Natyashastra (English)

by Bharata-muni | 1951 | 240,273 words | ISBN-13: 9789385005831

The English translation of the Natyashastra, a Sanskrit work on drama, performing arts, theater, dance, music and various other topics. The word natyashastra also refers to a global category of literature encompassing this ancient Indian tradition of dramatic performance. The authorship of this work dates back to as far as at least the 1st millenn...

Chapter IX - Gestures of Major Limbs (aṅga)

Bharata speaks.

1-3. So much about the minor limbs such as head, eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips and cheeks, and their description that I was to tell you. I shall now define the gestures of [major limbs] hands, breast, sides, belly, waist, thighs and feet and their proper use.[1] In this connexion I shall [first of all] explain the gesture of hands and the like, that are used in the production of a play. You are to listen how they are to be applied [in acting].

Sixty-seven gestures of hands (hasta)

4-7. Gestures of single hands (asaṃyuta-hasta)[2] are twenty-four in number: Patāka, Tripatāka, Kartarīmukha, Ardhacandra, Arāla, Śukatuṇḍa, Muṣṭi, Śikhara, Kapittha, Kaṭakāmukha,[3] Sūcyāsya (Sūcīmukha), Padmakośa, Sarpaśiras, Mṛgaśīrṣa, Kāṅgula, Alapadma (Alapallava), Catura, Bhramara, Haṃsāsya, Haṃsapakṣa, Sandaṃśa, Mukulā, Ūrṇanābha and Tāmracūḍa.

8-10. Gestures of combined hands (saṃyuta-hasta)[4] are thirteen in number: Añjali, Kapota, Karkaṭa, Svastika, Kaṭakāvardhamānaka,[5] Utsaṅga, Niṣadha, Dola, Puṣpapuṭa, Makara, Gajadanta, Avahittha and Vardhamāna.

10-17. Dance-hands (nṛtta-hasta)[6] are Caturasra,[7] Udvṛtta, Talamukha, Svastika, Viprakīrṇa, Arālakhaṭakāmukha, Āviddhavakra, Sūcyāsya, Recita, Ardharecita, Uttānavañcita, Pallava, Nitamba, Keśabandha, Latā, Karihasta, Pakṣavañcitaka, Pakṣapradyotaka, Garuḍapakṣa, Daṇḍapakṣa, Ūrdhvamaṇḍalī, Pārśvamaṇḍalī, Uromaṇḍalī, Uraḥpārśvārdhamaṇḍalī, Muṣṭikasvastika, Nalinīpadmakośa, Alapallava, Ulbaṇa, Lalita and Valita.

These are the sixtyfour[8] gestures of hands.

Gestures of single hands (asaṃyuta-hasta)

17-26. Now listen about their definition and uses.

Patāka (flag)—the fingers extended and close against one another, and the thumb bent.

(Uses): To represent an administration of blows, scorching heat, urging, attainment of happiness and arrogant reference of one’s ownself[9] this hand is to be raised on a level with the forehead. To represent the glare of heat, torrential rain and shower of flowers two Patāka hands with the fingers separated and moving, are to be joined together. A shallow pool of water, present of flowers, grass and any design [lit. object] made on the ground are to be represented by two such hands separated from the Svastika position. The same Patāka hands with their fingers pointing downwards are to be used to represent anything closed, made open, protected, covered, dense or private (to be concealed). This very hand with its fingers pointing downwards and moving up and down, is to express the speedy movement of wind and [ocean] waves, [ocean waves] breaking against the shore, and an objection. The Recaka of this hand should be used to represent encouragement, many [in number], a great crowd of men, height, beating of drums, and flight of birds upwards. And anything washed, pressed, cleansed, pounded, or holding up a hill or uprooting it, should be represented by the palms of two such hands rubbing each other. This is also the manner of representing man and woman.[10]

26-32. Tripatāka (flag with three fingers)—the third finger of the Patāka hand to be bent.

(Uses): It is to be used in representing invocation, descent, bidding goodbye, prohibition, entrance, raising up [anything],[11] bowing [in salutation], comparing,[12] suggesting alternatives, touching [the head with] auspicious objects or putting them on the head, putting on a turban or a crown and covering the mouth or the ears. This very hand with its fingers pointing downwards and moving up and down is to be used in representing flight of small birds, stream, snake, bees and the like. And with the third finger of the Tripatāka should be represented wiping off tears, drawing a Tilaka or Patralekhā[13] and touching of hairs.

