Theory of Straight Lines, Circles and Parallels

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Theory of Straight Lines, Circles and Parallels

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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Bhangas (Postures)

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
Hastenaartham Pradarshayeth
Chakshurbhyam Darshayeth Bhavam
Paadabhyam Taalamaachareth

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
Ahaaryam Chandra Taraadi
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
Suchi paada prakeerthitha

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
• Adhbhutam – Wonder
• 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
• Mada – Intoxication ***
• 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
• Jadatha – idleness
• 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
• Vyadhi – Disease
• Unmaada – Insanity
• Maranam – Death
• Thrasa – Dread
• 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 ; the Cosmic Dancer

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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Nattuvangam & Nattuvannar

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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Ten Qualities of a Bharatanatyam Dancer

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
Medha Shraddha Vacho Geetham
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

2. Sthirathwam – Steadiness

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

Circling movements steadily

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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Navagraha Hastas

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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Dashavatara hastas

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…..

Vaivastava Manu (progenitor of mankind) once accidently catches a matsya (fish) while he was bathing in a river. The fish pleads for protection and in return promises to save Vaivastava Manu from an impending (about to happen) flood as it knows exactly when is the flood goanna happen. The fish tells him to put it in a jar of water and keep safe.He did so. Immediately the fish grown big and came of the jar and pleaded his help again. He had to dig a big pit , fill it with water and had to put the fish in it. Surprisingly the fish again grown bigger than the pit and he transferred the fish to the ocean. The fish had grown bigger enough to survive in the flood. The fish asked Manu to build a boat and ordered him to collect all the grains and all living creatures to be preserved in the boat. (In some versions he was said to have accompanied by the seven great sages). When the flood started Manu safely got into the boat and started pleading the help of the fish as promised. The fish asked to tie the boat to horn that had grown on the head of the fish with the help of the huge snake vasuki. The fish towed the boat safely to the highest and the driest ground at the northern mountains (interpreted as the Himalayas). Vaivastava manu was the sole survivor on the earth and took the task of creating the new human race. He practised austerities and worshipped gods and eventually his prayers were answered by the supreme god and beautiful women called shradha appeared. Together they initiated the race of Manu.  The fish in this story is said to be the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu called the Matsya avatara.

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…..

In varaha avatar, Lord Vishnu had slayed the asura Hiranyaksha creating deep revenge in his younger brother Hiranyakasipu’s mind. He did years and years of austere penance to Lord Brahma to revenge upon Lord Vishnu.While Brahma appeared before him, he asked for immortality. Brahma informed that it is not possible because death is inevitable to every being in the universe.He then pleaded for his death to happen neither inside of any building/house nor outside, neither on earth nor on space, neither during day time nor night time, and neither by any weapon nor by any human or animal. He was thus granted boon from Lord Brahma and became happy having the notion that he had won over the death. One day he was offering prayers in a mountain and his home was attacked by Lord Indra (King of gods) and other devas. Narada (Divine sage) took care of Hiranyakasipu’s wife, kayadu knowing that she is sinless and was carrying. The unborn child of Hiranyakashipu got seriously affected and influenced by the instruction and teachings made by Narada and became a hard core devotee of Lord Vishnu after he was born. Hiranyakaship kept on advising his son Prahlada not to worship Lord Vishnu and instead worship him as the supreme power. Prahlada did not listen to his father and continued worshipping Lord Vishnu. Being so furious about this matter, Hiranyakashipu decided to kill his son and every time he attempted for the same, Prahlada was protected by Lord Vishnu and was not killed. His father was so angry and asked Prahlada to show the Lord he is worshipping. Prahlada replied that he is omnipresent. Hiranyakashipu then pointed a pillar and asked his son if his Lord would be there or not. Prahlada replied “Yes”. Hiranyakashipu fiercely hit the pillar with his mace and Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Narasimham (Naran mean human and simham means lion) having torso and lower body of human and upper body of a lion just like the boon granted to Hiranyakashipu neither human nor animal. Narasimha appeared at twilight (neither day nor night) and put the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space) and sat on the threshold of the room (neither inside nor outside) and using its finger nails (no weapons) disembowels the demon and killed him. Even after killing the demon, Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu was not cooling down out of its fury and none of them were able to calm narasimha except Prahlada who did it by prasing him by prayers. Thus both brothers Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were killed by the two avatars of Lord Vishnu, Varaha avatar and Narasimha avatar respectively.

