Mani Madhava Chakyar

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“Eyes, what an eloquent pair he has! He is able to express with them even the slightest difference in the mood”

Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar (Māni Mādhava Chākyār) (15 February 189914 January 1990) was a celebrated master performance artist and Sanskrit scholar from Kerala, India, considered to be the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Kutiyattam (2000 year old Sanskrit theatre tradition) artist and authority of modern times. He was considered as the authority of Abhinaya (Classical Indian acting style) and Nātyaśāstra.

Sourced[edit]

  • “This is the first award I received...In fact, I consider this priceless. This was presented to me by Sri. Godavarma Bhattan Thampuran of Kodungallur (Cranganore) Palace years ago. I was only 22 then. Those were days when Kodungallur used to witness the best assembly of scholars in Sanskrit and the sasthras. Present on that day were several highly learned men and women. The stage was in front of Sringapuram temple. I presented Bhagavad Dooth Prabhantham Koothu. My interpretation of one of the slokas was a little more elaborate than and different from the custom-worn treatment. The audience liked it. In appreciation, Bhattan Thampuran removed this ring from his finger and put it on mine. The spontaneous gesture in recognition of my art naturally is the most precious to me ”
    -Guru Māni Mādhava Chākyār, about his prized possession- the golden ring from the great scholar H.H Bhattan Thampuran [1]


  • “At least Bharatanatyam is now world famous, with thousands of new votaries. What about Koodiyattam?.....I have done what I can. It has not been easy. One has to sacrifice a lot to learn Koodiyattam. How many persons will be ready for it these days? Will there be an audience capable of imbibing it? ”
    -Shri. Māni Mādhava Chākyār to famous Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Dev Arundale, while latter visitited Guru at his residence[2]


  • "My own people condemned my action (performing Koothu and Kutiyattam outside the precincts of the temples), Once, after I had given performances at Vaikkom, they even thought about excommunicating me. I desired that this art should survive the test of time. That was precisely why I ventured outside the temple"
    - Guru about the difficulties he had faced from hardliners when he tok Koothu and Kutiyattam outside the temples and performing it for common man.[3]


  • "It is not the favourable conditions, but most deprived circumstances that mould an artist”
    - about the struggles that he had undergone in his life as an artist.[4]


Abhinaya and Netrābhinaya[edit]

“Mani Madhava Chakyar was the personification of all the greatness of this rich Indian classical art tradition”
  • “Mani Madhava Chakyar when he portrayed Arjuna on the first evening and Ravana on the second, showed himself a master of the expression of the eye”
    - Dr. V Raghavan, renowned scholar of Sanskrit dramaturgy, classical Indian dance and music, connoisseur of art and former director of Samskritaranga- Chennai, 1962.[5]


  • “When i say Abhinaya, oh, I can't do the abhinaya like what the great man did here yesterday”
    - Great Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati next day after Chakyar's lecture-demonstration at Madras Music Academy in 1973.[6]


  • “Mani Madhava Chakyar was the personification of all the greatness of this rich Indian classical art tradition”
    - Kapila Vatsyayan (leading scholar of classical Indian dance), 1990[7]


  • “He had his own style. He could convey his thoughts through expressions. His eye movement was superb!”
    Birju Maharaj- great Kathak dancer, selecting him as one of the ten finest dancers he has known, 2000[8]


  • “the greatest eye-wizard of the world!”
    - Stella Kramrisch - Curator of Indian Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA, c1980[9]


  • “No one is like the Emperor of Abhinaya- Mani Madhava Chakyar, and there won't be any” - Prof. Maria Christopher Byrski (first foreigner disciple of Guru and Kutiyattam), Department of Indology, Warsaw University, 1987[10]


  • “his Netraabhinaya is simply incomparable"
    - Kapila Vatsyayan (leading scholar of classical Indian dance), 1990[11]


  • "Mani Madhava Chakyar's forte was Satwikabhinaya. Endowed with expressive eyes; that can speak a thousand moods and a countenance that can reflect the range of human emotions in its entirety, Mani Madhava Chakkiar was the master at work"
    - Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work (film), 1994[12]


  • "(Guru Mani Madhava Chakiar) began playing the dual role of Parvati and Shiva...sat on a wooden chair...I have never ever seen a Parvati so exquisitely beautiful. I have never seen a Shiva so handsome and so cunning. I sat there and wept as if I were alone in the presence of God. I then realized what theatre was all about — the falsehood of that old man made me arrive at a state where inhibitions and convictions, all became so fluid and beautiful. And this vision has remained with me always"
    - Dr. Vijaya Mehta (Executive Director, National Center for Performing Arts- Bombay, acclaimed Indian theatre personality) about her experience of watching 72 year old Guru's Abhinaya of Parvativiraha[13]


