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 X - Gestures of other Limbs

Breast (uras)

1. The breast is known to be of five kinds: Ābhugna (slightly bent), Nirbhugna (unbent), Prakampita (shaking), Udvāhita (raised) and Sama (natural).

2. Ābhugna (slightly bent)—(the breast) lowered, back high, shoulders slightly bent and at times loose (not stiff).

3. (Uses): in hurry, despair, fainting, sorrow, fear, sickness, broken heart, touching of cold objects, rains and being ashamed of some act.

4. Nirbhugna (unbent)—(the breast) stiff, back depressed, shoulders not bent and raised.

3. (Uses): in paralysis, having resentment, look of surprise, assertion of truth, mentioning oneself haughtily, and excess of pride.

6. Prakampita (shaken)—the breast incessantly heaved up [and down].

7. (Uses): in laughter, weeping, weariness, panic, [fit of] asthma, hiccup, and misery.

8. Udvāhita (raised)—the breast raised up.

(Uses): in (representing) deep breathing, viewing some lofty [object], and yawning.

9. Sama (natural)—All the limbs being in the Caturasra and with Sauṣṭhuva the breast will be called Sama (natural).

Sides (pārśva)

10. I have properly described the variety of the breast movements. And I shall now define here the two sides.

11. Sides are of five kinds, viz., Nata (bent), Samunnata (raised), Prasārita (extended), Vivartita (turned round) and Apasṛta (drawn away).

12-15. Nata (bent)—the waist slightly bent, one side slightly bent, one shoulder drawn away slightly.
Unnata (raised)—the other side [on the assumption of the Nata position] will be Unnata (raised), [because in relation of it] the waist, the side, the arm and the shoulder will be raised.
Prasārita (stretched)—the stretching of the sides in their (respective) directions.
Vivartita (turned round)—the Trika (sacrum) is to be turned round.
Apasṛta (drawn away)—the side restored to its original position from the Vivartita movement [described above].

These are the definitions of the various kinds of side.

Uses of Sides

16-17. Nata (bent)—in approaching any body.
Unnata (raised)—in going backwards.
Prasārita (stretched)—in joy and the like.
Vivartita (turned round)—in turning about.
Apasṛta (drawn away)—in returning.

These are the uses of sides. Now listen about those of the belly.

Belly (udara)

18. The belly is of three kinds: Kṣāma (thin), Khalva (depressed), and Pūrṇa (full). Of these, the thin (belly) is Kṣāma, the bent is Khalva and the full belly is Pūrṇa.

Uses of the belly

19-20. Kṣāma, (thin): in laughter, weeping, inhalation and yawning.
Khalva (depressed): in sickness, penance (tapas), weariness and hunger.
Pūrṇa (full): in emitting breath, corpulence, disease, too much eating and the like.

These are the uses of the belly. Now listen about that of the waist.

Waist (kaṭi)

21-24. The waist in dance and drama is of five kinds, viz. Chinnā (turned aside), Nivṛttā, (turned round), Recitā (moved about), Prakampitā = Kampitā (shaken) and Udvāhitā (raised).

Chinnā (turned aside)—in turning the middle of the waist.
Nivṛttā (turned round)—in turning to the front from the reverse position.
Recitā (moved about)—in moving in all directions.
Prakampitā (shaken)—in obliquely moving up and down.
Udvāhitā (raised)—in raising the two sides of the waist slowly.

These are the movements of the waist. Now listen about their uses.

Uses of the waist

25-26. Chinnā (turned aside): in exercising [the limbs], hurry and looking round.
Nivṛttā (turned round): in turning round.
Recitā (moved about): in movements [of the general type]
Prakampitā (shaken): in the walking of hunch-backs, dwarfs and persons of the inferior type.
Udvāhitā (raised): in the [movement of] corpulent [persons] and the amorous movements of women.

