The yoga and classical dance traditions of India have been inextricably entwined for millennia. The exacting hand gestures, postures, and movements of Indian classical dance can only be achieved through yogic concentration. Conversely, the aesthetics, symmetry, and dynamism of dance enhance the practice of yoga. These two traditions, so complementary and essential to one another, are united and explicated for the first time in A liwa of Indian Clamical Dance.
Twenty-five years ago Roxanne Kamayani Gupta embarked on a journey of dance and yoga, yearning to unlock their mysteries and discover their common origins. As a twenty-year-old student from America she was miraculously and mysteriously absorbed into Indian culture, became a Hindu, and began an odyssey so unusual and unique that the reader will be enchanted by its telling. Choosing the path of the dancer, Roxanne Gupta accomplished what no Western woman had done before: being accepted and trained by Indian masters and then performing in the Indian classical traditions -from the palaces of maharajas to the arts festivals of Europe and America-while at the same time achieving a doctorate in the anthropology of religion and being initiated into a number of yogic traditions. Having mastered the classical form of Kuchipudi dance and studied with teachers of the hatha and kriya yoga traditions, she brings together these two great streams of consciousness and practice.
In this tantric approach to yoga and dance, expressed through the body and through a yoga of emotions, we see the traditions embodied in a manner that embraces the totality of the human experience. The result is the dance of the yogini, the sacred feminine initiatress who dances with one foot in nature and the other in the realm of the gods. With extensive photographs of innovative yoga routines, Roxanne Kamayani Gupta distills her experience into techniques for yogic study certain to assist students of all levels to achieve a dynamic, beautiful, and graceful practice.
Roxanne Kamayani Gupta is a scholar of Indian culture and compara-tive religion, a teacher of hatha and kriya yoga, and an initiate of the Sri Vidya tantric tradition of goddess worship. She holds a doctorate in Anthropology of Religion from Syracuse University and is currently Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.
I couldn't have put it better myself. Daya Krishna, one of India's most distinguished and respected living philosophers, in conversation recently reflected with me upon the nature of intercultural communication. He expressed the view that to reach a true understanding between cultures, one had to fall in love. This book, then, is first of all a love story. It is my own story-one that tells how, more than twenty-five years ago, I travelled halfway around the world to become completely immersed in India, submitting myself to its religious and artistic disciplines. But the love story does not end there. This book is an attempt to share some of the important aspects of the highly developed disciplines I encountered, and to offer new theoretical and practical understandings of what Indian culture offers us in the West.
As a scholar of religious studies and anthropology, I am well aware that this book marks a departure from the standards of academic research, for even though it is based on years of study, travel, and field experience, it is also extremely personal and subjective. When at a young age I adopted Indian culture as my own, I cultivated an identity that contrasted sharply with both my American upbringing and my vocation as a student of religious studies. My early university training taught me to keep my experiences and beliefs separate from the subject I was studying, an agenda with which I always struggled. Fortunately, in recent years the feasibility of scholarly "objectivity" has been seriously challenged by new developments in the humanities and social sciences, and so it has become increasingly possible to write in one's own voice, even within the academy.
Nonetheless, I have written this book with a general, rather than a scholarly, audience in mind. As a scholar my thinking and writing focus primarily on establishing distinctions between various terms and categories related to religion and other cultural phenomena. But in this book I am equally interested in understanding the connections between the same terms and categories as they are subjectively experienced. It is my wish to communicate with a broad audience, especially with those for whom these disciplines may speak on more practical levels.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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