32-37. Two Tripatāka[14] hands held like a Svastika represent adoration of the feet of venerable persons (guru)[15]. Two such hands are to meet each other’s end for representing marriage. Separated and moved to the forehead they indicate a king. When obliquely forming a Svastika they represent planets. To indicate an ascetic they arc to be raised with palm turned forward. To represent a door they are to face each other. Submarine fire, battle and sea-monsters are to be indicated by two Tripatāka hands, first raised near one’s face and then moved with the fingers pointing downwards. With these very hands should be indicated jumping of monkeys, waves, wind and women. To show the crescent moon this hand should put forward its thumb, and to indicate a king’s march [against his enemy] this hand should turn itself towards the back.

38-40. Kartarīmukha (scissors’ blades)—the forefinger of the Tripatāka hand is to bend backwards.

(Uses): This [hand with its fingers] pointing downwards will represent showing the way, decorating the feet[16] or dying them,[17] and the crawling [of babies]. With fingers pointing upwards it will represent biting, horn and letters. And when the fingers in it are turned differently (i.e. the middle finger is bent backwards) it will represent falling down, death, transgression,[18] reversion, cogitation and putting [anything] in trust.

42. And with the two such (saṃyuta) hands or one such (asaṃyuta) hand should be represented an antelope, yak, buffalo, celestial elephant (airāvata), bull, gate (gogūra) and hill-top.

42-44. Ardhacandra (crescent moon)—the fingers and the thumb so bent as to make a curve like a bow.

(Uses): With this should be represented young trees, crescent moon, conch shell, jar (kalaśa), bracelet, forcible opening, exertion,[19] thinness and drinking. With this [very] Ardhacandra hand women should represent girdle, hip waist, face, Tālapatra[20] and earring.

45-50. Arala (bent)—the forefinger curved like a bow, the thumb also curved and the remaining fingers separated and turned upwards.

(Uses): With this should be represented courage, pride, prowess, beauty, contentment, heavenly [objects], poise, act of blessing and other favourable states. And this, again, will represent woman’s gathering of hairs or scattering them and looking carefully over their entire body. The preliminaries to the marriage by bride’s going round the bridegroom[21] and [marital] union[22] are to be represented by two Arāla hands moving around each other and their fingers meeting in the form of a Svastika. And with similar hands should be represented circumambulation, round objects, great crowd of men, objects arranged on the ground.[23] In calling any one, in making offering to the manes, saying too many things, in censure and rebuke etc., wiping off sweat and enjoying sweet smell, the Tripatāka hands have been prescribed before by me, but women are to use the Arāla hand to represent these.

51-53. Śukatuṇḍa (parrot’s beak)—the ring-finger (third finger) of the Arāla hand is bent.

(Uses): With this should be represented words such as ‘(It is) not I’, ‘(It is) not you’, (It should) not be done, invocation, farewell, and saying ‘Fie (upon you)’ in contempt.

54-55. Muṣṭi (fist—fingers have their ends [bent] into the palm and the thumb [is set] upon them.

(Uses): It is used to represent beating, exercise[24] exit, pressing,[25] shampooing,[26] grasping sword and holding spears and clubs.

56-57. Śikhara (peak)—in this very hand (muṣṭi) the thumb raised.

(Uses): It is used to represent reins, whip, goad, bow, throwing a javelin (tomara) or a spike *(śakti), painting the two lips and feet and raising up hairs.

58-59. Kapittha (elephant-apple)—the forefinger of the Śikhara hand to be bent and pressed by the thumb.

(Uses): It is to represent weapons such as sword, bow, discus, javelin (tomara), spear (kunta), mace, spike (śakti), thunderbolt and arrows, true and wholesome deeds.

60-63. Kaṭakāmukha—the ring-finger and the little finger of this Kapittha hand to be raised and bent.

(Uses): It is used to represent sacrifice,[27] oblation,[28] umbrella, drawing up reins, fan, holding a mirror, drawing [patterns],[29] powdering, taking up big sticks, arranging a pearl necklace, wearing garlands, gathering the ends of clothes, churning, drawing out arrows, plucking flowers, wielding a long whip, drawing out a goad, a rope, and representing a woman.

