‘Her rebelliousness had no agenda’: Ridhima Bagga

Call it sheer coincidence, but this weekend Delhi is in for a treat with two events Meera Bai who made no bones about her love for Krishna
‘Her rebelliousness had no agenda’: Ridhima Bagga

What comes to the surface, like in the case of Meera Bai, the 16th-century mystic poet, is her ardent devotion for Krishna. But what deserves an investigation are aspects that go beyond that veneration. Kathak dancer and thespian Ridhima Bagga, 25, dug deep into this and is now ready to showcase Meera Bai in a new light through her play, Meera-Beyond Devotion.

Two books immensely helped Bagga in this journey – Mira Bai: Her Life And Times by Hermann Goetz and Mirabai and the Spiritual Economy of Bhakti by Kumkum Sangari. “I realised that Meera Bai wasn’t a conscious revolutionary. She was just being herself, a big part of which was to examine what she was seeing around her. Her rebelliousness didn’t had no agenda. It was simply a natural process born out of observation,” says Bagga, also the founder of The Trialogue Company, Delhi, that’s presenting this musical. 

Bagga reasons that Meera Bai was a devotee of Krishna, perhaps by design and not by choice,. “She was a Vaishnavite, and consequently it felt natural to believe in Krishna. Also given the nature of the times she was born in when women weren’t allowed to assert themselves. Spirituality was the only area where they could express freely,” says the performer, who goes on to narrate how Meera’s mother once told by that Krishna was going to be her husband. “And she could have internalised this to be true.” That said, Meera Bai was educated, sensible, and questioned the atrocities against women. 

But Bagga isn’t passing a verdict, only offering a possibility. Her dance throws up a lot of questions but doesn’t answer any. The audience should fill in the blanks after watching the performance, she says.

Adding musical soul to Bagga’s performance is Susmit Sen (founder of Indian Ocean and Susmit Sen Chronicles). “He told me, ‘don’t give me notes to play, tell me the feelings behind a scene’. Together we’ve brought out the essence of Meera Bai through the unique blend of guitar and Kathak that’s rarely seen. Hope you enjoy it,” she says.

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The New Indian Express