Who Killed Manavi Cheykona raada?

17/06/2008
Bharatanatyam is a fantastic and a spectacular dance form. I say this with a reason. Imagine one dance form, that was performed facing the Idol in a temple, with curtains on, rarely seen by the audience outside, and if they get lucky to catch a glimpse, its only the back of the dancer they see. From here, to being one of the most popular classical dance forms of the world, performed in every corner, on every big and small stages is quite a journey.
Bharatanatyam as any art form welcomed variations and experiments with open arm. This might be the reason for both its popularity and being most criticised dance form. Either ways, this definitely is the reason why so many ‘styles’ in bharatanatyam came up.

 

 

Some say “there are as many styles of bharatanatyam as there are dancers”. But for classification purposes there are only four : Tanjavoor, Pandanallur, Vazhuvoor and Kalakshetra. Whilst I cannot make out much difference between Tanjavoor and Pandanallur, I can mostly make out Vazhuvoor and can definitely make out Kalaskhetra.

No matter what the style be, the music and the kind of compositions that are used to dance are the same. Coming to talk of compositions, some are written for bharatanatyam and some are adapted. How beautiful is the adaptation is again a hugely debatable topic. There are several popular compositions that were written decades back, but still are very popular and are performed even today by dancers of all styles of bharatanatyam. Sometimes a composition is often and frequently performed by dancers of one particular style and that becomes a kind of flagship dance piece that is usually identified with that particular style of bharatanatyam.

For eg: The varnam : Manavi chekona raada, in raaga Shankarabharanam, Adi tala.

This dance piece is performed so often and frequently by the students of kalakshetra style of bharatantyam that it became a flagship dance piece of kalakshetra style and is identified with it.

Over years I have seen many dancers of all styles perform this dance piece. Much to my disappointment, not a single dancer could stir any emotion in me, let alone the bhava working its magic. I don’t want to be partial to any style here. However, completely ignoring or cutting down on the essential elements that communicate the ‘rasa’, fails to achieve the goal. Yes I agree that every performance cannot be a soul-stirring experience. Much depends on the rasika too. Even the natyashastra/abhinaya darpana say that. But atleast there should be a sincere effort to try make each performance, an experience that it is meant to deliver.

While performing to a composition, a dancer should help the composition, what it set to achieve, thereby realising her own goal of executing it. Particularly in this case, I have been a witness of mere various physical interpretations of the verse, than emotional. Let me explain. It is like how many different ‘sancharis’ one does while the line repeats. There is nothing wrong with that, but yes, there is, when its done mechanically.

I was watching a very popular dancer(not a kalakshetra style dancer) execute this dance piece on a DVD. Why did I use the word execute? Well, that’s what she did, execute and not perform. Her beauty, her perfect body, aramandi and perfect execution of foot work shadows her absolute lack of abhinaya in this varnam.This not just a case with her, but with almost all of the dancers, I saw performing this varnam. Especially in the recent times. I am as much of a traditionalist as anyone when it comes to technical perfection in terms of aramandi etc, but where is the bhava? I ask. Where is the sringara, the tease, the blushing, the absolute openness on how the felling of love is tormenting? Yes the story is told in the sancharis, but without an iota of feeling- at least that is what the rasika feels. It is as beautiful as reading out a melodious song.

Is this a case of a chewing gum that lost its flavor due to over chewing? or is it just that one style is very restrictive or is it the dancer’s incompetence? Whatever the reason, one of the most popular varnam has been mercilessly and collectively killed. I am yet to see one dancer perform this varnam that can keep me glued.

However tempted I am here to provide links and mention names, but I refrain for one reason that classical dancing is not a bread-earner in India. Yet so many people, small, young and old, religiously study it and practice it and pass it on generation to generation. They do it for the love the have for the dance, and not with an ego of being a great dancer themselves. The above was not about them, but was about those 1% of flag bearing professional talented dancers(and those that like to think and display themselves as exceptionally talented dancers) that influence these rest 99%.

Whatever it is, this is not a singular case. Another composition that came to light in similar conditions is “Bho Shambho”. One dancer I met in a dance festival recently claimed that she has choreographed it herself and went on to do the worst duplication of the most viewed video on youtube.

