I am sitting alone.

I think it is just that we are born human beings, which our beliefs say is the highest form of birth. Should we not appreciate that? I could have been born a lizard, a sand fly, an insect, but we have been born in this human form, the highest form of creation that our scriptures mention. I feel a deep-seated passion and intensity and a deep well springs forth every time I perform. I myself have not analysed it, but it is a complete celebration of the life that God has given to me.

Sonal Mansingh is an eminent Odissi dancer

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