Bharatanatyam And Yoga Part-2

This article is contributed by Mallika Jayanti. The source of the above article is:




Bharatanatyam  is a seamless blend of Nritta (rhythmic elements), Nritya (combination of rhythm with expression) and Natya (dramatic element).

Nritta is the rhythmic movement of the body in dance. It does not express any emotion. Nritya is usually expressed through the eyes, hands and facial movements. Nritya combined with Nritta makes up the usual dance programs. Nritya comprises Abhinaya, depicting Rasa (sentimental) and Bhava (mood).

To appreciate Natya or dance drama, one has to understand and appreciate Indian legends. Most Indian dances take their themes from India’s rich mythology and folk legends. Hindu Gods and Goddesses like Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha are all depicted in classical Indian dances.

Classical dance is a combination of Bhava, Raga and Tala (mood, melody and rhythm). The Gati or gait is stylized for each classical dance form. The Gati is also called Chaal in Kathak, Chali in Odissi and Nadai in Bharatanatyam .



Abhinaya is the rhythmic expression of moods, emotions and a narrative through the use of Mudra (hand gestures), Bhanga (postures of the body) and Rasa (facial expressions). Abhinaya has been vividly described in Abhinaya Darpana, a medieval work on histrionics that was codified by Nandikeswara.

“Abhinaya” literally means the “representation or exposition of a certain theme”. The basic root meaning is from the Sanskrit “Abhi” which means “to or towards” – with the root “Ni” – “to lead”. Abhinaya thus means, “to lead (the audience and performer) towards a particular state of being or feeling.” “Abhinaya ” has four aspects namely: Aangika, Vachika, Aahaarya and Saathvika. Aangika is the language of expression through the medium of the body (Sharira), the face (Mukha) and movement (Cheshta). Vachika Abhinaya is the expression through words, literature and drama; Aahaarya, the expression through decoration such as make-up, jewellery and costumes; Saathvika, the expression through acting out and manifesting the different state of the mind and feelings.

Lord Shiva is praised as the embodiment of the above four types of Abhinaya in this following Shloka that is recited by all dancers in the initial part of their training in an effort to make them realise the divine nature of this art form.


(We bow to Him the benevolent One, Whose limbs are the world,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language, Whose costume is the moon and the stars.)



The ideal postures of the body are depicted in the Shilpa Shastra and there are four types of Bhangas (postures), the deviations of the body from the central erect position. These four Bhangas are: Abhanga, Samabhanga, Atibhanga and Tribhanga. Abhanga signifies “off-center”, an iconographic term for a slightly askew standing position. Samabhanga is the equal distribution of the body limbs on a central line, whether standing or sitting. Atibhanga is the great bend with the torso diagonally inclined and the knees bent. Tribhanga is the triple bend with one hip raised, the torso curved to the opposite side and the head tilted at an angle.

Note: Next Episode will be published on 30th June 2008


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