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 XIII - Different Gaits (gati)

1.[1] So much about the formation of Maṇḍalas by a combination of the System of Cārīs (cārī-vyāyāma). I shall hereafter describe the Gaits suitable for (lit. existing in) different characters [in a play].

Entrance of dramatis personae

2-3. After the Overture (Upavahana[2]) with drums and other musical instruments has been performed by observing Kalās suitable to the Mārga [adopted in it], and the Dhruvās [to be sung] at the entrance of dramatis personae, have commenced, and the curtain has been drawn away, the actors who are to develop Sentiments in the various items [of a play] should enter (lit. be made to enter) the stage.

Posture for superior and middling characters on entrance

4-7. In case of characters of the superior and the middling types [the actor] should assume the Vaiṣṇava Sthāna, his breast being raised, Sama and Caturasra, shoulders at rest and not raised very much, the neck as graceful as that of a peacock, the shoulders eight Aṅgulas apart from the ears, the chin four Aṅgulas apart from the breast, and the two hands (the right and the left) respectively at the navel and at the left waist.

Interval of their feet

8-9. [In the posture described above] the interval between the two feet [of the actor] should be two Tālas and a half. Raising of his feet will take should be according to his own measure [of the hand] four or two Tālas or one Tāla high.

9-10. In case of [characters such as] gods and kings these should be four Tālas high, of the middling [type of characters] two Tālas, and of women, inferior persons and those in disguise only one Tāla high.

Time for their steps

10-11. [And the time required for the steps should be] four or two Kalās or one Kalā only. [Steps] of the superior [characters] should take four Kalās, those of the middling type two Kalās, and those of the inferior type one Kalā only.

Tempo of their Gait

12. An expert in the theatrical art should apply three kinds of tempo (slow, medium and quick) to the Gait [of different characters] according to their nature.

13. The Gait of superior [characters should be] slow, that of middling [characters should have] the medium [tempo, while the steps of] inferior [characters should be] quick and copious. [Thus] should be applied the three tempos according to the spirit [of different characters].

14. So much about the rule regarding the timing and tempo [of steps]. O the sinless ones, listen now about the manner of taking steps [suitable to different characters].

Natural Gait

15. In his natural [Gait] a superior [character] is to raise his knee up to the height of the waist and, in case of Cārīs to be used in fighting the same (i.e. the knee) is to be raised up to the height of the breast.

16-19. With graceful steps of the Pārśvakrāntā Cārī and in accompaniment of the instrumental music he should go five uniform steps, towards the corner of the stage, and then he should move in the Sūci Cārī by putting forward his left foot first and the right foot afterwards. Then turning round he should go [five similar steps] towards the second corner of [of stage] and then move in the Sūcī Cārī by putting forward his left foot first and the right foot afterwards, Next time he should [again turn round and] go towards the musical instruments. Thus completing twenty-one steps by going and turning back he should again move in the Sūcī Cārī by putting forward his left foot first and the right foot afterwards.

20. In an oblong stage the actor (bharata) should make elaborate foot-movements (lit. going and turning back by footsteps), but in square and triangular stages such movements should respectively be of the Caturasra and the Tryasra types.

21. When [a character] is walking along with his equals, the basis of the tempo [of his Gait] will be [according to his own rank] of four or two Kalās or one Kalā.

22. But when any one is walking accompanied by persons of the middling and the inferior types [the basis of the tempo of the Gait of the group] will be four and two Kalās or one Kalā[3].

23. The wise actors should make the steps four Tālas wide in case of gods, Dānavas, Pannagas (Nāga), Yakṣas, kings, and Rākṣasas.

24. All other dwellers of the heaven[4] will have steps of medium [width]. But those among them who are majestic should have Gait similar to that of gods.

Gait of kings

The sages question:

25-28. “If the kings are human beings why should they have a Gait similar to that of gods?” It is said [in reply], “Why should not the kings have Gait suitable for these (i.e. gods)? In drama and dance the characters [are of three kinds, viz.] divine, semi-divine (lit. divine-human) and human. Of these, the nature of gods is divine, that of the kings is semi-divine and that of the others known to people ate called human. For kings have been described in the Vedas and the adhyātma (Upaniṣad)[5] as being made up (lit. born) of parts of [different] gods. Hence there cannot be any fault in kings imitating gods.[6]

29. This is the rule of Gait in ordinary walking; but, for Gait in cases of hurry, insanity and anger the rule about its measure will not apply.

