Fr. Francis Barboza, SVD, performs liturgical steps of a Hindu dance. With his feminine make-up and postures, he says that through this new form of inculturalization, he communicates directly with God and preaches Christ to the people. Lumiere du Monde, November 1983
9. Taking a look at Biblical stories in an Indian 'avatar' by Brian de Souza, August 09, 2008, DNA, Mumbai
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1182384&pageid=0EXTRACT The New Community Bible* brings the Christian message in an Indian context. But will the devout take to it?
Biblical themes have been depicted in India classical dance, one exponent being the Society of Divine Word (SVD) priest Francis Barboza who used Bharatanatyam and adapted Hindu customs and rituals.
*NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 06-PRESS REPORTS AND READERS' CRITICISMS
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/NEW_COMMUNITY_BIBLE_06-PRESS_REPORTS_AND_READERS_CRITICISMS.doc This “Tamil Bharathanatyam” yahoo group is a bunch of Hindus whose common interest is Bharatanatyam, and Fr. Francis Barboza SVD was an active member of the group, even as a priest.
#592 From: "francis barboza" Date: Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:28 pm Subject:RE: ANJALI on TV
Congratulations Ratna Papa and Kumar, Great success ahead... Pl. do keep in touch, Francis Barboza
#593 From: "Anjali" Date: Tue Mar 29, 2005 4:35 am Subject:Re: ANJALI on TV
Thank you so much, Fr. Barboza. I hear you live in the US now. Where exactly? Could you give me your address and telephone number please for my file? It's good to hear from you. Warm regards Rathna
#594 From: "francis barboza" Date: Tue Mar 29, 2005 7:29 pm Subject:Re: ANJALI on TV
Dear Ratna, Greetings... please note my Tel. (732) 906-5721 www.drbarboza.com you will get all the information from my web site. Wtih kind regards, Dr. francis Barboza
Catholics felicitate Fr. Francis Barboza SVD in Kuwait
11. Kuwait: Spectacular KIDCHAMP 2008 - Dr. Francis Barboza conferred Nritya Samrat April 19, 2008 EXTRACT
http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newsid=75073&newstype=local By Team Mangalorean, Kuwait Pics by Prem Crasto
Kanajar Welfare Association Kuwait (KWAK) held their first open to all dance competition "Kidchamp 2008" finals on Friday 18th April at Masra Hawally hall. The elimination round was held previous Friday 11th April at ICSK auditorium. The main attraction of the event was Dr. Francis Barboza, Director of Satyaradhana Arts, USA, who arrived here as Chief Guest and judge. The event began at 6:00 pm with a welcome dance by Vijay Barboza followed by traditional lighting of the lamp by President of KWAK Lawrence Saldanha, Dr. Francis Barboza along with other judges Sr. Mary Darshini, Lekha Ramachandran and Nupur Sharma. Fr. Melwyn D’Cunha presented merit awards to members’ children.
Being an ace Bharatanatyam exponent himself and Kanajar Parishioner Dr. Francis Barboza was honoured for his service with a shawl, memento and fruit basket and was conferred with the Title "Nritya Samrat".
The finals of Dance contest in classical, junior and senior categories were held. The special attraction to the event came from Dr. Francis Barboza, whose performance truly mesmerized the crowd.
12. SATYARADHANA Institute of Performing Arts Presents
ARADHANA Bharata Natyam Recital By Sruthi Edison, Disciple of Dr. Francis Barboza, Sunday 8th July, 2007, 4.00 P.M. Venue: Roosevelt School Auditorium, 36 Gilbert Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
i) Pushpanjali is an invocatory item of the Bharata Natyam Recital where the dancer offers flowers to God and asks for the blessings on the performance, audience and herself.
iii) Nataraja Kautuvamin praise of Lord Nataraj describing his nature and great works.
Abhinaya or interpretation of sentiment, the unique feature of our dance-arts, is introduced through the Shabdam. This item is based on Lord Nataraja. The devotee addresses to herself, "…Why don’t you surrender yourself at the feet of the Lord!" Like Markandeya, every disciple of Shiva is protected by Him.
O Krishna, listening to the joyous, enchanting music of your flute … I strain my eyebrows hard and look in your direction… Come, mould my tender heart, make it full and fill me with joy! Take me to a lonely grove and fill me with the emotions of ecstatic union… Am I to go on pleading for you with melting heart while you are enjoying yourself with other women?
This Tillana is on Lord Padmanabha… Oh PADMANABHA! Oh my beloved! Please come and dissolve all my miseries
Nattuvamgam: Dr. Francis Barboza
Dr. Francis Barboza, a talented exponent of the classical dance form of Bharata Natyam, has carved a special niche for himself with his innovative efforts to expand the scope of this art form beyond the boundaries of religions. Recognition and appreciation have followed in his footsteps giving impetus to his scholarly work, including the Nrityasudarshan (Loyola Art Academy*, 1999) award. He is one of the Bharata Natyam artists approved by the ICCR to represent and lead Cultural delegations abroad for the Govt. of India.
Dr. Barboza has the unique distinction of being the only dancer worldwide who gives full recitals on both Hindu and Christian themes. He has to his credit over 1000 performances given in 25 countries. Dr. Barboza resides in Iselin with his wife Kulkanti Barboza** who herself is an accomplished dancer, teacher and Ph. D. Scholar and son Satyavan. Since 2002, he is associated with Kalashri School of Arts. At present Dr. Barboza runs SATYARADHANA, Institute of Performing Arts and conducts Bharata Natyam Classes in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York State.
ARADHAN DANCE RECITAL BY SRUTHI EDISON
II. Purification ceremony
Francis will purify the place with Holy water (water in a pot with some mango leaves to be kept ready).
In front of the Lamp the following things to be kept: flowers, coconut, fruits, Agarbathi, Kumkum, etc. Gunguru (ankle bells) to be kept in a prominent place.
1. Prayer for the removal of obstacles (Ganesh Sthuthi).
2. Prayer for wisdom and knowledge (Saraswathi Sthuthi).
3. Prayer to the Lord of the Dance (Nataraja Sthuthi)
4. Prayer for Protection to Mother Mary (Mariam Sthuthi)
V. Offering of Gifts and our Talents to God
Francis incenses and offers gifts (fruits and flowers) and Gungurus to God.
VI. Presenting of Gungurus by the Guru to the Disciple
VII. Concluding Prayer and giving away of Lighted Lamp
A lighted lamp is presented to Sruthi symbolizing that tradition is being passed on to Sruthi and through and in her dance people may see, hear and experience the Scriptures (Vedas).
*Probably the Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Chicago, Illinois, the largest Jesuit high school in America, now infamous for "bowing to political correctness, feminism, socialism and general candyassness". http://loyolaacademytribute.blogspot.com/2008/08/loyola-academy-2008-take-dance-classes.html.
**Watch the video "Dr. Kulkanti BarbozaBharatanatyam spiritual Indian dance" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GxXMtq0PoA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mi8bFNZQYU in "Siva-varnam".
Despite the inclusion of a Christian theme in the programme [omitted by me in the above] and a “prayer” to Mary [Prayer for Protection to Mother Mary (Mariam Sthuthi)], Barboza’s disciple’s recital itself and all its trappings is Hindu to the core. Obeisance is given to a number of Hindu deities, the main of which is Nataraja, Shiva, whose symbol is the “OM”. The combination of Christian and Hindu themes, a trademark of Fr. Francis Barboza’s dance recitals, is condemned as SYNCRETISM. Bharatanatyam is Hindu and no amount of fusion with Christian themes can alter that.
For Catholics, surrendering oneself to other deities, praising them, supplicating them, inviting them in, and so on as is being done in these “performances” tantamounts to worship of false ‘other’ gods which God severely warned against in the First Commandment. Participation by Christians in such dance therefore could have disastrous spiritual consequences and the persons involved might require deliverance from evil spirits, see pages 19, 21 and 107 ff.
JUST AS THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS “CHRISTIAN” YOGA, THERE CAN SIMPLY BE NO SUCH THING AS “CHRISTIAN” BHARATANATYAM.
Know about the Hindu god Krishna and then read Fr. Francis Barboza‘s take on the deity
13. For Devotees, Krishna Offers Divine Romance by Arun Venugopal
According to Hindu tradition, the god Krishna is the ultimate romantic partner, skilled in the 64 arts of love.
[F]or the devotee of Krishna, one of many earthly manifestations of a universal god, it is something altogether richer and more profound. "God appears on this earth to display his opulence and attract the souls lost in this material world to come back to him," said Anuttama Dasa, national communications director of ISKCON, popularly known as the Hare Krishnas. "Because he is God, even his naughty behavior is all-attractive."
