Foreign Influence on Dasi Attam
During the Muslim invasions in the 12th century, although the political power of South India was adversely affected with the destruction of Hoysala and Pandyan Empires, yet there was little influence on Dasi Attam. This downfall was short lived and southern India again replenished to its former status with the emergence of Vijayanagar Empire. During this period, Dasi Attam reached its peak, through the devadasis. With the fall of Vijayanagar in the 16th century, South India lost all its wealth and grandeur, and the Deccan Sultans became the new patrons of the Dasi Attam. It moved to the courts of the Sultans, after being adequately manipulated by the Muslim culture. Persian terms like Tillana and Salamu were associated with Dasi Attam. The devadasis, who earlier used to perform in temples and religious events for the emperor and eminent personalities, were now performing in the Muslim courts. The changes were limited, with the focus shifting to romantic themes, which had both divine and human inferences. Thus, Dasi Attam attained a new phase of secularisation under the Muslim rulers.
Renaming of Dasi Attam
During the end of the 19th century, the devadasis had become disgraced as they were engaged in immoral and illicit acts, thus making themselves unworthy of performing divine and spiritual dances in the holy temples. Dasi Attam had lost all its previous glory and the respect of its followers and was renamed as Tanjore Nautch. As religion had undergone a transformation during this period, thus the spiritual dance of the Shaivite Hindus lacked its past enthusiasm.
During the British Rule, with the advent of British missionaries in South India, the caste system of the original Dravidians was abolished. According to the Christian beliefs of the British, expression of religion through dance was considered impious. The British culture could not associate the free movement of the body as a way of uniting the soul with god. Moreover, the bad reputation of the dancers provoked the British Government to eradicate and remove any trace of the Dasi Attam that was present. Further, the Hindus themselves had started to misinterpret the purpose of the practice of Dasi Attam. Due to the influence of the modern British culture, the Indians considered fitting into the new society more important and thus let the ancient heritage decline.
Thus, throughout history, Dasi Attam had been considerably influenced and improved by various external factors, which had led the classical dance to its successful evolution into Bharatnatyam.
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