Gait under special conditions

30. [In those cases] producers of plays are to apply to all different characters, superior, middling and inferior, Gaits as modified by their peculiar condition,

31. Their Gaits should be of the duration of four or two Kalās, one Kalā or half of a Kalā, and these should be so on attaining conditions other than normal ones,

32. [Relative position of different characters as regards the timing of their Gaits is as follows]: While a superior [character] will have a Gait of four Kalās, a middling [character] is to have that of two Kalās and an inferior [character] that of one Kalā,

33. When a middling character will have a Gait of a Kalā, an inferior character is to have that of half a Kalā. Thus one should reduce [in different Gaits under special conditions] Kalās by half.

34. Gait of superior persons is not to be applied to that of the middling type, and Gait of the middling characters is not to be applied to that of the inferior type.

Tempo of Gaits under special conditions

35-37. In case of an attack of fever, hunger, fatigue due to austerities, [excessive] panic, surprise, dissimulation, uneasiness, love [in separation], sorrow, and in walking at ease, steps sḥould be of slow tempo falling at the interval of more than four Kalās1. But in case of anxiety the Gait should be of four Kalās’ [duration].

37-40. In case of concealed (lit. uneasy) love, panic, fear, agitation, joy, hurried action, hearing of unwelcome news, insult, sight of porentuous objects, of urgent work, search for enemies, pursuit of an offender and pursuit a ferocious animal, the wise [actor] should have Gait with steps of two Kalās’ [duration].

Gait in the Erotic Sentiment

40-44. Gait in open (i.e. very clear) love-making should be graceful. [The lover] is to enter the stage with the female messenger showing the way. He is to act his part.(lit. meaning connected with the play) by means of the Sūcā[7]. He should use pleasant perfumes and be dressed with lovely garments, ornaments2 and garlands of various sweet-smelling flowers. He should walk with graceful steps with a slow tempo in the Atikrāntā Cārī, and his limbs should have the Sauṣṭhava, and he should move with proper tempo and Tāla. His hands should always follow the feet. The former should be raised along with the falling of the latter, and with the raising of the latter the former should fall (lit. vice versa)3.

45-48. Now listen about the Gait in case of concealed love. After dismissing his servants (lit. men) the lover is to walk [at night] along with the female messenger as his guide. He is to put out the lamp. He is to be dressed in [simple] clothes suited to the time and is to not wear too many ornaments. In making love secretly a person is to walk in company of the female messenger with slow and silent steps. Being apprehesive of sounds [heard at the time] he is to uneasy and to look constantly around and to tremble in his body and to have a faltering Gait.

Gait in the Terrible Sentiment

48-54. [In treating Gait] in the Terrible Sentiment I shall speak only with regard to Daityas, Rākṣasas and Nāgas. O Brahmins, the Terrible Sentiment only is dominant in their case. And this Terrible Sentiment is of three kinds, viz. Terrible in make-up, Terrible in limbs and Terrible by nature. [An example of] the Terrible in make-up is [a Rākṣasa] with his body dripping in blood, mouth moistened with it and having pieces of flesh in the hands. An example of the Terrible in limb is a very tall [Rākṣasa] with a prodigious physical frame, many heads, and many hands holding weapons of various kinds. And an example of the Terrible by nature, is a person with red eyes, tawny hair, black complexion and rough voice, and a person who always scolds [others] and who walks by raising the feet four Tālas high, and takes steps three Tālas wide. This is the Gait which [characters] resembling them are to have.

Gait in the Odious Sentiment

54-56. Gait [of a person walking] on the ground which is either a place of cremation or a place gruesome on account of a battle [having taken place there] should be used in acting in connexion with the Odious Sentiment. The feet in the Eḍakākrīḍitā Cārī falling in quick succession sometimes close to and sometimes wide apart from each other, with the hands following them, will constitute Gait in the Odious Sentiment.

Gait in the Heroic Sentiment

57. In the Heroic Sentiment Gait should consist of swift brandishing of arms and observing of various Cārīs.

58. In case of mental excitement Gait should consist of footsteps of proper Kalā and Tāla (kāla) in the Pārśvakrāntā, Āviddhā and Sūcī Cārīs.

Gait in the Marvellous and the Comic Sentiments

59-60. These are Gaits prescribed for generally superior characters. I shall now describe the Gait for middling and inferior characters. In their astonishment and joy they are to take agitated steps, and in their laughter too they are to take to this and similar other foot movements.

Gait in the Pathetic Sentiment

61-63. Gait in the Pathetic Sentiment should be in slow tempo [and it should be connected with] eyes full of tears, drooping limbs, arms thrown up and down, and loud weeping. And in case of a recent calamity one is to walk as well with the Adhyardhikā Cārī. This [Gait] is also to be used in case of women and persons of the inferior type.

63-66. [In connexion with the Pathetic Sentiment] superior characters should be patient, tearful, heaving deep sighs and looking upwards and [their Gait in conformity with these conditions] is to be of no [regular] measure and [they are] not to have the Sauṣṭhava [of the body]. Middling characters are also to be given Gait according to rules. In case of death of their beloved persons and relatives, they are to bend down on their breast in dejection and to become senseless due to grief, and to walk with the feet not raised very high When violently struck, the shoulder should recede and be protected by arms, and the [entire] body is to be made unsteady (lit. moved round), and walking [should be] with short steps.

67-69. A [special] Gait is to be assigned to women and persons of the inferior type when they are attacked with cold or are overtaken by a torrential shower. [In such a case] they are to draw all their limbs together, to shiver greatly, to put their two hands on the breast, to bend down their body, and their teeth are to clatter and lips are to throb and the chin is to quiver, and in representing an attack of cold the Gait should be slow.

Gait in the Terrible Sentiment

70-75. In the Terrible [Sentiment] the experts should make the Gait of women, and men of inferior type who are lacking in spirits, suitable to their nature (lit. in that manner).

[In the Terrible Sentiment] they are to have wide open and moving eyes, the Vidhuta head, and the look awe-stricken and turned alternately to sides, and holding the Kapota hand they are to walk with quick short steps, trembling body, dry lips and faltering Gait. This [movement] should be resorted when a person is to mimic any one in fear. [And the same rule will apply] in frightening as well as in threatening persons. The Ākṣiptā Cārī is to be assigned to men as well as to women when they have seen a strange animal or heard a strange sound. Gait in the terrified state will consist of movement of feet in the Eḍakākrīḍitā Cārī falling in quick succession sometimes close to and sometimes at a distance from each other, and the hands are to follow them.

Gait of merchants and ministers

76-78. Gait of merchants and ministers is to be made natural. They should walk in the Atikrāntā Cārī with steps two Tālas wide. Their [left hand] showing the upturned Kaṭakāmukha should be on the navel, and the right [lit. the first hand] showing the upturned Arāla should be on the side away [from the left one]. Without making their limbs drooping, motionless or excessively moving they should walk with the same Cārī.

Gait of ascetics and sectarians

79-86. Gait of Yatis, Śramaṇas, those practising austerities should be made like that of one observing the vow of Brahmacarya. [In playing his part] a wise [actor] should have immobile eyes looking only four cubits [in front][8], a ready memory, the entire body in steadiness, and he is to keep the mind at rest, to assume the marks[9] belonging to his sect and to have modest robes or clothes dyed in dark red, and to stand with the Samapāda feet and to assume the Sthāna of the same name. Then he should make two Catura hands one of which is to be stretched. And assuming a serene appearance in conformity with the performance he should execute the Atikrāntā (Atikrama) Cārī with natural (lit. not drooping) limbs. The best ascetics with a great vow are to have such a Gait, and to others is to be given a Gait contrary to this. As for the rest of the ascetics, according to the vow [enjoined by their own sects] they are to have a Gait confused or stately or sober or mild. And in case of the members of the Pāśupata sect they should walk in the Śakaṭāsyā and Atikrāntā Cārīs with haughty steps.

Gait of a person in darkness or of a blind man

87. Gait [of a person] walking in darkness or Gait of a blind [man] should consist of feet gliding over the ground and hands groping for the way.

Gait of one riding a chariot

88-92. Gait of a person riding a chariot should consist of short (cūrṇa) steps. From the Samapāda Sthāna (posture) he is to make a mimicry of the being carried in a chariot (lit. go the movement of a chariot), and with one [hand he is to take up] the bow and with the other the pole [of the chariot]. And his charioteer is to remain busy with the whip and reins, and the varied draught animals should be represented according to their distinctive class. And with quick and simple steps he (i.e. the charioteer) is to enter the stage. Gait of one in a celestial car (vimāna) should be made like that of one riding a chariot. One who is about to mount [these vehicles] is to move his body up with the face looking up and with the [motion] contrary to this one is to make one’s discent [from them].