Does a little use of breasts, glances, lips, eyebrows, shoulders hurt so much to communicate the bhava and rasa?

Response from a dear friend and an ardent rasika : I just read the post.. its not the case just with manavi.. so many varnams have been killed.. specially mohamana and kamas which have more of explicit lyrics… Vazhuvoor le its done with more of oomph!

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Bhartanatyam And Yoga Part-9

17/06/2008

BENEFITS OF DANCE FOR YOGA SADHAKAS

A true Yogi is neither an introvert nor an extrovert. He or she is an ambivert, a person who is equally at home irrespective of whether he is introspecting within himself or whether he is interacting vibrantly with the external environment. Therefore to make sure that the natural introversion of Yoga is balanced with healthy extroversion, some form of extroverted activity such as sports, music or art and craft skill need to be deliberately cultivated.

Dance provides a dynamic activity to offset the static activity of Yoga and many modern Yoga practitioners can benefit from such an associations.

Dance also provides a great source for emotional catharsis and this can help the Yoga Sadhaka to get over many of the emotional hang-ups that continue to bother them in his or her Sadhana.

MUDRA ACCORDING TO YOGAMAHARISHI

DR SWAMI GITANANDA GIRI GURU MAHARAJ

Pujya Swamiji, Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, the codifier of the Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga Paramparai was a world-renowned expert on Classical Yoga and his knowledge of the Yogic science of Mudra was unsurpassed. Here we present an extract from his book MUDRAS published by Satya Press, Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry.

 

THE NEURO – MECHANICS OF MUDRA:

The casual observer or the neophyte to Yoga may be easily led to believe that the beauty of the gesture, or the power of the esthete is that which evokes the Devatta, the Deva and the Devis, or that the entire procedure is entirely symbolical. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

There is a good basis for acceptance that the Mudra does control the mind-brain processes and the functions within the nervous system by uniting various nerve terminals of the sympathetic and para-sympathetic function. It is acceptable in neurology that the human nervous system is divided into aflex and reflex systems. The aflex carries afferent or sensory responses as well as efferent or motor responses. The reflex system is much like the grounding wire of any high voltage electrical system. A second function of the reflex system is that if feeds back to appropriate brain centres reflexogenic impulses that are associated with the modern concept of biofeedback. There are some 729 reflexes in the Yoga system. Modern Science has accepted some 222 of these reflexes. Mudra Yoga is a most exact science, emanating from our ancient Rishi Yoga culture.

In Yoga, the human body can be divided equally into ten distinct parts, five on each side of a median drawn directly through the centre of the body from the top of the head to the base of the spine and terminating in each of the digits of the toes and the fingers. The body can be further sub-divided into ten Pranic areas, where one of the five major Pranic flows governs the head and others the chest, the abdomen, the pelvis and the extremities. Five minor Pranas are more subtly at the work within specific nerve areas.

The true use of Pranayama is to control these ten flows of Prana Vayu and the Prana Vahaka or nerve impulses, which move in the Nadis or nerves of the Pancha Kosha, the Five Bodies of Man.

When the fingers of the hands are united together in the Hastha Mudra, the specific nerves (as in Jnana Mudra) are united together in a closed nerve circuit. The fingers not in use represent an open nerve circuit. If the hands are united together (as in Namaskara Mudra), then the cranial nerve circuits of the head and the upper part of the body in the Pneumo-gastric or Vagus system are united together. If the hands are brought into alignment on the face (as in Yoni Mudra) then the Vagus nerves and the facial nerves are brought together in a closed circuit.

If the hands are united with the feet (as in Yoga Mudra) then the Vagus system is close-circuited with the cerebrospinal nerves.

When a posture like Parva Asana, the Past Posture, is used, all of the nerve systems of the body are thrown into turbulent action. Parva Asana is used by the Yogi to see into his past existences, to remember past lives. It is also sometimes called Purva Janma Mudra or Parva Mudra.

