this is for a gods and humans course

instead of the sufi and christian videos please answer this instead:

In ancient Hinduism, there are many gods who are known for their dancing: Shiva, Kali, Krishna, etc. In the Hindu cosmology it is Shiva’s dancing that gives birth our universe.

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One of the most repeated dance scenes in ancient Hinduism, however, is between the god Krishna and his beloved Radha. When Krishna plays the flute people are immediately transported to a better, non-rational world. The music makes Radha (and everyone else) want to dance. Through dancing like Radha, many people still today catch glimpses of other worlds.

In Bollywood films (romantic musicals often filmed in Mumbai, India), the flirtatious dance between Krishna and Radha is often reinterpreted in modern contexts. Check out the videos from two 1999 Bollywood films:, Hum Saath Saath Hain (We are Together) and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Straight from the Heart). In the first song, the lyrics refer to Radha speaking to Krishna’s mother about the god’s attractive sensuality (you can find the lyrics here: (

“My anklets start to jingle

When he flirts with his eyes

I go crazy and simply hold my heart”

In the second video, the classic Hindu “garba” dance refers to a time when Krishna plays the flute and “the earth and sky will dance together” (you can find the lyrics here:

Let’s focus on the music, and of course, the dancing. (Keep in mind each video has over 40 million views!) Break down a specific scene. What kinds of knowledge may be discovered, expressed, and/or passed on through modern interpretations of traditional dances such as these? Have you ever put yourself into a different head space while dancing?

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Hindu scriptures describe a traditional story where Krishna dances with Radha and her sakhis in a dance called the Ras dance or Krishna Tandave or simply the Ras lila. Historically Radha appeared on earth approximately 5000 years ago on a special day called Rasha Ashtami that is celebrated 15 days after Krishna’s birthday during the month of Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar. Praying to the god Radha on this day brings prosperity and happiness. Legend has it that Radha was found on the banks of the Yamuna River on a lotus with lots of petals shining in the sunlight by King Vrishabhanu. The King found the little girl irresistible and took her home to the palace and his queen Kartida. They brought her up as their daughter which ultimately led to Radha meeting Krishna. Radha was believed to blind all this time. Then, on another story, Yashoda, Krishna’s adoptive mother heard about Radha and travelled to visit the Queen Kartida accompanied by Krishna. When Krishna bent over the baby’s cradle, Radha immediately gain sight and opened her eyes which were as beautiful as the lotus flowers and thus begun their romantic story.

On the other hand, the story of Krishna is a tragic and a bloody one but ultimately led to his skill in flute playing and popular dance with Radha. Krishna was the son of King Vasudeca and Queen Davaki, sister to Kamsa, a tyrant. Kamsa heard a prophecy that one of the children of Davaki would kill him and to try and stay alive he killed his sister’s first seven children. Lord Vishnu saved the eighth children and took him to his wife Yashoda in a village of shepherds. Krishna grew up to come up with creative pranks and his skill with captivating the Gopis (the cowherd maidens of Vraja) to the sound of his flute. Sometimes they would run away into the night in secret and perform the Ras dance. One of his Gopis was Radha who he formed a romantic bond with during their escapades.

The Rasa dance itself begins with the Gopis’ arms linked together forming a great circle. The arrangement is divine where each cowherd maiden believes Krishna is dancing with them alone at that time. When this happens, supreme love has been achieved and everything becomes perfect through joyous dancing and singing throughout the entire night. In the tradition, the dancers could refresh themselves by bathing in the river after the vigorous dancing and before they have to go back home to their duties. In the first song, the lyrics talk about, “My anklets start to jingle; When he flirts with his eyes; I go crazy and simply hold my heart” referring the spirituality of Rasa-Lila. The exchanges between the dances are a demonstration of an exchange between God himself as Krishna and those closest to him in a constitution of pure and honest spiritual love.

Today, the dance is performed globally by people that are of Hindu descent and those that are not. It is often performed in different ways that are all related and accompanied by devotional music and folk songs. The dance itself is considered an ‘out of the world’ experience by the audience. The eternal spiritual abode of Krishna and Radha are observed in the songs of devotion and chants during the performances. In modern performances such as in the videos from two 1999 Bollywood films, Hum Saath Saath Hain (We are Together) and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Straight from the Heart), Krishna’s avatar receives the Gopis who touch his feet and he becomes the embodiment of Lord Krishna himself.

According to Schweig (2005) who holds a doctorate from Harvard University in comparative religion, Rasa Lila dance and song “has often misunderstood, as the erotic tone of the work can appear to introduce an unethical element or scholars simply have not appreciated its depth and rich theological presentation”. This is because representing explaining Rasa Lila is a challenge because it is experienced and not taught, s concept modern generation falls short. The dance “reveals God’s most intimate exchanges with his devotees” (Schweig 2005) which could be shunned as immoral to the uninformed or the non-believers. The book defines Rasa Lila in both a religious and philosophical approach citing a detailed explanation of the dance. According to the author, the dance and song expound on the concept of sacred love that cuts across cultures and society. It is about the function of dance and son in expressing passionate love for God. In Christianity, a similar concept is found in The Song of Solomon that, “has inspired followers of the Jewish and Christian mystical traditions in the West to open their hearts to the intimate dimensions of God” (Schweig 2005).

In conclusion, it is clear that dance between the god Krishna and his beloved Radha does indeed transport people to a better, non-rational world especially when Krishna plays the flute and everyone feels the urge to dance. Personally, I do not think I have ever put myself into a different headspace while dancing, at least not yet. The entire concept heavily relies on that you believe and expect it to happen which I do not think I do. However, I do believe music and dance does transport people into another world, a spiritual world where they can found a more intimate relationship with their God. In all religions and traditions, you find aspects of either song, dance or both perhaps explaining the very nature and capability of song and dance and the crucial role they play in spirituality.




Magic India. RadhaKrishna, the symbol of Divine Love. Retrieved on 20th July 2018 from

Schweig, G. M. (2005). Dance of divine love: the Rāsa Līlā of Krishna from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, India’s classic sacred love story. Princeton Univ. Press.

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