65-71. Sūcīmukha—the fore finger of the Kaṭakāmukha hand to be stretched.

(Uses): I shall tell you briefly of its various uses as the forefinger [in it] is raised and bent, moving sideways, shaking, moving up and down, and moving up without any rest. By moving the forefinger upwards [in this hand] are to be represented discus, lightning, banners, blossoms, earring,[30] zigzag movement, a cry of approbation,[31] young serpent, young sprout,[32] incense, lamp, creepers,[33] Śikhaṇḍa,[34] falling down, curve and roundness and with the forefinger raised this [hand] again should be used in [representing] stars, nose, [the number] one, club and stick. And [this hand with the forefinger] bent should meet the mouth to represent a being with teeth, and by the circular movement of this hand one should represent the taking away [a man’s] everything. And the forefinger in this hand should be quite near the eats in yawning, and by the mouth lowered to represent long study and long day. And the same should be curved near the face to represent a sentence. And to indicate ‘no’ or ‘speak’ the forefinger should be stretched, shaken and moved up.

72-75. This hand should be shaken to represent anger, perspiration, hair, ear-ring, armlet and decoration of the cheeks. And to represent pride, ‘I am,’ enemy, ‘Who is this’ man? and in scratching of the ear it should be held near the forehead. [And two Sūcīmukha hands] should be united to represent the union [of men], and be separated to indicate separation, and to represent a quarrel the two hands should be crossed, and to show bondage they are to press each other. The two Sūcīmukha [hands] facing each other and held separately on the left side will represent the close of the day, and held on the right side they will indicate the close of the night.

76. This hand moved in the front will indicate [any] form, stone, whirlpool, mechanical contrivance and a hill, and to represent the serving up of meals the same movement of the hand pointing downwards is required.

77. To represent Śiva this hand pointing downwards is to be held close to the forehead and to indicate Śakra (Indra) this hand is to be raised [to the forehead] and held across it.

78. By two such hands the orb of the full moon is to be represented, and to indicate the rising of Śakra (Indra) (i.e. raising his banner) it should be held close to the forehead.

79. [This hand] moved all around will represent the orb of the moon, and to indicate Śiva’s [third] eye, it should be held on the forehead and [in case of] Śakra’s (India’s) [eyes it should be] raised obliquely,

80. Padmakośa (lotus-bud)—the fingers including the thumb to be separated and their ends to bend, but not to meet one another.

81. (Uses): To represent Bilva and Kapittha (elephant-apple) fruits and the breasts of women [this hand is to be used]. But to represent accepting [these fruits] or flesh, this hand should be slightly bent at its end.

82. [This hand] should be held [to represent] offering Pūja to a deity, carrying tribute, casket, offering the first funeral cake,[35] and a number of [small] flowers, are also to be indicated by the Padmakośa hand.

83. Two such hands with moving fingers meeting at the wrist and turning backwards will represent the fullblown lotus and water-lily.

84. Sarpaśiras  (snake-head)—the fingers including the thumb to be close to one another and the palm to be hollowed.

83. (Uses): It is used to represent the offering of water, movement of serpents, pouring water [on anything], challenging [for a duel], motion of the elephant’s frontal globes (kumhba) and the like.

86. Mṛgaśīrṣa (deer-head)—the Sarpaśiras hand with all its fingers pointing downwards, but the thumb and the little finger raised up.

87. (Uses): It is moved to represent here, now, “It is,” to-day, able, shaking (ullasana), throw of dice, wiping off perspiration and pretended anger.

88.[36] Kāṅgula—The middle and the fore-fingers and the thumb to be separated and the ring finger to be bent but the little finger raised.

89. (Uses): By this are to be represented immature fruits of various kinds and angry words of women.

90. Alapallava (Alapadmaka)—all fingers turned towards the palm, standing on its side and separated from one another.

91. (Uses): It is to be used for indicating prevention, words like “Of whom are you,” “It is not,” “nonsense” and a woman’s allusion to herself.

92. Catura—the four fingers stretched and the thumb bent near the middle finger.

93. (Uses): It is to be applied in representing policy, discipline, penance, cleverness, a young girl, a sick person, perfidy, gambling, proper words, salutary truth, and tranquillity.

