Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bharatnatyam abhinaya theory


The word Abhinaya has been derived from the root word "Ni", which means to take or carry, with the preposition "abhi" meaning towards. As per the traditional slokas, the root "Vi" with the preposition abhi, gives the word Abhinaya, whcih means to carry the performance towards the audience. Abhinaya is a four fold art. There are 2 modes of Abhinaya - Natyadharmi, and Lokadharmi. While Natyadharmi is stylistic, lokadharmi is realistic in nature. Natyadharmi pertains to the conventions of the stage, for example, the use of dance and drama or walking in an artistic or appealing manner. Lokadharmi has no hype, and is executed in the form of simple actings that involve natural behaviour. It does not even involve much of expressions.

Lord Shiva is praised as the embodiment of the 4 types of Abhinaya in the following sloka:

“Angikam bhuvanam yasya
Vachikam sarva vangmayam
Aharyam chandra taradi
Tam vande satvikam sivam.”

The meaning of the sloka is:

We bow toHim the benevolent One
Whose limbs are the world,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language,
Whose costume is the moon and the stars…

The description of the NATARAJA :

He holds the drum of creation in his right hand symbolizing a new awakening
He holds fire in his left hand representing destruction of the old order
His other right hand is raised in blessing and he points the other left hand to his left foot, which has crushed the demon Muyalaka who represents ignorance.

There are 4 kinds of Abhinaya:
                                                   1. Angika Abhinaya 

Angika Abhinaya.

It comprises of the various physical expressions.It is of 2 kinds- Padaarthabhinaya and Vakyaarthabhinaya. Padarthabhinaya is the expression of word to word meaning, while vakyarthabhinaya is the expressions of a general idea of a sentence or mood. It comprises of six main parts and six subordinate body parts. 

The six main body parts are called as angas. They are :

? Head
? Hands
? Chest
? Hip
? Sides
? Feet


There are 13 abhinaya-s of the head.

? Aakampita: In this, the head is slowly raised and as slowly brought down. This conveys a hint, a message, a question, a direction, or pointing and beckoning.
? Kampita: The movements are similar to the above, but are done much fatser and quicker. It expresses anger, doubt, recognition, threatinng, and insistent questioning.
? Dhuta: Slow shaking of the head. It conveys non-desire, regret, surprise, conviction, looking aside in empty stare, and prohibiting.
? Vidhuta: When Dhuta is done more quickly, it is called as vidhuta. It conveys the feelings of cold, of fear, of agitation, f fever, and als, the first drasught of wine. 
? Parivaahita: In this, the head is turned away in order to convey messages like surprise, joy, intolerance, pondering, denial, fooling, and the sense of enough. 
? Aadhuta: It expresses haughtiness, introspection, and looking abut or at one by one side. For this the head is lifted once obliquely.


Hastabhinaya. It is the abhinaya of the hands which are one of the important body parts. According to Bharata, the hand Gestures for drama and dance are different. While drama has 24 hand gestures, involving figures and palm gestures, for dance there are 64 in number. These gestures are called Mudras, and the first 24 mudras are:

Pataka: It is denoted with the thumb bent and other fingers streched out. Whith both hands and fingers miving it denotes rain, showering of flowers etc., Both hands form a Swatika. It denotes the self. It is the first Mudra in the beginning of natya. It is used for denoting the following - to say no, taking an oath, to denote silence, cutting, to enter into a street, forcing open doors, to denote greatness and goodness, to bless, to address a person or a shield, to show that it's a rainy day, and also to denote time.

Tripataka: It is the pataka, but with the fourth Anamika finger bent. It is also used for saluting. Swastika formed using both hands is to salute elders. It denotes a tree, a lamp, a fire, an arrow, and a bird.

Ardhapataka: It is used to denote numbers - two, or say both; a slab or a board, a knife or a spear, and the bank of a river.

Katrimukha: In the above gesture, when the index finger is on the back of the middle finger, it is katarimukha. Holding downwards suggests traveler walking etc., Holding upwards suggests Weight, summit, etc., By the 2 fingers, index and middle, walking in broken steps is also suggested. This Mudra denotes separation, a creeper, differenc, a corner of an eye, lightening, falling, weeping and dying.

Mayura: It denotes a peocock’s neck, a creeper to remove knots from the hair, vomiting, scattering, to praise and to apply tilakam [the traditional bindi of those days.]

Ardhachandra: The thumb is held on one side and the other fingers spread out, denoting a half-moon, a hand seizing the throat, a knife or a spear, consecrating an idol, meditations, prayers, origin, and to greet. 

Arala: The thumb is bent; the other fingers are spread out from each other, 2nd finger bent like a bow. It is used for blessing in the case of males and for collecting the hair in the case of women. Bourage, dignity of men, and self-admiration by women is also denoted using this mudra. Swasthika formed with the fingers of both hands, indicate marriage and other auspicious occasions.

