Bharathanatyam and yoga are two divine art forms | Sunday Observer

Bharathanatyam and yoga are two divine art forms

5 June, 2022

Barathanatyam and yoga are the two divine art forms originated in Indian. Both these art forms are deeply enrooted in Santayana Dharma which was often referred to in Hinduism in the olden days. Bharathanatyam derives its theoretical foundation from Natya Sastra which is considered as the fifth Veda of Hinduism. Natya Sastra consisted of 36 chapters and contains 6,000 verses.

Sage Bharata Muni enacted the theoretical concept and framework for the benefit and well-being of numerous performing art forms. It is said that Natya was enacted by a mystic figure Bharta Muni. Each and every nuance of Bharathanatyam is well defined in the theoretical foundation of Natya Sastra which gives scientific and systematic guidelines to choreographers and performers.


It includes numerous aspects such as cultural projection, linguistic, literary, arts, crafts, costumes and ornaments. The dance and drama based principles as well as the practical application of the art are elaborately discussed in the Natya Sastra. It embodies principles set out in a very concrete and concise format.

Barathanatyam and Yoga help persons for spiritual uplift and salvation. In the recent past so many researches have been done to identify the union between these two ancient art forms.

Bharathanatyam is often referred to as artistic Yoga. Yoga generally means union of soul with the almighty. Bharathanatyam is a divine fine art that coordinates human body, mind and emotions together. Bharathanatyam is generally divided into two main aspects. One is Thandava and the other is Lassiya. Thandava section is often referred to as Thandava Lakshana.

Tandava Lakshana in Natya Sastra, describes Karana as the basic and essential unit of dance which coordinates with different movements of the hands, feet, Isthana (body position) and Charis. Nrittahastas (pure dance hand gestures) are elaborately discussed and described in the Natya Sastra.

All these are used in the dance under the topic of Karanas. Altogether six kinds of Isthana, 32 Charis and 27 Nrittahastas are used in the Karanas.


According to Sage Bharata Muni, the total number of Karanasis 108. Most of the Karana poses of Lord Shiva do not reveal any specific meaning. Karanas are unique aspects or the units of dance. While performing a Karana, the movements of the hands and the feet on the whole are adjusting in relation to those of the chest, sides, waist, back and belly. Another aspect of Bharathanatyam is Lassya. It includes Abhinaya hand gestures, foot positions, body positions (Isthana) and facial expressions. In Lassiya Bhavas play a vital role.

It is displayed through Anga Abhinayas and facial expressions. The hand gestures used in Abhinaya are called Nirtya hands or working hands. These hand gestures are very important to explain and expound the meaning of the song.

Hand gestures are equally important for Abhinaya and Adavus. Adavus means basic steps in dance. The hand gestures used for Adavus (steps) are called grace hands. Very limited hand gestures are used in Adavus. The hand gestures, used in Adavus are called Nirttahastas or grace hands.

These hand gestures are further divided into two main divisions. One is single hand gestures and the other is double hand gestures. Single hand gestures are generally called Aasamuthahasthas and the double hand gestures are called Samuthahasthas.

The maximum number of single hand gestures is 30 to 32. Double hand gestures are nearly about 23 are in use.


Different body postures are called Asanas. Like Bharatha Natya certain hand gestures are also used in Yoga.

Each Asana has a specific posture and it benefits certain medical purposes. Yoga and Bharathanatyam develop mental stability, relief from mental stress, nervous disorder, and build physical strength and develop flexibility in the body.

Using gestures are quite common in certain religions. In certain religions during the ritual performances certain specific hand gestures are used.

Yoga poses and Bharatha NatyaKarana poses have numerous similarities. But Bharathanatyam is a performing fine art. It is performed with a specific well-defined music and with certain well-defined rhythmic tempos. It is categorised into numerous varieties of items.

The modern choreographers choreograph certain items with their own ability, approach, experience, involvement and their depth in the art form. The Bharatha Natya performers interwove numerous Karan poses into creativity according to their need and necessity.

In Yoga, some of the Asanas are associated with specific body postures with hand gestures. All these serve certain health purposes. Many of the Yoga postures resemble typical geometrical body positions. But the Bharatha Natya postures have much more poise and are attractive.