Abhinaya; 12 Definition(s)


Abhinaya means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Pali, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

[Abhinaya in Natyashastra glossaries]

Abhinaya (अभिनय) refers to “(the technique of) representation”, which is used in communicating the meaning of the drama and calling forth the sentiment (rasa). According to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.17-18, when Brahmā created the Nāṭyaveda he took abhinaya (histrionic representation) from the Yajurveda.

Abhinaya (techniques of representation) can be summed up in four categories:

  1. aṅgika (physical representation),
  2. vācika (vocal representation),
  3. āhārya (costumes and make-up),
  4. sattvika (the temperament).
(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Gesture (abhinaya) Gesture is the principal theme of what is here related. The root ni with the prefix abhi implies exposition, and the word abhinaya is used in this sense. According to another book (granthāntare), abhinaya is so called because it evokes flavour (rasa) in the audience.

There are three kinds of gesture:

  1. bodily (āngika),
  2. vocal (vācika),
  3. and ornamental (āhārya),

besides the pure, passionate, and dark (sāttvika, etc.).

Observe that abhinaya strictly speaking means “expression” whether by gesture, singing, or costume. In the present work it is expression by gesture which is considered, and on this account the term abhinaya has been rendered by “gesture” throughout.

(Source): archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

Abhinaya (अभिनय, “histrionic representation”).—Abhinaya is so called because in the performance of a play, it together with the Śākha, the Aṅga and the Upāṅga explains the meaning of different [things].

Abhinaya is of four kinds.

  1. Gestures (āṅgika),
  2. Words, (vācika)
  3. Dresses and Make-up (āhārya)
  4. and the Sattva.

The question is, “Why is it called the abhinaya?” It is said in reply to this that the abhinaya is derived from the prefix abhi, and the verbal root meaning ‘to cause to get’ (to attain), and the sufix ac attached to these two. Hence a [full] answer to this should be made after a consideration of the root and its meaning.

As the root preceded by abhi means ‘carrying the performances (prayoga) of a play [to the point of direct] ascertainment of its meaning,’ so [the word made out of them] becomes abhinaya (carrying towards).

(Source): archive.org: Natya Shastra

Abhinaya (अभिनय) is the imitation of the thing seen by self or is an expression of sentiment experienced by oneself. Abhinaya, the Sanskrit word, is made up of prefix abhi–towards and root ni–to carry. It means an act of communication, i.e., to convey the emotional experience of a man, through histrionic representation. The entire range of human emotional experience is consciously realised and is manifested in terms of idealised concepts of the histrionic arts.

Abhinaya is further explained by dividing it into four aspects, viz:

  1. āṅgika-abhinaya,
  2. vācika-abhinaya,
  3. āharya-abhinaya,
  4. sātvika-abhinaya.
(Source): archive.org: Illustrations of Indian Music and Dance in Western Indian Style (natya)

Abhinaya is common to all Classical Indian dances. The expression, which is shown to express poetic meanings, is Abinaya. Here the emphasis is more on facial expressions than rhythmic movements. Abhinaya is the expressional aspect of dance.

There are four kinds of Abhinaya:

  1. Angika (of limbs)
  2. Vachika (of speech)
  3. Aharya (of costumes)
  4. Sattwika
(Source): Indian Classical Dances: Techniques of classical dances
Natyashastra book cover
context information

Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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[Abhinaya in Purana glossaries]

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—In Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 342, Abhinaya has been defined as follows: Abhinaya is the art of presenting before the people the ideas that are to be communicated to them. There are four divisions of this art known as Sāttvika, Vācika, Āṅgika and Āhārya depending on Sattva, Vāk, Aṅga and Āhārya. Besides these, another division known as Abhimānika (Abhimānottha) may also be mentioned. This signifies the expression of rasas like Śṛṅgāra. There are two kinds of Śṛṅgāra known as Saṃbhoga and Vipralambha. Four varieties of Vipralambha called Pūrvānurāga Vipralambha, Māna Vipralambha, Pravāsa Vipralambha and Karuṇa Vipralambha are mentioned. The union after Vipralambha is Saṃbhoga-Śṛṅgāra. All Sāttvika bhāvas are included in Śṛṅgāra. All these have to be expressed through Abhinaya.