The purpose of the Hatha Yoga Asanas is to bring together these same nerve terminals, uniting them uniquely in the various postures to produce the specific effect of that posture. This is one good reason that Asanas, Kriyas and Mudras must be done correctly, otherwise the posture is a meaningless gesture, rather than that as understood in the inner teachings of Yoga, a concrete method to achieve Union.       

 

MAJOR POINTS TO BE CONSIDERED IN MUDRAS ACCORDING TO YOGAMAHARISHI DR SWAMI GITANANDA GIRI GURU MAHARAJ

1. The Mudra is made complete by bringing together acupressure points at various sites on the human body. These Bindus are concerned with the pristine practice of Mudra. Yet, every Asana or Kriya is in some way a partial Mudra if these acupressure Bindus are brought into play. Particularly, this is to be noted in the practice of Hathaats, Hathenas, and the Hastikams in the Hatha Yoga system. This group of Asanas comes very close to being: Mudras.

2. The Mudra or gesture can act like a Kriya increasing or impeding circulation of the blood or lymph into various vital organs. Mudra can control every organ and function of the body and mind.

3. The Mudra moves energy through the physical nervous system of a bi-polar nature. This bi-polar nature is also inherent in the energy moving in the Pranamaya Kosha, the Vital Body. The Mudra helps to produce an electrical field around the Yogi, abundant in negative ions, producing a sense of well-being.

  4. The Mudra extracts energy and substances from the nerves and vital bodies producing the various enzymes and hormones needed for vibrant health.

5. The Mudra creates a uni-polar base of energy in the Kanda, the Conus Medullaris at the base of the spinal cord. This uni-polar energy is popularly called “Kundalini Shakti”.

6. The Mudra converts enzymes and hormones into Ojas, purified autocoids, and Tejas, super-enzymes. The Mudra accomplishes Urdhwa Retas or a transmutation of lower substances and drives producing a Satchidananada Deha, an indestructible Yogic body.

7. The Mudra arouses and controls the Kundalini Shakti. Kundalini arousal without Mudra is madness.

8. The Mudra is itself a vehicle of total Union or Yoga. To a pious Hindu Yogi, the Mudra is no longer a gesture of Union, but is Union itself. The devotee becomes Shiva, or Shakti. “Verily, the Mudra is the Devi, even the Supreme Adept Himself … Devi is Shakti, but the Mudra controls Her … so Mudra is also the Supreme Shakta”.

ART OF MUDRAS ACCORDING TO KALAIMAMANI

YOGACHARINI MEENAKSHI DEVI BHAVANANI

Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani is one of the few experts in the world who has the unique combination of more than 35 years of study, research and teaching experience in the fields of Yoga and Bharatanatyam . She is a member of numerous Central and State Government councils of Yoga and has trained thousands of dancers in the art of Natya Karanas. Here we reproduce an essay by her that is excerpted from her book, YOGA: ONE WOMAN’S VIEW, published by Satya Press, Pondicherry.

 

What are the means of communication, which are subtle, refined, and delicate beyond words? What means of communication exist which will not destroy the fragile relationship, the delicate emotion, the subtle thought? Even more important, how can the individual mind communicate with its own emotions, with its own body? Is there an intimate form of communication within the human structure itself? In India, a whole language grew up which was capable of expressing the subtlest spiritual truths, the most refined human emotions and thoughts without resorting to the gross vehicle of verbal communication, which alters any situation it expresses. That form of communication was called the Science of Mudra.

Broadly speaking, Mudra means a “gesture”. I can be a gesture of mind, (Manas Mudra); a gesture of the body (Kaya Mudra); a gesture of the hands (Hastha Mudra); a gesture of the feet (Pada Mudra); a gesture of the face (Mukha Mudra) or a gesture of the eyes (Chakshu Mudra).

Most humans unconsciously use “Mudras” constantly in their daily lives. They simply are unaware of it. Let us examine a few Mudras common to humanity throughout the world, “Mudras of the daily life”, so to speak.