94. By one or two such hands moved round should be represented openness, deliberation, moving, conjecture and shame.

95. By the combined Catura hands are to be represented lotus-petals compared with eyes, and ears of deer.

96-98. Besides these, the Catura hand is to indicate sports, love, brilliance, memory, intelligence, judgement, forgiveness, nutrition, consciousness, hope, affection, reasoning, union, purity, cleverness, sweetness, favourableness, softness, happiness, good conduct, its want, question, livelihood, propriety, dress, soft grass, a small quantity, wealth, defeat, sexual intercourse, merit and demerit, youth, houses, wives and various colours.

99. [To represent] while it (the Catura hand) should be held up; red and yellow are indicated by moving it round, and blue by pressing [one such hand with another].

100. Bhramara (bee)—the middle finger and the thumb crossing each other, the forefinger bent, the remaining two fingers separated and raised.

101. (Uses): It is used to indicate the plucking of flowers with long stems such as lotus blue, and white water-lily, and earring.

102. It should fall down with a sound to represent rebuke, pride of power, quickness, beating time and producing confidence.

103. Haṃsāsya (swan-beak)—the forefinger, middle finger and the thumb close[37] to one another and the remaining fingers stretched.[37]

104. (Uses): It with the slightly throbbing end is used specially to indicate fine, small, loose, lightness, exit, and softness.

105. Haṃsapakṣa (swan-wings)—the three fingers stretched, the little finger raised and the thumb bent.

106-108. (Uses): It is used to indicate pouring libation of water, and things connected with smell, acceptance of a gift, Ācamana and taking meals by Brahmins, embrace, excessive stupor, horripilation, touch, unguent and gentle massage. It may again be used to indicate according to the Sentiment, amorous action of women relating to the region between their breasts, their sorrow and touching of their chin.

109. Sandaṃśa (pincers)—the forefinger and the thumb of the Arāla hand crossed and the palm a little hollowed.

110. The Sandaṃśa (hand) according to the Sentiments and States, is of three kinds, viz. that [held] in front, that near the mouth and that on one side.

111-115. (Uses): In representing the plucking of flowers, taking up grass, leaves, hairs or thread and holding or pulling out an arrow or thorn the Sandaṃśa should be held in one’s front. And to represent taking off a flower from its stem, the wick [of a lamp], [collyrium] stick, etc. filling up [any vessel with any thing], in saying ‘fie [upon you]’, in anger, this should be held near the mouth. To represent taking off the sacred thread, piercing a hole [in pearls and similar objects], bow-string, fineness, arrow, and objects aimed at, yoga, meditation and small quantity [two] such hands should be combined. This shown by the left hand held on one side and slightly turning its tip is used to represent softness, abuse and envy. It is used also to indicate painting, colouring one’s eyes, deliberation, stem, drawing Patralekhā and squeezing of lac-dye by women.

116. Mukulā (bud)—the fingers bent and close to one another and their tips meeting together in the Haṃsāsya hand.

117-118.[38] (Uses): It is used to represent the making of offerings in worshipping a deity, bud of a lotus or a water-lily, throwing a kiss (viṭa-cumbana), contempt, miscellaneous things, taking meals, counting of gold coins, narrowing of the mouth, giving away [anything], quickness and buds of flowers.

119-120.[39] Ūrṇanābha (spider)—the fingers of the Padmakośa hand [further] bent.

(Uses): It is used to represent holding one by hair, receiving stolen goods, scratching one’s head, skin disease, lions, tigers and such other animals, and seizing a stone.

121-122. Tāmracūḍa (lit. copper-crest i.e. cock)—the middle finger and the thumb crossed, the fore-finger bent, the remaining [two fingers] at the palm.

(Uses): It should fall down with a sound to represent rebuke, beating time, inspiring confidence, quickness, and making signs.

123. This hand is also to be used to indicate small fractions of time such as Kalā, Kāṣṭhā, Nimeṣa and Kṣaṇa as well as talking to a young girl and inviting her.

124. When the fingers in a hand are close to one another, bent and the thumb is set on them, the same is [also] called the Tāmracūḍa hand.

125. By this hand are to be indicated hundred, thousand and lac of gold coins, and when the fingers in it are suddenly made to move freely it will represent sparks or drops.

Gestures of Combined hands (saṃyuta-hasta)

126. O the best of Brahmins, these are the single hands described by me. Now hear about the combined hands which I am going to describe.

127. Añjali—Putting together of the two Patāka hands is called Añjali.

(Uses): It is used to greet gods, venerable persons (guru) and friend.

