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Angahara In Hindu Classical Dance

Angahara is a movement of hands and feet in a set pattern in Hindu classical dance. It is sequence of karanas, graceful combination of movements of hands and feet. Sangitopanisahd-saroddhara interprets angahara as a chain of karana. Bharata, in his Natyashastra, explains that when the hands and feet move simultaneously in a particular pattern, it results in karana, in dance. The origin of this movement pattern is ascribed to Shiva.

Abhinavagupta declares that hasta implies all the actions pertaining to the upper limb of the body, and pada denotes the actions that pertain to the lower limb. Hence karana is said to be the graceful correlated action of all the major and minor limbs. Bharata describes one hundred and eight such karanas and each karana is a beautiful combination of static and dynamic states.

The graceful combination of such karanas makes one nrittamatraka and three or four nirttamatrakas make an angahara. Bharata says that angahara was first learnt by Tandu from Shiva. Tandu preached this technique to sage Bharata.

Sarangadeva refers to angahara as the bodily movements of Shiva. His explanation is that this beautiful chain of movements forms a garland, and hence is called a angahara.

The Vishnudharmottara Purana gives a list of thiry-two angaharas without discussing them in detail. The names generally agree with those in Natyashastra. Natyashastra mentions that there are thirty two angaharas but names only the first two of them. Sangita samayasara speaks of thirty-two angaharas without giving details as does. Sangita-darpana describes angaharas as one of the give nrityangas and gives thirty two of them.

Sangitaratnakara and Nrittaratnavali divide angaharas into two separate classes, each class having sixteen angaharas in them. This classification is done on the basis of the different talas (time measures) employed – the rhythm-unit of four, called caturasra anghara; the rhythm-unit of three, called trisra angahara. The former involves and even number of karanas and the latter involves an odd number of karanas.