  • “Eyes, what an eloquent pair he has! He is able to express with them even the slightest difference in the mood”
    - L.S Rajagopalan (noted art critic), 1990[14]


  • “With a few movements of the eye, he could manifest the mountains, the ocean, the rivers, the moonlit valleys, torrential rain, the gait of the swan and the elephant, a tornado, the opening of the lotus flowers and a lot else. To see him do it was to know that he was a non-pareil”
    - P.T. Narendra Menon (noted art critic and poet), 1990[15]


  • “(I got introduced to) the late and great Mani Madhava Cakyar’s King Udayana in Svapnavasavadatta. In what may have been among his last performances on the public stage I was fortunate to see Sri Cakyar, who at an advanced age, literally threw away his walking stick as he entered the stage to become a sprightly royal lover pining away for his beloved Vasavadatta. At his home in Likkadi he demonstrated the nava rasas... Sri Cakyar vividly illustrated to me that kutiyattam acting has the power to transform even the oldest person into the character he portrays”
    - Prof. Farley P. Richmond (Expert on Indian theatre), Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Georgia.[16]


  • “His eyes were the unrivaled wonder of Abhinaya”
    - P.T. Narendra Menon (connoisseur of art), 1990[17]


  • “Mani Madhava Chakyar was performing sikhinisalabha... Butterflies fly all around. Some of them fell into the fire below. The anguish was reflected in the actor’s eyes. Ha! There they come out without a burn! What a relief! They came again. The actor continued the performance. Only his eyes move… The audience was spellbound. They did not know that an hour has passed!”
    - About his world famous abhinaya of the shloka shikhinisalabha from Subhadradhananjayam.[18]


  • “Late Shri. Cakyar, was not just a skilled exponent and a capable teacher of Kutiyattam, his wisdom and depth of knowledge made him worthy of the title "Acharya" ”
    - Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (noted Hindi writer and scholar of Indian arts and literature), 1994[19]


  • “His historic talent was backed up by extraordinary erudition. Behind his wizardry with the eyes lay sustained practice undertaken with devotion and discipline”
    - L.S Rajagopalan (noted art critic), 1990[20]


  • "To Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, Kutiyattam was more than art, it was life itself"
    - Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work (film) - Kavalam N. Panickar, 1994[21]


  • “Mani Madhava Cakyar with his unfailing urge for complicated , difficult and minute details has enriched the art during the decades of his unparalleled performing life without permitting even an iota of compromise regarding the essentials of traditional style. He has served his Kuladharma ever since his maiden appearance with tireless effort, enthusiasm, perseverance and vigor. He introduced new forms to improve this art form without impairing its tradition. The effectiveness of these innovations which only a genius could visualise and perform has already been proved several times“
    - "The Hindu (1989)"[22]
  • "The eyes of Kudiyattam has closed forever...the great lineage of Sanskrit theatre is adversely hit by the loss of this genious"
    - K. P. Narayana Pisharoty (Kutiyattam scholar) in 1990, on the death of Guru Mani Madhava Chakiar. [23]


  • "...Mani Madhava Chakyar, the overarching titan of 20th-century Koodiyattam, whose histrionic powers and focused scholarship eventually gave his art world-wide audience (and a Unesco recognition)"
    - "The New Indian Express (2011)"[24]

Nātyakalpadrumam[edit]

  • “The depth of creativity of the author (Mani Madhava Chakyar) is evident from the introductory Shlokas (hymns in Sanskrit) itself ”
    - Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (noted Hindi writer and scholar of Indian arts and literature)[25]

Awards[edit]

  • “This is the first award I received...In fact, I consider this priceless. This was presented to me by Sri. Godavarma Bhattan Thampuran of Kodungallur (Cranganore) Palace years ago. I was only 22 then. Those were days when Kodungallur used to witness the best assembly of scholars in Sanskrit and the sasthras. Present on that day were several highly learned men and women. The stage was in front of Sringapuram temple. I presented Bhagavad Dooth Prabhantham Koothu. My interpretation of one of the slokas was a little more elaborate than and different from the custom-worn treatment. The audience liked it. In appreciation, Bhattan Thampuran removed this ring from his finger and put it on mine. The spontaneous gesture in recognition of my art naturally is the most precious to me ”
    -Guru Māni Mādhava Chākyār, about his prized possession- the golden ring from the great scholar H.H Bhattan Thampuran [26]