“Body Talk” has become a popular cliché in “pop psychology” circles in the West. We unconsciously tell the world many things about ourselves, unconsciously communicate much of our real self to those around us; simply by the way we hold our body, our hands, our face, and our feet. The English expression “It was a gesture of good will,” indicates that we recognize that emotions can be “gestured”. Mentally we can “gesture” or “reach out” towards others with good thoughts or even bad ones, and this “gesture” has its power, depending upon the concentrative power of our mind at the time. This would be a Manas Mudra. We all know when we see someone with shoulders caved in that the person is dejected, or lacking confidence, just as we know that someone who walks with shoulders thrown back and straight and tall is filled with confidence. We know that someone who is constantly “fidgeting” or moving a body part unnecessarily is nervous and worried. These are all examples of unconscious “gestures” of the body, of Kaya Mudras.

Some common unconscious gestures of the hands (Hastha Mudras) include wringing of the hands when in great difficulty or trouble; showing the palm of the hand to another, a gesture asking the person to stop what he is doing; (this Mudra is used by traffic policemen all over the world); putting the hand into a first to show defiance and anger; gesturing the thumb up, with the remaining fingers closed into a list to show approval. (In the ancient days, the gladiators in the Roman Coliseums depended upon this signal from the emperor to spare their lives).

Gestures of the feet are not so common in the shoe-clad West, but everyone knows what it means if someone “kicks” their foot at them. In the East it is considered a gesture of great disrespect to sit with the legs crossed at the knees when in the presence of someone who should be shown respect. It is also considered disrespectful to sit with the feet outstretched toward anyone. In the East, because it is customary to sit on the floor, the people are accustomed to many different positions of the feet, which have many meanings. This is the Pada Mudra. We are all also aware of gestures of the face (Mukha Mudras). We all know what a smile is and what a frown is, and what a grimace of disgust looks like or a hateful look. These are all common facial Mudras. The Chakshu Mudras, those gestures of the eyes, are much more subtle. Certainly most lovers are experts in the Chakshu Mudra, sending glances of love, of disappointment, of anger, of sorrow etc. The unconscious use of the various Mudras to communicate basic emotions, feelings and ideas is common throughout the human family. It is only in India, however, that this human phenomenon has been observed, codified, structured and refined into both a science and an art.

Mudra was elevated to the position of a carefully thought out science of cause and effect in the ancient discipline of Yoga, and refined to an exquisite form of communication in the ancient art of Bharat Natyam. The Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga Systems of the ancient Hindus contain a wide repertoire of Pada Mudras, Hastha Mudras and Kaya Mudras. Although there are Chakshu Mudras and Mukha Mudras, their use is not so widespread as in, for example, the Bharat Natyam.

The Yogis in times past were fully aware of the flows of Prana or Vital Energy in the body, the effect of this Prana upon the human organism and its importance in al forms of life. The existence of Prana is a fact that even the greatest of modern scientists have yet to discover. Carl Sagan, well-known popularizer of scientific theories in the United States, recently stated that it appeared as though it was simply by chance adaptation to environmental conditions that the human body developed five fingers and five toes. The Yogi, who knows is own body inside out and its connection with the Universe, knows differently, and this is one of the basic principles as to why Mudras work as they do. The human has five fingers and five toes on each side of his body because he has five flows of Pranic energy, which terminate in each of the digits. There are five flows from head to foot on the right side, and five flows from head to foot on the left side. As well, there is a definite form of Prana circulating in the head, in the torso, in the stomach, in the pelvic area and in the extremities. These Pranic energies even have a name in Yogic terminology. Udana Prana circulates in the head; Prana Reflex in the chest; Samana in the digestive organs; Apana in the organs of elimination and Vyama in the organs of mobility (arms and legs). Bringing these various diverse flows of Pranic energy into closed circuits (“sealing” the energy flow) is one of the methods by which Mudra achieves its purpose.