128. In greeting gods it is to be held on the head, in case of venerable persons like father, teacher etc. it is to be held near one’s face, and for greeting the friends it is to be placed on the chest and in case of the remaining persons there is no fixed rule.

129. Kapota (pigeon)—Two (Añjali) hands meeting on one of their sides will make the Kapota hand. Listen about its uses.

130. (Uses): It is to be used to indicate an approach with inimical intention, bowing and talking to a venerable person. To indicate cold and fear, women are to hold this hand on their breasts.

131. The hands [showing the Kapota gesture] released after the meeting of fingers will indicate anxious words, or ‘This much can be done’ or ‘Nothing more can be done.’

132. Karkaṭa (crab)—When the fingers of the hands are interlocked the Karkaṭa hand is produced.

133. (Uses): It is used to indicate the bees-wax, massaging of the limbs, yawning just after awakening from sleep, a big body, supporting the chin and holding a conch-shell [for blowing it].

134. Svastika—Two Arāla or Vardhamāna hands upturned and held together at the wrists on the left side will form the Svastika. It is to be used by women.

135. (Uses): When the hands are separated from the Svastika position, it will indicate directions, clouds, the sky, forests, seas, seasons, the earth and similar [other] extensive things.

136. Kaṭakāvardhamānaka—When one Kaṭakā (mukha) hand is placed on [the wrist of] another Kaṭakā [mukha] hand, the Kaṭakāvardhamānaka hand will be produced.

(Uses): It is to be used in movements connected with love-making and in bowing [to a person].

137. Utsaṅga—When the Arāla hands are contrarily placed and are held upturned and bent, the Utsaṅga hand will be the result.

(Uses): It is used to indicate feeling of touch.

138. It is also used to indicate acts of anger and indignation, in pressing of hands similar to women’s acts of jealousy.

139. Niṣadha—When the Kapittha hand surrounds the Mukulā hand the Niṣadha hand is made.

140. (Uses): It is used to indicate collecting, acceptance, holding, a doctrine, and to indicate brief truth the two hands are to press (each other).

140. Ka-Kha: Niṣadha—The left hand holding the [right] arm above the elbow and the right hand similarly touching the left arm with a clenched fist will make a Niṣadha hand.

140. Ga, (Uses): It is to indicate patience, intoxication pride, elegance, eagerness, valour, arrogance self-conceit, haughtiness, motionlessness, steadiness and the like.

141. Dola—When the two shoulders are at ease in a Karaṇa and the two Patāka hands are hanging down the Dola hand is produced.

142. (Uses): It is to be used in indicating hurry, sadness, fainting, fit of intoxication, excitement, state of illness and wound by a weapon.

143. Puṣpapuṭa—Two Sarpaśiraḥ hands with their fingers close to one another meeting on one side very closely will give rise to the Puṣpapuṭa hand.

144. (Uses): It is to be used to indicate the receiving or carrying of rice, fruits, flowers, foods and lawfully obtained money of various kinds and the carrying and removing of water.

145. Makara—When the two Patāka hands with their thumbs raised are turned down and placed on each other the Makara hand is produced.

146. (Uses): It is used to indicate lion, tiger, elephant, crocodile, shark and fish and other carnivorous animals.

147. Gajadanta—Two Sarpaśiraḥ hands touching the opposite arms between the shoulder and the elbow will give rise to Gajadanta hand.

148. (Uses): It is to be used to indicate the carrying of the bridegroom and the bride, excessive weight, clasping a pillar and uprooting a hill or a block of stone.

149. Avahittha—When the two Śukatuṇḍa hands meet each other on the breast and are bent and then slowly lowered, the Avahittha hands will be the result.

130. (Uses): It is to be used in indicating weakness, sigh, showing one’s body, thinness [or the body] and longing [for a beloved].

131. Two Haṃsapakṣa hands turned down will be the known as the Vardhamāna (Uses): It is to be used to represent the opening of objects like latticed windows.

152. The two kinds of hands (single and combined) described briefly may be used elsewhere also in conformity with the rules laid down here.

General rules regarding the use of hand gestures

153. In acting, hand [gestures] should be selected for their form, movement, significance, and class according to the personal judgement [of the actor].

154. There is no gesture (lit. hand) that cannot be used in indicating [some] idea. I have profusely described whatever forms (lit. gestures) are usually seen [to be associated with different ideas].

