# Theory of Straight Lines, Circles and Parallels

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There is an incredible relation between bharatanatyam and mathematics. Every movements in bharatanatyam uses the numbers 3 (Thishram), 4 (Chaturashram), 5 (Khandam), 7 (Mishram) and 9 (Sangeernam) in various permutations and combinations for any of the dance compositions. The postures are characterized by linear formations and circular patterns. Certain postures create a wonderful symmetry in the body as in geometry that adds to the beauty of the performance. So it’s very important to understand the straight line patterns, circular movements and about the symmetry formation. A technical excellence in all these aspects could be achieved with years of practice. A combination of good posture, balance, centering symmetry and the geometric correctness gives you ‘Angasudhi ‘. More importantly all these efforts to perfection should be unconsciously executed by the dancer to make the performance impressive.

# Bhangas (Postures)

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There is something most important which adds beauty to the bharatanatyam dance. These are nothing but the ideal postures. The ideal postures of the body are described in the Shilpa sastra and are called the Bhangas.

There are four types of bhangas:

• Abhanga
• Samabhanga
• Atibhanga
• Tribhanga

The basic theory of bharatanatyam assumes the entire body to be a mass which is equally divided along an imaginary line (Brahma sutra) that passes through the centre of the body. While dancing, at any stage of the dance if the body is perfectly balanced about the brahmasutra then the Samabhanga posture is attained. When there is slight imbalance about the brahmasutra then the Abhanga posture arises. Atibhanga is the great diagonal bend in the torso with knees bent. Tribhanga is the triple bend in the body with one hip raised, torso curved to the opposite side and the head tilted at an angle that gives a gentle S shape which is most graceful posture. It is believed that Lord Krishna adopted this posture while upholding the Govardhana Mountain (This story is mentioned in the Dasavatara Hastas/Krishna hasta).

# Abhinayam

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Abhinayam literally means “expression or communicating a message”. It takes its name from the Sanskrit words Abhi which means “to or towards” and Ni which means “to lead”. Abhinayam is thus having the meaning “to lead” (the performer and audience towards a state of being or feeling called the Satvika bhavam).

Aasyenaalambayeth Geetham
Chakshurbhyam Darshayeth Bhavam

Which means the dancer should sing with her mouth, express the meaning of the song by hand gestures, express with her eyes and dance to the rhythm with her feet.

There are four types of Abhinayam:
• Aangika Abhinaya
• Vachika Abhinaya
• Ahaarya Abhinaya and
• Saatvika Abhinaya
Aangika abhinaya is the expression with the help of the various body parts Angas, pratyangas and upangas. Vaachika Abhinaya is the language of expression through words and literature. Aaharya abhinaya is the expression through decorations like make up, costumes and jewellery. Saatvika abhinaya is the expression of the mental states and feelings. Lord Siva is praised as the embodiment of these four types of Abhinaya in the following sloka:
Aangikam Bhuvanam Yasya
Vaachikam Sarva vaangmayam
Tum Numa Saatvikam Sivam

which means “We bow to him the benevolent one wWhose limbs are the entire universe itself, His speech being the essence of all languages, His ornaments being the moon and the stars”.

The various bhedas (Shiro bheda, Greeva bheda, Drishti bheda etc) and the hasta mudras are the medias of Aangika abhinaya. Apart from these, the movements and gestures of the chest, hips, Sides and Feet are also ways of doing aangika abhinaya. The various postures of the chest are:

• Abhunga – Covered or caved in. In this the shoulders are drooped down, arms are loosely held and the back is naturally arched backward to show agitation, fear, sorrow, cold, rail falling etc.
• Nirbhunga – In this the breath is drawn in so that the chest expand and the back curves inward showing courage, speaking the truth, arrogance, overconfidence, affected indifference by women etc.
• Prakampita – In this the chest trembles due to repeated jumps.
• Udvahita – The position of the chest while taking deep breath, seeing long distance or yawning
• Sama – When all lims are held upright the position of chest is called Sama.

The various postures of the sides are:

• Nata
• Sammunnatha
• Prasaritha
• Vivartita
• Apasrta

The various postures of the hips are:

• Chinakati
• Nivrtta kati
• Recita kati
• Kaupita kati
• Valvokita kati

The various postures of the foot are:

• Udghathitha – standing on the toes
• Sama – feet placed together
• Agratalasanchara – all the toes except the big one are spread out and raise the heel
• Anchita – heel is kept on the ground and front part is lifted up
• Kunchita – heel is raised and toes are folded into the middle of the foot.
Sloka:
Udghathitham Samam chaiva Tathaa
Agratalasanchara anchita kunchitaschaiva

Nose (Quivering, flinched, drawn back breathing, distended and normal), cheeks (sunken, fully blown, puffed up, swallow, throbbing & normal), lips (Curled, quivering, extended sideways, compressed, biting & pouting) and chin movements also become part of the aangika abhinaya.

The aim of a Bharatanatyam dancer is to express the various kinds of human feelings through abhinaya. Anything that is beautiful or ugly, dreadful or pleasing, good or bad, object or non object, living or non living, celestial or non celestial could be transformed into Rasa by the imagination of the poet which in turn is replicated by the Bharatanatyam dancer.

