Kathak Dance

GS: 1 Art and Culture


Earlier this month, Pandit Birju Maharaj, India’s foremost Kathak exponent and recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, passed away.

Pandit Birju Maharaj’s Life


He was born on February 4, 1938, in the family of Kathak revivalist Ishwari Prasadji, and grew up in the city of New Delhi.

Name in its original form:

His given name was originally ‘Dukh Haran,’ but it was later altered to ‘Brijmohan,’ which is a synonym for Krishna.

Brijmohan Nath Misra was later abbreviated to ‘Birju’ because of his short hair.

Early in one’s professional life:

Pt Birju Maharaj was appointed by the Government of India to represent the country at a number of festivals as early as the beginning of his professional career.

Among other nations, he visited Russia, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic.


The Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow style Kathak was carried forward by him as its torchbearer.

Prizes and honours received:

At the age of 28, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, which is the highest honour in Indian music.

Aside from an honorary doctorate from Banaras Hindu University, he has earned other awards, including the Kalidas Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas, and Adharshila Shikhar Samman. He also got the Soviet Land Nehru Award, Shiromani Samman, and Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award.

The History of Kathak Dance and Its Evolution


Kathak is one of the most important genres of ancient Indian classical dance, and it is usually believed to have derived from the travelling bards of northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers, who first performed the dance form.

These Kathakars travelled the streets, telling

legends with music, dance, and songs, much like the early Greeks did with their theatre.


The origins of this dance style may be traced back to a Sanskrit Hindu literature on performing arts known as the ‘Natya Shastra,‘ which was composed by ancient Indian theatrologist and musicologist Bharata Muni and published in the ninth century.

It is assumed that the first complete version of the book was finished between 200 BCE and 200 CE, although some sources state that the text was completed between 500 BCE and 500 CE, which is more accurate.

thousands of verses organised into chapters can be found in the text, which categorises dance into two distinct forms: nrita, which is pure dance that incorporates finesse of hand movements, gestures, and facial expressions, and nritya, which is solo expressive dance that focuses on facial expressions and facial expressions only.

“Natya Shastra” describes several ideas of Indian classical dances, according to Russian scholar Natalia Lidova, including the Tandava dance of Lord Shiva, acting techniques such as standing postures and gesticulations as well as the “fundamental steps,” “bhava,” and “rasa.”

It is claimed by Mary Snodgrass that the tradition of this dancing style may be traced back to the year 400 BCE.

Bharhut, a hamlet in the Madhya Pradesh state of India’s Satna region, is regarded as a representation of early Indian art and architecture.

The panels from the 2nd century BC that were discovered there depict sculptures of dancers in various vertical attitudes with arm positions that mimic Kathak steps, many of which mirror the ‘pataka hasta’ Mudra, as well as other poses.

When we say Kathak, we are referring to the word kathaka, which comes from the Vedic Sanskrit phrase “Katha,” which means “storey,” while the term “kathaka,” which appears in various Hindu epics and manuscripts, meaning “one who recounts a storey.”

Kathak, according to textual research, is an ancient Indian classical dance style that is said to have begun in Banaras or Varanasi and subsequently expanded to Jaipur, Lucknow, and many other cities and towns in north and northwest India.

Instruments and musical compositions:

A Kathak performance may feature as many as a

dozen classical instruments, depending on the impact and depth necessary for a given performance, among other factors.

In a Kathak performance, some instruments, like as the tabla, are frequently employed because they harmonise well with the dancer’s rhythmic foot movements and often replicate the sound of such footwork motions or vice versa to create an outstanding piece of music known as a jugalbandi.

A manjira, which are hand cymbals, as well as a sarangi or harmonium, are also frequently employed.

Contributions in Support of the Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti movement, a tendency of theistic devotion that emerged in mediaeval Hinduism, was the catalyst for the development of the genre.

The Kathakars use rhythmic foot motions, hand gestures, face expressions, and eye movements to tell stories to the audience.

As a result of its popularity in the courts of North Indian kingdoms, this performance art, which combines narratives from ancient mythology and major Indian epics, particularly from the life of Lord Krishna, became highly famous in North Indian courts.