155. There are besides other popular gestures (lit. hand) connected with other ideas, and they also are to be freely used along with the movements inspired by the Sentiments and the States.

156. These gesture? should be used by males as well as females with proper regard to place, occasion, the play undertaken and a suitability of their meaning.

Different movements of hand gestures

I shall now describe the varied movements which these gestures (lit. hands) [should] have in connexion with [different] Sentiments and States.

158-160. [These movements are]: drawing upwards, dragging, drawing out, accepting, killing, beckoning, urging, bringing together, separating, protecting, releasing, throwing, shaking, giving away, threatening, cutting, piercing, squeezing and beating.

161. Hand gestures according to the theory of Histrionic Representation are to have three kinds of general movements, viz. upwards, sideways and downwards.

162. These movements of hands should at the time of their use, be embellished by means of [suitable] expressions in the eyes, the eyebrows and the face,

Spheres of hand gestures

163. The experts are to use the hand gestures according to the popular practice and, [in this matter] they should have an eye to their movement, object, sphere, quantity, appropriateness and mode.

164. Hand gestures of persons of the superior type should move near their forehead, that of the middling type of persons at about their breasts while the inferior persons [should move their hand gestures in regions] below this.

Quantity of gestures

165. In the superior persons, hand gestures should have scanty movement, in the middling ones there should be medium movement, while in the acting of the ordinary persons, there should be profuse movements of hand gestures.

166. For relevant purposes the hand gestures of persons of the superior and the middling types should conform the definition given [in the Śāstra] while gestures of persons of the inferior type should follow the popular practice and their [own] natural habit.

167. But when [specially] different occasions or times present themselves, wise people should make contrary uses of the hand gestures.

168-171. While a person is to represent himself as sad, fainting, terrified, overcome with disgust or sorrow, weak, asleep, handless, inactive, drowsy, inert, sick, attacked with fever, seized with panic, attacked with cold, intoxicated, bewildered, mad, thoughtful, practising austerities, residing in a cold region, prisoner under arrest, running very swiftly, speaking in dream, suddenly moving away and bursting nails he is not to use hand gestures, but he should resort to the Sāttvika Representation as well as to the change of voice suitable to the different States and Sentiments.

172. At the time of verbal acting (i.e. when the actor will speak his part) the eyes and the look are to be directed to points at which the hand gestures are moving, and there should be proper stops so that the meaning may be [clearly] expressed (lit. seen).1

173. These are the hand gestures connected with the various kinds of Histrionic Representations. I shall now speak of Dance-hands (i.e. gestures to be used in dance).

Dance-hands (nṛttahasta)

174. Caturasra—two Kaṭakāmukha hands held forward eight Aṅgulīs away [from one’s chest,] the two shoulders and elbows on the same level.

175. Udvṛtta—the two Haṃsapakṣa hands waved like a palm-leaf (fan). Its alternative name is the Tālavṛnta (palm-leaf).

176. Talamukha—the two hands from the Caturasra position to be held obliquely facing each other.

177. Svastika—the Talamukha hands crossed at the wrists; but released after this they are called Viprakīrṇa.

178. Arālakhaṭakāmukha—the two Alapallava (Alapadmaka) hands with palms upwards changed into Padmakośa hands. Its another name is Arālakaṭaka.

179. Āviddhavakraka—The two hands are to have a graceful (kuṭila) movement after touching [successively] the opposite shoulder, elbow and hands, and the palms [of the hands] moved are to turn towards the back.

180. Sūcīmukha—The two Sarpaśiraḥ hands with their thumbs touching middle fingers are to stretch their tips obliquely.

181. Recita—the two Haṃsapakṣa hands swiftly moving with the palms facing upward. This is like the ordinary Recita [of the hands].

182. Ardharecita—The left hand should be as in the Caturasra and the right hand as in the Recita.

183. Uttānavañcita—The two Tripatāka hands are slightly bent obliquely and the shoulders and the elbows are moved.

184. Pallava—the two Patāka hands joined at the wrist.

Nitamba—the two Patāka hands taken out from the boulder [to the hip].