In Natyasastra, Rasa is mentioned as something that can be relished (enjoyed) like the taste of food.

Rasayatae anena iti rasaha

Rasa is the essence of human feelings that evolve out from different mental states and situations. According to sage Bharata the author of Natyasastra, these principal human feelings are eight in number (Explained below). But Abhinavagupta made it clear that there is one common rasa that underlies all the other eight rasa from which all those rasas emanate and resolving back into it and he named it as the Shantha rasa. Shantha is a state where your mind is at rest or we can say that your mind is in a state of tranquility. Following this, the theory of nine rasas, the nava rasa became universally accepted.

The rasa is conveyed to the audience (rasika) through music and abinaya. The modes of expression of rasa are called the bhavas. Hence we can say that bhava is the portrayal of the emotions or rasa and they compliment each other.Rasa is the essence conveyed through bhava. It is therefore said that bhava is that which becomes. (bhoo bhav ie; to become). Bhava becomes rasa not the other way.

There are three states of these Rasas which are the Vibhava (the cause of the emotion), Anubhava (the effect of the emotion accompanied by words, gestures and facial expressions) and the Sanchari bhava (subordinate emotions).

The three categories of bhava are Sthayi Bhava, Vyabhikari Bhava (voluntary bhavas) and Sathvika Bhava. There are 8 sthayi bhavas, 33 vyabhikari bhavas and 8 sathvika bhavas. Thus we can end up in saying that there are altogether 49 bhavas which become the source of expression.

The 8 sthayi bhavas are the 8 rasas. The nineth Bhava which is the Shantham is incorporated by Abhinavagupta in his famous narration of the Natyashastra called Abninavabharati. Thus the mostly known primary emotions that come across in a bharatanatyam dance or any other dance are well known as the Nava Rasa (Nine emotions) or Sthayi Bhavas. They are the following:

• Shringaram – Love
• Hasyam – Humor
• Veeram – Heroism
• Rowdram – Anger
• Bhayanakam – Fearful
• Bheebhatsam – Disgusting
• Karunam – Compassion
• Shantham -peace

The 33 Vyabhikari bhavas are listed below:

• Nirveda – Poverty, disease, insult, humiliation, abuse, anger etc
• Gthani – Emptiness, illness, starvation, anxiety, intoxication, heavy exercise etc
• Shanka – Doubting, robbing, offending authorities like King, commiting sin etc
• Asooya – Jealous, hatred for good luck of others etc
• Shravana – Fatigue
• Aalasya – Laziness, depression
• Daivya – Restlessness
• Chintha – Anxiety
• Moha – Unconciousness, fainting
• Smrithi – Memory, remembering
• Dhrthi – Fortitude
• Vridha – Shame, confession of Guilt
• Kapulatha – Nervousness
• Harsha – Joy, Happiness
• Aavega – Excitement, agitation
• Garva – Pride, arrogance
• Vishada – Sorrow, regret, disappointment
• Autsukya – Uneasiness
• Nidra – Sleep
• Apasmara – Forgetfullness
• Supta – Asleep
• Vibodha – Awakening
• Amarsha – Intolerance, impatience
• Avahitham – Dissimulation, cover up real things
• Ugratha – Fierceness
• Mathi – Understanding, judgement
• Maranam – Death
• Vitharka – Argumentation

The 8 Sathvika bhavas are listed below:

• Sthamba – Stupefaction shown by standing still without any movements
• Sveda – Sweating shown by using a fan or wiping the sweat
• Romaanch – Goosebumps shown as if hair is on the end
• Swarabheda – Break in the voice shown by stuttering in different voices
• Vepathu – Trembling shown by quivering and shaking movements
• Vaivarnya – Paleness shown by pressure on the pulse
• Ashru – Tears shown by wiping the tears
• Pralaya – Swoon, death shown by collapsing on the ground

# Nataraja ; the Cosmic Dancer

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Nataraja is none other than the dancing Lord Siva (One of the Trinity Gods as per Hinduism). The name is derived from the Sanskrit words Natya meaning dance and raja meaning king and hence the name describes Himselves as the king or lord of dance.The Sanskrit word Natya itself is derived from Dravidian word Nadei which means to walk. It is a depiction of Lord Siva as a cosmic dancerwho performs his divine dance to destroy the weary universe and make preparation to restart the process of creation.