Sukatunda: It denotes shooting of an arrow, an angry mood, and a spear or a axe. When in Arala gesture, the 2nd an the fourth finger on five and it is called Sukatunda. If the thing though some been down and street and more than once it indicates invitation or challenge 

Musti: it denotes stead and fastness to grasp and hold various things the might and valour. The fingertips touch the palm and the thumb presses down the on the middle finger .

Sikhara: It denotes Shivalingam, a bow a pillar to question the sound of a bell, the act of embrace. In this the, thumb is raised up. 

Kapitha: It denotes goddess Lakshmi, goddess Saraswati, the milking of milking the cows, offering incence and camphor, Gathering The ends of the robes, to pull and to hold things. When the tips of the thumb and the 2nd finger touch in sikhara, then it’s called as kapitha. It suggests Weapons. 

Katakhamukha: It denotes the picking of flowers, holding the necklace or a garland of flowers, offering beetle leaves, speaking, glancing, and applying perfumes. When the 4th and the little fingers are raised in Kapitha, it is known as Katakhamukha.

Suchi: It denotes number 1, used to pint out, to perform the action of thinking, or to threaten, to indicate astonishment or to indicate the decline of the day, to show the world, the beating of drums, a rod, or the potter’s wheel and the circumference of the wheel. In this, the 2nd finger of the Katakamukha mudra is stretched out. When the second finger is turned round and round to indicate the potter’s wheel or a crowd. 

Padmakosa: It denotes the lotus bud fruits, a cooking pot, an anthill, an egg, or a ball, a circular movement, and round breasts of a woman. In this the thumb and the fingers spread away from each other and bend like a bow. When the tips of the fingers are separated out 2 or three times, it suggests showering of flowers. 

Sarpasira: It denotes a snake, or the action of sprinkling water, the movement of an elephant’s ears, and the arms of the wrestlers. In this all the all the five fingers are held together with the palm held down.

Mrgasirsa: When the lirttle finger and the thumb are straightened up it is called as Mrgasirsa. It denotes a woman, or the feeling of fear, to call or to quarrel; it indicates the limit, the message of the feet, height and taking steps.

Simhamukha: It denotes a lion’s head, an elephant, a homa, or a yagna, and preparations osf the medicines by the physicians. 

Kangala: It denotes fruits, a bird, a coconut, bells worn by children, and the betel nut tree. In this, the 4th and the little fingers are straightened up. 

Alapadma: It denotes fully bloomed lotus, denotes beauty, praise, a hair knot, the full moon, a piece, a hill or a mountain, ans a mirror.

Catura: In this, 3 fingers are spread out holding the thumb between them and raising the little finger. It denotes a musk, or a glance, denotes the astion of breaking into pieces, sweetness, a littlesorrow, taking small steps, and to pour oil into the sacrificial pyre. 

Hamsasya: It denotes the beak of a bird, purity, pearls, jasmine flower, the act of writing or painting and tying a knot. In this, the tips of the thumb and the second and middle finger touch each other the other 2 are apart from each other, and raised.

Bhramara: In this, the tips of the thumb and the middle finger touch each other and the second finger is bent and the other 2 are raised. It denotes a bee, a cuckoo, a parrot and other birds.

Hamsapaksha: It denotes a bridge and a covering. In this, the thumb is bent, the little finger is raised, and the other three fingers stretched parallel to each other. It denotes offering water to the dead, holding the chin etc., 

Sandamsa: It denotes the belly or the naval, shows great fear, to worship and making offerings to the deities. It is similar to Arala, but in this, the tips of the thumb and the second finger touch with the palm facing downwards. 

Mukulam: It denotes eating, worshipping god, a water lily, and a flower bud. In the hamsasya mudra when the fingers bent at thetip are raised, it is called Mukulam.

The chest:

It is of five kinds:

Abhunga: covered or caved in. In this, both the shoulders are drooping down and arms loosely held, while the back is arched outwards. It conveys agitation, fear, sorrow, cold, rain falling etc., 

Nirbhunga: In this the breath is drawn in such that the chest expands and lifts and the back curves in. It is used to denote speaking the truth, bragging, haughtiness, deep breath, affected indifference by women.

Prakampita: In this, the chest trembles due to repeated high jumps.

Udvahita: The position of the chest while taking deep breaths or seeing a long distance or yawning is called as Udvahita.

Sama: When all the limbs are held upright, the position of the chest is known as sama. 

