Gati in Theory and Practice

by G. Srinivasu | 2015 | 88,445 words

This page relates ‘Performance of Cari’ 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.

Cārī forms the base for management of spacing techniques on the stage. As in choreographic methods, the stage is fully utilized for the movements and positioning of characters. The main action of the movement of cārī is only through the leg. But, sometimes it involves the upper part of the body also.

1. Bhūmi cārī:

Foot is moved close to the ground in all these movements.

-) Samapāda is a straight movement, using samapāda feet.

-) Sthitāvarta is a circular movement as the name suggests (āvarta).

-) Śakatāsya is a movement in sitting position with the chest being raised.

-) Adhyardhikā is a sliding movement in which the left foot is on the heel of the right one, the latter to be drawn away after one tāla and half.

-) Cāṣagati also is a sliding movement where the right foot is put forward and then drawn back while the left foot is drawn back and put forward afterwards.

-) Vicyavā cārī is separating the feet from the samapāda position and striking the ground with their fore part.

-) Eḍakākrīḍita is jumping up and down with the talasañcara feet.

-) Baddhā is the sideways movement of the thighs when the two shanks are crossed.

-) Ūrūdvṛttā is done with the heel of the talasañcara foot placed outwards, and one of the shanks slightly bent and thigh turned up.

-) Aḍḍitā is one agratalasañcara foot rubbing against the fore part or the back of another foot.

-) Utsyanditā is where the two feet move gradually sideways, i.e. in and out, in the manner of the recaka.

-) Janitā is when a muṣṭi hand held is on the breast and another hand moved around, and the feet are in talasañcara.

-) Syanditā cāri is performed with one foot put forward five tālas away from the other.

-) Apasyanditā is the reverse movement of the syanditā, another foot being put forward five tālas away from the other.

-) Samotsārita-mattallī cāri is going backwards with a circular movement with the feet of the talasañcara kind.

-) Mattalī is going back with a circular movement and hands being udveṣṭita and motionless.

2. Ākāśa cārī:

Foot is moved in the air and then placed on the ground in all these movements.

-) Atikrānta is a movement when a kuñcita foot is thrown up, put forward and caused to fall on the ground.

-) Apakrānta is in which the valana posture of the thighs, a kuñcita foot raised and thrown down sideways.

-) Pārśvakrānta is when one foot is in kuñcita and another is thrown up and brought near the side.

-) Ūrdhvajānu is performed by throwing up a kuñcita foot and its knee brought up to the level of the breast, and the remaining knee without movement.

-) Sūci cārī is when kuñcita foot thrown up and brought above the knee of the remaining foot and then to let it fall on its fore part.

-) Nūpurapādikā is done with one añcita foot raised up, taken behind another foot, and then quickly caused to fall on the ground.

-) Ḍolāpāda is performed by one kuñcita foot thrown up, moved from side to side, and then caused to fall on the ground as an añcita foot.

-) Ākṣiptā is that when one kuñcita foot thrown off and then placing it quickly on an añcita foot by crossing the shank of the remaining foot.

-) Āviddhā is done with one kuñcita foot from the svastika position stretching and falling on the ground quickly on an añcita foot.

-) Udvṛtta is performed with a kuñcita foot of āviddha cāri taken round the thigh of the other leg, thrown up, and then caused to fall on the ground.

-) Vidyudbhrānta cārī is performed with one foot turned to the back and stretched to touch the head in a circular way.

-) Alāta is when one foot is stretched, taken backwards and then brought in and afterwards caused to fall in it’s heel.

-) Bhujaṅgatrāsitā is that when one kuñcita foot thrown up and the waist and the knee being turned round and the thigh of the remaining foot is also turned.

-) Hariṇapluta cārī is performed with the foot in the atikrānta cārī falls on the ground after a jump and the shank of an añcita foot is thrown up.

-) Daṇḍpāda cārī is performed with one foot as nupurapādikā cārī stretched out and quickly turned.

-) Bhramarī cārī is executed with a foot in atikrānta cārī to be thrown up and the entire body turned round and then the second foot to move on its sole.

3. Prayoga of cārī

From the cārīs proceeds dance as well as movements in general. The release of missiles and the fighting sequences on stage should be performed with the cārīs and maṇḍalas.

These cārīs are used in personal combats as well as in the karaṇas.

cārībhiḥ prasṛtaṃ nṛttaṃ cārībhiśceṣṭitaṃ tathā |
cārībhiḥ śastramokṣaśca cāryo yuddhe ca kīrtitāḥ ||[1]

The ākāśacārīs consist of the graceful movements of the limbs.

They are to be applied in the release of weapons like an arrow and the thunderbolt (vajra).

ākāśikyaḥ smṛtā hyetā lalitāṅgakriyātmikāḥ |
dhanurvajrādiśastrāṇāṃ prayoktavyā prayoktṛbhiḥ ||[2]

These cārīs consists of graceful and forceful movements of the limbs. Abhinava suggests the uses for many cārīs. The gati of cāṣa in cāṣagati cārī, gati of ajakā in eḍakākrīḍita cārī, lajjā and īrṣyā in ūrūdvṛtta, matta gati in mattalli, mṛgapluta for vidūṣaka, etc.[3]

He enumerates the importance of cārīs thus.

kiñcidaṅgaṃ pradhānaṃ yat saṃbhavati yathā hastau vā abhinaye, pādau vā gatī, tadā tadupayoginī cārī pradhānaṃ, taccārīsaṃpattyucitā ca pūrvā cārī āśrīyate parayā ceti parasparaniyamavatyaścāryo vyāyāma iti |

He also adds that sthāna in sthiti and cārī in gati are the main elements.

sthanasya sthitipradhānatā cāryāstu gatipradhānatetyapi viśeṣaḥ |

All these cārīs are movements or gatis at first, and then they become stances or sthitis. āsāmapi cārīṇāṃ pūrva gatirūpatvaṃ, gateśca paścādbhāvinī sthitiriti bhāvaḥ |[4]

Footnotes and references:




Ibid. X.46.



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