Gait while moving in the sky

92-95. Gait of a character moving through the sky is to include the aerial Cārīs and looking downwards, and [besides this] one is to move [first] from the Samapāda Sthāna (posture) with short steps. Gait of one who descends from the sky is also to be of this kind. This Gait is to consist of steps straight and wide or high and low, or irregular and round about.

Gait of a person falling from the sky is to include the Apaviddha arms, scattered ends of clothes, and eyes set on the ground [below].

Gait in ascending any high place

96-98. [In a play sometimes] there is necessity of ascending [stairs of] a palace, a tree or a hill or any other high object, and descending from them or getting down into a river or some lower region and getting up from it. In ascending [the stairs of] a palace a person should move the feet in the Atikrāntā Cārī, and with the body held up he should put forward his steps on [the flight of] stairs. In descending from the same, the body should be slightly bent and one foot should be in the Atikrāntā Cārī and the other in the Añcita movement.

98-100. This Gait suited to ascending [the stairs of] a palace should be applied in climbing hills. But in the case of hills the limbs are to be thrown up. The climbing of trees [should be represented] by steps in the Atikrāntā, Sūcī, Apakrāntā and Pārśvakrāntā Cārīs.

Gait in getting down into low places

101-104. This should also be the Gait in coming down [from trees] and the same should apply in case of getting down into a river.

Gait in [case of coming down from the top of] a palace will apply only in crossing [a river].

Gait of a person moving in a river will be according to the depth (lit. measure) of water, In shallow water, with the tucking up of one’s clothes, and in the deep [water] with the throwing out of hands one is to move with the fore part of one’s body slightly bent. And in case of a person’s being carried away by the current (lit. water) he is to stretch out his arms one by one to push forward water repeatedly, and during this movement all his limbs are to be busily engaged and the mouth filled up [with water].

Gait in travelling by boat

105. Gait of a person travelling by a boat should be made up of quick steps. According to these rules one should observe the various Gaits and movements.

106-107. All these [conveyances] are to be represented (lit. made) by a [suggestive] sign (saṃjñā) only. [If you ask] “why”, [the reply will be the question], “Will the actors (lit. producers) have to die when the character [to be represented] is said to be dead?,” The elephant will be represented by taking up a goad, the horse by a bridle and other conveyances by a whip.1

Gait in riding a horse

108. Gait of a person riding a horse will consist of the Vaiśākha Sthāna (posture) and short foot steps of various kinds.

Gait of serpents

109. Gait of serpents will be by the Svastika feet. [To represent it the actor] is to move in the Pārśvakrāntā Cārī and then to make a Recaka of the Svastika feet.

Gait of a Parasite

110. Gait of a Parasite (vita) should be made graceful. [An actor] is to represent (lit. go) the Gait of a Parasite

1 106-1071 This passage shows that use of painted scenery was not indispensible in the ancient Indian stage. See on this point Ag.

by putting foward Ākuñcita (Kuñcita) feet within one Tāla and holding the Kaṭakā-vardhamāna hands with the proper Sauṣṭhava and letting [these] hands follow the feet.

Gait of a Kāñcukīya

112-113. [Gait] of a Kāñcukīya (armour-bearer)[10] should be made [suitable] to his particular age and condition. When he is not old[11] his Gait should be as follows: With the feet raised half a Tāla high and simple steps he should walk carrying his limbs like one who is treading upon (lit. touching) mud.

114. But in case of his being [quite] old he should walk with the trembling body and raise the feet slowly, and with [every] step he is to take his breath.

Gait of emaciated, sick and fatigued persons

115-117. Gait of an emaciated person should consist of slow steps. And in case of an, overpowering illness, or of fatigue due to austerities, a person is to walk with lean and depressed belly, feeble voice, lustreless eyes, slow movement of the hands and the feet, tremor and affliction of the limbs, and with [every] step he is to emit breath.

Gait of a person walking a long distance

118. Gait of a person walking a long distance is to consist of slow steps, narrowing of limbs and the rubbing of the knees.

Gait of a corpulent person

119-120. A corpulent person is to walk with the feet raised slowly and he is to drag on his body with great effort, and while going with slow steps he should be copiously breathing, and be covered with perspiration due to fatigue, and his steps should be short.

Gait of intoxicated persons

121. Gait of persons with light (lit. young) and medium intoxication will be reeling, with the two feet [sometimes going] backwards.

122. Gait of persons heavily (lit. worst) intoxicated will consist of unsteady feet, reclining body and staggering steps.

