If we put dance on a platform, then on one side of the platform there are dancers and on the other side is Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh. She is unique, she is different, she is dynamic, she is exceptional and she is an encyclopaedia in herself. I am humbled to say that she calls me her son and for me she is my dancing Mother. Today I feel honoured to tell you that my dancing mother has created Divyalok. A breathtaking show that makes us witness the ideal way of living, what life should be for us and what kind is for us in today’s high paced world.
Sonal Mansingh is a person I have always looked up to even when I had never met her. She is one who has influenced my life in many ways. She is ‘Maa’ in the true sense, who loves, cares, cresses, kisses, shouts, slaps, fights and more than that makes us learn lessons to be a good human being inside out.
The colourful show with lots of underlined messages was attended by eminent guests like Ms Uma Sharma (renowned Kathak dancer), Shri Baldeo Bhai Sharma (Chairman, NBT), Shri Vasudev Kamath (President, Sanskar Bharati), Shri Ram Bahadur Rai (Chairman, IGNCA), Shri Sachchidanand Joshi (Member Secretary, IGNCA), Shri Adwaita Gadanayak (Director, NGMA) and many more. The show was divided into three parts, the house full audience when back home with myriad messages from each of these three stories.
Purvarang — Devi begins creation from Devi Bhagvat — the unmanifest energy Devi desired to create. She made a male form but without consciousness. Then she divided it into three, thus creating Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. She explained to them their responsibilities in the forthcoming creation process. The three sat in meditation to gather energy for the task ahead. Devi wished to test them. Assuming frightful form she went to Brahma. Frightened Brahma turned away but saw her in all four directions. Thus becoming four faced he ran away. Vishnu escaped into deep waters. But Mahesh remained unmoved. Devi was pleased and gave a boon. Cleverly Mahesh asked her to be born as a woman and meet him. Devi understood his intention but did not withdraw her boon. She predicted events which would separate them, then again bring them together eternally. This has been going on, Man’s Cunning and Woman’s Giving.
Kaaliya Mardan — Example of pollution control from Bhagvat Puran — the story of Kaaliya, the deadly and poisonous King of the Cobras, who poisoned the river Yamuna killing all forms of living creatures and threatening life itself. The episode shows Krishna taking on the Cobra King in a feisty battle and subduing him. Krishna pardons the defeated and remorseful Kaaliya but orders him to go far away from habitation and make home in the deep ocean. In the modern context the serpent represents pollution, which is a threat to existence and has to be kept under check.
Asura and the Enchantress — how to destroy ego of those who want to destroy creation from Shiva Puran — great emperors and kings, even sages with deep knowledge become tamasik or demonic when arrogance subdues their better sense. By doing terrific penance for many thousand years this Asura-King acquired desired boon from Shiva which would imbues him with the power of burning every-and-anything to ashes as soon as he would put his hand on the person, object, bird, beast, even gods. Pleased with his new-found power, the Asura was ready to test its efficiency on Shiva himself. As he advanced, Shiva left the scene in great alarm but Asura chased him. Suddenly Asura’s attention was diverted by entry of a peerless beauty who enticed him to a dance-competition in which the victorious Asura would claim her in marriage! On the frenzied movements of dancing Asura followed her, even the motion of hand being placed on his own head. In a trice Asura burnt to ashes. She, the beauty revealed her true form as Vishnu. Over-indulged in self-interest and arrogance truly can lead to destruction.
This mesmerising show is something one should not miss at any cost. I asked Sonal Mansingh what it took for her to create a show such as Divyalok:
You have made some legendary shows before, what is special about Divyalok?
The first episode, Purvarang is the first chapter of Shri Devi Bhagvat, complied by Sage Veda Vyasa. It describes how creation came about. The text/verses are totally different from long-held views and beliefs perpetuated by generations of male-oriented commentaries. It is awesome and amazing. Wider understanding and acceptance of a diametrically opposite concept is necessary to enlighten us.
How difficult was it to make this production?
It was very challenging because there is a different thread of controlled, deeply felt, grand story-line. First step was to meditate on it, then to visualise music and choreography which had to be somewhat abstract as the episode begins with narration in total darkness, “The creation was not created yet. Time had not started to spin its web; our story begins from then…..”
Any memorable incident during the entire process of Divyalok, that makes your heart warmer?
Many moments of experimentation, specially creating male figures without consciousness is an experience that I will always remember.
You are one person who is always springing with new ideas, now that Divyalok has been premiered, what is next on your plate?
We have many shows lined up for Divyalok in North-East cities like Guwahati, Shillong and 3-4 other venues in 2018 plus negotiations are on for other cities in India as well. Up next is to take this same story forward, again from same book — The Devi Bhagvat.
I would suggest don’t just look at Divyalok as a dance show telling stories of God and Goddesses, rather look at it from the eyes of the Dancing Diva herself, the message of lifetime that she gives through each of her stories is something that will make us better souls and the environment we live in a better place. How I wish the Divyalok presented by the illustrate dancer can actually be a place we can live in.