Session 47- Drishti Bheda, Eye movements

Sri. Santosh Kumar Menon will elucidate the drishti Bhedas in this session.


Samam alokitha saachi pralokitha nimilithe

Ullokitha anuvrththecha thatha chaivaavalookitham


Samam                            –       Look Straight  

aalokitham                      –       Rolling eyes

saachi                              –       Glancing at one corner of

                                                the eyes (one side)

pralookitha                      –       Moving eyes side to side(wide)

nimilithe                          –       Half closed eyes

Ullokitha                          –       Looking Up

Aanuvrththecha               –       Looking up and down(in anger)

Avalookitham                   –       looking down


Session 40- Greeva Bedha/neck Movements

Four variations in neck movements are prescribed.

Here is what Mr. Santosh Kumar has to say about Greeva Bhedas

Sundari cha tiraschinaa tathaiva parivarthitha

Prakampitha cha bhavagnair gneyaa greeva chathurvidhaa


  • Sundari – Moving neck from side to side (atami in general terms)
  • Therashchinaa – Moving neck up and down in atami like the gliding of a snake
  • Parivarthitha – Moving neck from right to left like a half moon
  • Prakampitha – Moving neck front and back like bird/ pigeon

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 18- Samyutha Hastas

Before we proceed to step 4 of mardhita, let’s look at the Samyutha or Sankyutha (Sanskrit, meaning together/combined) Hastas. These are the two handed gestures and are 24 in number. Here is a chart for the Samyuhta Hasta, please click on it to enlarge…

Samyutha hasta

There are only 23 in this chart. Avahita, the last of the Samyutha hastas has two Alapadmams crosses at the wrist and placed in uttanam (facing the sky) in front of the chest .

I have been asked how to learn up these hastas?

Repetition is the only key. Learn up the above in 3 days, say 8 per day, taking care to see if what was learned the previous day is retained.In our class we often keep repeating the Asamyutha and Samyutha hastas reciting their names and demonstrating the symbols.

We have now learned :-

Please get these committed to memory. We will be learning the verses from the Natyasashtra as it mentions them, after we complete learning the meanings for these Samyutha hastas.

In our next step in Mardhita we will be using the Dola Hasta , so please acquaint yourselves with it.

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.