Famous dancer Sangita Shresthova’s film on Buddhist Tantra, Dancing Kathmandu, led me down the memory lane all the way back to when I was just five. I too was a dancer back then. The boarding school I attended had a dance teacher from Darjeeling. He introduced me to the world of dance. In two years under his tutelage, I learned Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Break dance before he returned to India. I was a fast learner. Whenever I saw anyone dance — anything from Tamang Selo and Jhamre to Kham — I quickly replicated their moves.

My father, perhaps goaded by my dancing skills, one day took me to a professional dance teacher. One look and the guru turned me down saying that my growth (I was seven then) would be halted by the rigorous routine. Hence my wish to learn dances like Vairab, Kumari, Charya and Tandav were stopped on the tracks. From that point, I gave up dancing. Now I don’t dance even when I am at a concert. Not even when I am drunk. I even went to a disco to see if it could lull me into taking up dance again. But in vain. There, I sit on one side, swigging and glaring at people swing. I have not lost all interest in dance. Just that I don’t like doing it myself.

Dancing in the West is taken as a kind of material mysticism. The occidental dances like Salsa and Tango are believed to connect a man’s soul to that of a woman. Here, in the East, dances are considered spiritual mysticism, a connectivity of human soul with the God. Dance mysticism has been propagated by the Trantrik tradition of Hinduism and Buddhism. In Tantrism, Buddhism and Hinduism lose their segregation. Dancing goddess like Kumari, Tara, Yoganis are revered by both sects.

Dances have a special meaning in Hinduism. Deities have their own dances. While some dance for genesis, some do for annihilation. Shiva, the Natraj, with his Tandav nirtya is of course the God of dance.

Krishna is the divine dancer. Vishnu, garbed as a woman, danced to inveigle the demon during Amritpan ceremony. When Kali danced no body could stop her until Shiva came under her feet.

In Sangita Shresthova’s film, a bar dancer says that dance leads her away from suffering. Yes, even a bar dancer fathoms the truth.