The Innovative Gestures Introduced by Nandikeśvara in the Abhinayadarpaṇa

  • Dr. Sayanika Goswami


Bharata deals with the art of abhinaya in his Nāṭyaśāstra exhaustively. Nandikeśvara too appears to follow him in this regard. As Bharatamuni accepts and defines four kinds of abhinaya, Nandikeśvara also has done so. He deals with four kinds of abhinaya. Nandikeśvara has dealt with āṁgika abhinaya in detail, which is shown by various gestures of major and minor limbs in whole of the short treatise called the Abhinayadarpaṇa. There are twenty four numbers of single hand gestures in the Nāṭyaśāstra. According to Bharata those are applied in the production of a play. But Nandikeśvara in the Abhinayadarpaṇa analysed twenty eight gestures of this class. Among them twenty names are common in both the works. He discussed thirty two types of single and twenty three types of combined hand gestures and mentions some of the thirteen single and combined hand gestures and suggests that these are to be applied as nṛttahastas. Along with those Nandikeśvara provides some innovative gestures which are not available in the Nāṭyaśāstra. He introduced some gestures of Hindu Lords in their sculptural forms. He even presents hands for ten incarnations of Viṣṇu applicable in abhinaya. The great ācārya of abhinaya presents discussion on the gestures of different castes and rākṣasa also. First he analyses rākṣasa and then the discussions of the gestures of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, baiśya and śūdra are presented. After that other castes which were present at that time, are cited. These are totally new additions of Nandikeśvara, which not found in the Nāṭyaśāstra. But the interesting point is that Nandikeśvara seems to be very thankful to Bharata or the bharata-paramparā while analysing such uncommon gestures. All these hands used for gods are combined hands, not single ones. So those can be accepted as one type of saṁyutahasta. Nandikeśvara follows a tradition of nāṭyācāryas who may discuss all these before him. This paper will present a short discussion on those gestures.

How to Cite
Dr. Sayanika Goswami. (2020). The Innovative Gestures Introduced by Nandikeśvara in the Abhinayadarpaṇa. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(3s), 2037 - 2042. Retrieved from