Thighs (ūru)

27-30. The thighs have five conditions, viz. Kampana (shaking), Valana (turning), Stambhana (motionlessness), Udvartana (springing up) and Vivartana (turning round).

30-32. Kampana (shaking)—raising and lowering of heels repeatedly.
Valana (turning)—drawing the knees inwards [while going].
Stambhana (motionlessness)—suspension of movement.
Udvartana (turning very quickly)—observing Valita (Valana) with force.
Vivartana (turning round)—drawing the knee inwards and moving it.

Uses of the thighs

32. Kampana (shaking): in the frightened movement of persons of the inferior type.
Valana: in the movement of women at ease.
Stambhana: in perturbation and despair.
Udvartana: in exercising [limbs] and the Class Dance.
Vivartana: in going round due to causes like hurry.

33. Similar other [conditions of the thigh] as they are found in popular practice, may be assumed. So much about the description of the thigh. Now 'listen about the shank.

Shank (jaṅghā)

34-37. The shank is of five kinds, viz. Āvartita (turned) Nata (bent), Kṣipta (thrown out), Udvāhita (raised) and Parivṛtta (turned back).

Āvartita (turned)—the left foot turning to the right and the right [one] to the left.
Nata (bent)—the knee bent.
Kṣipta (thrown out)—shank thrown out.
Udvāhita (raised)—raising (a shank) up.
Parivṛtta (turned back)—the turning back [of a shank].

Uses of the shank

38-40. Āvartita (turned): in the Jester’s walking.
Nata (bent): in assuming Sthāna (standing) and Āsana (sitting) postures.
Kṣipta (thrown out): in the exercise [of limbs] and the Class Dance.
Udvāhita (raised): in movements like quick (āviddha) walking.
Parivṛtta (turned back): in Class Dance and the like.

These are the movements of the shank. Now listen about the movement of feet.

Feet (pāda) and their uses

41-50. The feet are of five kinds, viz, Udghaṭṭita, Sama, Agratalasañcara, Añcita and Kuñcita.

Udghaṭṭita—standing on the fore part of the feet and then touching the ground with the heels.

(Use): In practice this is to follow the Udghaṭṭita Karaṇa and this should be applied once or more in the high or medium speed.

Sama (natural)—[feet] naturally placed on an even ground. It relates to representing a natural posture.

(Use): It should be kept still in representing the natural position of the body in connexion with the various Karaṇas, but in the Recaka movement of the feet it should be moved.

Agratalasañcara—the heels thrown up, the big toe put forward and the other toes bent.

(Uses): This [is to be used] in urging, breaking, standing posture (sthānaka), kicking, striking the ground, walking, throwing away [something], various Recaka movements and walking forward when there is a wound at the heel.

Añcita—the heels on the ground, the forepart of the feet raised and all the toes spread.

(Uses): It is to be applied in representing a movement with wound at the forepart of the foot, turning round in every way, foot being struck [by something] and in various Bhramarī movements.

Kuñcita—the heels thrown up, toes all bent down and the middle of the feet too bent.

51. (Uses): It is to be used in aristocratic (udātta) gait, turning, round to the right and vice versa and in the Atikrāntā Cārī.[1]

Dance steps (cārī)

52. Persons practising [the Cārīs] should take up simultaneously the movements of the feet, the shanks and the thighs. [For] in the movement of feet are included all the movements of shanks and thighs.

53. The thighs follow the way in which feet are moved, and these two [limbs] constitute together the Cārī of the feet.

54. These are the descriptions and uses of [various] limbs. I shall now describe the system of [different] Cārīs.

Here ends Chapter X of Bharata’s Naṭyaśāstra, which treats of Gestures of other Limbs

Footnotes and references:


B. reads after this three additional hemistichs which define the Sūci foot as follows: The [right foot with its] heel raised resting on the big toe and the left foot in the natural position constitute the Sūcī feet. It is used in dance and playing the Nūpura.

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