The header image of this blog is the idol of nataraja which shows one of the dance postures. It is a visual image of dancing Siva created by Indian artists and sculptures hundreds of years ago in a beautiful series of bronze.You can view a beautiful and stunning idol of Nataraja while you visit the Thousand Pillar Hall in the Meenakshi Amman Temple in TamilNadu. If you look at the image you can find the following:

• There are four hands for the dancing Siva. The upper right hand holds a Damaru (drum) which symbolizes the sound originating creation, a new awakening. The upper left hand holds Agni (fire), representing the destruction. Thus the hand holding the drum and the one holding the fire balance the force of creation and destruction.His other right hand shows Abhaya mudra bestowing protection from both evil and ignorance to those who follow the path of dharma (justice). The other left hand is pointed towards the raised left foot which has crushed demon Muyalak who represesents liberation from ignorance.
• The dwarf over which Lord Siva dances is the demon Apasmara which symbolizes the victory over ignorance.
• The surrounding flames represent the Universe
• The snake that is swirling around his waist is the Kundalini the divine force thought to be residing in every being in the Universe
• The half moon shown on the head is the symbolization of protection of the moon by Lord Siva because the fall of the moon causes cosmic destruction and that means the destruction of entire life.
• Surrounding the Siva is shown many aureole flames emanating from him depicting the value of wisdom and truth.
• As the Lord of dance, Nataraja performs the dance during when the Universe is created, maintained and destroyed. Siva’s long knotted hair usually piled up in a knot loosen during the dance and crash into heavenly bodies knocking them off and at times destrying them

The divine dance performed by Lord Siva is called the Tandavam which is considered as the source of cycle of creation, preservation and destruction. He does it with bliss as well as violence, the former being Ananda (blissful) Tandavam and the latter is called Rudra (Violent) Tandavam. When Sati (Lord Siva’s first wife jumped into the Agni Kunda (sacrificial fire) while her father Daksha’s Yagna, Lord Siva is said to have performed the Rudra Tandavam expressing his deep grief and anger.

Tandavam takes its name from the name of Lord Siva’s attendant, Tandu who instructed sage Bharata (author of Natyasastra) about the use of Angaharas and Karanas. There are 32 Angaharas and 108 Karanas described in the fourth chapter of Natyasastra.Karana is a combination of hand gestures with feet movement and ending up in a posture. Seven or more Karanas makes one Angahara.

Bharatanatyam has established seven types of Tandavam:
• Ananda Tandavam
• Tripura Tandavam
• Sandhya Tandavam
• Samhara Tandavam
• Kaali Tandavam
• Uma Tandavam
• Gauri Tandavam
To be continued….

# Nattuvangam & Nattuvannar

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If you notice the live orchestra group of a bharatanatyam concert, you would definitely find one person who sits and plays the simplest of the instrument among the rest of the ones. That instrument is a set of round plate like stuff held on both hands and the person shall be tapping it in different angles to represent the sound of the dancer’s feet when they make contact with the ground.This set of cymbals are called the Nattuvangum and the person who plays it is called the Nattuvannar. The most important person in the bharatanatyam orchestra group is unarguably a Nattuvannar. A well trained Nattuvannar reproduces the alternate hard and soft beats resulting in a synchronized pattern of the talam.He enhances the intricate foot works and energetic movements of the dancer.  Nattuvangam is used in classical and light music recitals as well but the one used for bharatanatyam is a heavier one. The one held on the right hand is made up of brass that makes a treble sound and the one held on the left hand is made up of iron that makes the bass sound. In ancient days, the nattuvangam was made out of panchaloham (pancha means five and loham means metal). The Nattuvannars believe that a heavier one maintains a steady tempo and they prefer that. But nowadays, because of the less demand and escalating costs they are made lighter. Also they were hand made in the earlier days and this practice is also not there as people started making in dies as technology improved

# Ten Qualities of a Bharatanatyam Dancer

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In ancient times a professional female dancer was called as Patra.

The Abhinayadharpana has a sloka that says

Javaha Sthiratwam Rekha cha
Bhramari Drishti Shramaha
Paathra praanaa Dasha Smruthaha

which are the ten essential qualities of a professional dancer.

1. Javaha – Agility

Ability to change the postures rapidly without losing the body balance

Ability to maintain the postures while dancing slow or fast

3. Rekhacha – graceful lines

The entire body is assumed to be a mass which is equally divisible along the central meridian. Every movement shall be done in such a way that the weight of the body is perfectly balanced to get the samabhangi or Tribhangi.

4. Bhramari – balance in circling movements

5. Drishtir – Glancing Eyes

Glancing eyes are very important in a dance performance. It is said where the hand goes, there should the eyes and when you do this your mind naturally gets involved & concentrated in the dance and thus the expression comes out involuntarily.

6. Shramaha – Hard work / Endurance

Not only in dance but in everything you do you need this endurance; the regular practice that builds in confidence, hope that pursue you to perfection.

7. Medha – Intelligence

Abhinayadharpana says that a female dancer should be clever, courteous in behavior, bold and free from indolence.

8. Shradha – Devotion & Concentration

Paying attention and staying focused is the most important factor as performing a dance involves the harmonious movements of the anga’s and the pratyanga’s and also the abhinaya.

Devotion to the art helps you seek in depth knowledge about the art and gets you to imbibe as much perfection as you could in performing this art.

9. Vacho – Good Speech

The dancer should have the ability of giving good and clear speech.

10. Geetam – Ability to Singing and understanding music

The dancer should be able to understand music and also should have the ability to sing inorder to have awareness of when to dance and when to stop and with the rhythm of the music.

