Gati in Theory and Practice

by G. Srinivasu | 2015 | 88,445 words

This page relates ‘Gati in Yakshagana’ 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 Yakṣagāna

[Full title: Deśī forms of Karnataka (1): Gati in Yakṣagāna]

Yakṣagāna is a famous theatre form of Karnataka. This covers the area of North Kanara and South Kanara known as teṅgu and baḍagu. Yakṣagānabayalāṭṭa is one of its varieties. However, there are contrary opinions to take it as folk or classical, its literature and performance is based on Sanskrit drama and the Nāṭyaśāstra.[1] Other forms like kolāṭa, dollu kuṇita, etc. are also performed there.

Yakṣagāna prasaṅgas, which are in Sanskrit and Kannada are chandobandha (metrical verses) and tālabandha pada (rhythmic poems). This art form is performed in rural and urban areas. These are in the form of dance dramas and operas. Bhāgavata sings and perform the dance along with instrumental music. The drama has many body movements based on the cārīs and gatis of the Nāṭyaśāstra[2] and other regional texts.

Many elements such as sabhālakṣaṇa or sabhāvandana (pūrvaraṅga), Bhāgavata (Sūtradhāra), Hanumannāyaka (Vidūṣaka), praveśapada (praveśadhruva) and maṅgalapada (bharatavākya) resemble terms seen in the Nāṭyaśāstra. In the preliminaries of yakṣagāna, erotic sentiment is exhibited by Pārvatī who is the mother of lāsya and ferocity by Śiva who is the father of tāṇḍava.[3] This is similar to cāri and mahācāri of the pūrvaraṅga. As the bhāgavatas sing the dhruvās, entry is performed by the characters, who walk around the stage in a circular way. These praveśa padas of yakṣagāna are also of two parts metrical and rhythmical for which the entry will be through abhinaya and nṛtta elements respectively. Standing postures like ēkapāda,[4] moving around the stage on knees called maṇḍikuṇita or molaṅkālukuṇita like kuñcita bhramarī,[5] are performed while doing fights or ferocious movements. This reeling movement resembles the vinīvṛtta karaṇa.[6] Dr. Padma opines that ‘such a turn on knees is still a common feature in the yakṣagāna natakas of south and north canara.’[7] Jumps called dhigana, utplutabhramarī (jumping and rotating) are also performed.[8] Hanumannāyaka or hāsyagara of yakṣagāna does a gait where legs are crossed like āvartita of Nāṭyaśāstra. Poetic verses are set to the tāla and thus give greater scope for movements. Yakṣagāna mode of dance is called yakṣa āndolana-the swinging of yakṣas.[9] From this, it is understood that the sway in their gait was very beautiful and had lighter movements.

Footnotes and references:


Article by G.S.Hegde in Living Traditions of Natyasastra




Dances of India. Yaksaganam.p.41.




Nāṭyaśāstra IV.122.


Karaṇas Common Dance Codes of India and Indonesia-Padma Subrahmanyam -Vol.II. P.158




Dance Dialects of India by Ragini devi p.134.

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