Why Runs The Abhisarika


27 February 2023

Priyanka Jain presents a unique recitation of Sanskrit mythology and neuroscience.

Come on a journey bridging old and new knowledge and feel mesmerized by how ancient literature describes our contemporary selves in a unique blend of art, science, and literature. You might just feel like you are also an Abhisarika! You might just discover the Abhisarika in you!

Join specialist story-maker Priyanka Jain as she takes audiences on a journey that connects ancient tales with contemporary knowing.

Picture recitation is the art of storytelling in verse while showing images on a visual prop, which are simultaneously mentioned in the oral narrative. Many forms of this art were performed in India but are now nearly extinct, partially suffering neglect during European colonisation.

The Abhisarika is one of the eight types of heroines mentioned in classical Sanskrit literature. Seven of the heroines wait for their lovers to come to them but the Abhisarika (not a passive character) runs out to meet her lover, sometimes even on dark stormy nights. Instead of narrating her love story, the performance ponders on her act of ignoring social conventions, running and risk-taking. This picture recitation explores the motifs of the Abhisarika’s iconography as found in various mediaeval Indian miniature paintings (such as snakes, trees, lightning etc.) and tries to interpret her psychosomatic landscape through the lenses of contemporary neuroscientific research especially related to the neurotransmitter Dopamine (about which we hear a lot these days). Just as in murder mysteries, the storyteller tries to investigate what was happening when the Abhisarika ran out of her house. Just as six blind men describe an elephant, each motif has its own answer as to why the Abhisarika runs which is elucidated in a song. The audience is invited to interact and choose the motifs one after another and decide the sequence of the performance.

This is an open space. Chairs will be available but you are welcome to bring a picnic blanket if you prefer to recline. Tickets can be purchased here.

For more information, see Priyanka’s website.

Like the article? Make it a conversation by leaving a comment below.  If you believe in supporting a platform for culture-makers, consider becoming a subscriber.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


1 obj = obj.offsetParent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *