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It was a great experience attending the workshop on Saatvikabhinaya by Dr. Pappu Vengopal Rao. It was my long time wish to read and understand Natyasastra because I strongly believe that understanding Natyasastra will make me a better dancer. Though Dr. Pappu Venugopal Rao held lot of workshops on Natyasastra around the globe, I couldn’t make it for some reason and this time, when I heard about the workshop on one of the aspects of Natyasastra, I didn’t give a second thought and enrolled right away. The workshop was conducted by ABHAI (Association of Bharatnatyam Artistses of India) and PACT (Pappus Academic and Cultural Trust).

Dr. Pappu Venugopal Rao is a well-known scholar, poet, musicologist, sanskritist, dance theoretician, writer, Orator and Ashtavadhani who has more than 22 books to his credit. The workshop was held for three days from Jan 27th to Jan 29th 2017 from 9 AM to 1PM every day. On the first day Ms. Priya Murle, the secretary of ABHAI welcomed the participants and then Dr. Pappu Venugopal Rao started the workshop which focused on Satvikabhinaya, mostly taken from sixth and seventh chapters of Bharata’s Natyasastra. Dr. Pappu started the workshop with a prayer “Angikam Bhuvanam Yasya” sloka from Abhinayadarpanam and “Pranamya Sirasa Devau” sloka from Natyasastra. Starting with the meaning of Abhinaya, he went on explaining what Satvikabhinaya meant and dealt with 8 constituents of Rasa (as per Natya sastra only eight rasas are mentioned. Later Udhbhata added Shantha Rasa in tenth century). He explained about Bhava and dealt in brief the different types of Bhava. Eight types of Satvika Bhavas were explained and the first day session ended with a demonstration video done by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

The second day started dealing with some of the 33 Vyabhichari Bhavas and he explained types of rasa and the way to depict rasas. For each rasa-vibhava, anubhava, sthayi bhava, vyabhichari bhava, color and presiding deity were told. The second day ended with Nayika and Nayaka classification. There is less time available and everyone were eager to make the most of the workshop and Pappu sir asked whether we can all make it an hour before the next day though he had to travel to US the very same day. He repeatedly insisted that we clarify all our doubts before we leave for the day and that actually made us feel easy to ask whatever doubts we had in mind.

The third day started at 8AM and 90% of the participants were there even before 7:50AM. Such was the interest among all of us to know and understand the aspects that are going to be told that day. The day started with a prayer followed by the details on Ashta Vidha Nayikas, assistants to Nayikas and then went on to the topic “Samanya Abhinaya” for women and men both.

The best part of the workshop is that all the classifications are given in a very structured manner and different examples were given to make the concept clear and simple. The most complicated Natyasastra is explained by quoting relavant slokas and giving English translation to them. There were good discussions happened and the total environment was extra ordinary. There were many senior Bharatnatyam gurus who attended the workshop and the certificates were distributed at the end of the workshop. My first step towards exploring the literature and I have made my mind clear that I need to learn Sanskrit to appreciate the literature and thus dance better. Started with the Sanskrit Classes!!Phew!!!!

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