Even the less sensitive human is fairly aware of the flow of energy off the hands and feet. This is why for ages immemorial holy men (men who had achieved some high level of energy within their human frame) have been able to “heal” by the “laying on of hands”. This also explains why we like to be touched by “high-energy”, positive people. They are transferring their surplus energy to us. It also explains why we shudder to be touched by negative, low energy people – they literally drain us of our energy. Normally we are losing energy through our hands and feet. It was discovered by the Yogis that joining hand to hand or hands to feet in various ways not only prevented that energy loss, but also helped build up the power of the nervous system, making it capable of handling the greater energy flows needed for (and produce by) “real” meditation. In Namaskar Mudra, for example (which, interestingly enough, is the hand position also used by Christians for prayer), the palm is placed against palm, and held against the region of the heart. In Yoga Mudra, the feet are crossed into Padma Asana, with right foot on left thigh, and left foot on right thigh, are palms of the hands placed on the soles of the feet. In many Yoga Asanas, the palms of the hands are placed into contact with the soles of the feet deliberately to create closed circuits.

Sometimes, various fingers are held together in particular positions, uniting one specific flow of Prana in a unique way with another, to produce a certain effect in the body. For example, a whole system of Mudras has been evolved which, when the fingers are held in a particular position, such as Chin Mudra, Chinmaya Mudra, Adhi Mudra and Brahma Mudra, the flow of air into specific areas of the low, mid, high and complete areas of the lungs respectively can be controlled. A Mudra used commonly for meditative and concentrative activities is the Jnana Mudra in which the tip of the thumb is united in a circle with the tip of the forefinger, and the other three fingers held rigidly straight the thumb represents the energy of the Atman (Universal Self; in physiological terms, the energy of the Central Nervous System or Sushumna Nadi) and the forefinger represents the energy of Jiva (individual self; in physiological terms, the right and left peripheral nerves or the Ida and Pingala Nadi). In Yogic parlance, the energies of the individual self are united to the energies of the Universal Self and the high meditative state is achieved. The Hastha Mudra is both a symbolic, as well as a causative factor in producing that which it symbolizes. It sets the stage, so to speak, and points the way. It is the conscious, evolving aspect of mind speaking indirectly through the Mudras to the physiological function of the body, gesturing to the body the direction along which body energies should flow.

There are many such Hastha Mudras, each having its own particular effect upon the body, emotions, mind, nervous system and Pranic flow within the human organism, each Mudra carrying its own subtle message of evolution. Also in the Hatha Yoga repertoire are numerous Pada together in various positions in order to affect energy flows. Sometimes the feet are used as the vehicle of pressure to apply this pressure at a certain sensitive point in the body, producing the desired effect on the energy system.

Some Kaya Mudra (Body Mudras) include Yoga Mudra and Maha Mudra, but the most important of the Kaya Mudras in the Hatha Yoga system are the six Mudras known also as the Shat Mudras or the Oli Mudras. By placing the body into six distinct positions, using breath control and Bandhas as well, endocrine glands of the body are stimulated indirectly. Through this complicated series of body Mudras, the Tejas or firepower of the body (sexual energy) is transmuted into Ojas, or mental energy. This is a good example of how the higher mind speaks to the body through the medium of the Mudra. If the mind tried to verbally instruct the body to transmit Tejas into Ojas, the feat would be impossible. By placing the body into particular positions, controlling the breath in a particular way and using Bandhas, the Mudras acts as the communicative link between the higher mind’s desire to create Ojas, and the body’s ability to follow its direction. Thus, the Mudra becomes a subtle means of true communication between mind and body, a concrete way in which in which the body can implement the evolutionary commands of the mind. It is the special language uniting mind and body.

Whereas Mudras in Yoga is used mainly by the Yogi to communicate spiritually within himself and with the Universal Self, the Mudra in Bharat Natyam is used by the artist to subtle communicate with her audience, creating a Rasa – a particular emotional state – or stimulating the perception of a spiritual truth or feeling directly, from soul to soul, without the cloying, degrading effect of verbal contact. The Mudra in Yoga is an intra-personal communication, where via hand, foot and body positions, the mind can communicate to the body via energy or Pranic flows, its evolutionary commands. The Mudra in Bharat Natyam, however, is much more an inter-personal communications, a direct communion between artist and audience. Subtle emotions, spiritual truths that cannot be conveyed verbally, can be expressed via the trained glance of the eye, face, the position of the hands, the feet or the body.

