#natyamnaatak – So much for non-violence in art

Students are learning hasta viniyoga (the usages for each hand gesture), and we arrive at mushti hasta (a fist), 9th in the series of single handed gestures. Usually, before we start with the codified usages, I ask students to use their imaginations and tell me what they think a hasta can be used for. This time, before we even get started, there is much excitement…

Student 1 – “Ooooh, this one is going to be so great.”
Student 2 – “Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this one.”
Teacher – #mindvoice “What the… ok, let’s just go with it.”
Teacher – “Why are you all so excited about mushti hasta? Is it more special?”
Student 1 – “Not more special – just that I think you can use it to show punching people.”
Teacher – “Uhhhhh – that is definitely one way to use it. We show fighting with mushti hasta “yuddhabhaavepi” – but why do you want to start there?”
Student 2 – “Well, I thought that I can use mushti hasta to punch my sister, and then I’m practicing dance at the same time.”
Student 3 – “Yeah, I can use it to punch someone else too.”
Teacher – “Why so much violence? Did you know mushti hasta is used to show steadiness “sthire” and strength or courage “daardhye” too?”
Student 4 – “Suchi akka, those are kind of boring compared to punching someone.”
Student 2 – “Am I learning this first, or my sister?”
Student 5 – (to Student 2) “It doesn’t matter who learned it first, it matters who uses it first. And better.”
Teacher – #mindvoice “So much for non-violence in art.” 😳