A professional danseuse (patra), according to the Abhinaya Darpana, must possess the following qualities:
She has to be youthful, slender, beautiful, with large eyes, with well-rounded breasts, self-confident, witty, pleasing, well aware of when to dance and when to stop, able to follow the flow of songs and music, and to dance to the time (thalam), with splendid costumes and of a happy disposition

# Navagraha Hastas

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Nava means “Nine” and Graha means “Planet” and hence the navagraha hastas represent the nine planets in the mudras of bharatanatyam. According to the Hindu puranas the nine planets are Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Pluto and Neptune.
Soorya (Sun)
Hold the Alapadma hasta on your left hand held raised abve the head and the Kapitha hasta on your right hand held at centre of chest level.
This hasta is used to show Sun.
Chandra (Moon)
Hold the Alapadma hasta on your left hand held at chest level and Pataka hasta on your right hand held at chest level.
This hasta is used to show Moon
Khuja (Mars)
Hold the Suchi hasta on your left hand held at chest level and the Mushti hasta on your right hand held at chest level.
This hasta is used to show Mars.
Bhuda (Mercury)
Hold the Mushti hasta on your left hand held at chest level and the Pataka hasta on your right hand held chest level.
This hasta is used to show Mercury.
Guru (Jupiter)
Hold the Shikhara hasta on both your hands.
This hasta is used to show Jupiter.
Shukra (Venus)
Hold the Mushti hasta on both your hands at chest level.
This hasta is used to show Venus.
Shani (Saturn)
Hold the Shikhara Hasta on your left hand held at natyaramha level and Trishula hasta on your right hand held at natyarambha level.
This hasta is used to show Saturn.
Rahu (Pluto)
Hold the sarpashirshahasta on your left hand and the suchi hasta on your right hand both held at chest level.
This hasta is used to show Pluto.
Ketu (Neptune)
Hold the Suchi hasta on your left handand the Pataka Hasta on your right hand both held at chest level.
This hasta is used to show Neptune.

# Bhandu Hastas

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The relation ship between family members can also be expressed in the mudras of bharatanatyam. A few of them is described here:
Husband and Wife
Hold the Shikhara hasta on your left hand at the natyarambha level and the Mrigashirsha hasta on your right hand held at natyarambha level.
This hasta is used to show the husband and wife in bharatanatyam
Mother
Hold the Ardhachandra hasta on your left hand at the natyarambha level and the Mukula hasta to Alapadma Hasta on your right hand held at stomach level.
This hasta is used to show Mother.
Father
Hold the Mukula hasta to Alapadma Hasta on your left hand at the stomach level and the Shikara Hasta on your right hand held at natyarambha level.
This hasta is used to show Father.
Son
Hold the Shikara Hasta on your left hand at the natyarambha level and the Mukula hasta to Alapadma Hasta on your right hand held at stomach level.
This hasta is used to show Son.
Daughter
Hold the Mukula hasta to Alapadma Hasta hasta on your left hand at the stomach level and the Ardhachandra on your right hand held at natyarambha level.
This hasta is used to show Daughter.
Mother in-law
Hold the Ardhachandra hasta on your left hand at the natyarambha level and the Hamsasya hasta on your right hand held facing centre of the throat or Mukula hasta to Alapadma Hasta at the stomach level.
This hasta is used to show Mother in-law.
Father in-law
Hold the Hamsasya hasta on your left hand held facing centre of the throat and the Shikara Hasta on your right hand held at natyarambha level.
This hasta is used to show Father in-law.

# Dashavatara hastas

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Before going into the Dashavatara hastas, let me give you a short introduction for Hinduism, Puranas and Yugas.

Hinduism is a culture or tradition or rather a huge civilization that was evolved thousands of years back. Every aspects of life be it life style, mannerisms, education, medical science, trade, agriculture etc are well established within the horizon of this tradition. It is very complex but at the same time very well-organized and consistent. It is the most complex of all the present historical religions. The word Hindu had been derived from the Persians through the Sanskrit word Sindhu which was the historical local name of the Indus River in the north-western part of India. The merchants and traders who came from other parts of the world started referring to the people living beyond the Indus river by the Arabic word Hindu (Al hind). Eventually the word Hinduism was established by itself to represent the cultural, philosophical and religious traditions of these natives. Now, Hinduism is considered as one of the most common religion in India.

Puranas are the narratives of the history of the Universe from creation to destruction, pedigree or hierarchy of the glorious Kings, Sages, Gods, demigods  and also the description of the Hindu Cosmology, philosophy and geography.The most important of the puranas are the Mahapuranas which are eighteen in number that are divided into three groups of six each. They are the following:

Agni Purana (Details of vastushastra & gemology), Bhagavata Purana(Details of Lord Vishnu’s incarnations), Brahma Purana(Details of Godaveri & its tributaries), Brahmanda Purana(Details of Lalita sahasranamam), Brahmavaivarta Purana(Details of worshiping of devi, krishna & ganesha), Garuda Purana(Details of death and aftermaths), Harivamsa Purana(Details of itihasa), Kurma Purana(Details of), Linga Purana(Details of magnificence of lingam and the origin of universe), Markandeya Purana(Details of devimahatmyam), Matsya Purana (Details of matsya (fish)), Narada Purana(Details of Vedas and vedangas), Padma Purana(Details the greatness of bhagavatgita), Siva Purana (Details of Lord Siva), Skanda Purana(Details the birth of skanda, the karthikeya son of Lord Siva), Vamana Purana(Details of Kurukshetra), Varaha Purana(Details of the prayers and devotional observance of Lord Vishnu), Vayu Purana(same as Siva purana) and Vishnu Purana(Details of Lord Vishnu).

Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an epoch or an era within a four age cycle. To make it clearer, just like thefour seasons of a year Spring, autumn, winter and summer these for yugas involve gradual changes that the whole universe and the beings go through. Manusmriti also known as Manava dharma shastra (Manava means human, dharma means goodness and shastra means science) is the most important and earliest textual tradition of Hinduism. It presents itself as a discourse given by Manu (pro genitor of man kind) to a group of saints who all beseeched him to tell them the law of alla social sciences.According to the laws of Manu; the Chatur yugas (Chatur means four) follow a timeline ratio of 4:3:2:1 in the order of Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. The duration of each of these yugas in the same order is 4800 years of demi god years, 3600 years of demigod years, 2400 years of demigod years and 1200 years of demigod years. One demigod year is equal to 360years of human years. Hence the duration of Satya Yuga is 1,728,000years (4800 x 360), Treta Yuga will be 1,296,000years (3600 x 360), Dwapara Yuga will be 864,000 years (2400 x 360) and Kali Yuga (present era) will be 432,000 years (1200 x 360). One Manvantara is the life span of Manu which is equal to 71 chatur yugas. Fourteen manvantara’s makes one kalpa yuga which is 1 day of Lord Brahma. 2 kalpas makes a day and night of brahma. One Brahma varsha (year) is composed of 360 Brahma days.}. It is believed that we are in the seventh Manvantara now.

Lord Vishnu’s 4 incarnations befall in the Satya Yuga, 3 in Treta Yuga, 2 in Dwapara Yuga and 1 in Kali Yuga.

Now let’s go into the topic.

Bhagavata purana describes the ten incarnations (descenting of the Supreme Being into the earth in human and other forms) of Lord Vishnu. In short, Lord Vishnu incarnated in to the earth in nine different forms from time to time in different yugas to eradicate the evil forces to restore goodness and justice (dharma) and to liberate his worthy devotees from the cycles of death and birth and give them the ultimate moksha. The last (tenth one) is yet to arrive as per the Hinduism that will be the final incarnation of Lord Vishnu to appear at the end of the present era that is going on.He will be coming on a white horse and his sword will be drawn, blazing like a comet and will destroy all unrighteousness and evil at the end of Kali Yuga (the present era).

The ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are called the Dashavataras (Dasha means ten and avatar means the incarnation). In Bharatanatyam, using the hasta mudras we can show each of his incarnations and they are called the dashavatara hastas and are described below:

### Matsya  Hasta

Hold the Ardha Chandra hasta on both hands one above the other to form the matsya hasta.

This hasta is used to show the matsya avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story goes like this…..

### Khurma Hasta

Hold the Mrigashirsha hasta on both hands with right palm over the left one inside of the palm facing each other and hold palms tight forming the khurma hasta.

This hasta is used to show the Khurma avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of khurma avatara goes like this…..

The second avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu is called the Khurma avatar and this happened in the Satya Yuga millions of years ago. An ancient Sage Durvasa was the son of sage Atri and wife anasuya. He was well known for his short temper and hence he was received with great reverence by the humans as well as the devas (gods). Once he gave a garlant to Indra (the king of the gods) who placed the garlant around his elephant’s neck. For some reason the elephant trampled it. This was a great insult for the sage Durvasa. Furiously the sage cursed the gods to loose their immortality, divine power and strength.

The Gods pleaded for the help of Lord Vishnu. He advised to get the Amrith (nectar of immortality) and drink it inorder to get back the immortality, divine powers and strength. Lord Vishnu asked them to churn the ocean of milk (Palazhi) with the help of Mount Mandara and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. Devas could not churn it by themselves and hence cunningly declared peace with the Asuras and started the churning, devas on one side and asuras on the other side. Mount Mandara being too heavy, while churning it started sinking deep in the ocean. Lord Vishnu took the form of a huge Khurma (tortoise) and supported the Mount Mandara and the churning was successfully completed. But the Asuras immediately took the Amirth (nectar of immortality) and ran away. Devas pleaded the help of Lord Vishnu again who manifested himself in the form of a beautiful women called Mohini. She played tricks with the Asuras and finally gave the pot of the Amrith to the Devas. They had and revived the immortality, power and strength.

### Varaha Hasta

Hold the Mrigashirsha hasta on both hands with right palm on top of the left one and hold palms tight to each other forming the varaha hasta.

This hasta is used to show the varaha avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of varaha avatara goes like this…..

