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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

Lakshana-granthas

1. Natyashastra –continued

silhoutes

The Nrtta, the dance in its abstract form, is mainly discussed in the Natyashastra. And, Dance, in general, is treated as a factor that lends beauty to a theatrical presentation. Bharata projects Dancing as an Art consisting of beautiful body movements that delight the eye. It is performed to rhythm and to the accompanying songs or instrumental music or both.

Chapters 4 and 5 of Natyashastra are of special significance to the study of Dance, as they introduce many concepts that are fundamental to Dancing, such as: Nrtta, Tandava, Sukumara (meaning Lasya), Pindibandha and Abhinaya. Apart from that, the basic units of Dance such as, Caris, Recakas and Karanas; and, primary Dance sequence Angaharas are also fully described here.  And, the Chapters 6 and 7 carry on extensive discussion on Abhinaya.

As can be seen from the Chapters mentioned above, Bharata, apart from Nrtta, also gave much importance to Angikabhinaya, where individual limb-movements convey the meaning (Artha) and emotions (Bhava) through appropriate gestures. Although such Angikabhinayas are used both in the Drama and Dance; it is, in fact, in the Dancing that they are more widely used, with eloquence and flourish (Natyadharmi).

It is obvious that Bharata had recognized the importance of Abhinaya, both in Drama and in Dancing. He introduces the related concept in Chapter Four, which principally deals with Dance. There, he uses the term Abhinaya broadly to indicate expressive movements of the body, as comprising actions appropriate to match the content of the accompanying song. Thereafter, he follows up the topic in many other Chapters, in more than 670 verses, explaining its theoretical principles, its categories and its applications in various contexts.

In a way of speaking, one can say that the Natyashastra is structured in four broad sections, each based in one of the four Abhinayas.

The Sattvika-abhinaya (that which is conveyed by the effort of the mind) and Angika-abhinaya (body-movements and gestures to suggest a meaning) are discussed in Chapters 8 to 13. Bharata describes Sattvika-abhinaya in the Chapter 8 dealing with Bhava and Angika-abhinaya. And the discussion is continued in the next few chapters where he offers detailed descriptions for executing the movements of each part and limb of the body, which has the potential to inspire beauty; to express feelings, emotions; and, to give form to ideas.

The Vachika-abhinaya (conveying the intent through speech or songs) is detailed in Chapters 14 to 20.

The Aharya (concerning costume, makeup and decor etc.,) is in Chapter 21.

Again, Satvika-abhinaya and Samanya-abhinaya, detailing the general rules pertaining to dancing, in particular, are given in Chapter 22.

The Citra-abhinaya, the special (viśea) modes of representations to indicate subtle or abstract elements in nature, inner feelings etc., are discussed in Chapter 25.

[The Samanya-abhinaya is the harmonious use of four kinds of Abhinayas; and, Citra-abhinaya applies only to the special representation of various objects and ideas.

At first, the instructions are given about the representation of five qualities (guna)of senses viz. sound (sabda), touch (sparsa), form (rupa), taste (rasa) and smell (gandha), through gestures according to their experiences (Anubhavas) and natural expressions. Then come the representation of particular objects. The various gestures and expressions are prescribed for the representation of Bhavas including Sthayi-bhavas occurring in different Rasas. The Abhinaya to show sky, morning, night, evening, day, deep darkness, the moon-light, the smoke, the fire and different seasons follow.

Abhinavagupta remarks; whether it is Samanya=abhinaya or Chitra-abhinaya, what is more important is the ardent practice (Shikshitum abhyasitam) and the state of mind of the performer (Chitt-vrtti pradanam).

Shikshitum abhyasitam va prayoktam drustam va, chitta-vrtti pradanam chedam natyamiti tadeva vakyum nyayam ]

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When you take an overview , you find that it is the principle of the two modes (dharmi) of presentation, Natya (the stylized) or Loka (the realistic); the different types of Vrittis (style), namely the Kaisiki (the graceful), Sattvati (the grand),  Arabhati (the energetic) and Bharati (the verbal); the full play of the four types of Abhinaya (acting) namely : Angika (gestures or movement), Vacika (the spoken word), Aharya (costume, make-up, stage props etc.) and Sattvika (relating to state of emotion) – are the broad principles which govern the structure of Indian drama and its  presentations. The same principles and techniques are extended to Dance also.

It is these principles, along with other related ones, such as –  the concept of Bahya (external) and Abhyantara (inner) acting; of Pravrtti (local usage); of Samanya-abhinaya  (basic representation) and  Citra-abhinaya  (special representation) technique – , which  are common to Drama as also to Dance.

We talked about Nrtta, Tandava, Sukumara-prayoga and Pindibandha, in the earlier Parts of this series.

We may now get to know some specific concepts, terms and techniques used in the Natyashastra, in regard to Abhinaya.

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Dharmi-s

Before getting into the specifics of the Abhinaya, let’s briefly talk about the Dharmi-s and the Vrtti-s, denoting the modes of depiction and styles of presentation.

Bharata in Chapter 13 discusses two divisions of Abhinaya: the Natya-dharmi and Loka-dharmi modes of presentation on the stage. Here, Natyadharmi could, almost, be understood as stylized or idealized theatrical mode of presentation. And, Lokadharmi is the realistic or the day-to-day common way of staging in the play.

dharmī yā dvividhā proktā mayā pūrva dvijottamā laukikī nāyadharmī ca tayor vakyāmi lakaam NS.13.69

These concepts were mentioned by Bharata, primarily, in the context of the Drama.

He meant Lokadharmi, as the ways of the world and the activity of common people, where one speaks, gesticulates and acts in a natural manner, as in ones daily life. The characters behave and speak naturally, as common people normally do, according to their professions and their standing in the society; without playful flourish of the limbs or stylized gaits and postures. It also means the ordinary presentation of objects on the stage. Abhinavagupta also explains Lokadharmi in a similar manner :

Yada kaviryatha vrttam vasthu matram varnathi natascha prayamke na tu svabuddhi-krutam ranjana vaichitram tatranu praveshayam sada tavanna kavya-bhagah prayoga-bhagascha Loka-dharmashraye atotra-dharmi

And, Natyadharmi, which follows the theatrical conventions, is the idealistic, stylized mode of acting through traditional gestures and symbolisms, considered more artistic than realistic. One could say that Natyadharmi is poetic and imaginative in its nature, following a codified manner of presenting actions, expressions and emotions, as per the time-honored conventions of the theatre. Here, in this mode, the artist enjoys a greater degree of freedom to display her or his virtuosity; and, in taking something from natural life and rendering it in an elegant ingenious stylized way. The Natyadharmi encourages innovations, endowing the play with beauty associated with the performing Arts. Abhinavagupta also says :

Sarva alamkara samyojana yuktam , yatra purusho ns svarupe thistathi , api tu stri bala-ashrati prayojyah purusho yatra na svrupastha , api tu striyah prayujyate tan Natyadharmi

Thus, the Natyadharmi is a theatrical presentation that is decisively deviated from realism. Bharata gives instances of Natyadharmi mode in a play:

If it contains speech, activity , beings and states of extraordinary kind ; and, if it requires acting with playful flourish of limbs ; and, if it possesses  characteristics of dance, where the delivery of speech follows the theatrical conventions; and , if it is dependent on emotions, it is then called Natyadharmi – (NS.13.71-72).

