During the fourth to eighth centuries A.D. in India, devadasis (women temple dancers) enjoyed great respect and prestige within Hindu society. The very embodiment of sensuality and spirituality, they were trained in 64 arts including painting, cooking, and poetry. Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, an American who went to India in her twenties to study classical dance, characterizes these temple dancers as cheerleaders who "sent energy" to "the team" (the deity, the king, the ruling elite).
In this fascinating work, the author talks about Indian classical dance as her spiritual practice. She relates how she was initiated into this art by several masters and received the blessings of a series of gurus. She shows how this kind of dance uses body language, words and music, ornamentation, and the innate emotions that show on the face to communicate the sacred. She also discusses the nine emotional essences or flavors of Indian drama the erotic, the humorous, the compassionate, the fierce, the heroic, the fearful, the disgusted, the wondrous, and the peaceful.
"Through dance we can come to honor the body as sacred, the playhouse of the spirit," writes Gupta. One of the outcomes of her creative tantric synthesis of dance and yoga is a series of 64 innovative yoga exercises that are photographed and presented in detail in this book. The author is currently Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Albright College in Reading, Pennyslvania.