Lord Brahma (Creator of the Universe) received the knowledge of the puranas from the Universal being, Narayana (Lord Vishnu) and wanted to spread it to the world. He then created from his mind four sages, the Kumaras, who had the names Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanat kumara. They took life long vows of celibacy (brahmacharya) and wandered throughout the Universe with just one intention of teaching. During one of their sojourns (visit) they arrived at Vaikunda (Lord Vishnu’s abode) a place of bliss and purity. It was surrounded by seven circular walls with seven gates of entry. The Kumara’s passed six gates without any hindrance and reached the seventh one which was guarded by two dwarapalas (door gaurds) Jaya and Vijaya. They did not allow Kumaras to enter the gate. The Kumaras were perplexed with this behavior of the gate keepers and cursed them to be born in the materialistic earth in the form of Asuras (demons) having characteristics of lust, anger and greed. Jaya and Vijaya appealed to Lord Vishnu and he assured them that they will be released from all births by an avatar of Himself (Lord Vishnu). They were thus born as Asuras to the Sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti in an inauspicious hour and named Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. The demon brothers were manifestations of all the evil and created havoc in the Universe.The elder brother Hiranyaksha practised tapas (prayers) and finally took a boon from Lord Brahma that he will be indestructible by any human or animal. He and his brother tormented (tortured) the inhabitants of the earth and the gods. Once the elder brother Hiranyaksha took the earth and hid deep down the primordial waters.Earth appealed to Vishnu who took the form of Varaha having boar’s head and human’s body so being neither animal nor human. In the ocean varaha encounters hiranyaksha who obstructs his path and challenges for a duel.Varaha lifts the earth with its tusk and fought fiercly with the demon and finally after a thousand year duel varaha slays the demon. Varaha rose from the ocean with the earth in its tusk and placed it in the original position. Further the earth goddess (Bhumidevi) fell in love with her rescuer and marries Varaha and gave birth to another asura called Narakasura. Thus completes the story of Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu.

### Narasimha Hasta

Hold the Simhamukha hasta on left hand at the side of the hip and tripataka hasta on your right hand at the side of the chest level we get the narasimha hasta.

This hasta is used to show the narasimha avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of narasimha avatara goes like this…..

### Vamana Hasta

Hold the Mushti hasta on your right hand at the shoulder level and the same hasta on your left hand at the starting level of thigh to get vamana hasta.

This hasta is used to show the vamana avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of vamana avatara goes like this…..

### Parashurama Hasta

Hold the ardhapataka hasta on your right hand raised high towards the right side and the same hasta on your left hand holding the thigh to get parashurama hasta.

This hasta is used to show the parashurama avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of parshurama avatara goes like this…..

### Rama Hasta

Hold the shikara hasta on your left hand raised high to the level of your head and the right hand with kapitha hasta held at thigh level slightly away from the body to get rama hasta.

This hasta is used to show the rama avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of rama avatara goes like this…..

### Krishna Hasta

Hold the mrigashirsha hasta on your left hand at the cheek level facing down and the same hasta on your right handheldadjacent to the left hand also facing down to get krishna hasta.

This hasta is used to show the krishna avatara of Lord Vishnu…

The story of krishna avatara goes like this…..

### Kalki Hasta

Hold the tripataka hasta on your left hand at the waist level facing away from you and the ardhapataka hasta on your right hand held at chest level also facing away from you to get kalki hasta.

This hasta is used to show the kalki avatara of Lord Vishnu…

# Devahastas

Standard

### Ganesha Hasta

Urogathabhyam hastabhyam

Kapithyo vignarata karaha

Hold the Kapitha hasta at chest level on your right hand and the same hasta facing down at the waist level on your left hand. Elbows shall be kept stretched towards the sides to get the actual beauty of the posture.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Ganesha.

Ganesha is a Sanskrit word which means the leader of a group. He is revered as the Lord who removes all the obstacles, the patron of arts and science and the god of intellect and wisdom. He is the son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi.

Puranic myths have many explanations of how Lord Ganesha got the elephant head. The most popular one goes like this…….Goddess Parvathi created him from the dirt from her body and asked him to guard her while she had her bath. During this time Lord Siva came and Ganesha did not allow him to enter in. Lord Siva got furious and beheaded him. Parvathi came to know that her son had lost his head she pleaded Siva to bring him back to life. Siva asked his people to bring the head of the being that they first see facing north and that was an elephant. Siva replaced his head with that of the elephant. He is being worshipped as a remover of the obstacles and the first offerings is given to him before starting of any endeavour.

### Brahma Hasta

Brahma chaturo vamae

Hamsasya dakshinae karaha

Hold the hamsasya hasta on your right hand at slightly below the chest level and chatura hasta on your left hand at chest level in uttana prachara (facing up). Elbows shall be kept stretched towards the sides to get the actual beauty of the posture.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Brahma.

He is believed to be the Creator of the Universe and all the beings. It is said in the Hindu puranas that he first appeared sitting in a lotus flower that sprouted from Lord Vishnu’s naval. He created the fourteen planetary systems and all the living beings. He received the four Vedas from Lord Vishnu and transmitted the knowledge of Vedas to the earth thus being known as the creator of the Vedas.

### Vishnu Hasta

Hastabhyam tripatakasthu

Vishnuhastaha kirtitaha

Hold the tripataka hasta on your right hand at the chest level and the same hasta on your left hand at chest level in paran mukha prachara (facing  away from oneself). Vishnu hasta is mentioned like this.
This Hasta is used to show Lord Vishnu.

He is believed to be the one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the Universe and all the beings. Hindu puranas mentions that Lord Vishnu has got 10 incarnations (last one is yet to arrive) happened whenever he wanted to devastate the Adharma (injustice) from the material world. Lord Vishnu is venerated as Mukunda which means one who gives mukti or moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirths) to his devotees. Lord Vishnu’s eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is called the vaikunda where the realm of eternal bliss and happiness happens for the liberated souls who attained moksha.

### Siva Hasta

Shamboo vamae mrigashirshas

Tripatakasthu dakshinae

Hold the tripataka hasta on your right hand at the chest level and the mrigashirsha hasta on your left hand at chest level .
This Hasta is used to show Lord Siva.

Lord Siva is one of the Trimurthi’s as believed in Hinduism, other being Brahma and Vishnu. While Lord Brahma is the creator and Lord Vishnu is the preserver, Lord Siva is the destroyer. He is depicted as an omniscient yogi who lives an ascetic life in mount kailash, as well as a householder who lives with his wife parvathi and two children ganesha and karthikeya and finally a cosmic dancer. The most iconographical attributes of Lord Siva is his third eye at his forehead that always remain closed. Adi sankara has interpreted the meaning of ‘Siva’ as “One who is pure” and “One who is not affected by the three gunas (qualities) of Parkriti(nature) which are Satva gunam, Tamo gunam and rajo gunam”. In Sanskrit the word Siva means “auspicious” and an other interpretation is “one in whom the whole creation sleeps after dissolution”.

### Saraswathi Hasta

Suchikritae dakshinecha

Vamaecha samkritau

Kapithyakaepae bhataayaha

Hold the suchi hasta on your right hand at right below the chest level and the kapitha hasta (in uthana hasta prachara – palm facing ceiling) on your left hand held straight pointing towards left side and above the shoulder level.
This Hasta is used to show Goddess Saraswathi.

Goddess Saraswathi is the godess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and nature. She is consort of Lord Brahma and is revered as the mother of Vedas. Its is believed that she endows the humans with the power of speech, wisdom and learning. She is dressed in white which symbolizes purity and she rides on a white swan that symbolizes the satva guna (purity & discrimination

### Lakshmi Hasta

Amsopakanthae hastabhyam

Kapithasthu sriyaha karaha

Hold the kapitha hasta at just below your chest level on both the hands

This hasta is used to show Goddess Lakshmi.

Goddess Lakshmi is the God of wealth, prosperity and fame. She is the consort of Lord Vishnu and she is revered  have eight forms (Ashta Lakshmi) like Adi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi and Dhairya Lakshmi. She is endowed with the auspicious divine qualities or gunas. Diwali festival is celebrated in her honor.

### Parvathi  Hasta

Udhvardha prasudhavardha

Chandrakhyo vama dakshinou

Parvaryaha kareritaha

Hold the ardhachandra hasta on your right hand to the side of the chest level in paran mukha prachara (facing away from oneself) and the same hasta on your left hand held at the waist level facing downward showing the abhaya (fearlessness) and varadha (granting of boon).

This Hasta is used to show Goddess Parvathy.

Goddess Parvathy is believed to be the complete incarnation of the Supreme power Aadi parashakti. She is consort of Lord Shiva. Parvatha in Sanskrit means ‘mountains’ and parvathy means ‘she of the mountains’ and refers being born as the daughter of Himavan who is the lord of the mountains. She is the ultimate source of powers for all beings, Gods and Devas. It is believed that without her Siva remains as Shava or Corpse. She can destroy the whole world in seconds and hence the Trimurti’s Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Siva never try to make her angry.

### Karthikeya  Hasta

Vamae karae trishoolaschya

Shikharo dakshinae karae

Urdhvam gathae shanmukhasya

Hold the shikhara hasta on your right hand to the side of the chest level and the trishoola hasta on your left hand held at the same level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Kartikeya.

Lord Kartikeya is the son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathy. He is believed to be the God of war, victory, wisdom and love. He was leading the army of the Devas in the war against the asuras. It is believed that Lord Kartikeya is born from the six sparks that came from Lord Siva’s third eye in order to take action against the increasing conceit of Soorapadman. Lord Agni (fire) took these six sparks and left in a lotus in the Saravan river where Lord Kartikeya is born with six faces and hence the name Shanmukhan. He was brought up by the six krittika sisters until he turned teenage when he was sent back to Lord Siva and Parvathy. His six heads represents his control over the five senses(the panjendriyas) and the mind.

### Indra Hasta

Tripatakascha swastikascha

Shkrhastaha prakirtita

Hold the tripataka hasta on both hands in swastika and hold it above the head.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Indra (Devendra) the king of all Gods.

Lord Indra is believed to be the leader of all Gods and the lord of Swargaloka (Heaven) in Hinduism as depicted in Rigveda. Indra is the twin brother of Agni (Fire God). He is refered to as the God of thunder, storms and rain. He is a great warrior and remains as a symbol of courage and strength. Indra rides on a white elephant (four tusked) called Airavata.