Gait of a lunatic

123-130. Gait of a lunatic will consist of irregular steps, many Cāris in imitation of [various types of] men. He has unpolished and dishevelled hair, and body covered with dust; he talks without any reason and talks too much in an unnatural manner; sometimes he sings and sometimes laughs and is not ready to accompany [any one]; and he [sometimes] dances in joy and [sometimes] makes drumming [with any object he may find before him]. Once he runs swiftly and at other times stands still; [again] sometimes he is seated and sometimes lying down. He is to wear rags of different kinds and to make the public road his irregular dwelling place. A lunatic will be of the above description (lit. this man). His gait will be as follows:

After moving in the Baddhā Cārī he is to cross his feet. Then going round in all the four directions with this Cārī he is to perform the Bhramara Maṇḍala outwards and reach one corner of the stage. Then turning the Trika gracefully and holding the Latā hand with irregular movements he is to move with his feet.

Gait of lame men, cripples and dwarfs

131-136. Gait of lame persons, cripples and dwarfs in connexion with the display of physical defects for the sake of the Comic Sentiment, will be of three kinds. In one [kind of] Gait of lame persons, feet are to remain stiff. In the second one, feet are to be made Agratalasañcara and the body is to be held up (lit. raised) by the stiff foot. [And in the third] the body is to move on one foot, and to rest on another foot, and setting feet in this order [the lame men] are to go. This will be one’s Gait when one has run a thorn into the sole of one’s foot. Gait of cripples will consist of the Agratalasañcara and the Añcita feet, the steady body and Nata shanks. During the Gait of dwarfs all their limbs are to be narrowed down and they should neither move [quickly] nor take [wide] steps.

Gait of the Jester

137-140. The Jester will have the same Gait consisting of simple laughable steps with feet raised high [and put forward]. And his Gait will relate to three kinds of laughter: laughter due to limbs, due to words and due to the costumes and make-up. Of these the ugly and big teeth, bald head, hunch on the back, lameness and distorted face will be causing of laughter due to limbs. When one walks like a crane looking up and looking down with wide strides, this too becomes an object of laughter due to limbs.

140-141. Talking incoherently, meaninglessly, garrulously and uttering obscene words are to be known as [causing] laughter due to words.

141-142. A person covered with tattered clothes or skin, or smeared with ink (or lamb-black), ashes or yellow ochre will be [causing] laughter due to the costumes and make-up. Hence the [Jester] after considering the character [he is to represent] should carefully (lit. essentially) assume [one or more of] these states.

143-146. Gait of the Jester should be distinguished according to his different conditions. [For example], in his natural Gait he is to carry the Kuṭilaka[12][13] (kuṭila) in his left hand and to show the Catura [gesture] with the right hand. Besides, he is to lower by turns one of his sides, head, hands and feet observing proper tempo and Tāla. Gait other than this which is natural, will be abnormal [in his case]. His Gait on having some food which was difficult to get, will be arrested.

Gait of menials

146-148. The Gait to represent the walking of servants of lower order or other persons of the inferior type should be as follows: in the walking of servants, one of their sides or head or a hand or a foot is to be lowered and their eyes are to move to [different] objects.

148-149. Gait of the Śakāra will consist of proud but ordinary steps, and while walking he will touch his clothes and ornaments and often look at them, and due to an unnatural motion of his body, his garlands, and suspended parts of the clothes are to flutter to and fro.

Gait of lowly persons

150. Persons of inferior birth are to walk with eyes looking around, protecting their limbs from the contact of other people.

Gait of the Mleccha tribes

151. Gait and movements of men of different Mleccha tribes such as the Pulindas and the Śabaras should be made according to the land they inhabit.

Gait of birds

152. Gait of birds, beasts of prey and other animals is to be made according to the character natural to them.

Gait of lions, bears and monkeys

153. Gait of lions, bears and monkeys is to be made [like that] which was assumed properly by the mighty Viṣṇu in the days of yore. [It is as described below].

154-155. [In this Gait] after assuming the Ālīḍha Sthāna (posture) with limbs conforming to it, that is, one hand on the knee and the other on the breast, one is to look all around and put one’s chin on one’s shoulder and to walk with feet raised five Tālas high and placed at the same interval.

156. This Gait should be applied to [represent] lions[14] and such other animals[15] at the time of personal combat as well as on entering the stage.