Many of the Bharat Natyam, Mudras are also to be found in Yoga, as they are deeply rooted in the natural physical reaction of the nervous system to certain emotions and states of mind. For example, in Bharat Natyam a closed fist with the thumb up is called Shikara Mudra and is used to symbolize manifestations of the Divine Power – Lord Shiva Lord Vishnu etc. We have seen how in common usage the erect thumb position symbolizes triumph, success, “lordship” (compare the popular expression “thumb up”). This corresponds well to Yogic thinking where the thumb symbolizes the energies of the Higher Self, in physiological terms, the Sushumna Nadi. The Namaskara Mudra which literally gestures the meaning, “I witness that Supreme Force as manifesting in you” is common to both Yoga and Bharat Natyam, as is the Anjali Mudra, in which the Namaskara Mudra is lifted high over the head in a gesture of great respect to the higher authority, which could be God, Guru or King. The Jnana Mudra, the Gesture of Meditation in Yoga, is used also in Bharat Natyam to show the meditative state.

An interesting example of a Mudra for the dance, which is deeply rooted in neurological truths, is the Mudra used to depict the Rakshasha or the demon. We noted in the case of the Jnana Mudra, the Mudras of Meditation or Wisdom, that the thumb, which represents the Higher Consciousness, is joined to the forefinger, which represents the individual self, and the three remaining fingers which represent the Tanmatras (the eighteen senses of man) are held tightly straight and together in a controlled position. This represents a man in a meditative state. In the Mudra representing a Rakshasha, the forefinger is held against the base of the thumb, with the thumb stretched out, indicating that the individual self willfully refuses to join itself to the Supreme Consciousness. The other three fingers representing all the senses are played apart widely, indicating that the senses of the Rakshasha are out of control. Neurologically, the hand position well represents a devil, a Rakshasha, a man who stubbornly refuses to submit his individual will to the Divine Will and whose senses are uncontrolled. This same kind of analysis could be applied to many other Mudras of the Bharat Natyam.

Another class of hand positions is more graphic and descriptive, and recreates salient features of the action / emotion / thought expressed by simulating the outstanding characteristics of the action. These Mudras are more obvious, such as those used to suggest carrying a pot of water, stringing flowers into a garland, closing and opening a door, eating butter and so on. The Kaya Mudras, holding the body in a defiant stance, an amorous stance, etc., play their part in communicating ideas and emotions as well.

The Pada Mudras reinforce the work of the Kaya Mudras. Chakshu and Mukha Mudras are the vital link between Hastha, Pada and Kaya Mudras and the Rasa to be created in the audience. The skilled, trained dancer learns to communicate with her eyes and subtle gestures of face, using facial muscles, eyebrows, eyelids and mouth to convey her point. The most exquisite communication is achieved without uttering a single word. Of course, elaborate instrumental and vocal music and the collective cultural consciousness of the audience is also drawn upon to achieve the total effect. When that magic of shared spiritual insight and awareness occurs, as it often does in a Bharat Natyam recital, it is amazing to think that so much has been shared, so many emotions, so many thoughts, so many experiences with nary a word uttered by the artist or audience. The purifying and uplifting process of that type of artistic communion must be experienced to be understood.

Through the science of Mudra, that rare moment of perfect and pure communion and oneness can achieved, whether uniting man with man in a high spiritual level of consciousness or uniting man with the Supreme Force in that fleeting moment of spiritual insight. The Mudra “gestures” the energy necessary and “seals” that otherwise intangible and illusive moment, fixing it for all time in our heart and nerves, bones and blood, mind and body, soul and thought – creating a solid foundation stones upon which to build a spectacular spiritual life.

The Mudra , that Divine gesture, “seals” into our very cells that , ‘Call to a Higher Life”, which can never again be denied!

 

 


Talam structure

17/06/2008

Talam in Sanskrit means ‘clap.’ Whilst you can get various meanings of ‘talam’ and definitions by doing a google on it, I will try to put across the simplest way to understand and remember the structure of talam. Please note that this is not exhaustive. To start with, one needs to be familiar with a few jargons related to talam. 

