The Hastas


Bharatanatyam is a synchronized and harmonious pattern of all the bhedas (As described in the previous post “Angalakshana & Angasudhi”) done in parallel with the hand gestures and abhinaya (expression). In order to enhance the beauty of the dance movements it is quite obvious that the hand gestures always compliment the abhinaya. Hence the hand gestures become an inevitable part of the Angika Abhinaya. These hand gestures are called ‘Hastas’ . While we use these hastas while dancing we call it as ‘Mudra’.

Natyasastra has described mainly two types of hastas :

  • Asamyukta Hastas (28 Types)
  • Samyukta Hastas (24 Types)

Each of these 52 Hastas has been depicted in Natyasastra by individual slokas, explaining the individual and unique usage (called Viniyoga) of each of them.

With the help of these basic hastas, there are a few other (6) categories of hastas that have been developed and practiced. They are the following:

  • ·Deva hastas
  • ·Navagraha hastas
  • ·Dashavatara hastas
  • ·Nritta hastas
  • ·Jathi hastas
  • ·Bandu hastas

Hasta Prachahara:  It denotes the facing of the palms and are classified as below:

  • Uttana-Palm upturned or facing ceiling/skywards
  • Adhomukha-facing the floor
  • Unmukha-Palm facing oneself
  • Paran Mukha-Palm facing away from one self.

Hasta Pranalakshana:   The way a hasta / mudra is held is classified into 12 as detailed below:

  • Prasarana Hasta – The fingers are stretched
  • Kunchita Hasta – The fingers are folded
  • Rechita Hasta – The fingers are given movement
  • Punchita Hasta – The fingers are folded or moved or stretched
  • Apaveschita Hasta – The fingers are bent down
  • Prerita Hasta – The fingers are bent back or moved or stretched
  • Udveshtita Hasta – The fingers are held up
  • Vyavrutta Hasta – The fingers are held up to the sides
  • Parivrutta Hasta – The fingers are brought together from the sides
  • Sanketa Hasta – The fingers are used to convey implied meanings
  • Chinha Hasta – The fingers are used to show things which are visible and visible like a person’s appearance , mannerism’s, influence on others etc
  • Padarthatheekae – The fingers are used to show the word meanings



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