Gati in Theory and Practice

by Dr. Sujatha Mohan | 2015 | 88,445 words

This page relates ‘Observations on works on natya in Sanskrit literature’ of the study on the Theory and Practice of Gati (“gait”) which refers to the “movement of a character on the stage”, commonly employed (as a Sanskrit technical term) in ancient Indian Theatrics and the Dramatic arts, also known as Natya-shastra. This thesis explores the history and evolution of Gati and also investigates how the various Gatis are employed in regional performance traditions.

Observations on works on nāṭya in Sanskrit literature

The researcher feels that many scholars have written works on nāṭya following Bharata, and they have concentrated on a particular aspect such as rasa, rūpaka, abhinaya, āṃgika abhinaya, hasta abhinaya, saṅgīta, nṛtya and so on.

Even while dealing with abhinaya, not all the aspects are dealt with. For e.g., Abhinayadarpaṇa does not deal with all four abhinayas and while dealing with āṃgika abhinaya the author only takes in account the hastas rather than the elements such as cāris, maṇḍalas, gatis and so on are only briefly discussed and there is no mention of the karaṇas and aṅgahāras. Many scholars explain the deśī elements prevalent during their period and their own interpretations of the technical terms sometimes giving due reference to Bharata. At times confusion arises because the terms have taken completely different meanings during later periods. For instance, the term nāṭya meant drama consisting of mime, music and dance during Bharata’s time but later the term saṅgīta was used by the post Bharata authors for the combination of vocal, instrumental music and dance, while nāṭya became a variety of dance.

Nṛtta according to Nāṭyaśāstra was the dance element in a drama, but post Bharata authors define nāṭya as dramatized dance, nṛtta as the pure (ornamental) dance and nṛtya as the expressive dance. Even the term abhinaya had been restricted to the facial expression and hand gestures alone. Regarding the gati element, only a few works have directly approached the gati elements. Others have added many utpluti karaṇas, bhramarī karaṇas, muḍupa cāris, kalāsa karaṇas, lāsyaṅgas, etc. as related to gati.

The Sanga period Tamil work called Tholkappiu has a chapter on meipāṭṭiyal, which describes the emotional state of the body, similar to that of bhāvas of Nāṭyaśāstra. Pancha marabu is a work on theatre that deals with the five main aspects of vocal, instrumental, dance, expression and speech. Kūthanūl, a work on music, dance and drama was written by Sāttanār, which comprises of nine chapters. However, now only four chapters are available. In the fourth chapter called kalai nūl, which explains āṃgika abhinaya, varieties related some gati to tāla. Silappadigāra refers to various types of dramatized dances prevalent during the Saṅga period. Mahābharata Cūḍāmaṇī gives a variety of hand gestures.

In Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, dance was treated as a subordinate art of drama, but later music, dance and drama had been divided into three different entities. The works on drama have not dealt with dance and the vice versa. Yet, works on saṅgīta (music) have a few chapters on dance. No doubt, the dance and drama traditions owe their survival to these Sanskrit texts.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: