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Item Code: NAC158
Author: Maheswar Neog
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: (Sanskrit Text and English Translation)
Edition: 1991
ISBN: 8120808290
Pages: 250
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 Inch X 7.5 Inch
Weight 940 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket

Many texts on music, dance and drama continued to be written in different parts of India until the 17th Century. Between the 12th and the 16th Century, regional styles emerged. Medieval texts have been discovered in all parts. One amongst these is the Srihastamuktavali belonging to the eastern tradition. While there is ambiguity in regard to its origins, text has been found in Maithili and in Assamese transcript. The author confines himself to a detailed treatment of the hastas (hand gestures). Dr. Maheswar Neog has edited and translated the text with great care, pointing out the similarities as also differences with the Natyasastra and the Sangita Ratnakara tradition. The text throws significant light on the language of the hand gestures which may have been followed in the eastern regions.

Dr. Maheswar Neog, a scholar of extraordinary gifts and accomplishments, is the author of over 50 publications and research papers. For nearly 5 decades, he has been writing and lecturing on different aspects of Assamese history, literature and the arts. Known for his outstanding contribution, in his book entitled "Sankaradeva and His Times" he has explored the literary and artistic texts with incomparable depth. His other works include Sri Sri Sankaradeva (4 Edns.) (1948); Asamiya Sahityar Ruparekha (4 Ends.) (1962); Adhunika Asamiya Sahitya (1967), Pracya Sasanavali (1975) (Epigraphy); Guru-a-carita Katha (Ed) Pavitra Assam (Ed) etc.; English; Sri Sri Sankaradeva (1965). Dr. Maheswar Neog has held many important positions, including Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship in Gauhati University and Saint Sankardeva Professorship in Punjabi University, Patiala. `He has received many honours, including, Padam Shri in 1972, Sadasya Mahiyan of the Assam Sahitya Sabha in 1988; and the Srimant Sankaradeva Award of the Assam Government in 1989.


It is with great pleasure that we introduce the Third Volume in the Kalamulasastra Series of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. The two previous publications dealt with music, namely, Matralaksanam and Dattilam. Matralaksanam was the first text to be published in the Series wherein an attempt was made to transcribe the wor1d’s most complex system of orally accentuated verses transmitted through oral in notation into a written textual form belonging to two very important sakhas of the Sama Veda. The text and its publication laid the foundation of the IGNCA’s programme of publishing fundamental texts of the Indian traditions in original and translation.

The second was also a text of music Dattilam. Its value lay in its representing a stream of theoretical discussion on music which could be clearly differentiated from the system enunciated by Bharata in the Natyasastra.

Between the composition of the Matralaksanam, the writing of Dattilam, the Natyasastra, and its commentary by Abhinavgupta, centuries elapse. Nevertheless, the tradition of the writing of texts (sastras) on the arts not only continues, but, it undergoes many changes and transformations. In course of time, distinct regional traditions emerge. The concept of the Desa: in the Natyasastra and Desi as a term of aesthetics, rather than denoting sociological category is recognised by the theoreticians. Sangita-Ratnakara of Sarngadeva takes cognizance of the emergence of Desi styles, both in music as also dance. From the 15th Century onwards, a large number of texts come to light from all regions of India on different aspects of the Indian arts, especially, architecture, sculpture, music and the dance. Each of these texts reflects two types of tendencies. The first is the flow of continuity. There is a direct relationship between the formulations contained in the earliest texts going back to the 2nd Centaury A.D. and those that have been written and compiled as late as in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The other is the attempt to identify distinctive features of a regional style or school. These two parallel tendencies are common to practically all the arts.

Hastamuktavali of Subhankara reflects these tendencies and the dynamics of textual writing on the arts in India. Despite the many controversies regarding the author and his date, it is clear from the excellent introduction of Dr. Maheswar Neog that the text was written somewhere in the Eastern part of India, possibly, originally in the Maithil Pradesh and then carried to Assam. The original manuscripts as also the transcriptions and the gloss in Asamiya bear testimony to the popularity of the text and the mobility of the text between Nepal, Bihar and Assam. Also, it is clear that no text of this kind could have been written and re-written had it not been for a flourishing tradition of prayoga.

