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Pada-artha, Vakya-artha and Sanchari

Recently one of my readers had asked about the following concepts.

1. Pada-artha

2. Vakya-artha

3. Sanchari

Thought I shall do a posting on this.

They form an important part of Nritya and Natya. Often considered when Abhinaya dance pieces like Padam or a varnam is being choreographed. Every padam or varnam has the above concepts in it.

1. Pada-artha meaning the dancer translates the meaning of each word into appropriate mudras, to describe a god, king or a person. Take a look at the following Abhinaya piece by Anita Ratnam. She explains the Lalita Dhyana shloka, a verse describing goddess Lalitha.

2. Vakya artha where ‘Vakya’ means ‘a sentence’ and ‘Artha’ is the meaning. Here the dancer portrays the underlying meaning of every line in the poetic verse. Generally over all idea of the poetic lines or verses are enacted or described by the dancer. In the video below the dancer Omana Bhalla is not literally translating the lines with her movements. It says “innu mama bhagya taru ulasichu” which means “Today my tree of fortune is blooming”. Thus Nayika considers her lord or beloved to be her wealth or fortune. And when he visits her, she considers herself to be the most fortunate. In the video she begins with welcoming her beloved. This kind of Abhinaya for the particular line is an example of Vakya-artha. Later the repeating lines portray the literal meaning with appropriate mudras, thus moving on to Pada-artha concept.

3. Sancharis means moving around. Sancharis are usually seen when the dance is centered on one line or a poetic verse. A well know Krishna padam ” krishna nee begane baro” in which the childhood pranks of krishna is enacted, but only this single line is repeated over and over again in different swaras. In the following Video Dr Padma Subramaniyam has enacted the story of Lord Ganesha. One line “Mooshika Vahana Modaka hasta” ie The one whose vehicle is a mouse and holds a modka (stuffed sweet) in his hand has been repeated several times. She moves on describing the story of Bala Ganesha. Such is a Sanchari.

Do send in your thoughts, opinion, inputs and examples to get these concepts clear.


  1. Jahnvi

    I am preparing for my Grade 4 exam in july and wanted to find out about padartha, sanchari and vakyartha.
    I came across this and was glad that I had finally found the information that I wanted.

    I wanted to know what contained in the Abhinaya Darpana and about Patraprana but couldn’t find it. Could you hopefully post the information and I would be extremely grateful if you do so.

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