157. As for the rest of animals the Gait and the Sthāna for them when entering the stage or carrying any one or anything on the back should be made suitable to the occasion.

158. These [different] Gaits are thus to be used by wise [actors]. The Gaits that have not been described by me, are to be adopted from [the practice of] people.

Walking postures of women

159-160. I shall now speak of the Gaits and movements of women. The Sthāna of women in walking and speaking [to others] will be Āyata, Avahittha and Aśvakrānta.

160-161. Āyata: In the Āyata Sthāna (posture) the right foot will be Sama, the left (lit. the other at the side) foot Tryaśra (obliquely placed) and the left raised.

161-164. (Uses): This Sthāna is to be used in invocation, dismissal, observing carefully, thinking and dissimulation. And the first appearance on the stage, scattering handfuls of flowers on the stage, anger due to jealous love, twisting the forefinger, prohibition, pride, profundity, silence, fit of resentment (māna) and looking to the horizon are also to be represented from this Sthāna.1

164-165. Avahittha: The left foot will be Sama and the right (lit. the other at the side) foot Tryaśra (obliquely placed) and the left waist raised up.

165-167. (Uses): This Sthāna is known (lit. remembered) as natural for women during conversation [with anyone], in determination, satisfaction and conjecture. In representing anxiety, amorousness, sportiveness, grace, the Erotic and the like [Sentiments] and looking towards the way of someone [coming or going] this Sthāna is to be used.

167-168. Aśvakrānta: The Sthāna in which one foot is raised and the other is resting on its fore-part and [ready for] the Sūcī or the Āviddhā Cārī is called Aśvakrānta.

168-169. (Uses): This Sthāna is to be assumed in taking hold of the branch of a tree, plucking a cluster [of flowers] or in taking rest by inferior persons or women for any purpose.

169-171. The Sthāna will be [maintained by a dancer] till any movement begins. For during a dance the Sthāna is at an end when the Cārī has begun (lit. is present). This is the rule of the Sthāna for women and for men as well. I shall now describe women’s Gait in relation to their nature.

Gait of passionate women (pramadā)

171-176. [Such a Gait will serially include the following Sthāna and movements]: The Avahittha Sthāna, the left hand pointing downwards, the right hand with the Kaṭakāmukha gesture placed on the navel, the right foot raised gracefully up one Tāla and thrown on the left one and simultaneously with that, the left hand with the Latā gesture placed on the navel and the right side bent, placing the right hand on the hip, and the Udveṣṭita movement of the left hand, then the left foot put forward, the right hand with the Latā gesture. [After assuming this Sthāna and movement] they are to walk five steps with the body slightly bent and the head gracefully held in the Udvāhita posture.

176-177. The rules for going about on the stage which have been prescribed for men will apply also for women.

Gait of young women

177-179. The steps of women should not be made of six or eight Kalās duration. Such a step will be irksome for them. This will be the Gait of women in their youth. I shall speak [now] about the Gait of women who are aged (sthavīyasī).[16]

Gait of aged women

179-181. After assuming the Avahittha Sthāna and putting the left hand on the waist and the right hand with the Arāla gesture upturned, placed between the navel and the breasts, they are to walk gradually with their body neither relaxed nor stiff nor [much] moving about.

Gait of handmaids

181-183. The Gait of hand-maids should be made distracted (udbhrāntā). They are to walk with slightly raised body and flourishing arms, after assuming the Avahitta Sthāna with the left hand pointing downwards and the right hand showing the Kaṭakāmukha hand held on the navel.

Gait of half-women

183-184. The Gait of the half-women, an admixture of that of men and of woman, will consist of stately but graceful movement of limbs and playful steps.

184-186. The time required for the Gait which has been prescribed for persons of the superior type will be halved in case of women and the inferior types of men. And the Gait [prescribed for persons] of the superior, the middling and the inferior types will apply in case of women [of those types] except for the footsteps which will be graceful [for the latter].

Gait of children

186-187. The Gait of children will be according to their will and no Sauṣṭhava and [fixed] measurement will be required.

187-188. The third type of persons will be hermaphrodites in whose case women’s Gait to the exclusion of their [partial] male character, should be applied.

Gait in the change of role

188-189. A change [of their role] by men, women and hermaphrodites should be represented by assumption on their part of Gaits suitable to those of [new roles] to the exclusion of their own [original] character.

Gait of persons in disguise

189-191. For disguise, sports or deception [of others] a woman assumes the role of a man, and a man that of a woman. [In such cases] the woman should play the role of a man with patient and liberal spirit and intelligence, and with acts as well as dress, words and movement suitable to that [character].

