Abhinaya: 28 definitions


Abhinaya means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi, Hindi. 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.

Alternative spellings of this word include Abhinay.

Images (photo gallery)

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

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).

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.

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

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: Illustrations of Indian Music and Dance in Western Indian Style (natya)

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: Indian Classical Dances: Techniques of classical dances

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: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (natya)

1) Abhinaya refers to “artistic expressions”, as defined in the second book of the Pañcamarapu (‘five-fold traditional usage’) which represents an important piece of Tamil literature.—Abhinaya (artistic expressions) is one type of kūttu. In abhinaya kūttu the actions of the leg, body, eyes, face and hands take place simultaneously. Expressing through abhinaya is called nāṭaka-icaittamil (dramatic representation with song).

This tradition [of abhinaya] includes the following six sub-divisions:

  1. Pindi or oṟṟaikkai-marapu (single-hand tradition),
  2. Pinnayal or reṭṭaikkai-marapu (double hand tradition),
  3. aṅga-kiriyai-marapu (the usage of the action of the body),
  4. Nine movements of the head,
  5. Three movements of the neck are,
  6. Eight glances of the eyes are.

2) Abhinaya refers to “histrionic representation” as used within the classical tradition of Indian dance and performance, also known as Bharatanatyam.—The term abhinaya is referred to by many scholars as “the gesture expression,” “histrionic representation,” “histrionic expression,” “the art of dramatic expression,” “the art of communication,” “the body language” and “acting”. Abhinaya evokes the flavour in the audience. There is a continuous chain of action and reaction taking place in the process of abhinaya. In the performance of a dramatic production, together with major and minor bodily limbs, the actor or the dancer, through abhinaya, conveys the meaning of a play or a song or a verse to the cultured spectator.

Nandikeśvara, in his Abhinayadarpaṇa speaks of the four kinds of abhinaya as follows:

  1. āṅgika-abhinaya,
  2. vācika-abhinaya,
  3. āhārya-abhinaya,
  4. sāttvika-abhinaya.

Expression through the body and its limbs is āṅgikābhinaya. Expression through voice and speech is vācikābhinaya. Decorating the body with garlands, make-up and costume is āhāryābhinaya. Expression through sāttvika-bhāvas or conscious mind is sāttvikābhinaya.

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).

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Natyashastra from relevant books on Exotic India

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Abhinaya in Purana glossary
Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

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: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

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

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 24. 30.
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.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Purana from relevant books on Exotic India

Nirukta (Sanskrit etymology)

[ next»] — Abhinaya in Nirukta glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭyaśāstra (nirukta)

Abhinaya (अभिनय) 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. 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: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (nirukta)

Abhinaya (अभिनय) is referred to by many scholars as “the gesture expression,” “histrionic representation,” “histrionic expression,” “the art of dramatic expression,” “the art of communication,” “the body language” and “acting”. The Sanskrit root ni with the prefix abhi forms the word abhinaya, which means to convey or lead towards. It is the conveyance of an idea, an emotion, or an event. Abhinaya evokes the flavour in the audience.

context information

Nirukta (निरुक्त) or “etymology” refers to the linguistic analysis of the Sanskrit language. This branch studies the interpretation of common and ancient words and explains them in their proper context. Nirukta is one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Nirukta from relevant books on Exotic India

General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: HereNow4U: The Concept of Abhinaya According to Bharata

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.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: Brill: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions (tantric Buddhism)

Abhinaya (अभिनय) refers to a “gesture”, according to the Nāmamantrārthāvalokinī by Vilāsavajra, which is a commentary on the Nāmasaṃgīti.—Accordingly, [while describing Ādibuddha]—“[...] He is tranquil, with the ornaments of a youth, in fine clothing, wearing about himself a many coloured garment. He has eight arms, holding at his heart with four hands the Śatasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā divided into four parts, [and] carrying, in each of the other four hands, a sword of wisdom in the gesture of striking (praharaṇa-abhinaya). [All this is to be] put in place [i.e. visualised] via the yoga of the four Buddha-thrones”.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Tibetan Buddhism from relevant books on Exotic India

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: archive.org: Trisastisalakapurusacaritra

Abhinaya (अभिनय) refers to the “mode of conveyance” of the theatrical pleasure to the audience, which pleasure (called rasa), is pure and differs from the pleasure we derive from the actual contact with the objects of the world which is always mingled with pain.—(cf. Nāṭyaśāstra, GOS XXXVI, p. 7.)

The four abhinaya according to the Nāṭyaśāstra and the Jain work Nāṭyadarpaṇa (pp. 188ff):

  1. sāttvika, conveyed by effort of the mind;
  2. āṅgika, conveyed by the body;
  3. vācika, conveyed by expression;
  4. āhārya, conveyed by dress, deportment and mise-en-scène.

The Āvaśyakasūtra (p. 189b) gives the 4 abhinayas as:

  1. dārṣṭāntika,
  2. pratiśrutika,
  3. vinipātika,
  4. and lokamadhyāvasānika,
General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of General definition from relevant books on Exotic India

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Abhinaya in Pali glossary
Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

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

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.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Pali from relevant books on Exotic India

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

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

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

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

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.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Marathi from relevant books on Exotic India

Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—

1) Acting, gesticulation, any theatrical action (expressive of some sentiment, passion &c.); नृत्याभिनयक्रियाच्युतम् (nṛtyābhinayakriyācyutam) Kumārasambhava 5.79; अभिनयान् परिचेतुमिवोद्यता (abhinayān paricetumivodyatā) R.9.33; नर्तकीरभिनयातिलङ्घिनीः (nartakīrabhinayātilaṅghinīḥ) 19.14; Kirātārjunīya 1.42.