Talam has six angas or parts. These are namely: 
1) Anudhrutam 
2) Dhrutam 
3) Laghu 
4) Guru 
5) Plitham 
6) Kakapaadam 

We will now take the first three aspects or angas and try to understand them. 
1) Anudhrutam: It is represented by the symbol ‘U.’ It is a beat, and is physically counted as 1 unit/akshara. 

2) Dhrutam: It is represented by the symbol ‘O.’ It is a beat and a wave of the hand. This is counted as 2 units/akshara. 

3) Laghu: It is represented by the symbol ‘l.’ It is – one beat+ followed by counts of the fingers starting from the little finger.  

The counts of fingers are units called ‘aksharas.’ Laghu can be of five types. These are Jathis. 

Let us now understand the Jathi pattern. 
1) Tisra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 2 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger). This equals three units or three aksharas. 

2) Chatushra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 3 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger and middle finger). This equals four units or four aksharas. 

3) Khanda Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 4 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger and again little finger). This equals five units or five aksharas. 

4) Misra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 6 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger again little finger, ring finger and middle finger). This equals seven units or seven aksharas. 

5) Sankeerna Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 8 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger again little finger, ring finger middle finger, and again little finger and ring finger). This equals nine units or nine aksharas. 

Let us now see how a talam is structured. For this, we will study the seven basic talams, called the “Suladi Sapta Talams.”  

In Carnatic music, there are seven basic talams that are often used. They are called “Suladi Sapta Talams.” These are as follows: 
 

Tala  Description of Aavartanam  Default length of laghu / Jathi  Total Aksharas /Units 
Dhruva  1O11 (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1dhrutam (2units) +1laghu of 4 beats + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  14 
Matya  1O1 (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  10 
Rupaka  O1 (1dhrutam (2units) + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  6 
Jhampa  1UO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 anudhrutam (1unit) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  7 
Triputa  1OO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  8 
Ata  11OO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 laghu of 4 beats +1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  12 
Eka  1 (1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  4 

  
One complete talam cycle is called an “Aavartanam.” For eg. One aavartanam in Chatushra jathi Ata talam is 12 aksharams long. Likewise, one can calculate the number of aksharams in each aavartanam according to the talam and jathi. For instance, one aavaratanam in Misra jathi Jhampa talam will be 10 aksharams long. 

There are few places where you will see that the word ‘chaapu’ is used in place of ‘jathi.’  

Most popular Talams that are used in Bharatanatyam are: 
1) Adi Talam: It is nothing but Chatushra jathi Triputa Talam. It has 8 aksharams per aavartanam.  

2) Rupaka Talam: Though there are six aksharas, only three are rendered externally. One anudhrutam and one dhrutam. In Bharatanatyam the sollus are: thaka ta kita, where thaka is one beat and ta kita are two beats giving us 3 aksharas for Rupaka talam. 

3) Misrachapu Talam: Has 7 aksharas per avartanam. (Tisra jathi Triputa talam) In Bharatanatyam, the sollus are: tha ki ta tha ka dhi mi, found in most Shabdams. 

4) Khandachapu Talam: Five aksharas per aavartanam.  

Before we move to the other three parts or angas of a Talam, we need to understand the following:  
1) 1 krshyai – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by waving the hand towards left. 
2) 1 sarpini – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by waving the hand towards right. 
3) 1 pathakam – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by raising the hand vertically. 
4) Viramam – A single akshara part. 

Now, let us understand the other three angas/parts of Talam.  
1) 1 Guru – 1 beat and counting 7 fingers equaling to 8 aksharams 
2) 1 Plutham – 1 guru + 1 krshyai + 1 sarpini equaling to 12 aksharams 
3) 1 Kakapadam – 1 guru+ 1 krshyai + 1 sarpini + 1 pathakam equalling to 16 aksharams.  

(The symbols for all the above 3 angas are in the table discussed below.) 

We now know all the six parts/ angas of the Talams. These six angas are called the Shadangams of Talam. When we add the viramam to all the six angas, we get sixteen parts of Talam called Shodasangams. 