The contents, although restricted to the hastas again reflect the direct relationship with the Natyasastra tradition on the one hand and the regional traditions of hand-gestures, known as mudras in the Kalika Purana tradition of Kamarupa. Dr. Neog makes a very interesting comparison between mudras mentioned in the Kalika Purana and the bastas mentioned in the Hastamuktavali.

The text is important for making comparisons for not only with the Natyasastra, but, also the Abhinaya darpana and the Sangita ratnakara.

Although Dr. Maheshwar Neog, the distinguished Sanskrit and Awamiya scholar, had published the text on the basis of three manuscripts in 1980, there was no translation. In view of the great importance of this text in was considered necessary to re-publish this along with the revised critical introduction, the original text and the translation in the Kalamulasastra Series.

We thank Dr. Maheswar Neog for the immaculate collation and editing work his translation and his erudite introduction. We acknowledge our thanks to his daughter Dr. (Miss) Sulekha Chakraborty for the assistance, to Dr. C.B. Pandey, our Editor for seeing it through the press.


Classical Indian Dance Literature:
From the very beginning the Indian drama has depended a great deal upon the element of dance, as it did have music, both instrumental and vocal, as an important part of it. The dramatic art consisted of representation (abhinaya), classified into angika (physical, gestural) vacika (vocal), aharya (depending on costume and make-up), and sattvika (temperamental or emotional). Angika referred to the artistic movement of various limbs of the body, such as the head, the hands, the feet, the eyes, the eye-balls, the eye-brows, the neck and the thighs. From the earliest times, drama and art critics have tried to fix codes for the movement of the limbs, of which the hands have always been receiving the greatest attention.

Among the Indus Valley finds are figurines of danseuses. There are references to dances, codified or not, to be found in Indian literature of all ages. The Rgveda, 1.92.4, mentions the dancing of a courtesan (nrtu) with bare breasts. In Panini (5th or 4th century [IC.), IV.3.1 10-111, we find references to the Nata-sutras of Silalin and K4ãva; but the exact nature of the contents of these sutras could not now he determined.

The Natyasastra is not only the earliest detailed treatise on Indian dramaturgy and histrionics, but it is also the most authoritative work on the subject ever to be written in this country. It is ascribed to a sage going by the name, Bharata, supposed to be eponymous by some scholars, as the word originally meant ‘an actor’. It seems to date back from the second or first century B.C. There are altogether thirty-six chapters (made into thirty-seven in one of the two recensions) in this masterly work. Of these—
(1) Chapter iv provides a description of the tandava or class dance, and deals quite elaborately with 32 angaharas (composite movements of limbs), which consist of karmas, poses numbering 108 in all, (and being) described in this very chapter. ‘The 4 types of recakas of the feet (pada), of the waist (Mad), of the hands (hasta) and of the neck (griva) are then taken fir discussion. Pindis or pindibandhas (combinations of dancers) arc then described.

(2) Chapter viii goes into details of physical representation, that is, gestures, which are classified into (a) gestures of the limbs (sarira) being (i) angas or major limbs, — the head, hands, breasts, sides, waist and feet, (ii) 6 upangas or minor limbs upahga)—the eyes, eye-brows, nose, lower lip, cheeks and chin; (b) gestures of the face (mukhaja); and (c) gestures of the body as a whole (cestakrta). There are 13 gestures of the head, 36 glances (drsti including 8 to represent rasas 8 representing sthayibhavas and 20 representing vyabhiart bhavas), 9 gestures of the eye-balls, 8 additional glances, 9 gestures of the eye-lids, 7 gestures of the eye-brows, 6 gestures of the nose, 6 of the cheeks, 6 of the lower lip, 6 of the chin, 6 of the mouth, and 9 movements of the neck. There are four different ‘hues’ of the face here noticed.

(3) Chapter ix is wholly engaged with the 67 gestures of the hands, which are of three types—24 gestures of single hands, 13 gestures of combined hands, and 30 nrttahastas or pure dance hands, there are four classes of karanas of the hands, and 10 movements of the arms.