185. Keśabandha—the two hands moved out from the hair-knot (keśabandha) and held on the sides.

186. Latā—the two hands to be obliquely stretched sideways.

187. Karihasta—the Latā hand held up and swung from side to side and the Tripatāka hand held on the ear.

188. Pakṣavañcitaka—one Tripatāka hand placed on the waist and another on the head.

189. Pakṣapradyotaka—the Pakṣavañcitaka hands changing places (i.e. the hands placed on the waist to be put on the head and vice versa).

190. Daṇḍapaksa—the two Haṃsapakṣa hands moved alternately and then held out like a staff.

191. Ūrdhvamaṇḍalī—the two hands to have circling movement near the upper region (i.e. the upper part of the body).

Pārśvamaṇḍalī—the same movement made on one side.

192. Uromaṇḍalī—after circling movements one hand to be raised up and the other to hang down, and movements to take place near the breast.

193. Uraḥpārśvārdhamaṇḍala—the Alapallava (Alapadmaka) and Arāla hands moved by turns above the chest and by the sides.

194. Muṣṭikasvastika—the two Kaṭakāmukha hands bent at the wrists and moved round.

195. Nalinīpadmakośa—the hands to be moved by turns with Vyavartita and Parivartita Karaṇa.

196. Alapallava—the two hands to have the Udveṣṭita Karaṇa in their movements.

Ulbaṇa—the two hands to be stretched up and waved.

197. Lalita—two [Ala]-pallava (Alapadmaka) hands to be moved above the head.

Valita—the two Latā hands crossed at their elbows.

Dance hands

198. The Dance-hands are to be used in forming Karaṇas, and hands such as the Patāka should be used in representing the meaning [of words].

199. [But] sometimes, out of necessity their uses are inter-changed, and the names given are due to their predominant use in drama and dance.

200. The Dance-hands are of two kinds: single and combined. I shall now speak of hands in relation to the Karaṇas.[40]

Karaṇas of Dance hands

201-202. Instructors of hand gestures are to note carefully the four classes into which all such gestures are grouped. The four classes are: Āveṣṭita, Udveṣṭita, Vyavarita and Parivartita.

203. Āveṣṭita: When the fingers beginning with the first one (the forefinger) are gradually pointing inwards at the time [the hand] moves round, the Karaṇa [thus produced] is called Āveṣṭita.

204. Udveṣṭita: When the fingers beginning with the first one [forefingers] are gradually pointing outwards at the time [the hand] moves round, the Karaṇa thus produced is called Udveṣṭita.

205. Vyavartita: When fingers beginning with the last one (the little finger) are gradually pointing inwards at the time [the hand] moves round, the Karaṇa thus produced is called Vyavartita.

206. Parivartita: When the fingers beginning with the last one (the little finger) are gradually pointing outwards at the time [the hand] moves round, the Karaṇa thus produced, is called Parivartita.

207. Hand gestures in their [various] movements when applied in drama and dance should he followed by Karaṇas having [appropriate expression of] the face, the eyebrows and the eyes.

Movements of arms (bāhu)

208-209. Persons dealing in drama and dance have prescribed ten [movements] of arms: Tiryak, Ūrdhvagata, Adhomukha, Āviddha, Apaviddha, Maṇḍala, Svastika, Añcita, Kuñcita and Pṛṣṭhaga.

210. O Brahmins, I have now finished the brief description of rules regarding the Karaṇas and shall speak afterwards about the movements of the breast, the belly and the sides.

Here ends Chapter IX of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of the Gestures of Hands.

Footnotes and references:


This use relates to the two-fold Practice (realistic and coventional) on the stage (See XIV. 62ff). The Realistic Practice (lokadharmī) in this connexion is of two kinds, viz. (1) that reflecting one’s emotion, as in arrogant reference to one’s ownself, this (patāka) hand is to be raised on a level with the forehead (IX. 19), (2) that representing the external form of an object, as the use of the Padmakośa hand to represent lotus and similar flowers. The Conventional Practice (nāṭyadharmī) is likewise of two kinds, viz, (1) that creating an ornamental effect, as the use of the four karaṇas of the hand (See IX. 205-211 below), (2) that partially suggesting a popular behaviour, as the use of the tṛipatāka hand to represent words spoken aside (janāntika). See Ag.


These hands gestures are ordinarily used singly; but at times two hands showing one of these gestures are used simultaneously. But still these are called single (asaṃyuta) hands. For, combined (saṃyuta) hands are so called because they are always to be shown by both the hands; see Ag.


