Devdasi Pratha | respected to Dejected

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DEVDASI | Journey from GLEAM to GLOOM | Most respected to most dejected
Thread to look back in time to where we are today. An untold story in book ‘NITYASUMANGALI’ by Saskia C Kersenboon

DEVDASI Pratha | Journey from GLEAM to GLOOM | Most respected to most dejected

Thread to look back in time to where we are today. An untold story in book ‘NITYASUMANGALI’ by Saskia C Kersenboon
The best book to describe the once ritualistic, respected, devotion.

Devdasis (Rudra Ganikas) were integral part of Temple rituals. The were the ones who surrounded IDOLs during any ritual by the kings
They were the most pious and ominous beings of prosperity and immunity for common people. They performed several rituals in marriages and birth

Becoming a DevDasi itself was a TOUGH ritual process of controlling Shakti and binding it with a symbolic GOD.
It started with permission from King then isolation, disassociation from family, association with GOD.
A Devdasi when died always wore SU-Mangali (SUHAGAN).

Devdasi vrtti or Devadasi Murai was not CASTE.
There were two type of Devadasis:
1. Tyagaraja Parambari : Rajadasis, Natana Dasis, Sannidhi Dasis
2. Kamalambal Parambari, Amman Koyil Dasi (dasi of temple)

The Journey of Dev-Dasi (Servant to God) can be segregated into three major period, as Southern region has converged with Northern region differently during these periods.
1. 100BC-600AD : Classical
2. 600AD-1600AD: Medieval
3. 1600 AD-1947 AD Tanjore courts & subsequent

In antiquity, south concluence with north is the way their temples were built. From Ant-Hill worship to first solid rock-cut temple of Kanchipuram.
Local Goddesses were married to Hindu Gods. Hence a conjunction of local gods with Hindu God give rise to ‘Local Gods’

The first plausible connect to DEVDASI is probably found during the times of Pallava & Pandya Rule
A South Indian Inscription reveals that temples functioned as centre of Culture, Employments and money lenders
It mentions temporary emp. to performers in Rajarajeshvara Nataka

The inscription suggests that there were two types of dancers
1. Court Dancers: Very respectable, Rich, Kind-hearted.
2. Temple Dancers : They received donations in the form of Land, they donated to temple in form of Oil for Lamps, maintenance of temple artists

A possible turnaround in cultural change was seen when Mughal invaders invaded Delhi and started massacre of Hindus and destruction of Hindu temples.
With the rise of Hindu state in 1336 (Vijayanagar), entire South seems to have influenced by Hindu Culture

Southern Music, Dance, Grammers, Poetry started to be influenced by Northern culture. Local puranas (Sthala Puranas), and religious history started to form in ~15th century.
Pannirupattiyal (Grammer 1178-1218AD) having 36 Prabandhas became 96 by 16th Century

The travellogues from 16th period is evident to the respect of Temple Dancers and Court Dancers.
Devdasi’s role to protect evil influences on rulers and adorning his court was prominent during rulers of VIjaya nagar

With ascendency of Venktesa (1614AD), the shift from Saivism to Vaishnavism was observed. The power centre transferred to more local Madurai, Tanjore, Gingee etc.
Further Change in culture and music composition occured during 18th and 19th Century.

With influence from several culture and missionaries started to pour in the Devdasi prominence started to decline
A french missionary Abbe Dubois (1770-1848AD) who spent 31 years of his life in Vindya range describes that devdasi life and tradition is not as prominent.

DevDasi who flourished and were most respected in Temples and Courts under the patronage of KING declined rapidly with the annexation of Tanjore by Britishers in 1856AD.
The loss of the temple and king as patrons forced them to earn a living by means of their arts.

As Britishers took control of entire India in 1858, the Indian culture was subjugated by western culture Devdasis were conjoined with prostitution
in 1947, few devdasis shifted to other professions and few who couldn’t shift disappeared in anonymity.

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