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…..

There lived a benevolent Asura king in the Treta Yuga and he was King Bali. Bali was the great grandson of Asura Hiranyakashipu (who was slayed by the narasimha avatar of Vishnu) and the grand son of Prahlada. King Bali was so generous, kind and honest. Sage Sukracharya was his spiritual guru and he learned Vedas from him and his grandfather Prahlada. Sukracharya was a good battle strategisttoo. With his help Bali conquered all the three world (Earth, Heaven and the Patala (Nether world). He defeated Lord Indra (King of all the Gods) and Bali took over the Heavens.His fame, reputation and the defeat made Indra dejected and disgusted. Indra seeked the help of his mother, Aditi for helping him and she in turn pleaded the help of Lord Vishnu. Lord conveyed to Aditi that Bali is a great devotee of Vishnu and he deserves to be the next Indra. Aditi explained to Lord that though Bali is a good king the asuras as a whole are cruel and their lust and greed lead them to all kind of battles with the devas and the beings in the materialistic earth. Lord Vishnu being convinced in what Aditi was trying to convey asked her wish. She requested Lord Vishnu to be born as her child to end Bali’s menace. Lord Vishnu agreed and was born to Aditi and sage Kashyapa. He was named Vamana. Meanwhile upon advice of the Guru Sukracharya, Bali performed 99 aswamedha yagnas to win the title of King of all the three worlds. He was about to complete the ceremony conducting the 100th Aswamedha yagna and a young dark and dwarf Brahmin boy appeared who was none other than Vamana, son of Kashyapa and Aditi. King Bali offered him to ask for anything he wants as it was the last day of the yagna and he had the privilege of giving any alms to whoever in need. Sukracharya with his senses could regonize the small boy as Lord Vishnu and stopped King Bali to offer him whatever he asks. King Bali out of his generosity continued with his offerings and asked the boy his requirement. Vamana politely said he just needs three feet of land. King Bali laughed and said just three feet of land. He told the boy to measure by himself and take the land. Immediately Vamana started growing bigger and bigger that Bali could see only his feet. Vamana finished measuring earth and the sky in his two feet and requested Bali to show where he can measure the third feet of land. King Bali didn’t want to break his promise and bowed his head to measure the third feet. Vamana kept his foot on Bali’s head and pushed deep into the Nether world called Pataala by the force of his third step on his head. King Bali was a great ruler during his reign there was no poverty and dishonesty. He was known as Mahabali. Lord Vishnu granted him a boon to come and visit his people once in a year and that day is still celebrated as Onam festival in Kerala one of the states in India. Vamana was the fith avatar of Lord Vishnu and first onei n the Treta Yuga.

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…..

Parashurama is the sixth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. He was born as the fifth son of Saptarshi (Sapta means Seven and rishi means sages) Jamadagni and his wife Renuka. Jamadagni lived in Treta Yuga in the seventh Manavantara, the current one. {Manvantara is the life span of Manu which is equal to 71 chatur yugas. (I have given brief description of Yugas in the introduction of this session). Fourteen manvantara’s makes one kalpa yuga which is 1 day of Lord Brahma. 2 kalpas makes a brahma day and night. One Brahma varsha (year) is composed of 360 Brahma days.}. Parashuram was a devotee of Lord Siva and undertook terrible penance and received the weapon Parashu (axe) from Lord Siva as a boon. Siva also taught him martial arts and war skills. He was the first warrior Brahmin and it was impossible for any one on the earth to defeat him. It is even believed that he still lives and will be teaching the war skills to the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu, the Kalki who will be incarnated by the end of this kalpa. His father had a magical and divine cow named Kamadhenu which could give any dish asked for and endless quantity of milk. Once when his father was out King Kartaviryarjuna’s people visted his ashram (house) and was surprised with the kamadhenu. They asked for buying the cow for their king but the offer was refused. King’s people forcefully took away the cow. Greatly annoyed, Parasurama hacked the king to death. The king’s son retaliated by heading Parasurama’s father Jamadagni. Infuriated Parasurama killed five generation of the warriors creating five lakes of blood which later became the dreaded battle field of kurukshetra. He continued killing all kshatriyas (warriors) in his path until there were no more warriors left on the earth. His massacre of kings ended only when he met Sri Rama the son of King Dasharath. Parasurama threw his blood stained axed into the sea but the sea recoiled in horror and drew back thus forming a new coast known as the konkan and the Malabar in south India. Parasurama became a warrior to create a better world free of corrupt kings.

