For a browser on books of dance, ‘The Yoga of Indian Dance’ by Mandakini Trivedi draws attention with its ethnic aesthetic packaging – a white handmade paper cover with a stencilled Lord Nataraja. The pages are quaintly fastened by a maroon thread that binds them together.
Running into a mere 25 pages, the book encapsulates in a staircase fashion, tracing the basic concepts of Yoga, its applicability in regular life and its spiritual implications, then taking the subject over to Natya Sastra, its conception and then drawing up the similarities between dance and Yoga and finally the aim of both which lies beyond the material, physical and eventually has to culminate in a happy union of the body and soul with the Super soul (Paramatma). The last few pages are devoted to the state and concept of dance in the present times and this is perhaps the best part of the book as it addresses to all Indians- not just dancers- on the subject of classical art forms. Factual sentences like “Yoga has moved away from being a Darshana Sastra or science of a first-hand experience of truth to being a system of mere physical fitness…” seem so appropriate and applicable to present day trends. Like ancient texts, Mandakini chooses the technique of negation to drive home the point; for instance defining the title of the book by negating what Yoga or classical dance is ‘not’ and then finishing it with an assertion. The conclusive pages give the book a lift just in case a reader doesn’t find the first half immersing enough.
The Yoga of Indian Dance runs like a power-point presentation where the author doesn’t show up from within the pages of the book. It is a curt, crisp account and the first few pages may seem a little dry and devoted only to Yoga; hence not in keeping with the title of dance. But you are bound to continue since there is so much of knowledge capsule within these pages.
Then you are taken to the dance part which again, though terse, has many unknown aspects presented in a very succinct manner-how the fundamental postures of classical dance are geared to aligning the dancer’s body with that of the earth axis while the seven psychic chakras (subtle plexuses) get activated and are meant to identify with that of the Supreme consciousness.
Since the author doesn’t project herself anywhere in the book consciously or unconsciously, the book seems like statements of fact corroborated by authentic ancient treatises. Finally, the pictures interspacing the pages are artistic, especially the first page where the picture of Trivedi’s spiritual mentor is superimposed on that of a dancer paying her obeisance to her Guru! She says her concern was “to bring Yoga which is soul of dance education which has been grossly neglected. Both are not individual entities. At least the students of dance should know this.