Below is a tabular representation.* 
 

Anga name  Symbol  Aksharakaalas  Movement 
Anudhrutam  U  1  beat with palm 
Dhrutam  0  2  beat with palm + turn (wave) 
Dhruta viramam  U0  3 (2 + 1)  dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Laghu  |  4 (or 3, 5, 7, 9)  beat + finger counts 
Laghu viramam  U|  5 (4 + 1)  laghu + anudhrutam 
Laghu dhrutam  0|  6 (4 + 2)  laghu + dhrutam 
Laghudhruta viramam  U0|  7 (4 + 2 + 1)  laghu + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Guru  8  8  wave to left and right or circle with thumb-up 
Guru viramam  U8  8 (8 + 1)  guru + anudhrutam 
Guru dhrutam  08  10 (8 + 2)  guru + dhrutam 
Gurudhruta viramam  U08  11 (8 + 2 + 1)  guru + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Plutham  |8  12 (8 + 4)  1 guru +1 kryshya + 1 sarpini – each of 4 aksharakalas  
Plutha viramam  U|8  13 (12 + 1)  plutam + anudhrutam 
Plutha dhrutam  0|8  14 (12 + 2)  plutam + dhrutam 
Plutha dhruta viramam  U0|8  15 (12 + 2 + 1)  plutam + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Kaakapaadam  +  16  1 guru +1 patakam + 1 kryshya + 1 sarpini – each of 4 aksharakalas 

(*Table from www.ajsriram.blogspot.com, with a few changes)  

One more important thing that affects the Talam is Nadai or gati. It means speed or pace at which a composition in rendered. It is the count which determines the duration of the aksharam, which is usually fixed but for a few exceptions. This count is called “maatraa.”  The default nadai is Chatusram. But the nadai can be one of 3, 4, 5, 7 or 9, and these are respectively called Tisra, Chatushra, Khanda, Misra and Sankeerna. This provides further variation to the talam. (www.tutorgig.com with a few changes).  

For eg. If we need to know the number of maatraas in a chatushra gati tisra jathi eka talam, it will be: 4*1 beat + 4*1 little finger count + 4*1 ring finger count equals 12 maatraas. 

Now take a look at the table below.* 
 

Tala  Jathi  Nadai  Aksharaas  Maatraas 
Dhruva   1O11  Tisra  1 beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  3+2+3+3  33  44  

55  

77  

99 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra    

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

14  4+2+4+4  42    

56  

70  

98  

126 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

17  5+2+5+5    51  

68  

85  

119  

153 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

23  7+2+7+7    69  

92  

115  

161  

207 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

29  9+2+9+9    87  

116  

145  

203  

261 

Matya   1O1  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+2+3  24  32  

40  

56  

72  

 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  4+2+4  30  40  

50  

70  

90 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  5+2+5    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

16  7+2+7    48  

64  

80  

112  

144 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

20  9+2+9    60  

80  

100  

140  

180 

  Rupaka  

O1 

  Tisra  

1beat +2 finger counts 

  Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

   

2+3 

  15  

20  

25  

35  

45 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+4  18  24  

30  

42  

54 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+5    21  

28  

35  

49  

63 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+7    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  2+9    33  

44  

55  

77  

99 

Jhampa  1UO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+1+2  18  24  

30  

42  

54 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 4+1+2  21  28  

35  

49  

54 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 5+1+2    24  

32  

40  

56  

72 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  7+1+2    30  

40  

50  

70  

90 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  9+1+2    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

Triputa  1OO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+2+2  21  28  

35  

49  

54 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 4+2+2  24  32  

40  

56  

72 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 5+2+2    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  7+2+2    33  

44  

55  

77  

99 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

13  9+2+2    39  

52  

65  

91  

117 

Ata  11OO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  3+3+2+2  30  40  

50  

70  

90 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  4+4+2+2    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

14  5+5+2+2    42  

56  

70  

98  

126 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

18  7+7+2+2    54  

72  

90  

126  

162 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

22  9+9+2+2    66  

88  

110  

154  

198 

Eka   Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

   12  

15  

21  

27 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    12  

16  

20  

28  

36 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    15  

20  

25  

35  

45 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    21  

28  

35  

49  

63 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

(* The above table format is similar to that in www.carnatica.com with few changes) 

*this article already appears on www.narthaki.com