 If a character, instead of simply walking, dances along or moves with graceful steps and deliberate swing of the limbs, it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13.79).

If the ordinary human joys and sorrows are represented by special or exaggerated gestures, it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13. 80).

If an actor plays a female role or an actress dons a male role (asvastha-puruā), it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13.74).

If after appearing in a role, one assumes a different role in the same play on account of his being an expert in both the cases or being the sole actor available for both the roles, it is known as an instance of Natyadharmi – (NS. 13.77).

If as per the theatrical practice, a character is not supposed to hear what the character standing next is uttering; or, if a character is supposed to hear what the other character has not uttered at all, it is also called Natyadharmi – (NS.13.75).

If objects like a hill, conveyance, aerial-car, shield, armor, weapon or banner-staff are made to appear on the stage in human form, it is known as an instance of Natyadharmi – (NS 13.76).

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A dance performance is dominated by Natyadharmi. It is in the aspect of Abhinaya that Natyadharmi is abundant in Dance. The poetry, lyrical or narrative elements, set to music and rhythm, are interpreted by the dancer in varieties of manners, employing various shades of Sanchari-bhavas of the Sthayi-bhava that is on display. This is achieved through a series of variations of the Angikabhinaya, where each word of the poetry is interpreted in as many different ways as possible (Padartha-abhinaya).

Here, a dancer assumes the roles of several characters without change of dress or costume (Ekaharya), giving expressions to their actions, emotions and their state of being.

Natyadharmi does not mean imitation. No attempt is made to present things as they are. Instead, the dancer endows her performance with creative, innovative and artistic suggestions. The dancer attempts to represent the entire range of human emotions and experiences through stylized gestures. Even the tears have to be shown through the characteristic suggestive gesticulations, as per the Natyadharmi mode.

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 Vrtti

Bharata regards the Vrttis or the Styles as one among the most important constituent elements of the play. In fact, he considers the Vrttis as the mother of all poetic works – sarveāmeva kāvyānāṃ-mātkā vttaya sm(NS.18.4). In a play, the Vrtti stands for the ways of rendering a scene; or, the acting styles and the use of language, diction that different characters adopt in a scene, depending upon the nature or the Bhava that is peculiar to that character.

The Vrttis are said to be of four kinds (vrttis caturdha): Kaisiki; Sattvati; Arabhati; and, Bharati.

The Kaisiki-vrtti (graceful style) which characterizes the tender  Lasyanga  associated  with expressions of love, dance, song as also with charming costumes and delicate actions portrayed with care, mostly by women,   is most suited to Srngara-rasa (tatra kaisiki gita-nrtya-vilasadyair mrduh srngara- cestitaih ).

The Sattvati Vrtti (flamboyant style) is a rather gaudy style of expressing ones emotions with excessive body-movement; exuberant expressions of joy; and, underplaying mellow or sorrow moods. It is a way of expressing ones emotions (mano-vyapara) through too many words.

The Arabhati-vrtti is a loud, rather noisy and energetic style. It is a powerful exhibition of one’s anger, valour, bordering on false-pride, by screaming, shouting, particularly, in tumultuous scenes with overwhelming tension, disturbance and violence.  It involves furious physical movements (kaya-vyapara).

And, the Bharati-vrtti is mainly related to a scene where the speech or dialogue delivery is its prominent feature.  But, generally, the Bharati-vrtti, related to eloquence, is of importance in all the situations (vrttih sarvatra bharati).

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In regard to Dance and Dance-dramas, the Vrtti that is most suitable for its depiction is the Kaisiki Vrtti. It is used both in the Nrtta and the Nrtya portions of a dance performance.

Kaisiki Vrtti is most appropriate to dance and to the dance-dramas on account of the attractive costumes worn by dramatis personae, particularly the women; and also because of the Lasya and Srngara aspects that permeate its theme. It is also suitable for Hasya, for display of humor.

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Abhinaya

It is said; in the Indian dance, the different parts of the human body are like notes (Svara) of the music in a given Raga. The movements of the minor limbs (Upanga), like the eyebrows, eyelids, eyeballs, nose, lips, chin and mouth ; and their precise execution are the most essential aspects of the Abhinaya. Similarly, the movements of the major limbs (Anga), like the head, chest, waist hips, thigh and feet; and their postures are the essential elements of the Nrtta, pure Dance. Then, there are the Pratyangas, such as the neck, the elbows, the shanks and the knees , which are used in the Abhinaya as also in the Nrtta.

Perfect balance and poise is the key to Indian Dancing. In fact, all its Dance movements emerge from this point of perfect stillness. All movements start from the Sama-bhanga posture (equipoise of stance with an equal distribution of weight). And, again, all the movements return to the Sama-bhanga.

The knee, pelvis, and the shoulder joints constitute the key points from which the movements emerge in the lower and upper limbs. The neck joint is the pivot around which the movements of the head and face revolve.

The classification of body movements, in the Indian texts, is broadly categorized into those of the major and minor limbs; and, the second as the combination of the primary movements into small modulations known as Caris, Mandalas and Karanas. Each of these is governed by its own set of rules .

Indian Dancer, like the musician, uses the body-movements to evoke particular emotive states (Bhavas) through pure Dance sequences (Nrtta) ; and, through interpretation (Abhinaya) of the words of the poem or a theme, following  the characteristic Natyadharmi mode of presentation.  In either case, the musical element determines the composition and depiction of the dance. The pure Dance sequences (Nrtta) follow the patterns of the melody, rhythms and tempo of the music. And, the Abhinaya follows the nature (Sthayi-bhava) and content of the lyrics (Sahitya) ; and , interprets it accordingly by use of series of transitory states (Sanchari-bhava) and various  other innovative gestures and expressions.

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Angikabhinaya

Bharata, commencing with the Chapter Eight, describes four types of Abhinaya; the art of illustrating the meaning (Artha or Bhava) of different things, and conveying ones experiences, which are capable of evoking Rasa. The Abhinaya is of four kinds:  Angika (gestures); Vachika (words); Aharya (costumes, makeup and supporting aids); and Sattvika (emotional dispositions).

āgiko vācikaścaiva hy āhārya sāttvikastathā jñeyastv abhinayo viprā caturdhā parikalpita NS.8. 9

Here, Āgika (आङ्गिक) – ‘physical representation’- consists of the use of various gestures and postures of which the tyaśhāstra gives elaborate descriptions. Different limbs have been named and their manifold gestures and movements described, with various significance attached to each one of them.

The Angika-abhinaya involves different parts of the body:

1) Anga / अंग: The main parts of the body are known as Anga. The Natyashastra identifies them as the following six: head, hands, feet, Vaksha or the chest region, Kati or the waist and Parshava or the sides. Some experts add Griva (neck) to this as well.

2) Pratyanga / प्रत्यंग: The parts that connect the main parts of the body are Pratyanga. These too are of six types: the shoulders, the arms, the spine, the midriff, the thighs and the abdomen. Some experts also consider the neck, knees and elbows in this

3) Upanga / उऩांग: Smaller constituent parts of the body are called Upaanga. They are different according to each body part. Mainly the Upaanga exist on the head/ face, hands and legs, because the waist, chest and sides are complete on their own. There cannot be an Upanga for these.

  • Head/ face: eyes, eyebrows, eyelids, pupils, nose, cheeks, chin, jaw, face, lips, teeth and tongue.
  • Hands: elbow, wrist, fingers, palms
  • Legs: soles, heel, paws and toes

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The Aṅgikābhinaya (आङ्गिकाभिनय), the illustrative expression through gestures, postures, movements of part of the body (angapratyanga and upanga), limbs and gait, is said to be of three types; that by use of: the Śākhā (‘branch’- various movements of the hand); the Akura (‘sprout’-movements of the hand supplementing the main idea); and, the Ntta (dance movements, made up of Karaas and Agahāras).

Asya śākhā ca ntta ca tathaivā akura eva ca-NS.8.14 Agikastu bhavecchākhā hyakura sūcanā bhavet agahāra-vinipanna ntta tu karaāśrayam NS. 8.15

The subject of Angikabhinaya is elaborated under three broad categories:  Mukhaja (those emanating from the face and its different parts (Upanga) such as eyes, eyebrows, chin, nose etc); Sarira (the limbs – Anga, Pratyanga, Upanga); and, Kshetra (the entire body) including the Anga and Upanga, by use of gestures relating to posture, positioning or actions involving  movements  from one place to other on stage .

Trividhas tva āgiko dyneya śārīro mukhajas tathā tathā ceṣṭākta-ścaiva śākhā-ago-upāga-sayuta NS.8.11

[In today’s practice and teaching of Bharatanatya, besides the Natyashastra, it is the Abhinaya Darpana that is mainly used.]

[Throughout the discussion of the Anga and the Upanga in the Natyashastra, we find that Bharata first states the movements which are physically possible, and,  then  enumerates the use (viniyoga) to which they can be put in Angikabhinaya , in order to represent the dominant and transitory states (Sthayi and Vyabhicari Bhava).

For instance; he first indicates the glances (Drsti) corresponding to the sentiments (Rasa), then the glances according to the dominant states (Sthayi bhava), and then the glances corresponding to the transitory states (Vyabhicari bhava). And, the movements of the eyeball (Tara) are analysed in a similar manner.

The Natyashastra gives us two types of classification of movements. There is first the analysis of different parts of the human body from the point of view of the possibility of movement.  It, then, analyzes, in great detail, the movements of major and minor limbs, in the context of the combinations of these primary movements such as Cari, Mandala, Karana, Angahara, etc.

It classifies the human body-parts into Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga (as detailed above). The hands (Hasta) are the only parts of the body that are used both for Nrtta and in the Abhinaya; and, these are treated separately.

In the case of other parts of the body, the movement of the particular part is described first; and this is followed by its Viniyoga (uses), which contributes to the Abhinaya technique. This, is particularly true in the case of the movements of the minor limbs, especially facial (Mukhaja) ones, like those of the eyebrows, eyeballs, eyelid, chin, nose, lips, etc. And, in the case of the thighs, waist, side and chest; they are discussed, primarily, from the point of view of Nrtta.

On the basis on these movements, of the separate parts of the human body, Bharata discusses and analyzes the fundamental units of movement.

In the Indian traditions, it is believed, that particularly in Dance, the movement of each single limb of the human body has a corresponding emotional quality, which is analogous to the emotional expression of Sruti and Svara in music. And, in Dance, every gesture and movement of eyes, eyeballs, eyebrows, eyelids, nose, cheeks, lower lips, chin, mouth, neck, chest, breast, sides, belly, waist, thigh, shank, knee, feet and hands, thus assumes significance.

This language of gestures finds its complete articulation in the Hasta-abhinaya, where practically all the permutations and combinations of the fingers, palm and the writs have been worked out ; and each hand-pose (Hasta) has been employed as words are in a language.

Thus, the Nrtta and the Abhinaya portion of dancing employs the entire human form to speak a language of movement through which a Sthayi bhava can be presented and a sentiment, a mood, Rasa is evoked.

In the process; the Dance, almost, does away with the Vacika-abhinaya (speech); instead, it employs only music and song for the narration of its theme; and for presentation of the Sthayi-bhava  .

But, the manner in which the dance builds up the Sthayi-bhava is very similar to that is employed in the Drama (Natya). Both make use of the representation of the determinants (Vibhava); the consequent (Anubhava); and, the transitory states (Vyabhicari bhava). But in the case of Dance, the emphasis is more on the Vyabhicari-bhava or the Sanchari-bhava. And, the dominant state is represented by portraying through a series of gestures the transitory states of the particular dominant state.]

A. MUKHAJA

Bharata mentions that the Dramatic performance, in its entirety, relates to the postures and movements of the limbs, including the six major and the six minor ones. The six major limbs (Anga) are: the head, hands, chest, sides, waist and feet. And, the six minor limbs (Upanga) are: the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lower lip and chin (NS.8.12-13).

The Upanga, the Mukhaja (expressions relating to the face) is subdivided into its parts, like eyebrows, eyelids, eyeballs, nose, lips, chin and mouth.

In dance and dance-dramas, Abhinaya, the gestures reflected on the face are, indeed, the principal means of expressing, portraying and conveying a range of varieties of states, emotions and suggestions, giving forth the appropriate Rasa– (Mukhaje abhinaye, nānā bhāva rasāśraye- NS.8.16).

Head and neck 1

 Head (Siras) – Shirobheda

The text, in verses 17 to 37, of Chapter Eight , then goes to elaborately enumerate the thirteen kinds of the gestures of the head; and its uses (Viniyoga) :  Akampita, Kampita, Dhuta, Vidhuta, Parivahita, Udvahita, Avadhuta, Ancita, Nihanchita, Paravratta, Utkipta, Adhogata and Parilolita.