191-192. To play the role of a woman a man is to wear her clothes, speak like her and look at things and abstain from looking at these as she does, and is to assume a delicate and slow Gait.

Gait of tribal women

192-193. Women of inferior birth and of the Pulinda and the Śabara tribes are to have Gaits natural to their community.

Gait of women ascetics

193-194. In case women observing a vow or practising austerities or bearing the mark [of religious sects.] or contented women the Samapāda Cārī is to be used [as their

194-195. An expert in dramatic art should not assign energetic Aṅgahāras, Cārīs and Maṇḍalas to women.

Sitting posture for men and women

195-196. Sitting posture (sthāna) for men and women should be made conforming to (lit. combined with) the different States which they are in, and similar should be their postures while in bed.

Sitting at ease

196-197. In sitting at ease the two feet are at rest (viṣkambhita) and kept doubled up (añcita), the Trika is slightly raised, and the two hands are put on the thighs on the two sides.

Sitting in a pensive mood

197-198. When a person is to assume [deep] thinking, he is to stretch slightly one of his feet, and the other foot is to rest on the seat and the head is to bend on one side.

Sitting in sorrow

198-199. When a person is in grief and uneasiness he is to put up his hands for supporting the chin, or his head is to rest on the shoulder, and he is [to look like] one whose mind and sense-organs are not working.

Sitting in fainting and in intoxication

199-200. When a person is unconscious, fainting or is intoxicated, tired, weakened or sad, [from the above posture] he is to stretch his arms loosely and to sit depending on [some] support.

Sitting in shame and in sleep etc.

200-2O1. When a person is ill, ashamed, asleep or in meditation he is to lump together his limbs between legs and knees.

Sitting on ceremonial occasions

201-202. In offering a libation of water to the spirits of diseased parents, muttering (japa) of Mantras, saying the Sandhyā prayers and making Ācamana, one is to assume the sitting posture with the hump raised, in which the hip and heels come together.

Sitting in pacifying a beloved woman

202-203. In appeasing [the anger of] a beloved woman and pouring ghee into the sacrificial fire and doing similar other acts, a person is to put one of his stretched knees on the ground [from the sitting posture mentioned above].

Sitting in worshipping a deity

203-206. Downcast face and the sitting posture with the two kness on the ground (i.e. kneeling down) is to be assumed in adoring a diety, pacifying the angry [superiors], bitterly crying for sorrow, seeing a dead body, the fear of persons of low spirits, the begging of something by lowly persons and servants, and attendance during the Homa and the sacrificial work. Ascetics (muni) while practising austerities are [also] to assume this sitting posture (lit. rule about sitting).

Seats for different characters

206-207. Now the seats (lit. rules regarding the seats) for males and females in a drama are twofold: public (bāhya) and private (ābhyantara). [These two terms] public and private relate to the royalty (lit. the king).

Seats for male characters

208-210. O Brahmins, gods and kings are to be given the Lion-seat (i.e. throne), the priests and the ministers the cane-seat[17], the commander of the army and the crown-prince the Muṇḍā-seat,[18] the Brahmins the wooden seat and the other princess the carpet-seat. This rule of seats should be observed in the royal court.

Seats for female characters

210-214. I shall now speak of the rule of seats for women. The chief queen should be given the Lion-seat, the female relatives and highborn wives of the king other than the chief queen the Muṇḍā-seat, the wives of priests and ministers the cane-seat, ordinary wives [of the king] the seat consisting of cloth, skin or carpet, the wives of Brahmins and female ascetics the seat made of wood (paṭṭa), the wives of Vaiśyas the seat of pillow (cushion) and for the remaining women the ground will be the seat. So much about the rule of seats in the inner apartments as well as in public places. While residing in one’s own house one can take any seat according to one’s liking.

Seats for ascetics and sectarians

215. The seats for the ascetics should be according to the rules [of the order] they are observing[19]. For the members of different sects with special marks the seats will be according to their vows.

216. While pouring ghee into the sacrificial fire or doing the sacrificial duty in general or offering a libation of water to the departed parents one is to stand or to sit on a Vṛṣī[20], Muṇḍā-seat or cane-seat.

General rules about seats

217. Ocher local officers (sthānīya) who are of [high] birth and possess [great] learning should be honoured by the king by [an offer of suitable] seats.

