Devadasi =Sanskrit, translation: "female Servant of God"
The term "Devadasi" originally described a Hindu religious practice in which girls were "married" to a deity. In addition to taking care of the temple, they learned and practiced traditional music and dancing, and enjoyed a high social status.
The Devadasi dance tradition which developed through the temple dancers is an important type among the dance patterns of India. Bharatnatyam in Tamil Nadu, Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh, Odissi in Orissa and Mohiniyattam in Kerala took shape in the tradition of Devadasi dance. These dance forms grew and developed a classical status.
Though in the beginning the Devadasi institution was confined to Siva worship, as time passed, other forms of religion also adopted the Devadasi tradition.
Following the demise of the great Hindu kingdoms, the practice degenerated and Devadasis, who before were considered to be "Nitya Sumangali" ( =hindi meaning: an eternal virgin, for they would not belong to any mortal man but were married to god) were now considered to be immoral. They were described to be prostitutes, since they engaged in sex outside of the Christian concept of marriage. And with the Muslim invasion, women in general were losing their independence and power.
The revivalists propagated the model of the ancient temple dancer as pure, sacred, and chaste women. They sketched them as nuns and stressed that the dance of Devadasi was a form of "Natya Yoga" to enhance an individual's spiritual plane.
Still, others claimed that a Devadasi was neither a prostitute nor a nun: "She was a professional artist who did not suppress or deny her feminine skills."
To this day, the heritage of these girls who are given to and grow up in the temple still exists, but they are mostly considered outcasts of society, and are imprisoned and enslaved within their enforced life positions. In spite of this, a respect for the name of Devdasi and what it once represented is still present within Hindu culture. Param Jyoti is very concerned about the welfare of these women.
Today we can hardly find any Devadasis of the original lineage and intention. The name "Devadasi" very often serves as a synonym for prostitution. This is of course a misuse or misconception, based on and leading to misunderstanding. A similar development and misinterpretation is the phenomena of temple dancers, which, during the matriarchal social structures of the vast area between Egypt and India, used to be called "Hora" (= from old Greek, meaning "hour", describing the temple dancer, who performed every hour ) later became the "whore". My life and work is a contribution, to raise awareness and learn to distinguish the holy practice from its misperceptions.
My approach and understanding of Devadasi: "Devadasi - Dance of the Heart":
All classical dance forms are developed in inspired creativity, specializing through time into the perfection of specific forms. Spirit can pour into it, beautifully and can find purification as well as purify the movement. In "Devadasi - Dance of the Heart", a different approach is taking place: The practitionner turns towards the inspiration itself, the very first conception, where all impulse for movement and dance emerges from.
This practice is dedicated to inner transformation within one´s own heart. Allowing this dance to happen, ignorance can be washed out and the realization of the divinity within all of existence can take place.
Where the soul is dedicated to its source, there is Dance of the Heart. Where the soul starts to dance out of gratitude, love and surrender, there is Devadasi.
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