Legend And Performance Of Raasleela In English

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Legend And Performance Of Raasleela In English

Raasleela

  • Raasleela also rendered Raasleela or Ras dance, is part of a traditional story described in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana and the Gita Govinda, where Krishna dances with Radha and the gopis of Vraja.
  • Raasleela has also been a popular theme for other Indian classical dances including Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Kathak.
  • The Indian classical dance of Kathak evolved from the Raasleela of Vraj and the Manipuri Ras Leela classical dance (Vrindavan), also known as Natwari dance, which was revived in the 1960s by Kathak dancer, Uma Sharma.

Etymology

  • The word Rasalila is derived from the Sanskrit word rasa meaning “nectar”, “feeling” or “sweet taste” and lila meaning “action,” “play” or “dance”.
  • Thus, it is more broadly defined as “the dance of divine love” or “the sweet acting of Krishna”.

Legend

  • Raslila is a night when the gopis of Vrindavan, hearing the sound of Krishna’s flute, go from their homes and families to the forest to dance with Krishna throughout the night, which Krishna supernaturally extends to the length of a kalpa, A Hindu unit of time lasts approximately 4.32 billion years.
  • In Krishna Bhakti traditions, rasa-lila is considered to be the most beautiful depiction of soulful love. In these traditions, romantic love between humans in the material world is seen as a reflection of the soul’s core, the ecstatic spiritual love of Krishna in his spiritual world, Goloka.
  • The Bhagavata Purana states that whoever faithfully listens to or narrates the Rasa-lila, attains pure loving devotion (sudha-bhakti) to Krishna.
  • Just as a child plays of his own free will with his reflection in a mirror, Krishna, with the help of his Yogmaya, plays with the gopis, who are believed to be shadows of his own form.

Performance

  • Raasleela has been a popular theme in Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi dance forms.
  • Raslila is a popular form of folk theater in the areas of Mathura, Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, various followers of Pushtimarga or Vallabha Sampradaya and Nathdwara among other sects in regions of India.
  • It is also seen in Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the Nadia district of West Bengal which is also known for its Raas festival. Vanga Raas of Shantipur is the main festival of this town, there is also Shakta Raas in Navadweep.
  • Raasleela is also celebrated as one of the state festivals of Assam which is usually celebrated in late November or early December.
  • During the Ras Mahotsav, several thousand devotees visit the holy temples and satrapies of Assam every year. The Raas Mahotsavas of Majuli, Nalbari and Hauli are noteworthy.
  • This form of dance was introduced in 1779 by Bhagya Chandra and is still performed every year on Krishna Janmashtami in some parts of India.
  • According to different traditions, raas-lila is performed either by boys and girls or only by girls.
  • The traditional raslila performance in Vrindavan is famous throughout the Vaishnava world as an experience of the spiritual world.
  • Raslila performance was initiated by Swami Sri Uddhavaghamanda Devacharya at Vamshivata in Vrindavan, Mathura in the early 15th century.
  • He was a prominent saint of the Nimbarka sect and a disciple of the world-renowned Swami Sri Harivyas Devacharya.
  • Vraja’s Vani Sahitya is the transcription of songs that were heard by Swami Harivyasa Devacharya and his guru, Swami Sri Sribhatta, while meditating on the eternal pastimes of Radha Krishna.
  • These songs describe Radha Krishna, the sakhis and the eternal spiritual abode of Nitya Vrindavan dhama – or Nikunja dhama.
  • It became a more prominent festival in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharya and Vitthalnath Gusaiji made it more popular.