The Natyashastra

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 XI - Cārī movements


1. Moving thus simultaneously feet, shanks and the hip is Cārī.

2. As the Cārīs prescribed by rules and connected with [different] limbs relate to (vyāyacchante from vyā-yam = stretch out to) one another, they constitute (lit. are called) a vyayāma (system).

3. Cārī: The movement [mainly] with a single foot, is called the Cārī.

Karaṇa[1]: The two feet moving [together] is called the Karaṇa.

4. Khaṇḍa: A combination of the [three] Karaṇas is called the Khaṇḍa.

Maṇḍala: Three or four Khaṇḍas combine to make up the Maṇḍala.

Uses of the Cārī

5. From the Cārīs proceed dance as well as movements [in general] and release of missiles; and [the stage] fighting [in general] should be made with the Cārīs.

6. Whatever has been described as Histrionic Representation is included in the Cārīs, and no part of it can take place without the same.

7. Hence I shall describe the rules of the Cārīs which are to be used in dance, ordinary movements and fights [on the stage].

Thirty-two Cārīs

8-10. The following sixteen are the earthly (bhaumī) Cārīs: Samapādā, Sthitāvartā, Śakaṭāsyā, Adhyardhikā, Cāṣagati, Vicyavā, Eḍakākrīḍitā, Baddhā, Ūrūdvṛttā, Aḍḍitā, Utsyanditā,[2] Janitā, Syanditā[3], Apasyanditā,[4] Samotsaritamatalli and Matalli.

11-13. The aerial (ākāśikī) Cārīs are sixteen in number. They are as follows: Atikrāntā, Apakrāntā, Pārśvakrāntā, Ūrdhvajānu, Sūcī, Nūpurapādika, Dolapādā, Ākṣiptā, Āviddhā, Udvṛttā, Vidyudbhrāntā, Alātā, Bhujaṅgatrasitā, Hariṇaplutā, Daṇḍā and Bhramarī.

Earthly Cārīs

14. Samapādā—the two feet close together, the nails [of the toes] meeting, and standing on the spot.[5]

15. Sthitāvartā—one Agratalasañcara foot drawn up to cross the remaining foot and this movement repeated with another foot after separating the two.

16. Śakaṭāsyā—the body held upright, one Agratalasañcara foot put forward and the breast being Udvāhita.

17. Adhyardhikā—the left foot on the back (i.e. heel) of the right one, the latter to be drawn away [a Tāla and half a part].[6]

18. Cāṣagati—the right foot put forward and then drawn back and at the same time left foot drawn back and put forward afterwards.

19. Vicyavā—separating the feet from the Samapādā position and striking the ground with their fore part.

20. Eḍakākrīḍitā—jumping up and down with the Talasañcara feet.

21. Baddhā—The sideways movement of the thighs when the two shanks are crossed.

22. Ūrūdvṛttā—the heel of a Talasañcara foot placed outwards, one of the shanks to be slightly bent and the thigh turned up.

23. Aḍḍitā—one Agratalasañcara foot rubbing against the fore part or the back of another foot.

24. Utsyanditā—the two feet to move gradually side ways (lit. in and out) in the manner of the Recaka.

25. Janitā—a Muṣṭi hand held on the breast and another hand moved round, and the feet to be Talasañcara.

26. Syanditā—one foot put forward five Tālas away from the other.

Apasyanditā—the reverse of the Syanditā Cārī (i.e. another foot being put forward five Tālas away from the other).

27. Samotsarita-matalli—going back with a circular movement and the feet being of the Talasañcara kind.

28. Matalli—going back with a circular movement and hands being Udveṣṭita and motionless.

29. These are the Cārīs used in personal combat as well as in the Karaṇas. I shall now describe the aerial Cārīs.

Aerial Cārīs

30. Atikrāntā—a Kuñcita foot thrown up, put forward and caused to fall on the ground.

31. Apakrāntā—the Valana posture of the two thighs, a Kuñcita foot raised and thrown down sideways.

32. Pārśvakrāntā—one foot Kuñcita and another thrown up and brought near the side.

33. Ūrdhvajānu—throwing up a Kuñcita foot and its knee brought up to the level of the breast, and the remaining knee without movement, and then this second foot thrown up in the manner of the first, and the first foot kept motionless.

34. Sūci—a Kuñcita foot thrown up and brought above the knee of the remaining foot and then to let it fall on its fore part.

33. Nūpurapādikā—one Añcita foot raised up and taken behind another foot and then quickly caused to fall on the ground.

36. Dolapādā—one Kuñcita foot thrown up and moved from side to side and then caused to fall on the ground as an Añcita foot.

37. Ākṣiptā—one Kuñcita foot thrown off and then placing it quickly on an Añcita foot by crossing the shank of the remaining leg.

38. Āviddhā—one Kuñcita foot from the Svastika position stretching and falling on the ground quickly as an Añcita foot.

