Charya Nritya – A Tantric Buddhist Dance Tradition

The Dakini is the mandala, source and path. I dance to realize Vajrayogini, Arya Tara, Kurukulla, Singhamukha, Vajravarahi, Avalokiteshvara, Prajnaparamita, myriad faces of the goddess.

Charya Nritya which means, “dance as a daily practice” is an unknown and endangered Buddhist dance tradition that dates back two thousand years to the Newar Vajrayana priests of Kathmandu. The dances are three-dimensional moving mandalas that invoke deities of the Tantric Buddhist pantheon. Practitioners are initiated into the lineage through ritual empowerment, and engage in yogic practices of body, speech and mind.

Dancers practice Maha Yoga, through sacred movement and visualizations that accompany charya gite, devotional songs of realization, sung in Sanskrit. The dance itself is a living rupa, container or embodiment of deity.  As such, an accomplished Charya Nritya practitioner’s role is to bring the enlightened qualities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to life.

As a meditative practice, Charya Nritya is a profound upaya or method of realizing one’s nature as as deity.