śirasa prathama karma gadato me nibodhat 8.16 ākampita kampita ca dhūta vidhuta meva ca parivāhitam ādhūtam avadhūta tathā añcitam 8.17

The movements of head include Akampita (up and down slow movements), which suggest giving a hint, teaching, questioning, addressing and also imparting instructions. Similarly, Kampita suggests a brisk movement of the head, with a vigorous shake. It is meant to indicate a range of moods and states, such as:  anger, argument, understanding, asserting, threatening, sickness and intolerance. Dhuta is slow movement of the head, to indicate unwillingness, sadness etc.; while, is the quick movement, as when one is attacked by cold, fever. Parivahita is when the head is turned to two sides to demonstrate surprise, intolerance, concealing or in playful mood; while, Udvahita is when the face turned upward once, in pride. Avadhuta is when the head is turned down, for communicating, beckoning one to come near or invoking a deity; while Ancita is when the head slightly bent on one side , as in sickness , intoxication etc. Nihancita is two shoulders are raised up with the head on one side, as by women in pride or play or jest. Paravrtta is when the face is turned round, as while turning round and looking back. Utkipta is when the face is slightly raised, as in looking at lofty objects. And, Parilolita is when the head is moving in all the sides, as in fainting, sickness, drowsiness or while possessed. Please click here for illustrations.

These movements of the head should be supported by the appropriate expressions of the other minor limbs like eyes, eye-brows, eyeballs, nose, lower lip and chin, in order to enhance the overall impact.

After describing the thirteen kinds of movements of head for its various uses, Bharata adds:  ‘Besides these there are many other gestures of the head, which are based on popular usage (ju-svabhāva-sasthāna). These are to be used, according to their nature (svabhāvajam) in the popular practice’.

 

Head and neck 2

Eyes

In the Abhinaya, the eyes play an extremely important role. The eyes, in fact, are widows to the soul of the dancer.  They are like a mirror to the mind. The eyes register the bhavas and speak an eloquent language, without resorting to the act of speaking.

Glances – Dṛṣṭī- lakaam

Bharata enumerates the nature of as many as 36 types of glances (trayodaśa-vidhaṃ; dṛṣṭīnāmiha lakaam NS.8 .39The glances (Rasa-Dristi) are described in detail In terms of the muscular movements of the eyeballs, eyelids and the eyebrows which indicate certain Rasa or Bhava

He starts with listing those expressions that relate to the production of eight Rasas: Kanta, Bhayanaka, Hasya, Karuna, Adbhuta, Raudri, Vira and Bibhatsa.

kāntā bhayānakā hāsyā karuā cādbhutā tathā raudro vīrā ca bībhatsā vijñeyā rasadṛṣṭaya NS.8. 40

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Bharata then provides another list of eight types of glances that relate to the mood or the state of mind in the main theme that is being depicted (Sthayi-bhavas) : Snigdha, Harsha, Dina, Krodha Dipta, Bhayanvita, Jugupsita and  Vismita.

snigdhā hṛṣṭā ca dīnā ca kruddhā dptā bhayānvitā jugupsitā vismitā ca sthāyibhāveu  dṛṣṭaya NS.8.41

The remaining twenty types of glances refer to the transitory moods (vyabhicari bnavas), aptly corresponding to each of the dominant bhavas (Sthayi-bhavas). These are listed as:

Vacant (Sunya), pale (Malina), tired (Sranta), bashful (Lajjanvita),  lazy(Glana) , apprehensive (Sankita), despair (Vishanna), sleepy, dreaming (Mukula) , contracted (Kunchita), distressed (Abhitapa), crooked as in stupor or love (Jihma), recollecting or recalling (Vitarikta), in joy of smell or touch-half open side glances  (Ardha-mukta), confused (Vibranta), disturbed (Vipluta),  half shut (Akekara), fully open (Vikosa) , frightened (Trasta)  and intoxicated (Madira)

śūnyā ca malinā caiva  śrāntā lajjānvitā tathā glānā  ca  śakitā caiva viaṇṇā mukulā tathā 42 kuñcitā cābhitaptā ca jihmā salalitā  tathā  vitarkitārdhamukulā vibhrāntā viluptā tathā 43 ākekarā  vikośā ca trastā ca madirā  tathā 44

[The Vishnudharmottara also mentions that  of these thirty-six:  first nine refer to the Rasa (nine Rasas , including Shanta); another nine to the Sthayibhavaa (the dominant states);  and,  the remaining eighteen correspond closely to the Vyabhicari-bhavas (transitory states)]

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The first sixteen types of  glances are described in great detail;  in terms of the movement of eyeballs, eyelids and the eyebrows; and, occasionally, with reference to the colour of the eyes.

The Drstis (glances), including the movement of the eyeballs, the iris and the pupil of the eye, the eyelids and the eye brows form an important part of the Abhinaya technique of Indian dance, dance-drama and drama.  And, this is particularly so in the Angikabhinaya element of the dance, where speech is not used. Instead, various ideas, the states of the mind and body, as also the emotions, are most effectively conveyed through expressions of the eyes and other facial features.

The Mukhaja-abhinaya has, therefore, been accorded a very significant role in the conventions and techniques of Indian dance traditions. And, Natyashastra devotes as many as 56 verses of Chapter Eight (from verse 39 to verse 95) to describe, in detail, various types of glances and their applications in dramatic and dance situations.

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Eyes-Eyeballs (Tara)

Bharata says the eyeballs (Tara) can express gestures of nine kinds (Verses 8.95-102): Bhramana (moving round) Valana (turning obliquely), Patana (relaxing), Calana (trembling), Sampravesana (drawing inside), Vivartana (turning sideways), Samudvrtta (rising up), Niskramana (going out) and Prakrta (natural).

Tārayor bhramaa valana gamana tryasra pātana srastatā tathā calana kampana jñeya praveśo’ntapraveśanam NS. 8.100

The eyeball movements (Taraka karma) may be either with reference to the object of perception or without It, which suggest the positions of the eyeballs in different parts of the eye. Up and down or circular movements of the eyeballs are possible.

Bharata also mentions about the use of such eyeball-movements. For instance; Bhramana, Valana and Samudvrtta are used in the heroic (Vira) and furious (Raudra) Rasas. And, Vivartana is used in erotic (Srngara) situations. And, so on.

eyes 01

Bharata, next, enumerates eight additional types of eyeball positions, their appearances and their uses (verses 8. 103-108): Sama (level, at rest), Saci (sidelong, covered by eyelashes), Anuvrtta (probing), Alokita (eyes wide open and his eyes looking around), Vilokita (looking round or looking back) , Pralokita (carefully looking, turning from side to side),  Ullokita (looking up) and Avalokita (looking down towards the ground). This classification is according to the object of perception. These are all utilized to express states (Bhavas) and emotions (Rasas).