Thus, in spite of Krishna's mischief, inwardly each of the maidens longed for his constant attentions, and traditional folk songs express their devotion and heartache: "Oh Krishna, you are the life and soul of even the lotus flower that grows on the water of lakes, made transparent by the clear rains of autumn. Although the lotus flowers are so beautiful, without your glance they fade away. And without you, we are also dying."
As the story goes, Krishna was the ultimate romantic partner, skilled in the 64 arts of love. During the famous ras-lila, his divine dance with the gopis, he multiplied in form, thousands of times, so that each gopi would have God to herself. Therein lies the paradox: God as simultaneously playful (one might say a playboy) and as infinitely committed to each devotee. "According to the Indian scripture of dance, the Natya Shastra, there are four types of heroes," saidFrancis Barboza, a New Jersey-based dancer who has regularly portrayed Krishna in his performances."Dheeralilita--playful and overactive--suits the characteristic of Krishna. Here the external activities of love are over-emphasized. He is at times compared to a honey-bee which jumps from one flower to the other."
Some articles by Fr. Francis Barboza written by him when he was yet a Catholic priest reveal not just his mind but the truths about the origins and significance of his Bharatanatyam dance
14.1 Dictionary of Indian Christian theology: Dance by Dr. Francis Barboza svd
I have adopted a scientific approach in depicting Christian Themes in Bharata Natyam. New Deva Hastas and Postures for the Bible personalities have been invented on the basis of Christian Theology and a study made on the different dance-treatises. Without comprising with technique, I have strived to make dance an experience, truly Indian and Christian, at the same time stressing the aspect of understanding, comprehending and experiencing the Christ message rather than delivering it. It is revealing to observe that in India to all the early dance forms of the Christians were performed in groups and no individual dance is to be found. This feature is the reflection of the Christian Theology where God is mainly encountered in a group. And people worship and praise him in a congregation. It is interesting to note that the traditional dance-forms of the Christians are all done in a circular pattern, keeping a lighted lamp in the centre symbolising Christ.
In the medieval times two parallel line choreography came into existence may be due to the influence of the Portuguese and the religious processions which were very common at that time. Finally, the ghost of the Synod of Diamper still haunts the church of India. Here the church hesitates to value the art-forms, especially dance for understanding, comprehending and experiencing the Gospel in a new way rather than simply using them for the proclamation of a ready made Gospel message.
14.2 The Divine Origin of Dance in India by Dr. Francis Barboza svd
"When the world had become steeped in greed and desire, in jealousy and anger, in pleasure and pain, Brahma, the Supreme one was asked by the people to create an amusement which could be seen and heard by all, for the Scriptures being learned and ambiguous, were not enjoyed by the masses". Thus does Bharata's Natya Shastra explain the emergence of this divine art in his treatise on Indian Dance.
Brahma, the Supreme one, the knower of truth, meditated on the four vedas (Scriptures) and drew up the fifth, Natya Veda, the scripture of drama, presenting moral and spiritual truth. "The creator of the world Brahma extracted recitation from Rig Veda, 'abhiyana' from Yajurveda, song from samaveda and 'rasas' from Atharvaveda respectively, for fulfilling the high requirements of life, viz. Dharma or righteousness, Artha or wealth, Kama or love and Moksha or liberation. Though these, fame, self-confidence, fortune and cleverness are acquired, thus causing peace, patience, liberality, pleasure, and wiping our misery, pain sorrow and hatred. It exceeds the Ananda imparted by the knowledge of the Absolute, otherwise how could this conquer the heart of sages like Narada?
Brahma tried to impart to the people the diversity and the all encompassing nature of this new creation and said that "This art is not purely for your pleasure but exhibits bhava (emotion) for all the three worlds. I have made this art following the movements of the world, whether in work or in profit, peace, laughter, battle or slaughter, yielding the fruit of righteousness to those who follow, moral law, a restraint for the unruly, a discipline for the followers of a rule, to create wisdom in the ignorant, learning in scholars, affording sport to kings and endurance to the sorrow-stricken, replete with diverse moods, informed with the varying passions of the soul, linked to the deeds of all mankind, the best, the average and the low, affording excellent counsel, pastime and all else".
And thus, "Brahma gave the first lessons on Natya to Bharata. Thereafter Bharata demonstrated the three forms of dancing, namely, Natya, Nritya and Nritta before the Lord Siva with the help of the Gandharvas and the Apsaras. Then Siva remembering his own violent style of dance asked Tandu to transmit its technique to Bharata with the help of his retinue and out of affection asked Parvati to demonstrate to him the Lasya Style. Then understanding the technique of Tandava the saints transmitted its knowledge to others. Similarly Parvati taught the Lasya style to Usha, daughter of Bana. She transmitted it to the milkmaids of dwarka and then from them it spread to women of other places. This is the order in which these dance styles spread in the world".