39. Udvṛttā—the (Kuñcita) foot of the Āviddha Cārī taken round [the thigh of the remaining leg] and thrown up and then caused to fall [on the ground].

40. Vidyudbhrāntā—one foot turned to the back and after touching its top part to be stretched, and the head moved in a circle.

41. Alātā—one foot stretched backwards and then put in and afterwards caused to fall on its heel.

42. Bhujaṅgatrasitā—one Kuñcita foot thrown up and the waist and the knee being turned round and the thigh [of the remaining foot] to be turned round too.

43. Hariṇaplutā—the foot in the Atikrāntā Cārī to be caused to fall on the ground after a jump, and the shank of an Añcita foot to be put in the Kṣipta posture.

44. Daṇḍapādā: the foot in the Nūpura-[pādikā] Cārī to be stretched and quickly to turn.

45. Bhramarī: the foot in the Atikrāntā Cārī to be thrown up and the entire body turned round (lit. the Trika turned round) and then the second foot to be moved on its sole.

46. These are the aerial Cārīs, consisting of graceful movements of limbs. These are to be applied in the release of weapons like an arrow and the thunderbolt (vajra).

47. O Brahmins, in all these cases the two hands should according to the circumstances, either precede, go simultaneously with or follow the feet.

48. Where the foot [moves], there the hand [should follow] and where the hand [moves], there the entire body. [Hence] after taking a step, all the minor limbs should be made use of.

49. When in course of a Cārī a foot comes to rest on the ground the [corresponding] hand should be moved round and brought on the waist.

50. I have finished describing Cārīs consisting of graceful movements of limbs. I shall now speak of Sthānas (standing posture) to be used in the release of missiles of all kinds.


51. Six Sthānas (standing posture) for men are Vaiṣṇava, Sampāda, Vaiśākha, Maṇḍala, Ālīḍha, and Pratyālīḍha.

52-53. Vaiṣṇava—the feet two Tālas and a half apart, one for the natural posture and another obliquely placed with toes pointing sideways and the shank bent (añcita) and limbs with Sauṣṭhava. Viṣṇu is the presiding deity of this Sthāna.

54. (Uses): From this Sthāna persons of the superior and the middling types should carry on their ordinary (lit. natural) conversation in connexion with various duties.

55. It should also be assumed in throwing a disc, holding a bow, in patient and stately movement of the limbs, and in anger.

56-58. On being reversed it is to be used in anger of love. And similarly in the administration of rebuke, and in love, distress, apprehension, envy, cruelty, assurance, and recollection, it is to be assumed when the Erotic, the Marvellous, the Odious and the Heroic Sentiments are prominently introduced.

59-60. Samapāda—the feet in the natural posture and kept one Tāla apart, and the body with the natural Sauṣṭhava. Brahmā is its presiding deity.

61-63. (Uses): It should be assumed in accepting blessings from the Brahmins[7], and in mimicking birds. The bridegroom at the marriage ceremony, persons in the sky, chariot and aerial car (vimāna), person[8] of marked sects (liṅgasthā) and persons practising vows are also to assume this.

63-65. Vaiśākha—the two feet three Tālas and a half apart and the thighs without motion; [besides this] the two feet to be obliquely placed pointing sideways. Skanda (Kārtikeya) is its presiding deity.

65-66. (Uses): This Sthāna should be assumed in riding horses, and in exercise, exit [from any place], mimicking large birds, practice of shooting arrows and in the Recakas [of the feet].

65-66. Maṇḍala: It relates to Indra (i.e. its presiding deity is Indra). In it the feet are four Tālas apart and they are obliquely placed and turned sideways, the waist and the knee are in the natural position.

66-67. (Uses): The Maṇḍala Sthāna should be assumed in the use of weapons like the bow and the thunderbolt, driving of elephants, and mimicking large birds.

67-68. Ālīḍha: The right foot in the Maṇḍala Sthāna drawn five Tālas apart [from the other foot] will make the Ālīḍha Sthāna, Rudra (Śiva) is its presiding deity.

68-70. (Uses): This Sthāna should be assumed in all acts relating to the Heroic and the Furious Sentiments, duel of wrestlers and in the representation of enemies, an attack [on them], and release of missiles.

70-71. Pratyālīḍha: When the right foot is bent and the left foot is put forward in the Ālīḍha Sthāna the Pratyālīḍha will be produced.

71-72. (Uses): After taking an aim from the Ālīḍha Sthāna the missile to be [actually] released from the Pratyālīḍha Sthāna. The actor should release various weapons from this Sthāna.

Four Nyāyas in using weapons

72-73. There are four Nyāyas (ways) of using weapons (lit. releasing missiles), viz. Bhārata, Sāttvata, Vārṣagaṇya, and Kaiśika.