218. To His equals he (i.e. the king) is to offer seats equal in height to that of his own, to persons of medium importance, the seats of middling height, and to persons who are.superior to him should be given a more elevated seat, while the lowly persons are to be seated on the ground.

219. Before the preceptor, the king or the spiritual guide (guru) wise persons are to sit on the ground or on an wooden seat.

220. Sitting together with the spiritual guide, the preceptor or the king in a boat, on an elephant or in a chariot, or on [large] wooden seats is allowed (lit. not to be objected to).

Lying-down postures

221. Postures in the bed are known as Ākuñcita, Sama, Prasārita, Vivartita, Udvāhita and Nata.

222. Ākuñcita: Lying down with limbs narrowed down and the two knees sticking to the bed is called the Ākuñcita posture. It is to be used in representing persons attacked with cold.

223. Sama: Lying down with the face upwards and the hands free and turning downwards is called the Sama posture. It is the posture in deep sleep.

224. Prasārita: Lying down with one arm as the pillow and the knees stretched, is called the Prasārita posture. It is to be used to represent one enjoying a sleep of happiness.

225. Vivartita: Lying down with the face downwards is called the Vivartita posture. It is to be assumed in [repre-senting] wound from any weapon, death, vomiting, intoxication and lunacy.

226. Udvāhita: Lying down with the head resting on the hand and making a movement of the knee, is called the Udvāhita posture. It is to be used in sports, and on hearing the master’s words.

227. Nata: Lying down with the legs (lit. shanks) slightly stretched and the two hands loosely resting is called the Nata posture. It is to be used in laziness, fatigue and distress.

228. This is the [rule of] Gait and movements I was to tell you. Whatever remains unsaid should be devised according to the demand of circumstances. I shall hereafter speak about the division of the stage into Zones in connexion with going about on it.

Here ends Chapter XIII of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of Gaits and other Movements.

Footnotes and references:


On the Gait Ag. says: “The Gait is to be prescribed with a view to the person, Sentiment, situation, place and occasion.”


It seems that upavahana gave rise to upohana (Pkt.) which afterwards was adopted in its place; for upohana see 138ff. It is defined by Ag. as follows: upohyante samāsa-vyāsataḥ padakalātālasamabhihitāḥ svarā yasminn aṅge tat tathoktam (vol. I. p, 186).


Significance of this rule is not clear.


By such dwellers devadūtas are meant (Ag.).


mātaliprabhrtayaḥ (Ag.).


vedādhyātmasu = vedeṣu tathā adhyātmaśāstreṣu vedānteṣu (Ag.).


See Ag.


79-861 See Ag.


liṅgam i.e, japabhasmakaupinādi (Ag.).


The word kāñcukīya (kañcukin) should be translated as ‘armour-bearer’ and not as ‘chamberlain’ which term should be used for sannidhātṛ; See Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra (2.4.23). BhP. (p. 292) defines the Kañcukīya as follows: Passionless Brahmins who have knowledge and wisdom being in charge of (the king’s) armour and crown, and holding a cane-stick (as symbol of their authority), are called Kañcukīya by the wise.


a-vṛddhasya. The adjective of the kāñcukīya renders invalid the late definition according to which he should necessarily be old. Such a definition has been wrongly ascribed to Bharata in Rucipati’s commentary to the Anargharāghava (ed. in Kāvyamālā, p. 109). The kāñcukīya in the plays ascribed to Bhāsa (i.e. Svapna., Pratimā., Abhi. Pañca., Dūtavā, and Bāla.) does not show any trace of old age. The kañcukin in the Śak. deplores that the cane-stick which he had to take up as the symbol of his office, has become in old age the support of his body which he could move with difficulty (V.3.). From this it may be assumed that he was appointed long before old age came upon him.


See p. 10 note 2


(1441) For an old kañcūkin see Śak. loc. cit. Mudrā, II, 9, and III, 1.


Lions etc. here indicate actors with the mask of these animals.


Reference here is to animals like Sugrīva and Jāmbavat (Ag).


B.G. read sthānīyā yā strīyas tāsām for sthavīyasīnām etāsām. The word sthavīyas may well be a comparative form of sthavira. Cf, davīyas for dūra.


208-210 1 A cane-chair.


muṇḍāsana is probably nothing other than Bengali ṃoḍā.


215. 1 For example, some have tiger-skin as their seat, some deer-skin or a piece of woollen blanket.


216. 1 A seat made of kuśa grass (see Apte, sub voce).

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