Abhinayam the language of gestures is the focal point during a course of study. It provides a depth of understanding and insight into this dance form. According to Abhinaya Darpanam (mirror of gestures) the description of abhinaya is divided into four parts. 1. Angika Abhinaya is the abhinaya expressed through the limbs. Ideas and emotions are beautifully displayed through various parts of the body. This includes the actor's posture, gait and movements of features and limbs. There is a difference of opinion in the exhibition of artistic gestures, sometimes there seems to be no connection between realistic, gestures happening in the daily life and the aesthetic appeal of the play through the appropriate gesture along with speech or song as the case may be. What were once the "mudras" used by the priest in prayer became a whole language for the dancer known as "hastas", the symbols of the hands.2. Aharya abhinaya is related to the costumes and make-up of the actor in his various roles. This is depicted through the costumes and other decorations of the body. 3. Vachika abhinaya is regarded as the most important among these four by some Hindu theorists. This indicates the use of language, regulation of the tone of voice, accent and rhythm which can bring out the lyrical qualities of the play.
4. Satwika abhinaya or abhinaya of the mind denotes the eight conditions, viz., stoppage of action, perspiration, horripilation, change of voice, trembling, change of colour, tears and fainting. These are to be exhibited with suitable gestures of Angika abhinaya as this is the expansion of mental emotions through bodily reactions.
The dance or the four-fold abhinaya is of three kinds Natya, Nritta and Nritya. According to Bharata, Natya or Nataka gives the stories of the epics. Where there is no abhinaya or bhava it is termed nritta. Nritya is a combination of nine sentiments (Rasas) and bhavas. In all important Indian Literature dance holds an important place.
The two great epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata are full of reference to the religious significance puranam, Unmai Vilakkam, Tiru-Arul Paya, etc. which speak of the use, meaning and purpose of spiritual identification and perfection. In the Vedic period people used dance for religious, social and ritual purposes. Like during the horse sacrifice, weddings and many other important rituals. During the Buddhist, Gupta and medieval periods, dance played and important role in achieving the spiritual inspiration and identification of the people of that time. The existing temple sculptures, paintings and icons are compelling proof, shedding light on the past.
Later, with the invasion of the Muslims, who considered it almost a scandal to use music and dance for divine worship, dance found its way into the courts and as a form of entertainment. Also, due to the apathy of people with regard to their religion, many in society used dance for erotic pleasure. Thus, with the Muslim rule, there came into existence a new class of people called "Naach-wali". When the Europeans, for whom dance was mainly a social function, came to India, the degeneration of dance continued. With these developments, the aim, purpose and goal of dance apparently changed. It could be likened to a diamond which had lost its luster. However, the middle of the 20th Century saw a new renaissance in Indian Dance. It was due to the dedication of professional artists like Rukmini Devi, Krishna Iyer and others who strove to restore the lost dignity and spiritual sanctity of this divine art.
Although today the Indian classical dance has moved from the temple to the auditorium and stage, the dedication of its performers remains the same. "Art emerges from the womb of religion and from the mystery of magic".5
This is very true in India, where religion and philosophy are preached and God worshipped through dance forms.