2) Dramatic representation, exhibition on the stage; ललिताभिनयं तमद्य भर्ता मरुतां द्रष्टुमनाः सलोकपालः (lalitābhinayaṃ tamadya bhartā marutāṃ draṣṭumanāḥ salokapālaḥ) V.2.18. S.D. thus defines and classifies अभिनय (abhinaya) :भवेदभिनयोऽवस्थानुकारः स चतुर्विधः । आङ्गिको वाचिकश्चैवमाहार्यः सात्त्विकस्तथा (bhavedabhinayo'vasthānukāraḥ sa caturvidhaḥ | āṅgiko vācikaścaivamāhāryaḥ sāttvikastathā) || 274, 'acting is the imitation of condition', it is of four kinds:- (1) gestural, conveyed by bodily actions; (2) vocal, conveyed by words; (3) extraneous, conveyed by dress, ornaments, decoration &c.; (4) internal, conveyed by the manifestation of internal feeling such as perspiration, thrilling &c.

Derivable forms: abhinayaḥ (अभिनयः).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—m.

(-yaḥ) 1. Indication of a passion or purpose by look, gesture, &c. 2. Acting, dramatic personification. 3. Ornament, decoration. 4. Civility, kindness. E. abhi, nīñ to guide, and ac aff.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—i. e. abhi-nī + a, m. Dramatic performance, [Vikramorvaśī, (ed. Bollensen.)] [distich] 36.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय).—[masculine] pantomime, dramatic representation; yācārya [masculine] teacher of this art.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Abhinaya (अभिनय):—[=abhi-naya] a See 1. abhi-√nī.

2) [=abhi-naya] [from abhi-nī] b m. (indication of a passion or purpose by look, gesture, etc.) acting, dramatic action (expressive of sentiment)

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Goldstücker Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय):—[tatpurusha compound] 1. m.

(-yaḥ) Action and postures expressive of sentiment, especially when exhibited in a dramatic performance; dramatic representation; it is fourfold: āṅgika or conveyed by bodily action, as by attitude, gesture &c., vācika by speech, āhārya by dress, decorations &c. and sāttvika by the spontaneous manifestation of feelings, as by perspiration, horripilation, inarticulate speech &c.; e. g. Vikramorv.: lalitābhinayaṃ tamadya bhartā marutāṃ draṣṭumanāḥ salokapālaḥ; or a quotation by the Sāhityad.: yasmādabhinayo hyatra prāthamyādavatāryate . raṅgadvāramato jñeyaṃ vāgaṅgābhinayātmakam. The term abhinaya as applying merely to the means of a dramatic representation is therefore distinct from the term rūpaka (and its subdivisions) q. v. which belongs to the contents of the representation or to the drama itself, both being the categories which distinguish the ‘poem to be seen’ from the ‘poem to be heard’; Sāhityad.: dṛśyaśravyatvabhedena punaḥ kāvyaṃ dvidhā matam . dṛśyaṃ tatrābhineyaṃ tadrūpāropāttu rūpakam . bhavedabhinayovasthānukāraḥ sa caturvidhaḥ . āṅgiko vācikaścaivamāhāryaḥ sāttvikastathā; (the Amarak. distinguishes the abhinaya only as āṅgika and sāttvika; Hemach. has the same definition as the Sāhityad.). [2. n.

(-yam) See the remark s. v. abhibala.] E. with abhi, kṛt aff. ac; Saṅgītadarpaṇa: abhipūrvastu ṇīñdhāturābhimukhyārthanirṇaye . asmātprayogaṃ nayati tasmādabhinayaḥ smṛtaḥ.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय):—[abhi-naya] (yaḥ) 1. m. Indication of passion by the look; civility.

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary (S)

Abhinaya (अभिनय) in the Sanskrit language is related to the Prakrit word: Abhiṇaya.

[Sanskrit to German]

Abhinaya in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Sanskrit from relevant books on Exotic India

Hindi dictionary

[«previous next»] — Abhinaya in Hindi glossary
Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Abhinaya (अभिनय) [Also spelled abhinay]:—(nm) acting; performing (on the stage).

context information


Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Hindi from relevant books on Exotic India

Prakrit-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary

Abhiṇaya (अभिणय) in the Prakrit language is related to the Sanskrit word: Abhinaya.

context information

Prakrit is an ancient language closely associated with both Pali and Sanskrit. Jain literature is often composed in this language or sub-dialects, such as the Agamas and their commentaries which are written in Ardhamagadhi and Maharashtri Prakrit. The earliest extant texts can be dated to as early as the 4th century BCE although core portions might be older.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Prakrit from relevant books on Exotic India

Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Abhinaya (ಅಭಿನಯ):—

1) [noun] the act, art or occupation of performing in plays, movies, etc; acting.

2) [noun] expression of sentiments through different gestures.

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

Discover the meaning of abhinaya in the context of Kannada from relevant books on Exotic India

See also (Relevant definitions)

Relevant text

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: