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All the readers who have been following this blog for the last couple of months will understand that naturalist intelligence or nature smart is the eighth and the last of the intelligences put forth by Howard Gardner, added a few years later to his list of original seven intelligences we have discussed this far – verbal/linguistic, mathematical/logical, spatial, musical, kinesthetic/body, interpersonal/people and intrapersonal. This means to have a keen understanding of the natural world around you, be it weather, plants or animals. It involves keen observations, ability to classify, knowing your way around etc.

This intelligence deals with observing, understanding and organizing patterns in our natural environment. A naturalist is a person who shows expertise in the recognition and classification of plants and animals. Be it a biologist or an ayurvedic doctor, a star gazer or a gardener, a farmer or a zoo keeper, all have highly developed environmental smartness.

It is naturalist intelligence which aided the early humans to survive and subsequently flourish on this planet. Being nature smart undoubtedly helped our hunter-gatherer ancestors to know which flora and fauna were edible and which were not, the basic survival skill. The same intelligence may have assisted them in noticing patterns and changes in their surroundings and environments so that they could survive and prosper. This intelligence, according to the psychologists, is placed in the parts of the brain responsible for recognizing patterns, for making subtle connections, and is specific to those areas of the brain responsible for acute sensory perceptions, as well as object discrimination and classification. Children, students or individuals who score high in this type of intelligence are in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment and learning about other species. They are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environments.

Nature smart is the ability to have a precise and comprehensive sense of the world around us and our place or niche in our environment. While dancing, every time we emote or portray a situation, we call on our remembrance of how we have experienced it such as the gurgling flowing river, the gentle opening of a flower bud, the chirping of the birds, in order to recreate these scenes we are drawing from this intelligence. To convey how the first drop of monsoon feels on your face one needs to be aware of it. One has to feel sensitively the moods brought upon us by mother nature , be it in terms of its natural beauty or climate or by means of its wildlife.

In Sringara rasa, for example, so many analogies are made between the lover and his resemblance to the cool moonlight, his love like a gentle breeze flowing from the mountains, his separation harsher than the blazing sun, his radiance brighter than the blinding sunlight, his gaze like the sweet intoxication of liquor etc. For the nayika, similarities like her smile as sweet as honey, her lips as red as vermillion, her voice sweeter than the chirping of the birds, her body gently swaying like the walk of an elephant, the scent of her body like the scent of fresh flowers, her beautiful eyes shining with the elixir of youth….

All these emotions are effectively communicated to the audience by a dancer who is nature smart and has the ability to create these feelings which she has felt before and can reproduce with the same effect onstage to be able to enthrall her audience.

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