Presenting Adiyogi! The Making of an Isha Samskriti Dance Drama
Leading up to the consecration of the 112-ft face of Adiyogi on Mahashivratri, Isha Samskriti students have been busy spreading the word. Under Sadhguru’s guidance, they have been performing dance dramas featuring Adiyogi at various cities and towns across Tamil Nadu. With four performances already over and four more to go on their whirlwind tour, the students have earned enthusiastic praise from awed audiences of thousands.
What went into the making of this spectacular production? Best to hear it from the Samskriti students themselves! Read on for a behind-the-scenes peek.
An Isha Samskriti student shares:
One day, our dance teacher announced that Sadhguru wanted us to choreograph a dance drama about Adiyogi. We would perform around the state and make people aware of who Adiyogi is and what he offered to us. Excited to hear this, one of us asked, “Do we have a script?” “No!” replied our teacher smilingly, implying we had to start from scratch. We exchanged amused glances with each other, acknowledging the familiarity of the situation. As it has been happening for the past few years, we are gradually being trained to handle all aspects of our performances independently.
The Lore of Kanyakumari
Seven of the dance students began creating a storyline based on what Sadhguru has spoken about Adiyogi and also what is found in local folklore. Since the people of Tamil Nadu have grown up with the lore of Kanyakumari, we all decided to use that story. We weaved in elements from our previous dance drama Shivakami that narrated how Shiva came south to the Velliangiri Mountains. We composed new music and dance steps, and felt it effectively depicted Shiva as the liberator from all bonds.
“Initially, I thought this was just one more Isha project, but once I started working to make this dance drama happen, Adiyogi was just on within me, day and night, in wakefulness and sleep. It was all we spoke about: ‘Is the Adiyogi dance ready? Is the face of Adiyogi ready? Are you working on the Adiyogi song?’ It was no longer a mere assignment; it became a larger-than-life experience for me.” — Reshika S.
Overcoming the Challenge
The first part of the drama was relatively easy to prepare as it was mainly adapted from Shivakami. However, the second half was a challenge as we had to choreograph it afresh. First, we tried using songs of various Tamil Bhakti saints. Though those were beautiful, they somehow didn’t fit into our dance. So the next option was to write our own songs! Marabin Maindan Muthaiah anna [a well-known Tamil poet] came to our rescue and wrote a few songs to get us started. Soon the songs started flowing out of us as well, and we had the entire collection ready within a few days. Finally, we incorporated Sadhguru’s words and chants to connect the drama to the 112ft face of Adiyogi. The dance students put together the steps that were further refined by our dance teachers Shibi anna and Divya akka. Overall, it took us nearly a month to put the whole program together.
“I strained every nerve in my head to come up with a song that would be suitable for Adiyogi, but somehow it never seemed good enough. At one point I felt so frustrated, I just thought to myself, ‘Sadhguru, if this dance drama has to happen, you give me the lyrics. I can’t do this on my own.’ Surprisingly, that very day the words started falling in place and what seemed so hard happened within a few hours.” – Swami Tejas
Treading on Unfamiliar Terrain
Though many of us have been performing since we were very young, it was unfamiliar terrain for us to go from town to town for one month and perform on different stages. On top of that, we would take on different roles for every performance. For example, the one who was Adiyogi in Salem would be one of Adiyogi’s devotees in Gobichettipalayam, so each of us could get to experience different aspects of the story. Many among us were nervous about it, but our teachers’ ever-present support and Sadhguru’s Grace that envelops us in whatever we do saw us through wonderfully. It was totally overwhelming to see people enraptured with devotion after the performances.
“In one of the performances, I was the devotee beseeching Shiva to come down from the hills. In those moments, I just became the character and could feel the pain and agony of the devotee. When the dancer who enacted Shiva came down, I didn’t feel she was one of the students. It seemed like Shiva himself came down, and I felt so relieved and experienced an overflowing joy flowing within me.” — Maa Santhossia
Testimonials from a Captivated Audience
“The Bharatanatyam performed by the Samskriti children was rich in Bhava (expressions) and in perfect synchronization with Raga (tune) and Tala (beat). The coordination between the body, mind, and emotions was a feast to watch. We could follow the entire story that led to Adiyogi's arrival at the Velliangiri mountains. The way all of them danced has made us speechless. Thank you. My Guru! Through these Samskriti children's performance, you have come down the mountains to invite us!” - Dr. Kavitha
“The fact that Shiva could not keep his word to marry Punyakshi, and the state he was in when he came to Velliangiri, broke my heart. The way the children expressed Adiyogi’s face through the dance drama – I have no words to express! Tears in my eyes...” - Shanthi Janakiraman
Editor’s Note: Isha Samskriti will be performing at Puducherry and Vellore on Jan 28 & 29, and at Tiruppur and Coimbatore on Feb 4 & 5. Please contact your local coordinators for details of the venue and schedule.
On Feb 24, Mahashivratri, Sadhguru will be consecrating the 112-ft Adiyogi at the Isha Yoga Center. Join us for this once in a lifetime experience. Visit isha.sadhguru.org/msr for details about free passes and registration.