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Will Bhagyachandra’s devotional vision save his people?

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Never heard of Bhagyachandra, seems to be a great vedic king?

Will Bhagyachandra’s devotional vision save his people?

The Imphal Free Press

By RK Lakhi KantI

After watching the Rajarshi Bhagyachandra Nritya Natyam (dance drama) staged by the Imphal centre of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON, today evening at the ISKCON’s Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Manimandir in Imphal, one gets the feeling that life is finally going to come back a full circle in Manipur.

The portrayal of the grandeur of king Bhagyachandra, a devotee king of the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur, and the magnificence of his religious reformations which took place in Manipur around 250 years from now, blended with the high ideals of the modern-day incarnation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s bhakti movement, the ISKCON, brings back memories of a distant past and rekindles hope deep down in one’s heart that Manipur will finally find its cultural bearings once again.

The dance drama is an innovative venture but the storyline strictly adheres to historical records and the tradition of classical Manipuri dance. What is an important aspect of the dance drama is the underlying essence of bhakti which it has tried to convey. Coming at a time when our culture is juxtaposed dangerously with a social insanity of sorts, it would not be an exaggeration to state that the small yet significant effort by the ISKCON is truly a landmark event.

The dance drama was wholly conceptualized by the devotees of the Imphal ISKCON in the initial stages under the guidance of ISKCON acharya His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. Later, some of the leading professionals in the field of dance, music, martial arts, tribal culture and other technical aspects of performing arts in the state took over from them to train over a 100 artistes at various locations in the state.

The rigorous training culminated today in a breathtaking display of robust yet soul stirring music, bold and fascinating choreography, an extraordinary display of the Manipuri martial tradition, inventive stage craft and setting, and a judicious use of lighting – something which has not been experienced in Manipur for a long time now.

Unforgettable moments of Manipur’s history like the devastating defeat of king Bhagyachandra at the hands of the Burmese army, his taming of an wild elephant in Assam under duress, the discovery of the jackfruit tree at Kaina hills out of which the idol of Manipur’s famous Sri Govindaji deity was made, and the founding of Nat Sankirtan and the Maharasa Lila at the Langthabal palace, all came back to life once again at a specially constructed stage at the ISKCON temple complex.

The dance drama on the whole was a rich experience in cultural sublimity and gives confidence that Manipur’s past and present will dissolve one day in this sublimity to rejuvenate the land and its people.

One also wishes for more such genuine productions from our artistes in the state as it gives hope in these troubled times, and also strengthens a belief that surely there is another cultural revolution looming at the horizons of Manipur.

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