Hindu purana says that one Kalpa Yuga has 14 Indras because each kalpa is composed of 14 manvantaras and each manvantara has one Indra. One Kalpa Yuga makes one day in Lord Brahma’s life. There is a beautiful story behind Indra realizing this fact. It goes like this……

Being encrowned the post of King of all the Gods, Indra was full of pride and ordered Vishwakarma (The Architect of the Gods) to build for him a grand palace. While the work progresses Indra keep on demanding more and more improvements to the palace. Vishwakarma got exhausted and pleaded the help of Lord Brahma who in turn appeals to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu visited the palace in the form of a Brahmin boy. Indra welcomed him and honored him politely and respectfully. Vishnu started commenting that no former Indras have built such a beautiful palace seeding a fearful doubt in Indra’s mind about his unkown ancestors. The boy explains to him about the infinite number of worlds scattered through the entire universe each with its own Indra. In between, a possession of ants entered the palace and the boy laughed. Indra being astonished and dumbfounded asked the boy why he laughed. The boy revealed that those ants were the former Indras. Lord Siva entered the palace at the same time in the form of a solitary person. His chest had a circular cluster of hairs intact at the circumference with a gap in the middle. Lord Siva explained to Indra that each of the hair represents the life of an Indra. He said that when each hair falls one Indra dies and will be replaced by a new one. Having lost the longings for wealth and honor, Indra rewards Vishwakarma and decided to live a life without luxury. I am sure this story has a great moral for each one of us to understand and practise with.

### Agni Hasta

Tripatako dakshninetu

Vamae kangoolahastakaha

Agni Hastaha sa vigneyo

Hold the tripataka hasta onyour right hand and kangula hasta in the left hand both at the chest level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Agni (Fire God) .

Agni is thought to be the eldest son of Lord Brahma. He is assumed to be a evolved from the mouth of the Virat Purusha (the Cosmic man). According to Vayupurana, he has three sons Pavaka, Pavamana and Suchi each of them representing three different aspects of Agni (Fire) like electric fire, fire produced by friction and the solar fire respectively.

### Varuna Hasta

Patako dakshinae Vamae shikharo

Varunaha karaha

Hold the pataka hasta onyour right hand and shikhara hasta on your left hand both at the chest level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Varuna (Water God).

Varuna is considered to be the God of water and the celestial ocean. The stars in the clouds are believed to be his thousand eyed spies watching every movement in the universe. He became the God of Oceans and rivers and keeper of the souls of the drowned in the post Vedic periods. He is considered as one of the guardians of the directions representing the west direction.

### Yama Hasta

Vama pasham dakshinetu suchi

Yama Karaha Smritaha

Hold the suchi hasta on your right hand and pashaa hasta on your left hand both at the chest level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Yama (God of death).

In Hinduism, Yama is considered as the God of death. He rides on a black buffalo. According to Vishnupurana, he is the son of Lord Sun and his wife Sanjana, daughter of Vishwakarma. In the Vedas, Yama is considered to be the first mortal who died and by virtue of precedence he became the ruler of all the departed (pitrukal). Srivanchiyam temple in Tamilnadu (India) is dedicated to Yama. He is one of the guardians of directions, guarding the South direction.

According to the puranas Yama was once sentenced to death by Siva. The story goes like this….

Mrikandu rishi (a saint) and his wife Marudmati were devotee’s of Lord Siva and Lord Siva gave them a boon of begetting a son. They were questioned whether to get a son who is intelligent but having shorter life span or a low intelligent one with a long life span. They chose the former one and was blessed with an exemplary son named Markendeya but destined to die at the age of 16. While his life span was coming to the end, Yama’s messengers came to him to take his life. But as Markandeya was ceaselessly chanting Lord Siva’s name, Yama’s messengers could not approach him and returned. Now, Yama came himself and asked him to stop chanting Lord Siva’s name and come along with him as per his destiny. Markandeya refused and the furious Yama assumed a fearsome form and threw his noose (weapon) to Markandeya who embraced the Siva Linga (Idol of Lord Siva). When the noose struck the Siva linga, Lord Siva emerged out of it and killed Yama with his Trishula.Siva blessed Markandeya to live a life of 16 throughout seven kalpas. By the death of Yama, there was no one to make beings die and the world became burdened with evil beings. Sages, Gods and Markandeya appealed Siva to revive Yama and so he did. Yama worshiped Siva to atone for his sin.

### Nirrti Hasta

Khatavacha shakhataschaiva

Keertitaou nirrti karaha

Hold the Shakhata /Brahmara hasta on your right hand at the chest level and Khatava hasta on your left hand slightly below the chest level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Nirrti (Guardian God of South West direction).

In Hinduism, Nirrti is the Goddess of death and corruption and one of the Ashtadikpalaks (Ashta –means eight , Dik means directions & palakas means guardians). She guards the South west direction.

### Vayu Hasta

Hold the Arala hasta on your right hand at the chest level and Ardhapataka on your left hand to the side below the natyarambha level.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Vayu (God of Air/wind).

In Hinduism, Lord Vayu is the father of Bhima and Hanuman. In hymns, he is considered as fighter, destroyer, powerful and heroic. He is described as an exceptional beauty moving noisily in his shining coach driven by two or forty nine or one thousand white and purple horses.