The sides :

There are 5 kinds of positions. They are:

1. Nata: In this the hip and the side above it are curved and the shoulder is held a little away. 

2. Sammunata:

3. Prasarita: In this, the sides are Stretched out or expanded.

4. Vivartita: In this the lower part of the spine is twisted.

5. Apasrta: When in the Vivarita position the side is moved back it’s Apasrita.

The Hip:

1. When one looks turning back, it is called as china kati.

2. When one turns around it is called as Nivrtta Kati.

3. When One revolves round and round, it is recieta Kati.

4. When the hip is intimidating the walk of the hunchbacked or the Short person, it is Kaupita Kati.

5. When imitating the slow and graceful steps of a woman it is calling as Valvokita Kati.


These are of five kinds :

1. Valghatitta: In this the dancer stands on the tips of the toes and baugs the heels on the ground. It should be done in Drutamadhyamaonce or many times by folding the toes.

2. Sama: This is the normal form where the dancer’s feet are placed on the ground. It is the natural posture.

3. Agratulasankara: In this all the toes are spread out except the big ones raising the heel. It is used for driving the chariot, in war, stamping the ground with force and dancing, etc.,

4. Ancita: in this the heel is kept on the ground and the front part of the Foot is lifted .

5. Kuncita: It is used in Udatta Strauce, or for crossing over. In this the heel is raised and the toes are folded into the middle of the foot. 

The Eyes.

There are totally 36 varieties of the eye movements. Out of these, 8 convey 8 rasa-s The next eight express the eight stagi Bhavas, and the remaining twenty the other, bhavas.


Expressions such as grief, impatience, Strong smell, fragrance, laughter, contempt etc., are determined by the nostrils. They might be a quivering, slightly flinched, drawn back breathing, distended and normal. it comprises of six varieties.

Cheeks: It has six varieties and expressions like sorrow, Joy, arrogance, anger, fear and other emotions can be based on weather that cheeks are sunken, full blown, puffed up, sallow, throbbing, or normal.


These also comprise of six varieties. Curled lips, quivering Lips, lips extended Side ways, compressed lips biting lip and pouting lips.

Chin :

it is associated with the movements off the teeth and lips. Gritting Of the teeth, parting or compressing of the lips and pouting and looking up gives six varieties of the chin.

Vachika Abhinaya

Vrittis is the abhinaya of speech, jesture and emotion. 

Origin of vritti:

Once, devine Vishnu by his maya withdrew all the worlds and turned them into an ocean and lay on a snake bed. There, the 2 asuras, madhu and kaithabha intoxicated with their strength and itching for a battle began to threaten him. The Asuras, and the imperishable attacked each other with various harsh words of abuse that even the ocean shook. God brahma, listening to the various words being shouted felt perturbed and asked as to what this exchange of abuse was. “Abuses and counter-abuses are flowing without an end. Is this Bharati-Vritti.[that is the way the words are used.]. Kill the two demons.”
Listening to Brahma, lord Vishnu said, “I have invented this Bharati to serve my purpose. It will be the Bharati style of a speaker, since words [ie., language = Bharati] is predominant. Now I shall kill them.”
During the fight, the steps of Vishnu were placed in various holds here and there and they became a heavy burden [bhara] to the earth and the bharati style came into existence because of the “bhara”.
The bow of Vishnu called sarnga, as it was turned this way and that way, was brilliant and flashing in quick turns, and it’s steadily increasing sattva [strength] created the sattvati style
The knot in which Vishnu tied his hair [kesha] and his various graceful angaharas, brought into existence the Kaisiki style. During the course of the fight various caris were used as the fighters were full of samrambha [enragement] and avegha [excitement] and these various movements of the fight produced the arabhati style. Whatever movement Vishnu employed, Brahma made it the origin of a Vritti and accepted it by remarks whose meanings accorded to the movement. When both madhu and kaitabha were killed by Vishnu, Brahma said to the enemy-destroyer, “Oh Vishnu! You have destroyed the demons by graceful angaharas which were unusually straight forward, expressive and graceful. Therefore, this style of wielding weapons of all kinds shall be known throught the world as Nyaya

The Four Vrittis:

The sages utilized that behaviour of words and gestures as the abhinaya conceived the natyaveda and sage Bharata has used them for plays as ordered by Brahma since they’re desirable and naturally arise out of various cari movements. The Bharati Vritti was taken from the Rigveda, the Sattavati from Yajurveda, the Kaisiki from the Samaveda, and the arabhati from atharvanaveda.
1. The Bharati Vritti: This is the style in which prominence is given to speeches made in Sanskrit. It is employed only by male actors who annopunce their own names. There are four varieties of this Vritti : 
Ø Prarocana. It is that part of purvaranga in which success, victory, good luck and destruction of sin are described or prayed for. 

