Clues to Rasik Devotee’s Inspiration to dance

In this post we will present some clues about what could have been inspirations that moved Mumbiram take to dance with such passion. Here are three quotations from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, an authoritative work on “Bhakti” which is very dear to Mumbiram:

verse 1

“In this way by coming to know about the glorious leelas of God one develops attachment to love of God.
In that state the heart is inundated by Rasa and the lover of God sometimes laughs out aloud, weeps, roars or dances as if intoxicated and devoid of ordinary inhibitions of social behaviour.”
(Bhagavat 11-2-40)

verse 2

“When a devotee hears the superexcellent qualities and equally fabulous activities that the Supreme Personality performs in his various leela-avatars, in that ecstatic state goosebumps erupt on his body, tears stream out of his eyes, he sings out even as his voice is choking and he dances even as he weeps.”
(Bhagavat, 7-7-34)

verse 3

“When love of God arrises in the heart of a devotee sometimes he is so agitated by feelings of seperation that he weeps, sometimes he experiences ecstatic happiness in his meditation and laughs out aloud, sometimes breaks out in a loud song, sometimes he roars in his eagerness, sometimes dances losing all inhibitions and sometimes he is so deeply involved in his meditations upon God that he himself begins to imitate the leelas of God.”
(Bhagavat, 7-4-39,40)

While these quotations give instances from lives of great devotees in the ancient past the way these inspirations manifest in individual devotees can be very unique. In the case of Mumbiram we have a devotee who is also a visual artist, a painter.

It will be right to look for clues in Mumbiram’s own art.

Take for example this very quick and spontaneous Ink & Brush rendering that has become iconic of Mumbiram’s very unique love for dancing.

"Gandharvadaman", Mumbiram

We can notice that it’s an intimate group that is meeting under the sky on the bank of a river centered around a tulasi that is worshiped. There is a gentleman with a mridanga drum for rhythm and a peripheral accompanying dancer that may have chanced upon this scene. As for spectators we see only a seriously engrossed monkey.

There are few other simple line drawings that come to mind.

The earliest is this Ink&Brush rendering from Mumbiram’s Berkeley days circa 1974. Here some Tribals living in grass huts are inspired to dance under the high mid-noon sun. Interestingly this was one of the postcards that Mumbiram was selling along with other sketches of Berkeley cafes and hangouts.

"Berkeley Tribals", 1969, Berkeley, Mumbiram

Here is one that is reminiscent of the spirit of Omar Khayyam in his “Rubaiyat”. This odd couple is keeping each other company while engaged in greatly diverse activities on their own. The wise old man is spinning on his charkha engrossed in his meditation. The young companion is clearly inspired to a more exuberant and energetic display.

"Omar Khayyam", Mumbiram
"Omar Khayyam", Mumbiram

In Mumbiram’s collection of “Book Readers” charcoals there are at least three that show a couple where the lady is relaxing after a professional performance on stage. But there is one of remarkable charm where the man is inspired to dance while his lady is lying down reading from a book.

"Gita Govinda" - Book Readers, Mumbiram
"Gita Govinda" - Book Readers, Mumbiram

Needless to say that the vast repertoire of inspired real dances of Mumbiram and his friends either in his legendary studio or on the blessed waterfronts of Pune and Akshi either with wonderful flags or designer costumes speak very loudly about what inspired this artist to dance.

"Dance of Rasa Renaissance", "The River Festival", Pune, 2003, Mumbiram
"Dance of Rasa Renaissance", "The River Festival", Pune, 2003, Mumbiram