(3) Chapter x deals with the gestures of the other limbs and their use in abbinaya—5 of the breasts, 5 of the sides, 3 of the belly, 5 of the waist, 5 of the thighs, 5 of the shanks, and 5 of the feet. (5) Chapter xi deals with the cari movements and their uses. There are 32 caris, of which 16 are earthly (bhaumi) and 16 aerial (akasiki). There are, moreover, 6 sthanas or standing postures and 4 ways (nyaya) in handling weapons.

(6) Chapter xii describes mandalas which are combinations of caris, of which 10 are earthly and 10 aerial.

(7) Chapter xiii prescribes gaits (gati) for different characters like kings, merchants and ministers, ascetics and sectarians, the sick and emaciated, lunatics and jesters, etc., for different sentiments, and for different situations.


Foreword vii
Introduction xv
Classical Indian dance literature xv
Mudras in the Kalika Purana xix
Subhankara Kavi and his sangita works xxi
Another Subhankara xxvi
The date of Subhankara: the earlier limit xxvii
The lower limitxxix
The scope of the Hastamuktavali xxix
Asamyuta hastas xxx
Samyuta hastas xxxiii
Nrtta hastas xxxiv
Viniyoga: application xxxvii
Asamyuta hastas xxxvii
Samyuta hastas xxxviii
Textual materials xxxviii
Earlier studies xli
Abbreviation xliii
Srihastamuktavali 1
Invocation and specification of subject-matter 3
Varieties of hastas 5
Asamyuta hastas 7
Samyuta hastas 7
Nrtta hastas 7
Detailed description of asamyuta hastas 9
1. Pataka 9
2. Padmakosa 9
3. Hamsaya (Hamsamukha) 9
4. Kartarimukha11
5. Alapadma 11
6. Tripataka11
7. Mustika 11
8. Sikhara 11
9. Ardhacandra11
10. Sarpasirah13
11. Sucimukha13
12. Khatakamukha13
13. Arala13
14. Sukatunda13
15. Sandamsa13
16. Kangula13
17. Urnanabha13
18. Kapittha13
19. Mrgasirsa 15
20. Hamsapaksa15
21. Tamracuda15
22. Catura15
23. Mukula15
24. Bhramara15
25. Kadamba15
26. Krsnasaramukha15
27. Ghronika17
28. Simhasya17
29. Ankusa17
30. Tantrimukha 17
Detailed description of samyuta hastas 17
1. Gajadanta17
2. Kapota19
3. Vardhamana19
4. Anjali19
5. Nisadha19
6. Karkata19
7. Utsanga 19
8. Avahittha19
9. Svastika21
10. Makara21
11. Dola21
12. Puspaputa21
13. Marala21
14. Khatakavardhamana21
Nrttahastas 21
Subjects of asamyuta hastas and detailed description of the subjects 23
1. Subjects of Pataka hasta23
Detailed description of the subjects of Pataka hasta27
2. Subjects of Padmakosa hasta45
Detailed description of the subjects of Padmakosa hasta 47
3. Subjects of Hamsasya hasta47
Detailed description of the subjects of Hamsasya hasta 49
4. Subjects of Kartarimukha hasta53
Detailed description of the subjects of Kartarimukha hasta 53
5. Subjects of Alpadma hasta 61
Detailed description of the subjects of Alpadma hasta 61
6. Subjects of Tripataka hasta63
Detailed description of the subjects of Tripataka hasta 65
7. Subjects of Mustika hasta73
Detailed description of the subjects of Mustika hasta 73
8. Subjects of Sikhara hasta77
Detailed description of the subjects of Sikhara hasta 77
9. Subject of Ardhacandra hasta79
Detailed description of the subjects of Ardhacandra hasta 79
10. Subjects of Sarpasirah hasta83
Detailed description of the subjects of Sarpasirah hasta 83
11. Subjects of Sucyasya hasta85
Detailed description of the subjects of Sucyasya hasta 87
12. Subjects of Khatakamukha hasta91
Detailed description of the subjects of Khatakamukha hasta 91
13. Sujects of Arala hasta95
Detailed description of the subjects of Arala hasta 95
14. Subjects of Sukatunda hasta99
Detailed description of the subjects of Sukatunda hasta 99
15. Subjects of Sandamsa hasta101
Detailed description of the subjects of Sandamsa hasta 105
16. Subjects of Kangula hasta 109