Samam Alokitam Saachi pralokita Nimility  Ullokita-anuvritte cha tatha chaiva-avalokitam  Ithyashtho drishthi bhedaha syu kirtitah purvasuribhi

eyes02

[ The Abhinaya Darpana does not enumerate the movements of the eyeballs. But, it talks, in detail, about Dristi.]

The position and the movement of the eyeball, according to Bharata do help in explicitly project the Bhavas and the Rasas. Please click here for illustration.

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Eyes-eyelids (Puta)

 Bharata, then, goes on to discuss the eyelids (Puta) – verses 108-115; and eyebrows (Bhru) –verses 116 to125; their movements and uses.

The gestures of the eyelids follow the movements of eyeballs. They are:  Unmesa (opening, separating the eyelids), Nimesa (closing, bringing together), Prasrta (expanding widely), Kuncita (contracting the eyelids), Sama (level, natural), Vivartita (rising up), Sphurita (throbbing eyelids), Pihita (resting, closed) and Vitadita (driven, struck accidently).

unmeaśca nimeaśca prasta kuñcita samam 111 vivartita sa sphurita pihita savitāitam NS.8. 112

Then, the applications (Viniyogam) of the eyelid-movements are explained. For instance; while in anger, the eyelids rise up (Vivartita), close (Nimesa) and open widely (Unmesa).And, in joy and wonder, the eyelids expand (Prastra). On seeing an undesired object, the eyelids contract (Kuncita). And, so on.

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Eyes- Eyebrows (Bhru)

The gestures of the eye-brows (Bhru) are described in Verses 116-125 of Chapter Eight. Its movements are to be harmonized with those of the eye-balls (Tara) and eyelids (Puta).

The artistic movements of the eyebrows are said to be seven in number: Utksepa (rising simultaneously or one after another); Patana (lowering simultaneously or one after another); Bhrukuti (knitting); Catura (clever, extending in a pleasing manner), Kuncita (contracting, bending one by one or together); Recita (rising one in an amorous way); and, Sahaja (natural).  

utkepa pātanaścaiva bhrukuī catura bhruvo 119kuñcita recita caiva sahaja ceti saptadhā NS.8.120

As regards the use or the application of the eyebrow movements (verses 121-125), it is said: Utksepa (rising) is used to show anger, deliberation, passion, playfulness. While in seeing and hearing only one eyebrow is raised; but, in surprise, joy and violent anger both the eyebrows are raised up. Patana is for show of envy, disgust etc. And, Catura is for display of love; and, to indicate playful mood, pleasing object or pleasing touch. And so on.

Bharata Natyam.33jpg

Nose (Nasa), cheeks (Ganda), lower lips (Adhara) and chin (Cibuka)

That is followed by descriptions of

:- Six types of gestures of the nose (Nasa) or nostrils  and its uses, viniyojanam : Nata; Manda; Vikrta;Suchavas; Vikunita; and, Svabhaviki (verses 126-132);

:- Six kinds of cheeks (Ganda) and its uses :  Kamsa (dropping); Pulla (blown); Purna (full); Kampita (trembling); Kunchitaka (contracted); Sama or Prakata (natural) – (verses 127-132) ;

:- Six kinds of gestures of the lower lips (Adhara) and their uses : Vivartana (narrowing); Kampa (quavering); Visarga (protruding); Vighuna (concealing); Samugda (contracting) and Svabhavaja (natural movement)- (verses 137-142); and,

:- Seven kinds of gestures of the chin (Cibuka)- with combined actions of the teeth, lips and the tongue –  and its uses : Kuttam (biting with force); Khandana (pressing together); Chinna (lower and upper row of teeth meeting closely); Cukkita (opening wide);  and Samata (wide) – (verses 143-149).

These gestures are then talked about in relation to the teeth, the lips and the tongue.

[Natyashastra does not describe; and, it does not even mention the movements of the tongue – Jihva.  However in dance and also dance-drama traditions in depiction of Lord Narasimha, the tongue is often stuck out by the dancer.

Similarly, the Natyashastra doesn’t also analyze movements of the knee (janu), the anklets (gulpha) and the toes of the feet, which is done by other texts ]

 

Bharata Natyam.22jpg

 

Mouth (Mukha)

The movements of the mouth (Mukha) are also enumerated in verses 149 to 157 of Chapter Eight. In verses 157 to 165, four types of the colours of the face (Mukha-raga) are mentioned. These are the natural (Svabhavika); bright and delightful (Prasanna); reddish (Raktha); and, dark (Shyama).

Svābhāvika prasannaś ca rakta śyāmo artha saśraya svābhāvikastu kartavya svabhāvā-abhinayāśraya  NS.8.163

The natural colour indicate ordinary state; the bright face is indicative of love, joy, wonder and laughter; the reddish face may indicate an intoxicated state or grieving in sorrow; and. The dark face is for representing terrible (Bhayanaka) and odious (Bhibhatsa) Rasas.

The colours of the face deemed suitable for representation of corresponding Bhavas and Rasas, should go with every gestures of the eye (glance), the eyebrow and the mouth.  All these together project the requisite Bhava, to properly evoke its associated Rasa.

**

Neck (Griva)

And, that is followed by the descriptions of nine types of neck (Griva) movements and their uses (verses 166 to 173). These are : Sama (natural , straight as  in meditation); Nata ( face bent down, as while wearing an ornament or putting arms around another neck); Unnata (neck turned high, looking up) Tryasra (neck turned sideways , as while lifting a weight); Recita (shaking of neck , as while churning or in dance); Kunchita (head bent down , as in protecting ones neck); Vahita (face turned sideways , or turning the neck and looking behind); and, Vivrtta ( looking ahead , as while walking towards ones seat).

samā nato-unnatā tryasrā recitā kuñcitāñcitā 171 vahitā ca vivttā ca grīvā  nava vidhā rthata .. 172

These nine movements suggest posture that is suitable for the state of being (Bhava) of the character. For instance; Unnata neck position with the face up turned is used in looking up; the Tryasra position has neck with the face turned sideways; and, it suggests as if one is carrying a weight or is in sorrow. The neck gestures are also associated with the social status of the concerned persons.

The neck-movement is very important in Dance; because the movements of the head and the face pivot around it.

Gestures of the neck are all to follow the gestures of the head; and, the head gestures are also reflected in those of the neck. And, in this manner, Bharata enumerates and describes the gestures of the head and the connected minor limbs (upanga) and their uses.

Bharata says, he would discuss the other elements of Angikabhinaya in the next Chapter.

śirasa karmaa karma grīvāyā sampravartate ityetal lakaa prokta śīro-upāga samāśrayam agakarmāi śeāi gadato me nibodhata  ॥NS.8.179

dance pose444

We shall continue with the Angikabhinaya in the next part also, where we may take a look at the Hastha (hand gestures) and Sarira (the limbs; and, Kshetra (the entire body) including the Anga and Upanga.

