Choreography: Janak Khendry
Music: Ashit Desai
For Janak Khendry Dance Company, it was a very special privilege to celebrate INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY on March 8th, 2015, by presenting one of its master creations: WOMEN LIBERATED.
WOMEN LIBERATED, is based on the occasion when women were allowed to join Buddha’s order. After extensive mediation they achieved enlightenment, and spontaneously recited songs in praise of Buddha. These songs are called Therigatha. Therigatha means songs of the enlightened women.
The ancient records of 73 such instances have been very carefully preserved. Based on that information, this great work was created. We have used the original poems of the Theris in the original Pali language and to maintain the sanctity of their characters and the Pali poetry, the mood and the tempo have been kept deliberately meditative and contemplative.
For me, the six women who’s Gathas are danced, are an embodiment of the entire womanhood. For me it was very special and spiritual experience creating this work. I have always had great respect for all women of the world and love for all children-because a woman is the Source of all Life and the child is our Future.
I would like to thank all my dancers for their hard work and dedication they have shown in their presentation. Bradley Trenaman deserves my best thanks for stunning lighting and Eddie Kastrau, for his many hours in creating this visual presentation. My special thanks to Dr. Naren Wagle for his advice in the research process.
Janak K Khendry
He reflects on the nature of attachment and desire that entrap his life. He decides that to achieve true happiness he must give up all. He decides to begin his search of the highest truth. In the silence of the night Gautama leaves his wealth, his palaces, his parents, his wife and his newborn son. He leaves unnoticed, accompanied by his faithful servant, Chana, to lead the life of a renouncer in search of the highest truth.
Janak Khendry (Gautama) and Kavita Pathinather (Yashodhora)
|Janak Khendry (Gautama)|
YASHODHORA - the Wife
Yashodhora, Gautama’s wife wakes up to find Gautama has left home and is heartbroken, disappointed and confused.
Kavita Pathinather as Yashodhora
Yashodhora, his wife, whose suffering had not ended, is greatly distressed at the sight of her husband. With mixed emotions, she describes the qualities of the Buddha to her son Rahul, and in the end tells him to go to his father to claim his inheritance.
From L to R: Janak Khendry as Buddha and Paromita Kar, Keerthika Ravinthiran, Sinthuja Sriskandhan as Theris (Buddhist nuns)
|From L to R: Harikishan S. Nair as Follower, Janak Khendry as Buddha, Paromita Kar, Keerthika Ravinthiran, Sinthuja Sriskandhan as Theris (Buddhist nun) and Kavita Pathinather as Yashodhora (Buddha's Wife)|
|Kavita Pathinather as Yashodhora (Buddha's Wife) and Keshu Vageesan as Rahul (Buddha's Son)|
MAHA PAJAPATI-Buddha’s foster mother
Pajapati and her older sister Maya were both married to Suddhodana, a Shakya clan chief of Kapilavastu. Maya gave birth to a son and died seven days later. Pajapati became the foster mother of the newborn child. The great sage Asita predicted that the child would become a great teacher, the Buddha, the enlightened one. Pajapati was a very infl uential and respected lady because of her age, and being the wife of the chieftain of Kapilavastu. Women turned to Pajapati for help and guidance. Pajapati, with a group of women approached Buddha and requested to be allowed to join the order as Bhikkhunis or nuns. Buddha,after due consideration allowed women to join the order as Bhikkhunis –nuns, if they observed the chords of discipline.
|From L to R: Janak Khendry as Buddha, Harikishan S. Nair as the Follower|
Bottom Row, From L to R: Mukur De as Maha Pajapati-Buddha’s foster mother, Paromita Kar, Keerthika Ravinthiran, Sinthuja Sriskandhan as Theris (Buddhist nuns)
Back Row On Riser: Janak Khendry as Buddha, Harikishan S. Nair as Follower
SUNDARI - the Young Beautiful Girl
Sundari was born in Varanasi as the daughter of Sujata, a Brahmin. Because of her perfect form she was called SUNDARI. Due to her younger brother’s death, her father renounced the world. Sundari was so inspired by her father’s action that’s he also decided to renounce the world. She asked her mother’s permission: - “Mother I too would leave the world”. The mother said “All the wealth in this house belongs to you. You are the heiress of this family. Enjoy your inheritance. Do not leave the house”. But Sundari said “Wealth is of no use to me. Please give me your permission to renounce the world” With her mother’s permission she abandoned all her possessions and entered the Order at Varanasi. Studying and striving because of the promise in her and the maturity of knowledge accumulated in her previous births, she attained Arahantship, with the thorough grasp of the Norm in form and meaning.
