This amazing performance was posted on facebook by an audience, then the video went viral. People started commenting that Classical Dance has to be performed in Temples and sacred places and not in railway stations and streets.
The dancer in the video saw those comments and gave a fitting reply to awakening them towards what actually the Indian Classical Dance means and how it will make any places its performed in sacred.
Here is the reply from him:
Hi there! That’s me dancing. I didn’t expect at all that this short video will become so popular
I deleted my facebook account long ago so I am writing from my mother’s account. Although mostly people react positively (Thank you so much for your support :)) there were also negative comments. Seeing this whole discussion on wether it is appropriate to perform bharata natyam in the subway, and wether this white guy is demeaning Indian culture or not… probably now it’s my turn to say something. I know it’s long but I really want to say this.
Yesterday I wrote to bharata natyam guru and world famous dancer Rama Vaidyanathan who taught me this choreography. Here is what I wrote:
“…I danced in the subway and someone filmed it and posted it on facebook. Now there is a whole discussion going on on facebook- wether it is appropriate to perform this sacred art in the subway or not. For me the answer is clear.
As the padma purana says:
na aham tishthanti vaikunthe
yoginam hrudaye na cha
mad bhakta yatra gayanti
tatra tishthami naradah
o Narada i dont reside in vaikuntha
nor in the hearts of the yogi
I only reside in that place where my devotees sing and dance my praises earnestly.
and as you explained- if we put Krishna in the center of our lives then the whole world can become Vrindavan for us, and everywhere we will see Krishna… even in the subway (correct me if I am wrong) ”
And here is what she replied:
“Absolutely Alex ! In fact i am very proud of you and may you learn more from me to perform and convert more spaces into Brindavana !”
I think that her reply makes all the sense. Also just because one brings something sacred out of the sanctum it doesn’t become less sacred.
I have heard many times one beautiful story of Hanuman and Lord Ramachandra in this regard. Hanuman was friends with one bhakta, who would always chant “Rama, Rama”. Always and everywhere, this bhakta would chant. One time, while passing stool, the bhakta was chanting, and
Hanuman was annoyed. He decided to kick the person. Later that day, he saw his beloved Rama. Rama was groaning in pain, holding his back. Hanuman inquired, “what has happened?” Lord Ramachandra said, “Oh, you have done this to me”. Hanuman inquired, “I???”
Lord Rama explained, “Because I am not different from my Name, when my bhakta was chanting my Name, I was personally present there. You
should not have kicked him….actually, as I was present, you have kicked me”. Always the holy Name, the rememberance of the Lord and chanting His glories is pure, never contaminated by any condition, or any place. In fact it purifies any place. There is no higher or lower method, only we have to know within our own heart if we are giving our love to Him. Yes, I agree it is a temple art. But if you place God on the altar of your heart then which place is not a temple?
And yes, I’ve got donations for this. But everything what I’ve got I will spend for learning more dance. I stayed in New York for 3 months and I danced in the subway as an exception (I also perform in theaters:
but unfotunately nobody is interested to pay for this ). In my part of the world there is hardly anyone who is even interested in watching this art form, so I can’t earn with dancing (be it teaching or performing). So I am doing labor work which pays 4 dollars per hour ( you can calculate how much I have to work so that besides paying my bills I can save money to go to India and learn there). Now please imagine- I don’t earn anything by dancing, there is no audience who understands and wants to watch it, there are no teachers in my country, I don’t have money to pay for the classes- and still I am eager to spend whatever I have for learning, and to do so I am ready to dance in the subway if needed! How many students of dance would do something like that to take another bharata natyam class? Last time when I saw my teacher she said: “I wish my Indian students were as passionate about dance as you are”. And this comment from one’s guru is worth 1000 negative comments from anyone else.
And what kind of nonsense is this? If someone would post some alcohol or cigarette commercial, or images of sexual character nobody would say anything. Because it’s normal, now it’s part of our lives. But when someone praises God in the subway, suddenly it becomes inappropriate and offensive! Really?
Now… Who goes to see classical dance or music performances? Elderly people and other musicians and dancers! Of course the subway is not the best place where the art can be appreciated. But nevertheless there were so many people who were touched by my performance and expressed their gratitude. But they would never go to see classical dance or music performance in the theater. So maybe it was their only opportunity to encounter this beautiful art.
And if you still think that what I did is unacceptable and crazy… well, love makes us do crazy things. As Kulashekara Alvar says in his Mukunda Mala Stotra: “My mind cannot turn from Sri Krishna’s lotus feet, even for a moment. So let my dear ones and other relatives criticize me, my superiors accept or reject me as they like, the common people spread evil gossip about me, and my family’s reputation be sullied. For a madman like me, it is honor enough to feel this flood of love of Godhead, which brings such sweet emotions of attraction for my Lord.”
Thank you very much,
Gaura Nataraj das (Aleksey Furdak)