Siddhendra Yogi Biography
Siddhendra Yogi was an exceptional scholar and artist of the 14th century AD. During the Bhakti Movement between 11th and the 13th century, the dance form of Kuchipudi saw a revolution.
He adopted the existing format of the Yakshagna folk dance dramas and gave it a new form. This renowned scholar and artist took the initiative to give this dance form a more distinct form and elegance.
Siddhendra Yogi incorporated the principles of dance of the Natya Shastra, the Bible of all Indian classical dance styles. He introduced aesthetic and stylized footwork with the usage of traditional classical music.
He amalgamated folk traditions and the classical forms. He was not in favor of training women in this art form as he was of the opinion that women generally exaggerated the expressions and sentiments, thus lowering the spiritual tone of the dance form.
So during this period Kuchipudi was dominated by male dancers, so much so that even the female roles were played by men. Only those young boys were allowed to perform this art form who led a deeply religious and austere life. It was generally passed from one generation to another, from father to son.
Siddhendra Yogi wrote the famous play “Bhamakalapam”. The play deals with the Hindu God, Lord Krishna and his companions Satyabhama and Rukmini. The most well-known part of the Kuchipudi repertoire – the Satyabhama cycle was introduced by him.
According to a popular legend Siddhendra Yogi, created a dance balled called Parijathapaharanam in Lord Krishna’s praise when he was miraculously saved by the Lord from drowning in the river Krishna. He trained Brahmin youths to perform in this dance drama.
This is said to be the oldest known Kuchipudi dance drama. It is said that the present Kuchipudi dance style originated from the dance drama tradition established by him, which is known as Bhagavata Mela Natakam .