  • “Scholars of Paderevski Foundation who were fortunate enough to have witnessed the fragments of Swapnavāsavadattam as performed by your splendid actors, were unanimous in their praise of the high cultural and aesthetic level of the Koodiyattam. It was a most enjoyable experience and the Paderevski Founadtion is proud to have co-sponsored the appearances of the Theatre in Northern India”
    - Paderewski Foundation (New York) Certificate (New Delhi, 1964) - First International recognition for Kutiyattam and the maestro.


  • “..I felt angry when I learnt that a great artist like Mani Madhava Chakyar was awarded a mere Padma Shri. A man of his artistic genius and erudition deserved to be decorated with the highest state honour (Bharat Ratna)”
    - RKG (Editor, The Illustrated Weekly, Columnist for Times of India), 2000[27]


  • “Has the Centre ever considered the merits of a phenomenal Kudiyattam exponent like Mani Madhav Chakkiyar - true genius?”
    - Leela Venkatraman- art critic, The Hindu, 1998[28]

References[edit]

  1. K. A. Chandrahasan, In pursuit of excellence (Performing Arts), "The Hindu", Sunday March 26, 1989
  2. P.T. Narendra Menon, Kulapati of Koodiyattam, Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71), p.27.
  3. Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work, K.N. Panikar, Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi, 1994
  4. p. 47 Natyacharya Mani Madhava Chakyar, Attendance - The Dance Annual of India 2009
  5. p.21 Natya, Bharatiya Natya Sangh, 1962.
  6. Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71), p. 17.
  7. Kapila Vatsyayan, Gurupuja, Mathrubhumi weekly, February (11-17) 1990, p. 7.
  8. Birju Maharaj- the Kathak maestro on the ten finest dancers he has known[1], rediff.com: The Millennium Special
  9. p. 299, Das Bhargavinilayam, Mani Madhaveeyam[2](biography of Mani Madhava Chakyar), Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala, 1999, ISBN 81-86365-78-8
  10. Akavur Narayanan, Shatam Jiva Sharadah, Mathrubhumi weekly, March (15-21) 1987, p. 20.
  11. Kapila Vatsyayan, Gurupuja, Mathrubhumi weekly, February (11-17) 1990, p. 7.
  12. Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work, K.N. Panikar, Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi, 1994
  13. Theatre is a great lie that gets us to arrive at a great truth- Dr.Vijaya Mehta
  14. L.S Rajagopalan, Mani Madhava Chakyar- A Titan of A Thespian, Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71), p. 17.
  15. P.T. Narendra Menon, Kulapati of Koodiyattam, Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71).
  16. www.uga.edu/farleyrichmond/projects/trivandrum%20speech.pdf
  17. P.T. Narendra Menon, Kulapati of Koodiyattam, Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71).
  18. Indigenous Sanskrit theatre form, The Hindu, Tuesday, Jul 31, 2007 [3]
  19. Nāṭyakalpadruma : Kerala kī Kūṭiyāṭṭam nāṭyakalā kī rūparekhā(Hindi translation), Mani Madhava Chakyar, Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (Ed), Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi, 1994
  20. L.S Rajagopalan, Mani Madhava Chakyar- A Titan of A Thespian, Sruti- India's premier Music and Dance magazine, August 1990 issue (71).
  21. Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work, K.N. Panikar, Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi, 1994
  22. K. A. Chandrahasan, In pursuit of excellence (Performing Arts), "The Hindu", Sunday March 26, 1989
  23. Arya Madhavan, Kudiyattam Theatre and the Actor's Consciousness, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010, p.79
  24. Aswathy Karnaver, The beating heart of temple theatre, "The New Indian Express", May 29, 2011
  25. Nāṭyakalpadruma : Kerala kī Kūṭiyāṭṭam nāṭyakalā kī rūparekhā(Hindi translation), Mani Madhava Chakyar, Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (Ed), Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi, 1994
  26. K. A. Chandrahasan, In pursuit of excellence (Performing Arts), "The Hindu", Sunday March 26, 1989
  27. RKG, India : A Nation in Turmoil, Vedam Books, New Delhi (2000), ISBN 81-7476-268-X, p. 256 [4]
  28. Leela Venkatraman, An index of merit?, "The Hindu", December 27, 1998 [5]

External links[edit]

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