Detailed description of the subjects of Kangula hasta 111
17. Subjects of Urnanabha hasta111
Detailed description of the subjects of Urnanabha hasta 113
18. Subjects of Kapittha hasta113
Detailed description of the subjects of Kapittha hasta 115
19. Subjects of Mrgasirsa hasta115
Detailed description of the subjects of Mrgasirsa hasta 117
20. Subjects of Hamsapaksa hasta119
Detailed description of the subjects of Hamsapaksa hasta 121
21. Subjects of Tamracuda hasta 121
Detailed description of the subjects of Tamracuda hasta 123
22. Subjects of Catura hasta123
Detailed description of the subjects of Catura hasta 125
23. Subjects of Mukula hasta127
Detailed description of the subjects of Mukula hasta 129
24. Subjects of Bhramara hasta129
Detailed description of the subjects of Bhramara hasta 131
25. Subjects of Kadamba hasta131
Detailed description of the subjects of Kadamba hasta 133
26. Subjects of Krsnasaramukha hasta133
Detailed description of the subjects of Krsnasaramukha hasta 135
27. Subjects of Ghronika hasta135
Detailed description of the subjects of Ghronika hasta 137
28. Subjects of Simhasya hasta137
Detailed description of the subjects of Simhasya hasta 37
29. Subjects of Ankusa hasta139
Detailed description of the subjects of Ankusa hasta 139
30. Subjects of Tantrimukha hasta141
Detailed description of the subjects of Tantrimukha hasta 141
Subjects of samyutas and detailed description of the subjects 143
1. Subjects of Gajadanta hasta143
Detailed description of the subjects of Gajadanta hasta 145
2. Subjects of Kapota hasta145
Detailed description of the subjects of Kapota hasta 147
3. Subjects of Vardhamana hasta147
Detailed description of the subjects of Vardhamana hasta 149
4. Subjects of Anjali hasta149
Detailed description of the subjects of Anjali hasta 149
5. Subjects of Nisadha hasta151
Detailed description of the subjects of Nisadha hasta 151
6. Subjects of Karkata hata 151
Detailed description of the subjects of Karkata hasta 153
7. Subjects of Utsanga hasta153
Detailed description of the subjects of Utsanga hasta 155
8. Subjects of Avahittha hasta155
Detailed description of the subjects of Avahittha hasta 155
9. Subjects of Svastika hasta 157
Detailed description of the subjects of Svastika hasta 157
10. Subjects of Makara hasta159
Detailed description of the subjects of Makara hasta 159
11. Subjects of Dola hasta161
Detailed description of the subjects of Dola hasta 161
12. Subjects of Puspaputa hasta161
Detailed description of the subjects of Puspaputa hasta 163
13. Subjects of Marala hasta163
Detailed description of the subjects of Marala hasta 163
14. Subjects of Katakavardhamana hasta 165
Detailed description of the subjects of Khatakavardhamana hasta 165
Things particularly to be noted in abhinaya 167
Nrttahastas 169
1. Kesabandha hasta 169
2. Nitamba hasta 169
3. Recita hasta 171
4. Ardharecita hasta 171
5. Caturasra hasta 171
6. Udvrtta hasta171
7. Pallava hasta 171
8. Paksavancita 171
9. Lata hasta 171
10. Natamukha hasta 171
11. Svastika hasta173
12. Viprakirna hasta 173
13. Aviddhavaktra hasta 173
14. Sucyasya hasta 173
15. Aralakhatakamukha hasta 173
16. Vaksomandali hasta 173
17. Urahparsvardhamandali hasta 175
18. Parsvamandali hasta 175
19. Urdhvamandali hasta 175
20. Mustikasvastika hasta 175
21. Paksapradyotaka 175
22. Karihasta 175
23. Dandapaksa hasta 175
24. Garudapaksa hasta 177
25. Alapadmonnata hasta 177
26. Uttanarecita hasta 177
27. Nalinipadmakosa hasta 177
A few other points 177
Appendix 183
Index to Viniyogas 185
A Select Bibliography 206
Plates 207
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