Most well-known are three unique varieties of this genre, which are three gharanas (schools), which largely differ in the emphasis placed on footwork vs acting:

the gharana of Jaipur,

the Benaras gharana, as well as

the Lucknow gharana (school of music). Gharana of Lucknow:

Ishwari Prasad, a follower of the Bhakti movement, established the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak in the city of Lucknow.

Ishwari resided in the hamlet of Handiya, which is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh’s southeast region.

In one of his visions, it is said that Lord Krishna appeared and urged him to establish “dancing as a form of worship.”

It was he who taught the dance form to his sons Adguji, Khadguji, and Tularamji, who in turn passed it on to their descendants, and the tradition has continued for more than six generations, carrying forward this rich legacy that is well recognised as the Lucknow gharana of Kathak by Indian literature on music, which includes both Hindu and Muslim composers alike.

When the Bhakti movement was in full swing, the growth of Kathak was predicated mostly on the narratives of Lord Krishna and his everlasting love Radhika or Radha, which could be found in scriptures such as the ‘Bhagavata Purana’ and which were magnificently portrayed by Kathak performers.


  • It is considered to be one among India’s classical dances.
  • The name Kathak is derived from the word Katha, which literally translates as “storey.” It is typically conducted in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • As it evolved, it became more commonly associated with temple or village performances in which the dancers recited stories from ancient texts.
  • With the development of the Bhakti movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Kathak began to develop as a separate kind of dance.
  • The traditions of Radha-Krishna were dramatised in folk plays known as rasa lila, which mixed folk dance with the fundamental gestures of the kathak storytellers to create a unique performance experience for audiences.
  • Kathak was performed at the court of the Mughal emperors and their nobility, where it gained its current characteristics and developed into a type of dance with a specific style.
  • It flourished under the patronage of Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, and developed into a significant artistic genre.
  • solo performance, the dancer frequently pauses to deliver lyrics, which are then carried out through movement by the rest of the dancer.
  • The emphasis is on footwork; the motions are masterfully regulated and done straight-

legged by dancers who are wearing ankle-bells, which adds to the overall effect.

  • Hindustani or North Indian music is the only musical accompaniment for Kathak, which is the only classical dance style associated with it.
  • Birju Maharaj and Sitara Devi are two of the most well-known dancers in the world.


Euthanasia: Why the right to die remains a debate across the world

GS 2 Polity and Governance


Earlier this month, a man became the first person in Colombia to be killed without first having to be diagnosed with a terminal condition, according to official records.

Because of his decision to die, the debate over euthanasia and its legal applicability in many jurisdictions has re-ignited around the world.


When a suffering individual who would not live if medical facilities were removed from their care, mercy killing, also known as euthanasia, is performed, it is known as euthanasia.

The Case of Aruna Shanbaug: The case was heard by the Supreme Court (SC), and the final verdict was delivered in the year 2018, including the Right to Die with Dignity into the Right to Life under Article 21.

As of right now, the Supreme Court of India has only permitted passive Euthanasia in the country.


  • Words in Greek: As a result of two Ancient Greek terms, “Euthanasia” means “good death,” and “thantos” means “death.” Thus, “Euthanasia” literally translates as “good death.”
  • There are two kinds: Euthanasia may also be classified into two categories based on the method of death used.
  • Active Euthanasia (also known as lethal injection): It is referred to as ‘Positive Euthanasia’ or ‘Aggressive Euthanasia’ in certain circles. It is the deliberate infliction of death on a human person through the use of direct involvement. It is a deliberate action taken in order to put an end to a pointless life and a pointless existence.
  • For example, administering fatal dosages of a medicine or administering a lethal injection are both options. Although active euthanasia is typically a more expedient method of bringing about death, it is nonetheless prohibited in all forms in most jurisdictions.
  • Passive Euthanasia is sometimes referred to as ‘Negative Euthanasia’ or ‘Non-Aggressive Euthanasia,’ depending on who you ask. It is deliberately causing death by failing to provide vital, necessary, and routine medical treatment, as well as food and drink.
  • It refers to the process of turning off, withdrawing, or eliminating artificial life support systems.
  • Passive euthanasia is typically more painful and time-consuming than aggressive euthanasia. Most kinds of voluntary, passive euthanasia, as well as some instances of non-voluntary, passive euthanasia, are lawful in most jurisdictions.

India’s legal rights, cases, and other legal provisions are outlined here.