73-74. In the Bhātata [Nyāya the weapon] should strike (lit. cut) at the waist, in the Sāttvata at the foot, in the Vārṣagaṇya at the breast and in the Kaiśika at the head.

74-75. In these Nyāyas arising out of various Cārīs, actors should walk about [on the stage] at [the time of] using weapons.

75-76. The Nyāyas (way) are so called* because fights [on the stage] are nīyante (carried on) with the Aṅgahāras relating to the Nyāyas and arising out of them.

76-80. Bhārata: Putting forward the shield with the left hand and taking the weapon the actor should walk about on the stage. Stretching the hand forward fully and then drawing it back he should move the shield at his back from side to side and flourish the weapon around his head, and it should also be turned round [about the wrist] near the cheek. And again the hands holding the weapon and the shield should be flourished gracefully around the head.

81-82. Sāttvata: I shall now speak of walking about in the Sāttvata Nyāya. In it the same flourishing (i.e. as in Bhārata) of the weapon and the shield holds good, but this (the flourishing of the weapon) should take place at one’s back.

82-83. Vārṣagaṇya. The walking about in the Vārṣagaṇya Nyāya will be similar to that in the Sāttvata, and the weapon and the shield also should be flourished similarly but these should go round the head.

84-85. Kaiśika: The flourishing of the weapon near the breast or the shoulder which is to take place in the Bhārata [Nyaya] will hold good in case of the Kaiśika. But [in the latter] the weapon should be made to strike only after being flourished over the head.

85-86. With these graceful movements of the limbs, weapons like the bow, the thunderbolt and the sword are to be flourished at the time of their use.

86-88. In the stage-fight there should be no [actual] piercing, cutting or flow of blood and the actual striking. The use of weapons (lit. release of missiles) should be done with its mimicry, or the cutting off [of any one’s limb] should be represented, according rules, by the use of gestures and postures only,

87. The exercise should be performed in the Angahāras embellished with the Sauṣṭhava and accompanied by music with [proper] tempo and Tāla.


89-92. Those performing exercises [in Āṅgahāras] should take care of the Sauṣṭhava, for the limbs without it (Sauṣṭhava) create no beauty (lit. do not shine) in drama or dance. The Sauṣṭhava of limbs is to be presented by being still, unbent, at ease, not very upright and not much bent. When the waist and the ears as well as the elbow, the shoulder and the head are in their natural position (sama) and the breast is raised, it will be the Sauṣṭhava [of the body].


92-93. Caturasra: The Vaiṣṇava Sthāna with the two hands moving about at the waist, and the navel together with the breast raised, is called the Caturasra of the limbs.

Four acts relating to the bow (dhanus)

93-94. There are four acts relating to the bow, viz. preparing (parimārjana), taking an arrow (ādāna), taking an aim (sandhāna) and shooting (mokṣaṇa).

94-95. The preparing (parimārjana) is the bending [of the bow], taking (grahaṇa) is the pulling out of [the arrow], taking an aim (sandhāna) is to put the arrow to the bow and shooting (mokṣaṇa) is the release [of the arrow].

Method of exercise

95-96. One should perform exercise [in Aṅgahāras and Cārīs] on the floor as well as [high up] in the air, and should have beforehand one s body massaged with the [sesamum] oil or with barley gruel.

96-97. The floor is the proper place (lit. mother) for exercise. Hence one should resort to the floor, and stretching oneself over it one should take exercise.

Health and nourishment of persons taking exercise

97-99. For the strength of body one should take [proper] nasal medicine and get oneself purged [lit. resort to the rule regarding the abdomen], take oily food, juice of sugarcane and sherbet. For, vitality is dependent on one’s nourishment, and the exercise is dependent on vitality. Hence one should be careful about one’s nourishment. When bowels are not cleansed and one is very tired, hungry, thirsty, has drunk too much [water], eaten too much, one should not take exercise. The wise [teacher] should give training in exercise to his pupil who has a graceful body and square breast and is not covered with garment.

100. These are the rules regarding Cārīs in connexion with the exercise of [limbs]. I shall hereafter speak of different Maṇḍalas.

Here ends Chapter XI of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of the Rule of Cārīs.

Footnotes and references:


This karaṇa should be distinguished from that mentioned in IV. 30, 34-75, 63ff.


G. reads these names as Utspandītā, Apaspanditā and Spanditā and B. as Utspanditā, Syanditā, and Apasyanditā. I have taken the root syand as the basis of all these names. Mss. erratically give -syand and -spand-.


See note 1 above.




On the appropriateness of this name see Ag.


The exact measure (1½ tāla) is given by Ag.


vipramaṅgalavipraiḥ yan maṅgalāśīrvacanādi etc. (Ag.).


liṅgasthānśaivādyāḥ vratasthā ūrdhvakāyādī prajñaṅgāḥ (?) (Ag.).

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