RASA LILA is an attempt to describe with images and music a temple dance of Radha and Krishna. This dance was photographed on the full moon night in April, 2006 in a former kingdom of Manipur at Radha-Govinda temple in the capital city Imphal, North-East India.
Manipur became a Vaishnava kingdom under the reign of King Jai Singh (1759-1798), who is affectionately known as Raja Rishi Bhagyachandra. The King introduced into the dance a mood of intense separation from one's beloved Lord. A mood of separation was thought and practiced by an influential mediaeval saint Shri Chaitanya (1486–1534) from Bengal and was brought to Manipur by his contemporary Narottama Das Thakur. In Manipuri Vaishnava aesthetic's, RASA LILA dance is seen as an embodiment of the loving mellows between Radha and Krishna, the divine couple of Vrindavana. Many artistic elements in the dance come from Lai-haraoba, a sacred tribal dance from pre-Vaishnavite era. Among the eight Indian classical dance forms, Manipuri dance is considered by some art connoisseurs the most subtle and refined.
Rabindranath Tagore was enchanted by Manipuri dance form to such an extent that he would travel with the artists in 1920' to perform RASA LILA in rasa mandalas (sacred circles) across the Indian subcontinent as well as at his University Shanti Niketanam in Bengal.
Many thanks to Hans Christian from RASA band for a permission to use their beautiful track Jaya Radhe Jaya Krishna. The clip also contains location sounds recorded during the dance. My thanks go also to Aribam Shyam Sharma for offering freely filmmaker's insights, and to Buddhi Singh from RKCS Art Gallery for a permission to use the painted works of his late father.
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