|Ishwaria Chandru as Sundari|
SONA - the Woman Rejected by Her Family
Sona was born at Savathi in a clansman’s family and was married to a rich man. After marriage she had ten children and was called Bahuputtika - the mother of many children. After her husband renounced the world, she distributed all her wealth among her children and kept nothing for herself. Her children stopped showing any respect for her and she decided to join the Order in her old age. Soon her strenuous energy became known to the Buddha and he sent a ray of glory and spoke to her. She received the Arahantship. Her resolve, made in one of her previous lives, to win eminence, was full-filled.
|Meera Kanageswaran as Sona|
AMBAPALI - the Royal Court Dancer
According to the legends, Ambapali’s origins were supernatural. She was born spontaneously in the city of Vesali under a mango tree and was discovered by a gardener. She grew up to be so astonishingly beautiful that princes fought to possess her. The strife was settled by appointing her the chief courtesan of Vesali. Ambapali abandoned fame and fortune to become a devout Buddhist disciple after she heard the sermon given by Buddha in the town of Kotigama. She gave her park Ambapalivana to the Buddha and the Order and built a Vihara for them. Ambapali renounced the world and, working for insight by studying the law of impermanence as illustrated in her ageing body, she attained Arahantship.
|Kala Vageesan as Ambapali|
KISAGOTAMI-the Mother Who Faces the Death of her Child
|Rugsha Sivanandan as Kisagotami|
|From L to R: Rugsha Sivanandan as Kisagotami, Janak Khendry as Buddha and Harikishan S. Nair as the Follower|
MAHA PAJAPATI GOTAMI Gatha
To you Buddha, hero I bow — best of all beings; Who set me free from suffering and many other people. All suffering has been understood - the cause has dissipated; The eight-fold path has been understood -I have reached the state where everything stops; In the past, mother, son, father, brother and grandmother I was; Not having knowledge -I journeyed through the cycles of life without expiation; I have seen the Buddha, this is my last existence, I have understood; I have broken the chain of existence of my life, there is no more rebirth for me; All disciples, expanding their energy, always with their best efforts; Always resolute together - this is homage to Buddha; For the welfare of many, Maya gave birth to Gautama; Who is responsible for ending the suffering of many sick and dying?
|Mukur De as Maha Pajapati|
Sundari speaks to her teacher: I am determined in addressing what I have acquired; In my past lives I knew where I lived in the past. Your efforts respected teacher of the order adorned; The threefold knowledge acquired as per Buddha’s teachings. Permit me respected teacher to fulfill my desire to go to Swathi to hear the sound of Dharma in Great Buddha’ presence.
Teacher speaks to Sundari: Sundari look at the Teacher whose fair skin glows; Flawless the tamer of the untamed enlightened and fearless Buddha.
Teacher speaks to Buddha on behalf of Sundari: See great Master Sundari has come to tell you her freedom from sorrows. No birth without bondage is accomplished by destroying fear.
Sundari Speaks to Buddha: From Banaras I have come in your presence; Your devotee, Oh Great Hero, at your feet to salute you; You are Buddha you are teacher you are Brahma; From whose mouth I emerged have accomplished my task of cycle of births.
Buddha speaks to Sundari: You are welcome - for you it was a short journey; Those who have come at teacher’s feet to pay respect have freed themselves of bondage and have accomplished their goal.
Ten sons and daughters did I bear within this heap of visible decay. Then weak and old I drew near to a Bhhikkunī. She taught to me the Norm wherein I learnt the factors, organs, bases of this self, impermanent compound. Hearing her words, and cutting off my hair, I left the world. Then as I grappled with the threefold course, clear shone for me the Eye Celestial. I know the ‘how’ and ‘when’ I came to birth down the long past, and where it was I lived. I cultivate the Signless, and my mind in uttermost composure concentrate. Mine is the ecstasy of freedom won as Path merges in Fruit, and Fruit in Path. Holding to nought, I in Nibbana live. This five-grouped being have I understood. Cut from its root, all onward growth is stayed. I too am stayed, victor on basis sure, immovable. Rebirth comes never more.
