1. Natyashastra –continued
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 (viśeṣaḥ) 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 ]
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 –
that 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.
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 pūrvaṃ dvijottamāḥ । laukikī nāṭyadharmī ca tayor vakṣyāmi lakṣaṇam ॥ 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).
svabhāvā-abhinayopetaṃ nānā-strī-puruṣā-śrayam । yadīdṛśaṃ bhaven-nāṭyaṃ lokadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 13.71॥ ati-vākya-kriyopetam-atisattvāti-bhāvakam । līlā-aṅgahārā-abhinayaṃ nāṭya-lakṣaṇa-lakṣitam ॥ 13. 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).
lalitai-raṅga-vinyāsai- stathotkṣi-ptapada-kramaiḥ । nṛtyate gamyate yacca nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 13.79॥
If the ordinary human joys and sorrows are represented by special or exaggerated gestures, it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13. 80).
yo’yaṃ svabhāvo lokasya sukha-duḥkha-kriyātmakaḥ । so’ṅgā -abhinayas-aṃyukto nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 13. 80॥
If an actor plays a female role or an actress dons a male role (asvastha-puruṣā), it is then Natyadharmi – (NS.13.74).
lokaprasiddhaṃ dravyantu yadā nāṭye prayujyate । mūrtimat sābhilāṣañca nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 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).
ya ekāṃ bhūmikāṃ kṛtvā kurvītaikāntare’ parām । kauśalyād-eka-katvādvā nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 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).
āsannoktantu yad vākyaṃ na śṛṇvanti parasparam । anuktaṃ śrūyate vākyaṃ nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 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).
śaila-yāna-vimānāni ca armavarm-āyudha-dhvajāḥ / mūrti-mantaḥ prayujyante nāṭyadharmī tu sā smṛtā ॥ 13. 76॥
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.
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 – sarveṣāmeva kāvyānāṃ-mātṛkā vṛttayaḥ smṛtāḥ (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).
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.
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.
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).
āṅgiko vācikaścaiva hy āhāryaḥ sāttvikastathā । jñeyastv abhinayo viprāḥ caturdhā parikalpitaḥ ॥NS.8. 9॥
Here, Āṅgika (आङ्गिक) – ‘physical representation’- consists of the use of various gestures and postures of which the Nātyaśhāstra 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
The Aṅgikābhinaya (आङ्गिकाभिनय), the illustrative expression through gestures, postures, movements of part of the body (anga, pratyanga 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 Aṅkura (‘sprout’-movements of the hand supplementing the main idea); and, the Nṛtta (dance movements, made up of Karaṇas and Aṅgahāras).
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 āṅgiko dyneyaḥ śārīro mukhajas tathā । tathā ceṣṭākṛta-ścaiva śākhā-aṅgo-upāṅga-saṃyutaḥ ॥ 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.]
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 (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.
śirasaḥ prathamaṃ karma gadato me nibodhat ॥8.16॥ ākampitaṃ kampitaṃ ca dhūtaṃ vidhuta meva ca । parivāhitam ādhūtam avadhūtaṃ 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 (ṛju-svabhāva-saṃsthānaṃ). These are to be used, according to their nature (svabhāvajam) in the popular practice’.
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- lakṣaṇam
Bharata enumerates the nature of as many as 36 types of glances (trayodaśa-vidhaṃ; dṛṣṭīnāmiha lakṣaṇam – NS.8 .39. The 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 karuṇā cādbhutā tathā । raudro vīrā ca bībhatsā vijñeyā rasadṛṣṭayaḥ ॥ NS.8. 40॥
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 dṛptā bhayānvitā । jugupsitā vismitā ca sthāyibhāveṣu dṛṣṭayaḥ ॥ 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 śaṅkitā caiva viṣaṇṇā 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)]
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.
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 bhramaṇaṃ valanaṃ gamanaṃ tryasraṃ pātanaṃ srastatā tathā । calanaṃ kampanaṃ jñeyaṃ praveśo’ntaḥpraveśanam ॥ 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.
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
[ 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.
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).
unmeṣaśca nimeṣaśca prasṛtaṃ kuñcitaṃ samam ॥ 111॥ vivartitaṃ sa sphuritaṃ pihitaṃ savitāḍitam ॥ 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.
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).
utkṣepaḥ pātanaścaiva bhrukuṭī caturaṃ bhruvoḥ ॥119॥ kuñcitaṃ recitaṃ caiva sahajaṃ 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.
Nose (Nasa), cheeks (Ganda), lower lips (Adhara) and chin (Cibukaṃ)
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 (Cibukaṃ)- 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 ]
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).
Svābhāvikaḥ prasannaś ca raktaḥ śyāmo artha saṃśrayaḥ । svābhāvikastu kartavyaḥ svabhāvā-abhinayāśrayaḥ ॥ 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.
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 vivṛttā ca grīvā nava vidhā rthataḥ ..॥ 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.
śirasaḥ karmaṇaḥ karma grīvāyāḥ sampravartate । ityetal lakṣaṇaṃ proktaṃ śīrṣo-upāṅga samāśrayam । aṅgakarmāṇi śeṣāṇi gadato me nibodhata ॥NS.8.179॥
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.
References and Sources
By Dr Mandakranta Bose
- Theory and Technique by Dr. Sunil Kothari
ALL PICTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS ARE FROM INTERNET