Ø Amukha. Also called Prastavana by some, it is that part ion the beginning where Natti, that is the female associate and the visdhushaka or Pariparsvaka [actor friend] carry on a dioalogue with sutradhara regarding some relavent topic using interesting words. Anukha has five elements in it, that is, uddhatyaka, kathoddhata, prayogatisaya, pravrttika, and avalagita. 

2. Sattvati Vritti. It is that which is endored with the quality of Sattva [vigour] and where there is nyaya and good behaviour, where there is exuberance of joy and absence of shoka [sorrow] is Sattvati Vritti. In it, there is very little karuna [pathos] and shringara [erotics] but plenty of veera [heroism] atbhuta [wonder] and roudra [terror]. It has four varieties:

Ø Utthapaka is a challenge.

Ø Parivartaka, avoiding the relevance of a challenge, taking to some other thing made necessary with reason.

Ø Samhlataka, irrelevant critism of something rising out of challenge or otherwise.

Ø Sanghataka: Breaking an alliance for reasons of a friend’s clever talk of fate or one’s own shortcomings.

3. Kaisiki Vritti: This vritti is one where the artistes are mostly women, wearing charming costumes in a colourful way and where there is plenty of dancing and music and the story is of love and it’s enjoyment. The four varieties are:

Ø Narma: Playful jest. Narma, which mostly abounds in humour, is of three kinds. That based on love, that on pure love, and the last on sentiments, other than heroic. This kindof jest, may be mixed with words of jelousy, anger, self-rebuke, and deception by others. 
Ø Narma-sphurja. Nervous enjoyment. In this, lovgers meet for the first time on the one hand words and dress excite them, and on the other, there is fear.

Ø Narma-Sphota. Incomplete enjoyment. In this, the sentiment of love is not completely enjoyed as various other emotions contribute to it.

Ø Narma-Garbha: Love in masquerade. In this, the hero out of necessity not only acts incognito, but does it with intelligence and affection. 

4. Arabhati Vritti: Here, one finds daring[of a wrong kind] in the form of deceit, fraud, falsehood etc., This too has four varieties.

Ø Sanksiptaka [one with symbols]. In this there should be many modals of articals animals, dress etc., relevant to the plot.

Ø Avapata [Commotion] In this, there are occasions of fear and joy, flight, flurry etc.,

Ø Vastutthapana. Emphasized event. It includes a stage event in which all rasas are mixed, or which gives shelter to someone in fear.

Ø Sampheta. Conflict This includes excitement, fights, fraud, betrayal etc.,

Aharya Abhinaya


It is the decoration by garlands, ornaments and costumes on different parts of the body according to custom and tradition.Ornaments are of 4 types –pierced, to be tied, removed, and jst put on something else.Ear rings are the 1st type , girdles and arm bands are the 2nd type anklets the 3rd and necklaces are the 4th type .

Ornaments for women

Shikhaapaasha,Shikha-jala(ornaments for the tresses),crest jewel, pearl net(with large meshes), hair-net, ear rings, peacock feather, braids of hair(loose on both ears) stringed, Karnikaa, ring round the ear, the tilaka- mark on the foreheadartistic in many ways,ear lotus made of ivoy or pearls etc. The pearl necklace, the snake necklace, the Maanjarii , the jewel necklace and the jewel string are the ornaments for the neck along with a few strings of gold too. For the ankles the ornaments are Nuupura, Kinkinii, and rings of bells.There should be toe rings for the toes. 
Ornaments for celestial and other females

Celestial women should be distinguished by their ornaments and costumes, and females of vidyaadhara, yaksa, naaga and apsaraa groups as well as daughters of sages and gods to be distinguished by their costumes. The vidhyadhara women must have their hair tied in a top knot, must have many pearls, but white costume.The yaksa and the apsara women should wear many jewels ;costume to be the same.The naaga women , like goddess should wear ornaments of pearls and jewels but the latter must be in the form of fruit.Daughters of the sages must have their hais in a single braid and there should not be many ornaments.
Make-up for different characters

One should paint the body according to the region, custom and age of the character.Gods and yaksaas,apsaraas and rudraas , Brahma and skanda and Sun are to be painted Gaura(pale red) colour. Moon, Brihaspathi, Venus, Varuna, the stars ocean.etc are to be painted white.Narayana and
Nara and (the serpent) vasuki are to be in dark blue colour(syaama). Persons who are happy are given pale red or dark blue colour or lotus colour, they are also given pale red complexion. 

Satvika Abhinaya

It is the most important yet the most difficult mode of expression."SAT" means mind.It is the outcome of the phsycological state of mind.Its most important aspect is characterisation wherein the dancer must feel the various situations and mentally get involved in them. 


Post a Comment


Infolinks In Text Ads


Copyright © bharatanatyam Design by O Pregador | Blogger Theme by Blogger Template de luxo | Powered by Blogger