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Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Television, Radio, Film and Theatre


David Kahn


Bhakti, Bharata Natyam, Indian classical dance, jeevatma, paramatma, Sringara

Subject Areas

Dance; Fine Arts; South Asian Studies


This thesis looks at the relationship between sringara (aspect of love) and bhakti (aspect of devotion) with reference to the purported goal of the Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance) performance - the goal of union between the human and divine souls. The relationship between sringara and bhakti has been pertinent to Bharata Natyam over the last eighty years, and both branches of abhinaya (the art of expression in Indian classical dance forms) have stimulated debates and discussions especially during the time immediately before and after India gained independence. Once the historical evidence used in this debate has been described, the thesis focuses on the Chennai Dance and Music Festival over the last ten years to help locate the contemporary relevance of sringara and bhakti as well as the debate itself.

The study shows the inter-connected nature of the relationship between sringara and bhakti and the dependence of both these aspects on each other for existence in Bharata Natyam. The results of the study also highlight the place occupied by the historical debate between sringara and bhakti.