Some mss. read this name as khaṭakāmukha. Our reading is supported by the AD. (See ed. M. Ghosh, verse 124. A. K. Coomaraswamy MG. p. 50).


See note 1 to 4-7 above.


Some mss, read this name as khaṭakā 0; Kaṭakāvardhana, is the name of a saṃyuta-hasta in the AD. ed. M, Ghosh, 187, and A. K, Coomaraswamy, MG, p. 60.


These gestures (dance-hands, nṛttahasta) as their name implies, are ordinarily to be used in dance; but in course of acting too they are often to be used along with other gestures (single and combined) to create an ornamental effect (See note 1 to 1-3 above). See Ag.


In the Skt. text these names are given in dual number e.g. our caturasra stands as caturasrau. The reason for this is to be sought in the fact that unlike the single and combined hands which must represent one single idea or object, the hands in the dance-hand gestures are to be individually moved, not for representing any idea or object, but for creating an ornamental effect in acting as well as in dance. See Ag.


In actual enumeration hand-gestures are sixty-seven in number (single 24, combined 13 and Dance-hands 30). Catuḥsaṣṭhi in the text should be emended to saptasaṣṭhi.


In saying ‘I too,’ ‘of me too,’ ‘by me too,’ ‘in me too’ and the like (Ag).


Ag. gives detailed rules about the use of the patāka hand in all the cases mentioned above.


Ag. thinks that this relates to objects like one’s chin.


nidarśanam upamānopameyabhāvam (Ag.).


rocanālabhanakam -touching, (the body) with go-roama or drawing ornamental designs (patralekhā) on the body with this substance. Gorocanā is a bright yellow pigment prepared from the urine or the bile of a cow.


This portion does not occur in all mss., and may well have been a later addition.


Parents, grand-parents and the spiritual guide etc. are meant by this term.


racanaṃ kasturikādinā patrabhaṅgādikriyā (Ag,).


rañjanam alaktakena (Ag.).


vyatikramaḥ aparādhaḥ (Ag.).


āyastaṃ khedam (Ag.).


Mss. read tālapatra (tāḍapatra) meaning a kind of ear-ornament (tāḍaṅka or tāṭaṅka). It is different from kuṇḍala which is also a car-ornament.


kautukamvivāhāt pūrvabhāvī vadhūvaravor ācāraḥ antarvivābaḥ (Ag.).


vivābaḥagnan sākṣiṇi pāṇigrahaṇam (Ag.).


Objects such as Ālpanā and flowers arranged on the ground. For Ālpana see L’alpana by Andre et Suzanne Karpelles, Paris, 1930 (?)


Vyāyāma according to Ag. means yūddha.


‘Pressing’ of the teats of cows and buffaloes while milking them; stanapīḍanemahiṣyādidohane (Ag.).


Saṃvāhana according to Ag. means mṛtpīḍana.


hotramsrugādi-uttānena, Ag.


havyamājyādyāmukhena (Ag.).


khaṇḍanam—drawing decorative patterns or designs on anything. Ag’s explanation of this seems to be wrong, Cf. alakā-tilakā patrāvalīṃ khaṇḍante (draws the alakā-tīlakā and patrāvalī) in the Kīrtilatā of Vidyāpati. See ed. Haraprasād Śāstrī, Calcutta, BS. 1331 (1924) pp. 13-14, and the root khāḍ (to draw) in E. Bengal dialect of T ippera.


karṇacūlikākarṇapūra (Ag.).


Saying ‘welldone,’ ‘how beautiful’ etc.


pallava but B. balyava.


The text uses two words vallī and latā meaning ‘creeper.’ Ag. distinguishes between the two as follows: alāvū-prabbṛtayo vallyaḥ and drākṣāprabhṛtayo latāḥ.


śikhaṇḍakumārakāṇāṃ kākapakṣaḥ (Ag.).


agrapinda-dāna-nāndimukhaśrāddha (Ag.)


trertāgnisaṃsthitāḥ = viralāḥ (Ag.).


nirantarā iti viralatvaṃ niṣedhati (Ag.).


viṭacumbanaṃ-svābhiprāyaṃ āviṣkartuṃ svabastam eva kumulitaṃ vitāś cumbantīti viṭacumbanam (Ag.).


Cf. Ag’s explanation of cauryagraha.


This Karaṇa is evidently from the K. mentioned in IV. 62ff.

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