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…..

Goddess Earth named as Bhumi Devi in Hindu puranas, appealed to Lord Brahma the creator to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life. The Gods (Devas) also pleaded his help when the ten headed rakshasa (demon) Ravana overpowered them and started ruling the devaloka (heaven), the earth and the netherworlds. They altogether worshipped Lord Vishnu who promised to help them by incarnating as a human. Thus he was born as the eldest son of Kosala King named Dasaratha and his wife Kausalya. Lord Vishnu’s consort Goddess Lakshmi also incarnated as Sita and was found by King Janaka of Mithila while ploughing field. Hence she is also known by the name janaki. Sri rama along with guru (teacher) Vishwamitra visited their palace during Sitas’s swayam varam (A custom followed those days in which the bride choose her own husband after conducting a few competitions).Sri Rama won the competition held on that day he visted the region Mithila ruled by King Janaka and married Sita.After their return to Ayodhya, King Dasharatha wanted to pass over the kingdom to his eldest son Sri Rama which was objected by his second wife Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi by the evil influence of her crooked servant Manthara, asked the King to crowne his son Bharata as the next King and send Rama to exile for 14 years and it thus happened. Sita and Lakshmana his beloved younger brother also accompanied him. While they lived their lives in the forest a demon lady Soorpanaka who was the sister of the ten headed rakhasa (demaon) came to see Sri Rama and got fascinated upon him. Failed many times upon approaching him in the form of a beautiful lady and requesting him to marry her, she got greatly annoyed and sought vengeance through his brother. She provoked her brother Ravana to marry Sita saying that she will be the best suitable and beautiful wife for you, thus making Sita part from Sri Rama. By their wicked plan, Surpanaka went to Srirama’s ashram in the form of a beautiful deer. Sita got mesmerized upon seeing it and requested his beloved husband to get that deer for him. Sri Rama ran after the deer (Surpanaka) and the deer skipped off from him and took him far away from the ashram. Sita got upset about the delay in Rama’s return and sent his brother Lakshmana to find him out. Lakshmana didn’t agree to it and finally when Sita got angry he agreed and went but only after giving her strict instruction not to enter out a line (lakshmana rekha) which he drew with this divine power until he returns back. During this time Ravana came and Sita was taken away to Lanka.On his way to Lanka he encountered with the huge vulture bird named Jadayu who was the friend of Dasharatha. He fought with Ravana and was injured very badly. Jadayu was left out handicapped but not dead just to meet Sri Rama when he comes that way and could inform him about the kidnap of Rama’s wife Sita. Meanwhile Rama in search of his wife and dejected came across to meet Sugreeva who was the monkey king thrown away by his brother Bali. Sri Rama helped him in fighting and defeating Bali and took over power. Sugreeva in return gave an army of monkeys who could assit and help him in finding his wife. As destined they came across to see the vulture bird Jadayu who explained to him the story and told Sita was taken away to Lanka which was across the sea. Jadayu died immediately after he passed the information to Sri Rama. There was no way in crossing the sea. The army monkeys led by the powerful leader Hanuman (Son of God wind) built a bridge of huge stones across the sea to reach Lanka. In Lanka Ravana threatened Sita many times to marry him but was rejected all the times as Sita was known to be the most pure and faithful wife ever in the history of mankind. Hanuman secretly visited Sita and informed that Rama will soon come and escape her from Lanka. Hanuman was caught by the gaurds of Ravana and was taken before Ravana. Ravana ordered his people to set fire to his tail after rapping it with oily clothes. When they started doing that, his tail started growing larger and larger and he ran away with the lit tail and set fire throughout the Lanka. Meanwhile Rama and his army reached Lanka through the new bridge and attacked Ravana. Ravana was killed in the battle by Sri Rama with a special weapon given to him by saint Agastya and Sita was at liberty. Lakshmana was wounded severly and was cured by a magic herb brought by Hanuman. It was said that Hanuman grew bigger up to sky and flew to the mountain where the medicinal herbs were found and finding difficult to locate the exact herb he took the whole mountain. Rama along with Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and the entire monkey army went back to Ayodhya and he was welcomed with grant ceremony arranged by Bharatha and Rama was encrowned as the King of Ayodhya.