"The Indian mind has always sublimated the fine arts from their, mundane origin to the highest level of social and cultural life, inextricably interweaving them with religion".6 That is why "Art in ancient India could perhaps be called temple art, not because it was necessarily part of the temple, but because its aim was the perception of spiritual identification". 7 In India, the temple was been a place of communication between God and man. Different arts have sprung up from the temples and God was worshippedin music and dance. The driving thirst of man for union with the Almighty led him to establish "in every temple a Natya Sabha or rangamantappa, where music and dance performance took place as part of religious ritual".8 Dancing was considered to be the highest form of worship. Wishnudhamottara Puranam tells us that "to worship God by nritta (dance) is to fulfill all desire, and to him who dances the paths of salvation are unfolded. The dancer, as he undergoes mystical experiences in the dance, communicates the same to the audience. In other words, dance becomes the expression of the experience of revelation and complete union with God, which leads us to believe that dance and all other fine arts have not only a utilitarian function but also a spiritual and cultural function in India".9
Spirituality and Indian Classical Dance
Indian classical dance is inseparably bound with spirituality in its inception, growth, development, existence, purpose and goal. It is not just a performance but a Sadhana, as Tapas and a Bhakti. It commands devotion, and through and in it one hopes to realize the divine in himself. Through dance the artist aims for a vision of the divine, to use Eastern Orthodox terminology, he attains the beatific vision, that is Ananda (Bliss). At this level, he or she forgets himself or herself and realizes the Supreme. "The body, which in ecstasy is conquered and forgotten and which becomes merely a receptacle for the superhuman power of the soul, and the soul which achieves happiness and bliss in the accelerated movements of a body, is freed of its own weight.10 So, in ecstasy of he dance, man is bridges the chasms between this and the other world, to the realm of demons, spirits and God. Captivated and enchanted he bursts his earthly chains and trembling, feels himself in tune with all the world".11 "Whosoever knoweth the power of the dance dwelleth in God", says Persian poet Rumi, Curt Sachs points out that "dance is a sacred act and priestly office, not a pastime to be tolerated only, but a very serious activity of the entire tribe.12 It is at this elevated stage that the dance becomes a sacrificial rite, a charm, a prayer and a prophetic vision, both for the artist and the appreciator, in relation to their realm of spiritual experience.
The creative activity of the artist gives expression to his Spiritual experience in dance and the appreciator experiences the spiritual experience by evocation.13
Understanding Christ in and Through Indian Classical Dance
I remember, years back when I started to learn dance (Bharata Natyam), one of the well-known exponents of Bharata Natyam, a dedicated theosophist and a respected lady asked me a question, 'Why are you, a Christian learning Bharata Natyam?' And later, when I ventured to have Christian themes in my recital in 1979, there was vehement opposition from many corners of the church. Needless to say none of these critics had witnessed my recitals prior to asking such questions and making such sweeping statements. Now, when I look and analyze, I can clearly see that either these critics of mine were ignorant of the significance of the dance in India or didn't know exactly was my aim. In other words, they posed questions – 'What's wrong with the ways of Christianity in India?' Well on the face of its there was nothing wrong with Christianity in the garb of Western Culture. But, surely this cuts us off from the indigenous cultural cord and defeated the incarnational aspect (the word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth, Jn. 1:14) of the Religion.
Up to the Vat. II everything in the Indian Christian's life was dominantly in the western mode and taste. His rites, feasts, fine-arts etc., were not even considered for understanding the teachings of Christ or for Worship. Vat. II marked a new chapter in the life of the church. It kindled an interest in the usage of indigenous art-forms. It clearly states: "In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are people who have their own musical traditions and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason, due importance is to be attached to their music and suitable place is to be given to it, not only by way of forming their attitude toward religion, but also when there is a question of adapting worship to their native genius. Therefore, when missionaries are being given training in music, every effort should be made to see that they become competent in promoting traditional music of these peoples, both in schools and sacred services, as far as may be practical." And again it says "This ancient interest in the theatre should be maintained by Christians today and full use to be made of its possibilities. Playwrights should be encouraged and helped to set man's religious preoccupation on the public stage. This is often the first step in much wider diffusion made possible by the communications media."14
At present, the church uses the terms like, 'adaptation', 'adoption', 'accommodation'. 'inculturation', etc. Some use phrases like, presenting the Gospel through dance forms, others proudly talk about promoting the use of indigenous art forms for the proclamation of the Gospel. Underlying all these expressions one can find a sort of utilitarian attitude, that is using other people, other arts and other culture for delivering Christ's message. The lady who questioned my motive in learning dance must have had a similar problem in her mind. Further this sort of understanding also gives the impression that the Gospel is a ready-made product, neatly bound and packaged. When art forms like dance are used for Christian salesmanship, the traditional terms used for this are 'proclamation' or 'preaching'. Commenting on this Rev. P. Nirmal says, "Art-forms are not primarily meant to propagate, proclaim or communicate a static and well-formulated Gospel. Their primary value lies in the fact that they enable us to understand and grasp the Gospel in a now way. They offer us fresh, new insights into the Gospel. They offer us new visions of the Gospel. Art and art-forms, therefore, have a tremendous hermeneutical and heuristic value. They make possible new understandings, and formulations of the Gospel. They make the Gospel and 'event' a 'happening' and an emergence. Art and art-forms unfold new Gospel mysteries, new Gospel dimensions and new Gospel facts.