Ved Institute of Performing Arts

Aditi Kathak Dance Classes & Institute in Mumbai |

Angik Abhinaya Workshop on 18th Jan.


Angik Abhinaya.

'Abhi' is the prefix meaning 'towards' and 'ni (naya)' is the root meaning to carry. So, Abhinaya means to carry towards, i.e. to carry the spectator towards the meaning.Thus, Abhinaya can be called a vehicle of Natya through which the spectator experiences the particular emotions of the dramatic character that is to lead him towards Rasananda - the ultimate bliss which is the aim of Natya.

As per Natyashashtra there are four major types of Abhinaya, viz., Angika Abhinaya, Vacika Abhinaya, Aharya Abhinaya and Sattvika Abhinaya. 

Angika Abhinaya means to convey the meaning through body movements. This involves natural as well as symbolic gestures, postures and movements of the major and minor parts of the body, including the Mukharaga, which are expressions conveyed through the subtle movements of facial muscles. Bharata's description of the usages of body limbs for conveying various meanings is a detailed scientific study of human behavior.

Bharata's description of Angika is the detailed study of all the possible gestures, postures and movements of each and every part of the body. He divides body into three major parts - the Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga.

  1. The Angas are six - Siras, Hasta, Vaksas, Parsva, Katitata, Padz. Some consider Griva to be the seventh.
  2. There are six Pratyangas - Skandha, Bahu, Prstha, Udara, Uru, Jangha. Some consider Manibandha, Kurpara and Janu also as Pratyanga
  3. There are twelve Upangas or minor parts of the Siras or face which are important for Mkukharaga or facial expression. These are - Drsti, Bhru, Puta, Kapola, Nasika, Adhara etc.

Bharata has defined postures, movements and usages for all these. Without going into details of all the definitions and usages, which one can refer to in the Natya Sastra, I would like to stress two points.

Firstly, through the details of Angika, Bharata wants to stress the importance of Natyadharmi or the specific usage of total body movement in Abhinaya. For instance, to say "you and me" in a realistic way as in today's theatre, it could be purely through spoken words or with a slight nod of head or eyes. However, in Bharata's technique, it would involve a rhythmic step forward and backward as well as an elaborate arm movement within the particular areas around body.

Secondly, an important aspect of Angika is Hastabhinaya or conveying the meaning through Hastas or specific gestures of hands. The tradition of using Hastas as expounded by Bharata and followed by the later Sanskrta dramatic theorists is still very much alive in our classical dance traditions. Hastas are of two types - Asamyukta (executed with one hand) and Samyukta Hastas (a formation with both hands together). Bharata has also defined the Hasta-Pracara (hand positions), Hasta-Recaka (hand moving along with arm movement) and Hasta-Karana (the turning movement of hand). All this artificial gesticulation and stylish body language transforms any emotion into a beautiful kinetic form which takes Natya into the realm of fantasy, helping the process of Rasanubhava, i.e., the aesthetic flavour of the universalised emotion to be experienced by the spectators through the art of theatre.


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