indian ritual

A Ras Leela performer, scanned from M.L. Varadpande’s History of Indian Theatre (1992):

The ritual-drama relationship can be best illustrated by citing the example of Ras Leela, the Vaishnava dance-drama of the Vraj region. According to the Vaishnava tradition this fully evolved dramatic form is not a drama designed for pleasure or recreation but a ritual, or more correctly, an object of Sadhana, a means to achieve spiritual goals, worship, and an aid to abstract meditation.

Krishna is defined as Ras–nectar of emotions. Raso vai sah–says Taittariya Upanishad. The Acharyas used the same words while defining the Krishna principle–He is Ras, joyous essence or juice. To attain Krishna means to taste this joyous essence, nectar, and reach the state of perpetual eternal bliss–Ananda. Sarva rasah yasmin–all moods are in Krishna, sarva rasah yasmat–all moods are from Krishna. 

This ‘Ras’ is fully manifest in the Rasa dance performed by Krishna with his shaktis, the cowherd girls as we know in colloquial language. This Rasa dance is defined in terms of Ras as Rasanam samuho rasah. It is a samuha–totality of the Ras–essence. Thus, Rasa dance is totality of essence. Hence experiencing this Rasa dance is like experiencing in totality the essence of Krishna principle. 

Hopi Indian Snake Shaman –

Hopis believe their ancestors originated in an underworld, and that their gods and the spirits of ancestors live there. They call snakes their brothers, and trust that the snakes will carry their prayers to the Rainmakers beneath the earth. Thus the Hopi dancers carry snakes in their mouths to impart prayers to them.