Session 34- Shiro Bhedas or Head Movements

Bhedha as most Indonesian and Malaysian students will understand, is a term that denotes a change/difference (from the previous state).This Sanskrit word is very commonly used word in these two languages. Bhedhas in dance terminology means a variety of movements prescribed for a particular anga/pratyanga.

In this session Mr. Santosh will elucidate the Shiro Bhedas or movement of the Head . Let’s watch him teaching his class…

Here is the verse and the explanation…

Samam udhvaahitham adhomukham aalokitham dhutam

Kampithamcha paraavrittam utkshiptam parivaahitham.

  • 1. Samam :natural/ straight
  • 2. udhvaahitham:Raised up
  • 3. Adhomukham: Head cast down(down cast face)
  • 4. aalolitham:rotating the head
  • 5. dhutam:shake head from side to side, as if to say no
  • 6. kampitham:nodding up and down, as if to say yes
  • 7. paraavrittam: head turned away to the side (looking away), as if to ignore
  • 8. utkshiptham: Moving head in half moon shape with chin touching neck (thrown up),as if to command or request
  • 9. parivaahitham:shaking the head swiftly from one side to the other (as if shivering Wagging, /widly moved)

Test 2- Checkpoint

We have now completed four sets of adavus and Asamyutha and Samyutha Hastas.

Lets see how much we remember from what we have learnt…

Think and answer these questions carefully

  1. What are two handed gestures called?
  2. Katakamukham is an Asamyutha Hasta… True or False
  3. Paraval adavu is another name for ……………………
  4. Naatadavu gives importance to the ____________ position of the feet.
  5. Kudhitametti are steps that involve_________________.
  6. Name the position of the hands used in the Tatadavu.
  7. Match the following
    1. Kudhitametti a. Anjitham
    2. Tatadavu b. Flowing movements
    3. Naatadavu c. katithosedham
    4. Mardhitha d. Tapping
  8. Name the Hastas with the following meaning
    1. War 6. Blossomed flower
    2. Fish 7. Pigeon/dove
    3. Flag 8. crab
    4. Half Moon 9. peacock
    5. Needle 10. box/container
  9. Demonstrate the adavus for the following sorkattus :-
    1. Adavu 1
    2. Adavu 2
  10. Recite the Asamyutha Hasta Verse

The answers for this quiz is be published in our orkut community at

You are free to send in your answers to us as comments…(Will not be posted)

Session 30- Samyutha Hastas verses from Abhinaya Darpana

Today we will be learning the Samyutha Hasta verses from Mr. Santosh Kumar.

Here is the verse…

Anjalishcha kapothashcha karkata svasthikasthathaa

dolahasthah pushpaputaha uthsangah shivalingakaha

katakaavardhanashchaiva karthareesvasthikasthathaa

shakatam Shanka Chakrecha samputah paasha keelakau(keelako)

mathsyah koormo varaahashcha garudo naagabandhakaha

khatvaa berundakaakeshcha avahithasthathatheivacha

There can be slightly different readings of the above verse. For eg.
The last line may be taught as “khatvaa berundakaakeshcha ithyethe avahitha samyutha kara” depending on the reading used.

In the next session, we will have checkpoint test no.2. So please work on what has been taught so far..

Best wishes…

Session 24- Asamyutha Hastas, verse from Abhinaya Darpana

We have learnt (learned) the names and meanings of Asamyutha hatsa in our previous sessions (sessions 8 and 15). Today we will have a theory session with Mr. Santosh Kumar(Please see our about page to know more about him)

Mr.Santosh will be now review the verse on Asamyutha Hasta from the Abinayadarpana. Please notice the three variations of katkamukhams that occur in the demonstration.

Here is the verse for you reference:-

Pathaakas tripathaako Ardhapathaakah: karthareemukhah:

mayooraakhyo ardhachandrascha araalah: shukathuNdakah:

Mushtishcha sikharaakhyascha kapiththah katakaamukhah

soochee chandrakalaa padmakosha sarpashirasthathaa

mrgashirsha simhamukhah kangulascha alapadmakaha

chathuro bhramarashchaiva hamsaasyo hamsapakshakaha

sandamsho mukulaschaiva thamrachooda thrishoolakaha

Session 15- Asamyutha hastas and their meaning

We have learned the Asamyutha Hastas in session 8. Each of these hastas /their names have a meaning. We are going to study the meaning of these hastas in today’s session. It may be necessary to have a look at the chart provided earlier to see how the gesture actually denotes the meaning.