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—Technique of dancing started by Bharata.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 24. 30.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Abhinaya in Hinduism glossaries]

Abhinaya is an inseparable component of Natya, the ancient Indian system of dramaturgy. The principles of Natya have been laid down by Bharata in his exhaustive treatise on the subject known as Natya Shastra which is almost 2000 years old. Bharata's Natya is a composite performing art form of theatre which combines not only the arts of dance, drama and music but also literature, painting and sculpture.

'Abhi' is the prefix meaning 'towards' and 'ni (naya)' is the root meaning to carry. So, Abhinaya means to carry towards, i.e. to carry the spectator towards the meaning. Thus, Abhinaya can be called a vehicle of Natya through which the spectator experiences the particular emotions of the dramatic character that is to lead him towards Rasananda - the ultimate bliss which is the aim of Natya.

The above definition of 'Abhinaya' makes it clear that in terms of ancient Indian dramatic theory, Abhinaya does not mean only acting, miming or facial expressions. The term applies to all the related aspects of histrionics which contribute in conveying the poetic content of drama to the spectators. Bharata has defined four major types of Abhinaya, viz., Angika Abhinaya, Vacika Abhinaya, Aharya Abhinaya and Sattvika Abhinaya.

(Source): HereNow4U: The Concept of Abhinaya According to Bharata

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[Abhinaya in Pali glossaries]

Abhinaya, (abhi + naya) a dramatic representation VvA.209 (sākhā°). (Page 65)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

[Abhinaya in Marathi glossaries]

abhinaya (अभिनय).—m S Action and postures expressive of sentiment; esp. the gestures and movements of dramatic representation.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

abhinaya (अभिनय).—m Action and postures expres- sive of sentiment, esp. the gestures and movements of dramatic representation.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Relevant definitions

Search found 237 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Angikābhinaya (अन्गिकाभिनय) or simply āṅgika refers to the first of four categories of abhinaya...
Āharyābhinaya (आहर्याभिनय) or simply āharya refers to the first of four categories of abhinaya ...
Vācikābhinaya (वाचिकाभिनय) or simply vācika refers to the first of four categories of abhinaya ...
Sātvikābhinaya (सात्विकाभिनय) or simply sātvika refers to the first of four categories of abhin...
Sāmānyābhinaya (सामान्याभिनय).—The ‘harmonious representation’ (sāmānyābhinaya) is that in whic...
Abhinayavidyā (अभिनयविद्या).—science of acting or dramatic representation; art of dancing; मया ...
Vākyābhinaya (वाक्याभिनय) refers to “representation through words” and is another name for simp...
Abhinayācārya (अभिनयाचार्य).—a dancing preceptor; उभावभिनयाचार्यो त्वां द्रुष्टमिच्छतः (ubhāvab...
Sūcābhinaya (सूचाभिनय) is another name for simply sūcā, one of the representations through whic...
Aṅkurābhinaya (अङ्कुराभिनय) is another name for simply aṅkura, one of the representations throu...
Śākhābhinaya (शाखाभिनय) is another name for simply śākhā, one of the representations through wh...
In Aṅgābhinaya the head, hands, arm-pits, sides, waist, and feet, these six, and some say al...
In Pratyaṅgābhinaya the shoulders, shoulder-blades, arms, back, stomach, thighs and calves, ...
In Upāṅgābhinaya the eyes, eyehds, pupils, cheeks, nose, jaw, the lips, teeth, tongue, chin,...
Citrābhinaya (चित्राभिनय, “varied representation”).—The speciality in the representation throug...

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