Bharatanatyam Mudras (Hand Gestures)

September 2nd, 2007 by Anjali

We explored Tatta Adavu over the last few posts and this basic Adavu only had leg tapping movements. From the next Adavu, there is use of hand gestures and I thought it is a good time to introduce you to the concept now.

As we understand Bharatanatyam better, we shall see that the whole body is used to express and reach out to the audience. The gestures using one or two hands are an important part of this expression.

Image Courtesy: cactusbones on Flickr

Gestures are not new to us since we use them in our day to day activities also! Just take some time and think of what gesture you would use for following situations:

  • To call a person
  • To point at an object
  • To show drinking
  • Denote a snake

Obviously, we have used some gesture or the other to express the above. So hand gestures are a basic mode of communication. Gesture is a symbolic action by which a thought, a feeling or intention is expressed.

Nritta hastas are a very integral part of any classical Indian dance. These hastas are more or less common for all the classical dances. In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are used both in Nritta and Nritya.

In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are divided into two categories:

  1. Asamyukta Hasta – That which is done with one hand or single hand gestures. They are 28 in number.

  2. Samyukta Hasta – That which is done using both hands or double hand gestures. They are 23 in number.

Each hand gestures has many applications or Viniyogas which are described in Sanskrit Slokas of the natayashastra. For eg. Tripataka used in the Nattu Adavu is used to represent a crown, tree, thunder, applying Tilak etc. The interpretation of the gesture is based on the context in which it is used.

Most of the hand gestures and Viniyogas in Bharatanatyam are described on this site. Please click through the links above. You can also look at the resources page and follow the links for hand gesture details on other sites.

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Leave A Comment

69 responses so far ↓

  • 1 brundha Mar 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Mudras are difficult to learn but,easy to do

  • 2 Adrishta May 5, 2012 at 1:08 am

    its nice site to search for Bharatnatyam steps and all……….

  • 3 fia Sep 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm


  • 4 Soniya Srijith Sep 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

    thanks alot for thhis site.really it helped me alot to know more about mudras and its meaning.
    If you dont mind can u please help me to know the order of the steps in bharathanatyam.

  • 5 Vijayalakshmi Dec 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    can u please help me to get the knowledge of other mudras other than asamyutha and samyutha hastas.
    And also get me a chance to participate in various programs and competitions. Intimate me through mail.

  • 6 Mrunmayi Dec 8, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Well…I like the audio but was totally blank as i didnt knew their meanings so please…….

  • 7 anniesebi Feb 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

    thankyou so much for putting these online.i was a bharathnatyam dancer when yo ong, but had forgotten most of mudras . I now want to teach dance to some of the invalid children , who r not able to stand so i thought i would teach them hand gestures , so it helps them as an exercise for their fingers and also they enjoy it and love to do it.I would be happy if i can make them do a dance with their hands , can u please help me .

  • 8 Anjali Feb 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    @anniesebi, sure let me know what you would like to know. I will be happy to extent a helping for such a noble cause.

  • 9 Logeswari Oct 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Really nice !!!! 🙂 🙂 this is the first time im seeing ur site. hope il get addicted to ur site 🙂

  • 10 DR BUVANESWARI Jan 18, 2014 at 2:34 am

    hi anjali mam, first of all thanks a lot. urs z help me to to correct my daughter”s movements.urs way to explain is very very nice without any waitng for ur hand and feet gestures video.keep it up.thanku

  • 11 Amita Maru Feb 28, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I just wanted to thank you as your website is my go to place for Bharatnatyam.

  • 12 nalini Jun 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

    interesting !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • 13 haritha Jun 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm


    I would like to know deva hastas in detail. For each god we have different hasta mudras espe. for god Mahadeva and vishnu. So kindly update varients of mudras for each god with explanation. Your way of explanation is very nice and is easy to understand. Thank you in advance.

  • 14 SUMI AJAY Feb 12, 2015 at 2:47 am

    hello madam, i want videos for viniyogas of both asamyuktha and samyuktha hastas and pada bhedas, videos for pushpanjali

  • 15 Ashwin.g Jun 8, 2015 at 6:16 am

    hello ms. Anjali! its great to visit this wonderful website and u really made me that i can learn bharathnatyam too. i have a question…
    actually i’m a guy who is interested to learn this form of dance..
    is it the same style or way of teaching is same for boys too?

  • 16 Tejasvi Nov 25, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Good nice for me

  • 17 sandhya nanwani Dec 6, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Can u please give me asayukta hastha mudra shlok in Sanskrit language and words also written in Sanskrit

  • 18 Muthu Apr 5, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    very use full site: pls explain boomi mudhra and its types ……..

  • 19 raghuram vengal Jul 13, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    very nice and interesting site!