Javalis
- Compiled by Mallika Jayanthi, Newcastle, Australia
e-mail: mallikajobs@yahoo.com

May 9, 2008

Bharatanatyam form of dance can be broadly classified under two categories - nritta and abhinaya. While the nritta forms the pure dance steps, abhinaya is where the dancer expresses and experiences the various feelings or bhavas.

Javalis, Asthapathis, Padams, Slokas etc form such lyrical component dealing with various feelings. Priyadarshini Govind, while presenting in a DVD, puts it so wonderfully by saying, "All together, this represents the craving and the struggle of the mortal to reach out to the immortal and the finite to measure and merge with the infinite."

Talking especially about Javalis - this is a name given to a particular genre of poetry which is of more or less the same type and category of the padams. The Javalis too have a pallavi, anupallavi and charanam. While comparing these with the padams, javalis are faster in pace. It treats love in a lighthearted manner. The poetry and the music selected are catchy. As Padams, Javalis too are love songs. Mostly sung in the Nayaka, Nayaki and Sakhi bhavas. Javalis talk of love that is worldly and human. In the poetry one will find the character craving for the love of a person full of human and worldly desires and motives. While dealing with the human relationships, sometimes the Javalis contain contents of sensuous and erotic nature. This may be the reason why most young dancers, especially girls were not encouraged to learn and practice javalis.

There is no more hidden meaning, subtle feelings or nuances other than what is being conveyed outwardly through a very lilting and lively poetry. Thus the language of the poetry is ordinary and colloquial. One will find most of the Javalis are composed in the Telugu language. Javalis are performed in the second half of a dance concert.

Bhavas play an important role while performing Javalis, the more popular ones being that of jealousy, infidelity, and separation in love. It is very important to understand the kind of character one is talked about in the javali. One can note that while this understanding comes easy to the dancer, from the viewer's point of view, it is easy to make out from the performance. This can be attributed to the simple lyrics in the composition.

Javalis is one of those very few genres having compositions where the character is so explicitly chalked out or in other words, the character in the poetry has such clear cut feelings giving the performer specific dimensions. This leaves neither the performer nor the audience in any kind of confusion or any grounds to debate on.

Some of the popular Javalis were composed in the 19th century. A few popular composers are listed below.
1) Mahendravada Bapanna Sastri
2) Vinjamuri Varadaraja Ayyangar
3) Dharmapuri Subbarayar
4) Patnam Subramanya Iyer
5) Pattabhiramayya
6) Swati Tirunal
7) Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar

Ragas used for Javalis are light. A few popular ragas used are:
1) Kapi
2) Khamas
3) Behag
4) Saindhavi
5) Mayamalavagowla

A few popular Javalis are:
1) Itu Sahasamulu
2) Idheney sakhi
3) Adineepai
4) Vanitaro e vanne
5) Atthavaaru nannu piluva.


Mallika Jayanti is a Bharatanatyam performer / teacher and a writer. As a student of art, she does a lot of research on theology, mostly Hinduism and dance. Her mission is to promote quality talent and art.