Abhinaya Ke Prakar

The word “Abhinaya” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Ni” (Nay dhatu/verb), with “Abhi” prefix, and “Ach” suffix. “Abhi” means towards, whereas “Nay” means to take. Therefore, the word Abhinaya means to carry the emotions of a performer to the audience. From the perspective of performing arts, the ability to present emotions in front of an audience is known as Abhinaya. Abhinaya is performed keeping in mind the characters, time frame, environment, situation, etc. in order to express and communicate clearly. 

According to old scriptures, there are four types of Abhinaya - Aangik, Vachik, Aaharya, and Satvika. 

1. Aangik: Using Ang, Pratyang, and Upang (various body parts) to express emotions and feelings resulting in Abhinaya is known as Aanik Abhinaya. Here, the dancer uses aesthetically sound bodily movements to show a character or an idea. Example: without using words, the dancer will lift an earthen pot and fill it with water. The human body is the foremost element of any dancer. There are a lot of thoughts in one’s mind, however a dancer expresses with the help of their body, which is why it has been granted top priority. Kathak Dance From Which State

2. Vachik: When a performer uses speech to express themselves, then it is known as Vachik Abhinaya. Here, the performer will modulate their sound on the basis of the emotion they’re portraying. For instance, a sad character will talk softly with pauses; or an excited character will complete a sentence in a single breath, altogether. Therefore, emphasis on various words in any speech impacts the meaning being portrayed. This is used predominantly in the field of theatre and dramatics. However, in Kathak dance, during Padhant (recitation) and/or in music, Vachik Abhinaya has great significance. 

3. Aaharya: In any performance, when there is usage of decoration and/or props to indicate any emotion, then it is understood as Aaharya Abhinaya. In other words, using different forms of exterior decoration as means to express and communicate which further results in Abhinaya is known as Aaharya Abhinaya. The first introduction or glance of any character is seen by their costume and make up. Therefore, this form of Abhinaya is predominant in theatre and dramatics. There are four types of Aaharya Abhinaya: makeup, costume and jewellery, (environmental) setting, and props usage. 

4. Satvika: When one is overwhelmed due to other people’s emotions, then being taken over by those feelings is known as “Satva”. Therefore, these emotions when translated into Abhinaya, is known as Satvik Abhinaya. There are eight types of Satvika Abhinaya: Stambh (to be shocked), Pralaya (feeling faint), Romanch (to get goosebumps), Swedh (perspiration), Vaivarna (change of colour on face), Vepathu (hyperventilation), Ashru (getting teary-eyed), Vaiswarya (change in voice) - showcasing these emotions successfully is known as Satvika abhinaya. While this is regarded as the main form of Abhinaya, it is also considered to be the toughest to present. One needs to be completely immersed in the character and emotion to be able to present these emotions. 

Through these four forms of Abhinaya, performance is said to be complete. The lifeline of any performance is the evocation of Rasa.

Kathak is the most mesmerizing dance form woven around the concept of storytelling. 

Click here to know more about the different concepts related to charming dance mudras, and footwork such as Costume and Makeup Kathak Dress & Laya And Taal.


Q. What are the types of Abhinaya in Indian Classical Dance?
Ans. According to Abhinaya Darpana, written by Acharya Nandikeshwara, there are four main forms of Abhinaya. They are - Aangika, Vaachika, Aaharya, and Saatvika. Aangika Abhinaya is when the dancer expresses themselves using their entire body. It is the first form of Abhinaya that the viewers can see and experience feelings and emotions. Vaachika Abhinaya is when the dancer uses speech to express emotions and feelings. In Kathak, the dancer can freely communicate with the viewers through Padhant. This is unique to Kathak as compared to other dance forms. Aaharya Abhinaya is when the dancer uses external forms of decoration such as costume and make-up to bring forth the emotions and feelings from the audience. Saatvik Abhinaya is the most subtle, yet the most powerful form of Abhinaya. It requires a dancer to be completely involved in the character and experience their emotions. Together, the four forms of Abhinaya form ‘Chaturvidh’ Abhinaya.
Q. What is Aangika Abhinaya in dance?
Ans. In Indian Classical dance, Aangika Abhinaya is when the dancer uses their body to express any emotion, idea, thought, etc. There are three broad types of Ang - Ang, Upang, and Pratyaang. The usage of all the three forms of Ang in variations form Aangika Abhinaya.
Q. What is Abhinaya?
Ans. The word ‘Abhinaya’ is a result of the Sanskrit verb ‘Ni’ - to take or carry, and Sanskrit prefix ‘Abhi' - meaning ‘towards’. Combining the two words, Abhinaya means to carry the emotions and feelings from the artist towards the audience.
Q. What is Aharya Abhinaya according to Natyashastra?
Ans. Aharya Abhinaya, according to Natyashastra, is that form of Abhinaya where the dancer dresses up as the character they are portraying in their performance. Example: In the context of Krishna-Leela in Kathak, the dancer may dress themselves up as Krishna by wearing a blue costume, a wig with curly hair, use a flute, etc. The character playing Radha would wear an elaborate lehenga, her make-up would be more accentuated as compared to other Gopis, etc.

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