3 parts of a flag/


2 parts of a flag/


Scissors/ Tongs




Half Moon


Petal/ bent


Parrot’s beak




The pinnacle/ top


Wood apple






Full moon


Lotus Bud


Hood of Cobra


Deer’s head


Lion’s face


 small bell


Fully Bloomed Lotus


4 sides, square




Swan’s bill


The swan









It should be noted that each of these hastas can be used to show various thoughts, actions, ideas and things. Those become the usage or Viniyoga of a Hasta. These Viniyogas are mentioned in Natyasashtra shlokas that will be dealth with at a later time..
For adavanced Learners
While learning the steps in itself it would help to know a few other terms with reference to hastas.
Hasta Pracahara:denotes the facing of the palms. It would at present help to learn the following terms
  • Uttana-Palm upterned or facing ceiling/skywards
  • Adhomukha-facing the floor
  • Unmukha-Palm facing oneself
  • Paran Mukha-Palm facing away from one self.

We will now proceed with the Mardhita adavu in the next session. Did you know that there are other ways/terms to refer to this adavu? Try finding them out and check with us in the next session to see if you came up with the right answers. But before we start on to Mardhita please check to see if you are able to execute all the 8 Tatadavus and Naatadavus with proficiency.

Check Point / Guidelines for practising Adavus

It may at this juncture be pertinent to try answering the following questions?

From a Student’s point of View :

  • How am I dancing ?
  • How does my dance come across/ look to the audience ?
  • How good are my adavus/nritta?
  • Are they any rules to be followed while practising the adavus?
  • Is quanity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learnt before progressing ahead.
  • What are the yard sticks to measure my accomplishmentso far?

From a Teacher’s point of View :

  • How do I explain to my students about how their dance comes across/ looks to the audience ?
  • Are there any blanket rules that can be followed while training students on the adavus?
  • Is quantity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learned, before progressing ahead.
  • How do I support self assessment or discretion in my students?

Here are a few points that have struck me in my experience…

  1. Eye Movement/Drishti Rules: Abhinaya Darpana, an ancient text that delves into the nuances of classical Indian dance lays down this famous Sloka:
Yatho Hasta Thatho Drishti,
YathoDrishti Thatho Manah
Yatho Manah Thatho Bhaava,
Yatho Bhaava Thatho Rasa
This can be roughly translated as follows…

Where the hands(hasta) are, go the eyes (drishti); where the eyes are, goes the mind(mana); where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (Bhava) and where there is bhava, mood or sentiment(rasa) is evoked.

I t can easily be seen that your drishti/eye movement goes a long way in determining the success of your dance.

At this point of time, when adavus are being learned it may be said that the Eyes follow the movement of your hand. This is a good indicator of the student’s involvement and understanding.

2. Posture/ geometry rules:Angashuddha

Bharathanatyam apart from being visual poetry is also visual geometry. The dance form itself is characterized by the absolute symmetry and perfect geometry of its movements. A technical excellence in these aspects may be referred to as”Angashuddha” and ‘Savustavam” in the technical lingo. We should satisfy ourselves in loosely explaining these terms as a combination of good posture, balance , centering, symmetry and geometric correctness. let’s look at the  fig. above to have a rough idea.

3. Hasta rules:

Hastas need to be clear and well defined to improve aesthetics and in later lessons to make communication clear. It is not unlikely for katamukhams turning to some unidentifiable insect, tirupathakams to fall and alapadmams to wither away unless conscious effort is put in. This effort will become natural and should be unconsciously executed by dancers with practice.

4. Foot Work rules: Foot work should be firm and the tapping does not need to be unduly loud/soft. Remember to maintain the arch of you foot while tapping. To soft a tap may never give the feeling of rhythmic correctness and too loud a tap tires you out too soon.

So to make a short note out of it here are the rulles

  1. Maintain a good posture
  2. Follow your hand movements with your eyes
  3. Keep hastas clear and firm.
  4. Be firm and careful with your foot step.

This is in no way a complete list of rules that guarantee great dance, but just an aid. Observation is the key. Watch more and see what should be imbibed and what should be avoided.