Bharatanatyam And Yoga Part-3


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




Mudras are found in both Yoga and dance and while they are used for communicating externally in dance there are used for internal communication in Yoga. In dance, the way a Hastha Mudra is held, is divided into 12 Prana Lakshanas or 12 different ways of holding a hand.

1.         Prakarana Hastha – The fingers are stretched

2.         Kunchita Hastha  – The fingers are folded

3.         Rechita Hastha  – The fingers are given movement

4.         Punchita Hastha  – The fingers are folded or moved or stretched

5.         Apaveshtita Hastha  – The fingers are bent down

6.         Prerita Hastha  – The fingers are bent back or moved or stretched

7.         Udveshtita Hastha  – Holding the hands UP while dancing

8.         Vyavrutta Hastha  – Hands help UP in the sides

9.         Parivrutta Hastha  – Hands are brought together from sides

10.       Sanketa Hastha  – Hands used to convey Implied Meanings

11.       Chinha Hastha  – While dancing a dancer tries to show lot of things which are visible and invisible like a person’s physical appearance, face, weapons, places of limbs and other parts of the body, his/her influence on others, their mannerisms etc. Hands used to show such things are called Chinhe

12.       Padarthateeke – Hands used to confirm the meanings of certain words


The Hastha Mudras or hand gestures of Bharatanatyam  are a very highly developed aspect of the art and are a science of communication with the Divine. They are used for a variety of reasons such as to mime the meaning of the song, convey deeper feelings, bring out inherent qualities, invoke the myriad forms of the Divine as in Navagraha and Dashavathara Hasthas or in some cases they may be simple aesthetic ornamentation. Some have very limited meanings, and some are used as catch-alls for miming a variety of ideas.

The Natya Shastra lists numerous Mudras along with their meanings. Many others have been developed in the time since, whose histories are harder to trace. In the cases where an idea is being conveyed, it is more important to communicate clearly with hand gestures – adapting them if necessary – than it is to perform them with rigid correctness.

Hand gestures of Bharatanatyam  are classified as

ASAMYUTHA HASTHA  – Single hand gestures

SAMYUTHA HASTHA  – Double hand gestures

There are 28 Asamyutha Hasthas and 24 Samyutha Hasthas. Each Hastha has a defined usage called Viniyoga. These Viniyogas are again Sanskrit Shlokas codified in the Natyashastra.



Pataka Tripatakordhapataka Kartareemukhaha
Mayurakyordhachandrashcha Arala Shukatundakaha
Mushtishta Shikarakyashcha Kapitha Katakamukhaha
Suchee Chandrakala Padmakosham Sarpashirastata
Mrugasheersha Simhamukho Langulasolapadmakaha
Chaturo Bramarashchiva Hamsasyo Hamsapakshakaha
Samdamsho Mukulashchiva Tamrachooda Trishoolakaha

Ashtavimshatihastha Naam Evam Naamaanivikramat.


Anjalishcha Kapotashcha Karkata Swastikastatha
Dolahastha  Pushpaputaha Utsanga Shivalingakaha
Katakavardhanashchiva Kartaree Swatikastata
Shakata Shankha Chakrecha Samputa Pasha Keelakau
Matsya Koorma Varahashcha Garudonagabandakaha
Khatwa Bherundakakhyashcha Avahitastathivacha
Chaturvimshatisankhyakaha Samyuta Katithakaraha

Different schools and styles of dance use different hand gestures and different terms for the same hand gestures. Most have a fairly similar set of terms that largely overlap with this list, but many may be different in the details. It is largely a case of individual style, and the important thing is to communicate the ideas clearly.

Next Episode of this will be published on: 7th July 2008


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