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Pataaka Hand Gesture (Mudra)

Pataaka means “Flag”. Pataaka is done with all fingers held straight like the Stop sign. There should be no gap between the fingers. Following are the uses (viniyoga) of Pataaka:


Lets see the Viniyoga shloka (sanskrit verses that explain the uses) :

Natyarambhay varivahe vanay vastunishedhanay
Kuchastalay nishayam cha nadyam amaramandale

Turangay khandanay vayo shayanay gamanodyamay
Pratapay cha prasaday cha chandrikayam ghanatapay

Kavatapatanay saptavibhaktyarthay tarangakay
Vethe praveshabhavepi samtvay cha angaragakay

Atmarthay shapathay chape tushnibhavnidharshanay
Talapatray cha khetay cha dravyadishparshanay tatha

Ashirvadekriyayam cha nrupashreshthasya bhavanay
Tatra tatreti vachanay sindhau cha sukrutikramay

Sambhodhanay purogepi khadgarupasya dharanay
Masay sanvatsaray varshadineay sammarjanay tatha

Evamartheshu yujyante patakahastabhavanaha

It says Pataka Mudra is used to denote the following ;

  • Natyarambhay: At the beginning of Natyarambha
  • Varivahe: Clouds
  • Vanay: Forest
  • Vastunishedhanay: Denial of objects
  • Kuchastalay: Bosom
  • Nishayam: night
  • Nadyam: river
  • Amaramandalay: Realm of Divinity
  • Turangay: Horse
  •  Khandanay: Cutting
  • Vayo: Wind
  • Shayanay: To sleep
  •  Gamanodyamay: To show one is going
  • Pratapay: Prowess
  • Prasaday: Bless
  • Chandrikayam: Moonlight
  • Ghanatapay: Fierce heat
  • Kavatapatanay: Pushing and opening the doors
  • Saptavibhaktyarthay: Seven case endings
  • Tarangakay: Ripples
  • Vethe: Street
  • Praveshabhavepi: Entering the lane
  • Samtvay: Equanimity
  • Angaragakay: Smearing oneself
  • Atmarthay: oneself
  • Shapathay chape: Taking oath
  • Tushnibhavnidharshanay: Silence
  • Talapatray: Palmarya Leaf
  • Khetay: Shield
  • Dravyadishparshanay: Touching Objects
  • Ashirvadekriyayam: To bless
  • Nrupashreshthasya bhavanay: An ideal king
  • Tatra tatreti vachanay: To this and that, Showing location
  • Sindhau: Sea
  • Sukrutikramay: Series of meritorious actions
  • Sambhodhanay: To address some one
  • Purogepi: Step forward
  • Khadgarupasya: grasping a sword
  • Masay: Month,
  • sanvatsaray: Year
  • varshadineay: A drizzly day
  • Sammarjanay: A sweeping with broom

The gesture is mainly used in Sarikal Adavu & Murka Adavu.


  1. Arun Pillai

    Thanks for sharing them. Though am not aware of these gestures and in fact bharatanatyam itself, i appreciate this art to the core. Unlike the common modernized ones which everyone get to see in movies and channels, this has a class of it own. Amen to this art form and the people who carry it forward.

  2. radha

    Hi, i wonder if u could post a movie on the uses of the hastas viniyoga along with the sloka. i liked all those instructional adavus by various artistes, maybe u could do it for the theory?

  3. Sheela

    How do you show month using pathaaka?..I mean what is the position the hasta is to be held to depict “month” ?…could you please let me know…thanks

  4. Anjali

    There are various interpretations to it. I hold the Pataka hasta close to the right shoulder for a month, the inner palm facing the left side.

  5. shreeya satwe

    i am living in pune and i am having class of bharatnatyam i love it my teacher is vaishali parasnis sucheta chaphekar great student my 2 year is going on &i am still 11 years old but i like western dances also not kathak in our school there is kathak but i dont keep attention because i dont like kathak i just hate western &bharatnatyam till now i have studied till natadav 7 my class is on sat & sun

  6. Bea

    I would love it if you were able to put up pictures or even better a video of the uses of pataka.


  7. rajani

    Anjali, your website and dancing lessons are so nice. I need some help for Pataka hand gesture series, like natyarambhe, varivahe, vane–I need actions of these, can you help me where could I get?

  8. Anjali

    @rajini:The site will be updated with these information soon. meanwhile you can refer Cd’s on hasta abhinayam called “bharatanatyam percepts and practice”available in the market.

  9. Kavya Sharma

    Nice information shared. I’ve also been learning bharathanatyam for the past 9 years and I’m enjoying it. It has brought peace to my mind and body. So for all those who feel that classical dance is a bore, try and learn it. You will yourself come to know about the art and its status.

  10. Amy Olivia

    Anjali, This is very very professional work! Congratulations!

    I registered and logged in for my 8 year old daughter.

    I want to make a contribution,
    financial and in terms of time.

    Thank you and God bless.

  11. Navaneethakrishnan

    The pathaka hastha mudra, following part…

    Kavatapatane saptavibhaktyarthe tarange
    Vethepraveshabhavepi samtve chagaragake

    it has to be angararaadhake.

  12. bulbul

    hi , can u pls let me know if i can get all the viniyogas sloka in sanskrit version as it is difficult for me to know the right pronounciation in english version.

  13. shari vimal narayan

    Hi Anjali, I am quiet impressed and also surprised by the way you have detailed each and every spandanam of Bharathanatiyam. I am trying to refresh my Bharathanatiyam knowledge . Thanks for such a brilliant work.



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