|Meera Kanageswaran as Sona|
My hair was black and curly, the colour of the black bees. Now that I am old, it is like the hemp of trees, This I affirm as truths statement. I had fi ne braids, fastened with gold jewels, now that I am old, my hair is shorn and thin. This I affirm as truths statement. My voice was sweet like a cocoon, moving in the thicket, Now that I am old, it cracked and halting. This I affirm as truths statement. My neck was beautiful, like a polished conch shell, now that I am old, it is wilted and cracked. This I affirm as truths statement. My breasts were beautiful, high, close together and round. Now like empty water bags, they hang down. This I affirm as truths statement. My thighs were beautiful like elephant’s trunks. Now that I am old, they are like bamboo stalks. This I affirm as truths statement. On my beautiful calves, I wore gold anklets; my feet were delicate and beautiful as if filled with cotton. Now that I am old, they are cracked and rotten, this I affirm as truths statement.
|Kala Vageesan as Ambapali|
Having the friendship of noble people has been praised by the wise men throughout the world. If he resorted to the friendship of the learned, an ignoramus could be wise. When noble people are resorted inside of those who resort them, increases. Resorting to noble people one would be relieved of all pain and sorrow. One should know pain, the cause of the pain, and the cessation of pain, and the eight fold paths, and the four Aryan truths. Sorrowful as a state of women, has been declared by Buddha the tamer of men. It is understood that being a wife and giving birth is painful for women. Some cut their throats, some tender ones take poison. Both are considered murderers in hell, and suffer misfortunes. I, a miserable woman, with family dissipated, have suffered immeasurable pain. I have shed tears for many thousand lives; I have been engaged in eight fold path conducive to no death. I have realized Nirvana, I have looked into the mirror of Dharma. I have removed my dearth, I have relieved the burden of suffering. I have fulfilled myself. The Theri Kisa-Gotami with mind completely at ease, has sent us.
|Rugsha Sivanandan as Kisagotami|
Impermanent are all compounded things. When one perceives this with true insight, one becomes detached from suffering; this is the path of purification.
Theris (from L to R: Sinthuja Sriskandhan, Keerthika Ravinthiran, Paromita Kar)
ANANDA - MEETABHAVANA Gatha
Ananda was the youngest first cousin of the Buddha. He joined the sangha as a child. Ananda later became the attendant of Buddha, almost twenty-five years after the Buddha’s enlightenment, when the Buddha was around 55. The Buddha had many private discourses with Ananda, including one on the nature of Bhikkhunis. Ananda also helped to found the order of nuns or Bhikkhunis. He pleaded with the Buddha to allow women to enter the sangha.
May I be free from enmity; May I be free from ill-will; May I be rid of suffering; May I be happy.
|Harikishan S. Nair as Ananda|
NAVA GUNA Gatha (Nine Virtues of Buddha)
#1 By name He is an Arahant as He is worthy; Even in secret He does no evil; He attained the fruit of Arahantship; To Thee, the Worthy One, my homage be.
#2 By wisdom He is Sammasambuddha; By teaching He is Sammasambuddha; A fully Enlightened one is He in the world; To Thee, the fully Enlightened One, my homage be.
#3 He is endowed with wisdom and knowledge; His wisdom is made known; The past, future and present He knows ; To Thee who is endowed with wisdom and knowledge, my homage be.
#4 He is Sugata being self-disciplined; Being good He is Sugata; In the sense of going to the good state of Nibbāna; To Thee, the Sugata, my homage be.
#5 By name He is Lokavidu; He knows the past and future; Things, beings and space He knows; To Thee, the Knower of worlds, my homage be.
#6 By wisdom and conduct unrivalled is He; Who is the Unrivalled of the world; In this world He is revered as an Incomparable One; That Incomparable One, I salute.
#7 O Charioteer, the King Charioteer; A charioteer, a clever trainer is He of Deva; who is a clever charioteer of the world; And is a respectful charioteer in this world; That great trainer, I salute.
#8 To Devas, Yakkhas and men in this world; He gives the highest fruits; Among those taming the untamed; To Thee, O Remarkable One, my homage be.
#9 The Bhagava is repleted with fortune; He has destroyed all passions; He has crossed the ocean of Samsāra; To that Blessed One, my homage be.