Gati in Theory and Practice

by G. Srinivasu | 2015 | 88,445 words

This page relates ‘Gati in Vrittis and Pravrittis’ 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.

Gati in Vṛttis and Pravṛttis

The kaiśikī and ārabhaṭi vṛttis (styles) can be mainly taken as those connected with āṅgika abhinaya. Kaiśikī vṛtti arose when the lord tied up his hair with graceful aṅgahāra movements and ārabhaṭī vṛtti arose when he started fighting with increased anger and with cārī movements.[1] The sukumāra aṅgahāras can be taken as that with graceful style. The uddhata cārīs and maṇḍalas can be performed in ārabhaṭi style. Though the nāṭakas have all the vṛttis, kaiśikī is predominantly used, as many of them are śṛṅgāra based plays. Bharata says, “kaiśikī should be used in hāsya and śṛṅgāra, sāttvatī is related to vīra and adbhuta, ārabhaṭī is used in raudra and bhayānaka, while bhāratī is employed in relation to bhībhatsa and karuṇa.”[2]

Pravṛttis are the local usages based on styles of four regions.[3] It is called Pravṛtti because it gives the information on the dress, language, and customs of the various regions of the earth. Dākṣinātyā pravṛtti pertains to the southern provinces and kaiśikī vṛtti is employed in this region. These people are fond of dance, music and instruments and this style is represented by beautiful and graceful movements of the limbs. Āvantī pravṛtti is the western region where sāttvatī and kaiśikī vṛttis are employed. Oḍhramāgadhī pravṛtti pertains to the eastern region. Pāñcāla pravṛtti is the northern region where sāttvatī and ārabhaṭī vṛttis are employed, the music is less and the gaits of the actors are slanted to one side.[4]

Based on these instructions given by Bharata, dramas were composed in different regions using their prākṛt languages, pertaining to the tastes of the local people. Their styles of walking, dancing, and so on, were given importance. Thus, various regional dramatic styles developed.

Footnotes and references:


Nāṭyaśāstra XX. 13,14.


Ibid.XX. 73,74.




Ibid XIV.

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