 

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…..

During the time of Dwapara Yuga, Mother Earth again got distressed about the increasing sins happening on the earth and approached Lord Vishnu in the form of a cow and seeked his help to save her. Lord Vishnu promised her that he will help her by incarnating once again on the earth soon. Thus he was born in the city of Mathura (current Mathura district in the northern state Uttarpradesh in India). King Kansa was the king of Mathura who had ascended to power by imprisong his father. Kansa had a sister named Devaki whom he loved so deeply that when she got married to Vasudeva, Kansa himself took them to Vasudeva’s abode. On their way a loud voice from the sky prophecized that the eight son of Devaki will eventually become his assassin. King Kansa got angry and started killing Devaki. Vasudeva pleaded for his wife’s life and promised that they will surrender before him all their kids whenever they are borne. Kansa was not convinced still he relieved Devaki and imprisoned both of them back in in his palace. Thus Kansa killed six children of Vasudeva and Devaki. Devaki had miscarriage for the seventh one (Actually the seventh child was transferred to the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva’s first wife and was born as Balarama). Keeping the promise to Mother earth, Lord Vishnu himself descended into the womb of Devaki and was born as their eigth so n.As per Lord Vishnu’s instruction to Vasudeva, the baby was secretly transferred to NandaGopan and Yasodha who lived in Vrindavan which was nearby Mathura. At the same time of Krishna’s birth they also were blessed with a baby girl Yogamaya who was actually Goddess Durga. Vasudeva replaced the babies and took Yogamaya with him and reached safely back to the prison. The next day the baby was surrendered before Kansa and when he was about to kill the baby, she disappeared from his hand and Kansa again heard a loud voice prophecized that his assassin is already born on the earth. Kansa furiously decreed to kill all the children who were born on that day and so did his soldiers. But his attempts to kill Krishna by sending demoness Pootana and tornado demon trinavarta failed and Krishna killed both of them with his divine powers. He also killed the huge serpent named Kaliya who poisoned the Yamuna River and killed the cow herds. Once Krishna advised the people of Vrindavan to take care and protect their animals and environment that provide them with all their necessitied instead of worshipping Lord Indra annually by spending the resources. He did it purposely to throw away the increasing pride of Lord Indra. Indra anyhow got furious and sent a big thunderstorm to vrindavan. Krishna then lifted the Govardhana Hill and protected his people from persecution by Indra and prevents devastation of the pasture land of Govardhan. When Krishna turned into a young man he returned to Mathura to visit his actual parents who were imprisoned at King Kansa’s palace. Krishna overthrew the reigning of Kansa by killing him and released his parents and grandfather Ugrasenan (Kansa’s father who was also imprisoned) and encrowned Ugrasenan as king of Yadavas. Krishna left with his Yadava followers to Dwaraka (in modern Gujarat) and established his kingdom there. Later Krishna became part of the Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas (Five brothers) and Kauravas (Hundred brothers) in which the Kauravas were killed completely. Their mother Gandhari got upset with Krishna and cursed him that he and his community will be completely eliminated from the earth after thirty six years. It happened exactly like that when there was a fight started between the yadavas leaving only Krishna undead. It is believed that Krishna left to the forest and while he was resting on the branch of a tree a hunter saw his feet from distance and misunderstood as that of a deer and shoot arrow and was wounded and killed mortally. The stories of Krishna are endless. What I have spotted here is just a brief.

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
Devahastas

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

Karasyaditi sammathaha

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

Abhayo varadachaivo

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

Hastaha syaditikiritaha

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

Natyashastra visharadae

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.

Kubera Hasta

Hold the Mushti hasta on your right hand and Alapadmam on your left hand.

This Hasta is used to show Lord Khubera (God of wealth).

In Hinduism, Lord Khubera is regarded as the regent of the North and the protector of the world. His many descriptions extol him as the overlord of many divine species and the owner of treasures of the whole world. The scriptures describe the fact that Kubera ruled Lanka and was over thrown by his demon step brother Ravana. He was said to have settled later in the city Alaka in the Himalayas. Descriptons of the glory and splendours of his city are found in many scriptures.