  • Article 21 of the Constitution, which contains the freedom to die or not, was first considered in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Maruti Shripati Dubal.
  • The Bombay High Court ruled in this case that the “right to life” included the “right to die,” and Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code was knocked down.
  • In this particular instance, the court said unequivocally that the right to die is not unnatural; rather, it is exceptional and atypical. In addition, the court noted a variety of circumstances in which a person could choose to end his or her life.
  • In the case of P. Rathinam v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India affirmed this decision. In the case of Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, on the other hand, a five-judge panel of the Supreme Court has ruled that the “right to life” guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not encompass the “right to die,” as previously stated.
  • In this particular instance, the court said unequivocally that Article 21 solely protects the right to life and personal liberty, and that the right to die cannot be included in this provision. Euthanasia is not allowed in India, as it is in practically every other country in the world.
  • Every act of assisting or abetting the conduct of suicide is punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C).
  • In the case of Naresh Maratra Sakhee vs Union of India, Justice Lodha observed that “suicide by its nature is an act of self-killing or self-destruction, an act of terminating one’s own act and without the aid or assistance of any other human agency.” Euthanasia, on the other hand, “is an act of terminating one’s own act and without the aid or assistance of any other human agency.”
  • Mercy killing is a kind of homicide, regardless of the conditions under which it occurs or is practised. It cannot be considered an offence unless it is explicitly approved. The Indian Penal Code goes on to say that “abetting homicide, as well as abetment of suicide, is punishable.”


  • Medical Ethics: Medical ethics emphasise the importance of nursing, caregiving, and healing, rather than the termination of a patient’s life. Today, medical technology is progressing at an incredible rate, with even the most terminal ailments now being cured through modern medicine. As a result, rather of pushing a patient to take his or her own life, medical professionals must urge them to face their difficult lives with bravery.
  • Wrong on a moral level: Taking a life is immoral and unethical on both moral and ethical grounds. The importance of human life can never be overstated.
  • Vulnerable individuals will grow more susceptible to it: The legalisation of euthanasia is opposed by organisations that advocate for handicapped persons on the grounds that such groups of vulnerable individuals would feel compelled to choose euthanasia because they would perceive themselves as a burden to society.
  • Comparison of Suicide and Euthanasia: If suicide is not permissible, then euthanasia should not be permitted either. Someone commits suicide when he or she falls into a deep despair and believes that there is no hope for the future. When a person requests euthanasia, the scenario is similar to that described above. However, by providing good care to such patients and instilling confidence in them, such a propensity can be mitigated.
  • X-FactorMiracles do happen in our society especially when it is a matter of life and death, there are examples of patients coming out of coma after years and we should not forget human life is all about hope.


  • Putting an End to Suffering: Euthanasia is a procedure that allows a person who is experiencing unbearably severe pain and suffering to end their life. It saves the lives of terminally sick individuals by preventing them from dying in their sleep.
  • Individual Choice: The core of human existence is to live a dignified life, and forcing someone to live in an undignified manner goes against the person’s will. So it represents the decision of a person, which is a basic principle in the world of business.
  • Treatment for those who are not afflicted: Many emerging and impoverished nations, such as India, are suffering from a scarcity of resources. There is a scarcity of available hospital space. As a result, the energy of physicians and hospital beds may be directed toward saving the lives of those who wish to die rather than continuing the lives of those who wish to die.
  • Death with Dignity: Article 21 of the Indian Constitution expressly allows for the right to die with dignity. A person has the right to spend his or her life with at least the bare minimum of dignity, and if that standard is slipping below that bare minimum, that person should be granted the choice to terminate his or her life.
  • Taking Care of Mental Anguish: The goal here is to help rather than damage those who are suffering. It not only soothes the severe pain of a patient, but it also relieves the emotional torment experienced by the patient’s family members as well.

The Best Way Forward

  • For patients and grieving family members, achieving peace with God and pain control are practically similar in terms of necessity and urgency.
  • In order to alleviate the suffering of the patient’s family, it may be necessary to discontinue useless therapy that has no realistic probability of doing any benefit – other than preventing the patient from dying –
  • Perpetrators can mask their actions as active voluntary euthanasia if they enable voluntary euthanasia to take place. This makes it simpler for them to commit murder. This must be avoided at all costs.
  • Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of things, we should consider the positive aspects.


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