Ceaseless pursuit

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 12 April 2019

Catching up with Bharatanatyam dancer, Durga Tilak, who has her first solo performance on Sunday evening

At 22, Durga Tilak has a close acquaintance with sadhana and bhakti, through dance and her Mechanical Engineering degree. Simultaneously using her left and right side brain, Tilak studied and appeared for her engineering exams and Nritya Alankar, a degree in classical dance, in Bharatanatyam.

The youngster will be presenting her attempts at continuously pursuing dance through her solo dance recital titled Nritya Sadhana, on Sunday evening. Explaining to us her concept and understanding of sadhana and bhakti, she says, “The idea for the recital emerged from the fact that I wanted to do a solo recital, for a very long time. I didn’t have time earlier, because I was pursuing engineering. I just finished my Bachelor’s course and I have taken admission for Masters in Engineering. Giving up dance was never really an option because it is something that brings me a lot of happiness. Hence, I continued learning.”

Tilak, who is a senior disciple of Parimal Phadke, credits him with all her success. 

“I have been learning from sir for almost 14 years now. He has seen me grow up. Everything that I know of dance in general and Bharatanatyam in particular, is because of my teacher. Whatever little I have managed to achieve is because of my teachers. Two years ago, I finished my Alankar exam from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay and I was invited to perform at the Ekanga Dance Festival in Bhubaneshwar, thanks to a recommendation that went through Gandharva Mahavidyalay to the organisers.” 

Continuing with her dance learning, says Tilak, has helped her include newer compositions, the ones she learnt two years ago, in her solo performance. “I will be presenting six compositions. One is Mallari, a traditional rhythm based composition. We have a clubbed composition with a short introduction called Koutuam, followed by keerthanam. It was a poem written by Shahaji Raje, which was set to music by my teacher (Phadke). Another Sanskrit composition written by Maharajah Swati ThirunalRama Varma describing Lord Krishna has been included. I am also performing a composition which pays tribute to Goddess Parvati, an abhinaya piece on an abhang written by Tukaram Maharaj. The last one is a Hindi piece, written by my sir, which talks about pursuit of knowledge,” says Tilak.

The Master’s student admits that her exposure to bhakti is through dance and the compositions that she has learnt from Phadke. “Before I can draw my own conclusions, I know there’s a lot more to read and explore about bhakti and sadhana. As a youngster, I can say that everyone has that one goal in life. And, everything that one does to get close to the goal is sadhana. Basically, it means tireless practice and being very sincere in your effort. It might be achieving a certain level in arts, dance and music, or it might be bettering oneself at academics. One philosophical way of looking at it is that bhakti is also a way of sadhana. The devotee or student of religion is always trying to pursue the goal of reaching closer to his truth or god, almighty,” she explains. 

“As long as you have the urge to learn, the sadhana part is easy. In contemporary realm, it’s about finding a thing or two that you are heavily invested in, and pursue it with full concentration and heart. For me, Nritya Sadhana can also be translated into a journey, beginning with the privilege that I had to learn and all that was possible, because my parents and teachers were the people they were. They encouraged me to keep searching for new things to learn,” adds Tilak, who is also learning to play drums in Western classical music. She also hopes to learn languages, Sanskrit in particular. The urge to better herself is what drives the girl.

ST Reader Service
Watch Nritya Sadhana, a solo Bharatanatyam dance performance by Durga Tilak at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium, Senapati Bapat Road, on April 14, 5.30 pm

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