Renowned Mohiniattam performer Mandakini Trivedi has always been very innovative and often organizes wonderful shows and festivals to educate and enlighten the new generation of dancers and she again spearheaded The Geet Govind online festival where scholars from the world of Indian classical dance imparted their valuable knowledge.
Mandakini ji is an Sangeet Natak Akadamy (SNA) awardee in Mohiniattam, she is a well-known performer, teacher, writer and a choreographer, Mandakini’s quest for Truth has led her to search frontiers beyond the form. She is also the chairperson of Shaktiyogashrama and creative head of Nateshvari Dance Gurukul, Mandakini’s chief work is in understanding the deep influences of Yogic world views on the form, content & experience of Classical Indian Dance. At Shaktiyogashrama, she is a Cultural -Educationist who shares through residential programmes, the holistic and spiritual nature of Indian cultural forms and the whole of life in India.
This festival was presented to celebrate the completion of 25 years of Shaktiyogashrama Gurukulam. Gurukulam is founded by Swami Shri Harish Madhukar and dedicated to a holistic presentation of Indian Culture through residential programmes that integrate classical arts, sciences, ecology, yoga and life-styles. What started as just a simple desire on part of Mandakini ji, to just dance an ashtapadi from the Geet Govinda with an authentic Kerala flavour, snowballed into a 3-day festival on the Geeta Govinda and went on to stay on air for a good fortnight, due to public demand.
Jayadeva’s Geet Govinda has rightly been called “The Little Epic Poem” for, never has one poem so deeply impacted Indian art history. Apart from its rich and incomparable poetry, rarely has a poetic text so deeply influenced artistic traditions, not just of one genre, but across genres of arts like, dance, music and painting.
The Geet Govinda is also a supreme example of transcendental content- content that is at once narrative, symbolic & yogic. Content that has given a new turn to literature on devotional love or madhura bhava bhakti, where in a significant role reversal, the Supreme Godhead itself, in the form of Krishna, is seen as pinning for the intense devotee, in the form of Radha.
Eminent scholars were a part of the festival; Dr. Smt. Urmila Sharma with her amazing insights on the bhakti tradition, Shri Narmada Prasad Upadhyay with expressions of subtle philosophy gifted by his Guru Dr. Vidya Niwas Mishra. Narmada ji also spoke on the Geet Govinda and the traditions of Miniature paintings in India & finally, Dr. Subaas Pani who has a PhD on the Geet Govinda and is acknowledged as a foremost authority on the subject, after late Dr.Kapila Vatsyayana. The talks of these scholars beautifully threw light on the deep philosophical meanings hidden in the text.
Young and erudite Natya Shastra scholar Kalamandalam Piyal Bhattacharya and his supremely talented student Sayak Mitra, gave a historical perspective to the Geet Govinda, explaining how it was the first Prabandha Kavya with live demonstration and video recordings.
The choreographic traditions were graced by many stalwarts. The Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra tradition of Odissi choreography was represented by Shri Ratikant Mohapatra and Smt. Sujata Mohapatra. Dr. Sonal Mansingh presented her Odissi choreographies based on the Geeta Govinda and her study under Dr. Jivan Pani while speaking of the text with great devotion.
Smt. Darshana Jhaveri, Yumnam Bhumeshvar Singh, Ojha Lakpati Singh, Umashankar Sharma and Smt. Bimbavati Devi represented the musical and performing traditions of Manipuri. The musical and performing traditions of Kerala was represented by Guruvayoor Jyotidas & Sri Acchyuttan Marar (Sopana Sangeeta) & the multi faceted Dr. Harikumar Sadanam (Kathakali) and Mandakini Trivedi (Mohiniattam).
Shri Vaibhav Arekar took us through the angst of a forlorn Krishna in the Bharat Natyam form. The festival also included interviews with some artists & scholars. What is more, not to leave out contemporary expressions, we also showcased a film, ‘The Geet Govinda’, by independent film maker Shri Amit Datta.
Speaking of her unique festival Mandakini ji said, ‘I believe that when God is with you nothing can go against you. That is why sometimes some event just work itself out. Often when you set about to do something, without any ulterior, self-gratifying motive, nature brings you in touch with the right people, the right books to guide, and the right flow & direction. This online festival on The Geeta Govinda was just that,
She further added, ‘What a brilliant job all the scholars them did, to make it an offering of music and movement, poetry and dance. It became an overwhelming pageant of artistic traditions. I must thank Miti Desai who produced the entire event, Aneri Sheth, Neha Varma and Shivani Gupta, who gave their technical support. I cannot forget Smt. Manjari Sinha who interviewed all the artists and gave her unconditional support.’
Organizing such a festival with the biggest names in the world of dance must have been a big challenge I asked Mandakini ji, she smiled and said, ‘Indeed, co-ordinating across regional cultures was a great challenge. I would have never been able to put this together, without my translators & co-ordinators. Priya Krishnadas, who helped me connect with artists who held the invaluable and authentic Guruvayoor Bani in their hands, but could speak comfortably only in Malyalam. Smt. Darshana Jhaveri, co-ordinated with Manipuri artists that only spoke their native language and trusted her completely to open up & offer their best. Digital overdose, in this lock-down, was another challenge. There were times when exasperatedly, one wanted to just fly/motor down to explain the concept, inspire trust. Spending hour on the phone, co-ordinating videos to be submitted, watching them to check if they had the right technical modalities and content, was an endless job. Fingers ached from messaging; the mind refused to stop planning.’
She jokingly said, ‘I went schizophrenic, on one hand, empathizing with artists who could not submit videos on time and on the other hand, I felt persecuted for late submissions, imagining like Radha, that there was some infidelity there. Finally, the biggest challenge was the cash crunch, till the end, I was collecting funds. But they came in graciously, I believe Jayadeva, the wandering bhikshu made sure of that.’
In this social media age, artist need help, that is when Akhila Krishnamurti, Team Aalaap and Shaale.com stepped in so that the festival and look the best.
It is said, All’s well that ends well. And that is what happened with The Geet Govinda online festival. If you have not witnessed this event, you surely have missed a chance to deeply educate yourself. So next time you hear anything that Madakini Trivedi is organizing donot miss a chance to be a part of it.