Continued

In

Part Eight

 

References and Sources

  1. Movement and Mimesis: The Idea of Dance in the Sanskritic Tradition

 By Dr Mandakranta Bose

  1. Theory and Technique by Dr. Sunil Kothari

ALL PICTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS ARE FROM INTERNET

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Art, Natya

 

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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

natyashstra

Lakshana-granthas

Over the centuries, a considerable body of literature has been created detailing the theories, techniques, terminologies and practices of Dance in its various forms. In some of the texts of the later period, many technical terms and concepts that appeared in Natyashastra were redefined and provided an altogether fresh interpretation in the light of the contemporary cultural practices prevailing in the region. And, in many cases, the traditional dance formats were given a new form; and, infused with new techniques. Thus, Dance traditions in India, at each stage, were given a fresh lease of life, bringing into its movement a new vigor; and, rendering it relevant to its time. It is its enduring quality of moving on with the times, without compromising with its basic principles that has kept the classical dances of alive and thriving even to this day.

It could be said; the longevity of the traditional Dances of India is, to an extent, facilitated by these texts and manuals, which have, over a period, protected, guided and regulated the chaste practice and performance of the various dance forms in their classical formats; and, at the same time introduced new concepts and techniques.

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In most of these texts, the principal subject matter is either Drama (Natya) or Music (Samgita); and often, along with the main theme, Dance is also discussed as an allied form of Art. But, there are also some texts or manuals which are exclusively devoted to the study of Dance (Nrtta, Nrtya), its theories, its practices; and, more importantly to its performance techniques.

The texts of both the genre are of great importance; because they mark the stages in the evolution and development of this Art-form. They record the changes that took place in the flow of Indian Dance, in terms of theories, concepts and the varied influences – cultural, regional and foreign – that shaped its course.

An attempt is made to list some texts concerning Indian classical Dance in their chronological sequence.

Work Approximate

period

Author
Natyashastra 2/3rd BCE Bharata
Vishnudharmottata 5-6th century CE Purana?
Abhinavabharati 10-11th century Abhinavagupta
Dasarupaka 11th century Dhananjaya
Srngara-prakasa 11th century Raja Bhoja
Natya-darpana 12th century Ramachandra and

Gunachandra

Manasollasa 12th century King Somesvara
Nataka-lakshana-ratnakosa 12-13th century Sagaranandin
Bhava-prakasana Ca.13th century Saradatanaya
Sangita-samarasya Ca.13th century Parsvadeva
Sangita-ratnakara 13th century Sarangadeva
Nrtta-ratnavali 13th century Jaya Senapati
Abhinaya-Darpana Ca.13th century Nandikesvara
Sangita-makaranda 13-14th century Narada
Sahitya –darpana 14th century Visvanatha
Sangitopanisadsaroddara 14th century Sudhakalasa
Sangita-chandra 14-15th century Vipradasa
Sangita-damodara 15th century Subhankara
Hasta-muktavali 15th century Subhankara
Natyadhyaya 15th century Asokamalla
Nrtya-ratna-kosa 15th century Maharana Kumbha
Bharatarnava 16th century Nandikesvara
Nartananirnaya 16-17th century Pundarika Vitthala
Raskaumudi 17th century Srikantha
Sangita-darpana 17th century Damodara
Sangita-narayana 17th century Purushottama Misra
Sangita-makaranda 17th century Vedasuri
Siva-tattva-ratnakara 18th century Basavaraja
Sangita-sara-samgraha 19th century Ghana shyama dasa

(Source: Dr.Mandakranta Bose)

It is needless to mention that it is impossible, impractical and also far beyond my ken, to present here a systematic and detailed study of all the texts enumerated above. We may, at best, attempt to gain familiarity with few of those texts. We may briefly discuss their structure, particular features, their underlying principles and their relevance or contribution to the growth of Indian Dance systems. We may also get to know the concepts and techniques they developed in the context of their cultural and regional ethos.

The series, hopefully, might, at least to a limited extent, help in getting to know a bit about the textual traditions of Dancing in India; and, in understanding the concepts behind certain technical terms and some of its essential features.

Shiva tandava -Shri SRajam

  1. Natyashastra

As always, we may commence with the Natyashastra. In the previous posts, we have talked about the various aspects of its text, such as:  its history, its versions, and its importance as the source material for study of all the Art-forms of India.

Now, let’s focus on the theoretical and technical features of Dance, as described in the Natyashastra.

Of the thirty-seven Chapters in the Natyashastra; about twelve Chapters are related to Dance. Those are the Chapter numbers: 4, 5, 8-13, 19, 21, 22, 25 and 31.

[It is said that Natyashastra is structured in such a way as to answer the five questions raised by the sages.

In Chapter One, named as Natyotpatti, the sages Atreya and others request Bharata to explain the circumstances leading to the creation of Natya and Natyaveda; and its related issues. In that context , the sages frame five questions: (1) how was the Natyaveda created? (2) For whom it was meant? (3) What are the parts of it? (4) What is its extent; and , (5) how is it to be applied?

Please speak to us in detail about all these. 

yaveda katha utpannaḥ? Kasya vā kte? katyagaḥ? kipramāaśca?  and, Prayogaścāsya kīdśa?

Sarva-metad-ayathātattvam bhagavan-vaktumarhasi 5

But the answers to these questions are not given in an ordered sequence;  but , are  spread all over the text of Natyashastra. This is one of the many problems involved  in the study of Natyashastra.]

*

[It is also said; Bharata structures his work mainly based on four types of Abhinayas, the modes of theatrical expressions for conveying aesthetic pleasure (Rasa) to the cultured spectators (Sahrudaya).

These four are: Sattavika (conveyed by efforts of the mind); Angika (by natural movements of the body parts); Vachika (through speech); and, Aharya (costume, makeup and stage accessories).

Bharata attaches greater importance to Sattavika the first of the three modes; and discusses them, in detail, in Chapters Six and Seven.

The Angika-abhinaya, expressions through gestures and movements of body-parts, comes next. And, this is dealt in Chapters Eight to Thirteen.

The Vachika, expressions through speech is taken up next in Chapters Fourteen to Twenty.

And, then comes Aharya – the dress, makeup and scenic appliances; along with the music from the wings to enhance the effect of the scenes. This is done in Chapter Twenty-one.]

*

To this four-fold division of the subject of Abhinayas , are added the Chapters narrating the origin and greatness of the theatrics; the forms of the stage; the rules for their construction; and, the related auspicious rituals for inauguration etc.

Before all this, in the initial Chapters – the Fourth and the Fifth Chapters, Bharata details the Purvaranga preliminaries; the dances and rituals to be conducted before the commencement of the play. These specify the music and dance that are to be played to please the gods; and, to pray for the successful staging and completion of the play.

