MOKSHA – Liberation

Composer: Larry Porter
Choreographer: Janaki Patrik
Traditional Kathak incorporated in the choreography:
Sadra/ The Battle between Ram and Ravana, choreography Pandit Birju Maharaj
Bol Parans in praise of Shiva and Ganesh – taught to Janaki Patrik by Nala Najan

Piano – Larry Porter
String Bass – Henning Sieverts
Tabla – Paul Leake
Vocal – Marjorie Johnson

Indian tradition tells us that the intensity of demon-king Ravana’s devotion to Lord Shiva drove him to create the Indian raga/melodic system so that he could sing Shiva’s praises. In his hymn of praise, the Shiv Tandav Stotra, Ravana describes Shiva’s power and beauty. Both the fourth and fifth quatrains of his hymn conclude with lists of Shiva’s epithets as destroyer, even the destroyer of death itself. Alliteration and onomatopoeia create roiling waves of resounding beauty in this magnificent example of Sanskrit devotional poetry.

Because of the intensity of his prayers and ascetic meditation, Ravana received from Shiva the boon of indestructibility by all powers on heaven and earth – except by a human being. Distaining the seeming weakness of humans, Ravana abducted the wife of Rama, Lord Vishnu incarnate. India’s great epic, the RAMAYANA, tells the story of this abduction and of the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana which shook the universe.

A compelling and complex personality, Ravana is for many Indians a legendary hero, a scholar of immense intelligence and the devoted husband of one of India’s traditional five perfect women, Mandodari. Exploring the modern psychological aspects of this story, choreographer Janaki Patrik links Ravana’s passionate devotion to Lord Shiva to his fatal flaw – passionate attraction to Rama’s wife Sita.

It is said that when he tired of rampaging across the earth, Ravana returned to Lord Shiva to request moksha, release from the bondage of endless rebirth. Shiva replied that he had granted Ravana the boon of indestructibility, and that Ravana must instead seek moksha from Lord Vishnu. In this version of Ravana’s story, his battle with Rama can be interpreted as a pretext to attain death, and through death, liberation. Ravana’s poignant cry in the final quatrain of poetry – “When will I be happy?” is echoed by modern man in his quest for earthly fulfillment and ultimate liberation from its bondage.