While detailing the Purvaranga, Bharata describes the two kinds of NrttasTandava and Sukumara prayoga – to be performed therein. And, thereafter, he speaks of the basic units of composite movements (Karanas) ; oscillating limb movements (Recakas); and, the choreographic sequences (Angaharas) composed by the combination of those dance elements. The Fifth Chapter gives details about these preliminaries.

The Chapter that come towards the end – Chapters 35 and 36,   are supplementary; and, these deal with matters such as the qualifications and conduct of the actors and actresses on the stage.

*

Thus, when you take an overview, you will find that excluding preliminary (4 and 5) and supplementary Chapters (35 and 36), the subject of theatrics is actually dealt in 29 chapters (from Chapter Six to Thirty-four). ]

**

Now , as regards the Chapter-wise outline :

The Fourth Chapter Tandava-lakshanam ,in its 320 Slokas, is, mainly, about the rules of Dance (Tandava-vidhi). It starts with a narration about the first play written by Brahma and its enactment.

Then the focus shifts to Nrtta, the pure dance form that delights the eye; but, not intent on conveying a meaning. Here, it goes on to describe two kinds of Nrttas – Tandava and Sukumara – performed during the preliminaries (Purvaranga). And, thereafter, speaks of the basic units of composite movements (Karanas); oscillating limb movements (Recakas); and, the choreographic sequences (Angaharas) composed by the combination of those dance elements. But, it is not clear how these movements were combined and utilized.

In addition, it describes group dances (Pindi).

Apart from defining the Karanas, Angaharas, Recakas and Pindibandhas, the Chapter Four gives the descriptions of 108 types of Karanas (verses 62 to 169) ; 32 types of Angaharas (verses 170-245) and the names of the Pindis associated with various gods and goddesses (verses 257-263).

In this chapter Bharata details five concepts – Nrtta, Tandava, Sukumara-prayoga, Pindlbandha and Abhinaya – that are fundamental to the Art of dancing. Therefore, Chapter Four is of great importance to the theory and practice  of Dance.

*

The Fifth Chapter of the Natyashastra (in 134 Slokas) continues the discussion of the components of the preliminaries (Purvaranga). Here, it is with particular reference to the details of the sequences (Purva Ranga vidhana)to be followed during the performance of the Purvaranga ceremonies (verses 8-30).

*

The Chapters 8 to 12 are essential to understand the nature of the Nrtta, its elements as also of the movements of the major and minor limbs (Angas and the Upangas). Bharata explains how the different movements are combined into composite movements known as Caris, Mandalas, and Sthanas, which , in turn , are combined to form  Karanas, which again are put together to create Angaharas.

The Eighth Chapter is devoted to the movements of the head, eyelids, eyebrows, pupils, the nose, cheeks, lips, the chin, the mouth and the neck. All these are said to be the components of Abhinaya, the art of illustrating the meaning of different things. The Abhinaya is of four kinds: Angika (gestures); Vachika (words); Aharya (costumes, makeup and supporting aids) ; and Sattvika ( emotional).

It goes into enormous details of the Angika Abhinaya , under its three broad categories : limbs (Sarira); face (Mukhaja) and the entire body (kshetra) including the six major limbs (Anga) – head, hands, chest, sides, waist and feet; and six minor limbs (Upanga) – eyes, eyebrows , nose, lower lip and chin. Further, under each of those sub-divisions it goes into exhaustive and meticulous details.

 The Ninth Chapter is given to the movements of the important elements of the hand gestures (hastha) and its uses (viniyoga) in the Abhinaya.  It its elaboration,in 283 Slokas,  a major portion of the text describes sixty-seven kinds of hand- gestures (Hastha) and their uses in Dance , Drama in various situations (verses 4 to 211); ten types of movements of arms (verses 212 to 213)

This Chapter also deals with the movements of other parts, such as: the chest, sides, belly, waist, thighs, shanks and the feet.  In the case of these other parts of the body, the movement of the particular part is described first ; and, it is followed by its viniyoga, which constitutes a part of the Abhinaya technique.

Both chapters – 8 and 9 – describe the use of these movements in conveying meaning (Artha). And, the hand-gestures meant for abstract dancing (Nrtta) and also for acting are described in great detail.

The Chapter Ten is in continuation of the previous Chapter. According one version, it is a short chapter having only 54 verses (the longer version has 103 verses) . The shorter version (see pages from 191 to 196) deals mainly with the movements of the chest, belly, waist, sides, thigh, shanks and feet; and, their applications in Dance and Drama (verses 1-51).  And, it ends with an introduction to Caris (verses 52 to 54)

The Chapter Eleven of the shorter version (from pages 197 to 206) is devoted to Cari, the most important single unit of movement in the Nrtta technique as enunciated by Bharata. The Caris are movements using one foot; and, are used both in Dance and Drama. Thirty two kinds of Caris are defined; of these sixteen are termed Bhaumi (ground) – verses 13 to 28; and, the other sixteen are called Akasiki (aerial) – verses 29 to 49.

The six types Sthanas or standing postures and their applications are described in verses 50 to 64.

In addition to describing these movements, Bharata speaks of the general principles of effective exercise, Vyayama, as well as aesthetic discipline of Sausthava (keeping different limbs in their proper position- verses 89 to 91) and Chaturasrya (square composition of the body posture, mainly in relation to the chest- verses 89 to 91).

In Chapter Twelve (see pages 207 to 212) Bharata then goes on to describe Mandalas, which are more complicated movements of the legs involving combinations of Caris. The Mandalas are, again, classified into two categories: Akasiki (aerial)-10 types (verses 6-41); and, Bhaumi (ground)- 8types (verses 42-68).

*

The Chapter 13 (see pages from 213-228) describes Gatis or gaits, suitable for different types of characters, such as the Kings and superior characters as also for middling characters. Walking styles for women of various classes are also described. The gaits suitable for each type of character in each of the Bhavas (sentiments) are described in verses 25 to 75. Similarly, the sitting postures (Sthana) for men and women of different types and classes, in their different moods are described in verses 195 to 220. And, the lying-down postures (Shayana) for different types of characters are described in verses 221 to 227.
*

The Chapter 19 (verses 119 to 135)  considers the constituents of Lasya, a dramatic form that is created from delicate body movements is common to both  the Dance and the Drama.

*

The Chapter 21  deals with Aharyabhinaya, that is, the use of costumes, stage properties and other external aids which are essential both to dance and drama.

This Chapter also discusses the distinction between the Lokadharmi and Natyadharmi modes of presentation, corresponding to natural and stylized modes.

*

In Chapter 22 , Bharata takes up the general technique of expression in acting, calling it Samanya-abhinaya (basic or general representation), and gives directions for expressing states of mind and responses to sensory experience, such as touching or smelling.

śiro hasta-kaī-vako-jagho-uru karaeu tu sama karmavibhāgo ya sāmānyā-abhinayastu sa 22.73

These movements are considered to be usually self-explanatory, so that although they are codified into a discipline, they are not seen as stylized, with special, symbolic meanings attached to them. The hand-gestures in this category, for instance, are formed with the purpose of imitating objects.

In that context; the physical, natural, involuntary graces in women, men, twelve forms of voice expression,  8 varieties of heroines in love (Astavidha Nayikas), general exclusions on the stage are also  discussed.

*

The Chapter 25, in contrast, describes the special (viśea) mode of Citra-abhinaya, in which each movement carries a particular meaning specific to it.

agā-abhinayasyaiva yo viśea kvacit kvacit anukta ucyate citra citrābhinayassmta 25.1

The four types of Abhinaya and its various elements and technique of Samanya-abhinaya (general representation), generally, indicate external objects (bahya) that are commonly seen. But, certain other objects, phenomenon in nature, feelings etc., need special techniques.

Bharata, therefore, says those other internal (abhyantara) more subtle or abstract elements in nature, inner feelings etc., need to be indicated by special (viśea) modes of representations Citra-abhinaya. The Chapter 25 gives detailed instructions how to represent through gestures the nature and its various elements such as : day, night, air , sun, moon, stars , lightning,  shooting stars, seasons, dust, smoke, hot wind etc. There are also indications how to represent through gestures, the audible and visible objects, sharp objects, ornaments, flowers etc. Instructions are also given how to express emotions such as: happiness, deep and exalted feelings etc., as to indicate the states of mind and responses to sensory experience, such as touching or smelling. The hand-gestures (hastha) in the category of Citra, for instance, are formed with the purpose of simulating the objects or feelings.

For instance; Bharata mentions that to indicate morning and evening; day and night; seasons; extreme darkness; wide expanse of water; directions; planets; stars; and anything that is not fixed ; one can employ the following gestures : two hands raised with Pathaka and Swastika gestures; Urdhva head – looking upward with various eye movements that are appropriate to the context.

uttānau tu karau ktvā svastikau pārśva-sasthitau udvāhitena śirasā tathā urdhva-nirīkaāt 25.2

prabhāta gagana rātri pradoa divasa tathā tūn ghanān vanāntāśca vistīrāśca jalāśayān 25.3 diśo grahān sanakatrān kiñcit svastha ca yadbhavet tasya tva abhinaya kāryo nānā dṛṣṭi samanvita 25.4

*

The Chapter 35 is partly on Taala, or rhythm, but it also touches the subject of Lasya, describing the movements and the music that are required for each of its several varieties.

design2

One of the problems in the study of the Natyashastra is that the subjects therein are not arranged systematically as per an order; but, are scattered. For instance; to understand and get a clear picture of the nature of Nrtta, which is introduced in Chapter 4, we have to go further and refer to Chapters 8 and 9 which analyse the movements of major and minor limbs; and, thereafter refer to Chapters 12, 13 and 4 for gaining an understanding of the scheme of combining the primary movements such as Cari, Mandala, Karana, Angahara etc.

Similarly, Karanas are introduced in Chapter 4; and, Caris in chapter 10.  We have study the Chapters 9, 10 and 11, together, in order to understand the concept and execution of the Karanas.

pindi1

A note on Pindibandhas

The Pindibandhas, group formations and group dances are discussed in Chapter Four. According to Bharata, the Tandava Nrtta, during Purvaranga, iperformed to accompaniment of appropriate songs and drums. And, it is composed of RecakasAngaharas and the Pindibandhas – (Recakā-Agahārāśca-Piṇḍībandhā tatha -iva ca – NS. 4. 259-61).

The Pindibandhas are thus a form Nrtta, pure dance movements. According to Bharata, the Pindlbandhas were patterned after the dance (Nrtta) performed by Shiva along with his Ganas and disciples such as Nandi and Bhadramukha.

In the context of a play, the Pindlbandhas were performed during the preliminaries (Purvaranga); that is before the commencement of the play proper. Its object was to please the gods; and, to invoke their blessings. As regards the sequence of occurrence in the Purvaranga, the Pindibandhas followed soon after the exit of the dancer who performed the Pushpanjali (flower offering to gods), The Pindis are danced, by another set of women, to the accompaniment of songs and instrumental music –  anyāścā anukrameātha piṇḍī badhnanti yā striya– ॥ 279॥

The term Pindibandha is understood as weaving or forming clusters or groups. Thus, the Pindibandha is the technique of group formations; and, weaving patterns.  It is said; each variation of a cluster-formation (Pindi) was dedicated to and named after a god or a goddess, who was denoted by the weapons, vehicles, insignia or emblems associated with that deity; and, her/his glory was celebrated through the formation created by the dancers. For instance: Īśvara piṇḍī for Īśvara; Sihavāhinī for Caṇḍikā; Śikhī piṇḍī for Kumar and so on.

Bharata mentions four types of Pindibandhas that were performed during his time: Pindi (Gulma-lump-like formation); Latha (entwined creeper or net like formation, where dancers put their arms around each other); Srinkhalika (chain like formation by holding each other’s hands); and, Bhedyaka (where the dancers break away from the group and perform individual numbers).

Abhinavagupta describes it as ‘piṇḍī ādhāra agādi saghāta,’- a collection of all those basic elements which make a composite whole. It is called Pindibandha, because it draws in all other aspects; and, ties them together. He also states that Agahāras form the core of the Pindibandhas.

Abhinavagupta explains that in the Pindibandha, the  dancers coming together, can combine in two ways : as  Sajatiya , in which the two dancers would appear as two lotuses from a common stalk;  or as Vijatiya,  in which one dancer will remain in one pose like the swan and the other will be in a different pose to give the effect of lotus with stalk, held by the swan-lady. And, in the gulma-srnkhalika formation, three women would combine; and in the Latha, creeper like formation, four women would combine.

Bharata provides a list of various Pindis in verses 253-258 of Chapter Four. He states that in order to be able to create such auspicious diagrams/formations (citra), in an appropriate manner, the dancers need to undergo systematic training (śikāyogas tathā caiva prayoktavya prayoktbhi – NS.4.291)

bindi2

In the next Part we shall dwell on the Abhinaya and Angika-abhinaya, in particular, with the descriptions of its various elements such as: Mukhaja (parts of the face); Hastha (the hands, fingers); Pada (feet); Sarira (major limbs, arms, chest, waist, sides, thighs, shanks, etc); Sthana (standing, sitting and laying-down postures); and Gati ( gaits) so on.

pindi6

 

Continued

In

Part Seven

References and Sources

  1. Movement and Mimesis: The Idea of Dance in the Sanskritic Tradition

 By Dr Mandakranta Bose

  1. Theory and Technique by Dr. Sunil Kothari

ALL PICTURES ARE FROM INTERNET

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 11, 2018 in Art, Natya

 

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