Understanding Mudras

Mudras are very specific positions of the hands and fingers that are used in all Indian classical dance styles. Each mudra has an original name in Sanskrit, and are all listed in an ancient Indian text on dance and other stage performances called the ‘Bharat-natya-shastra’. Mudras may simply be used to add to the visual beauty of the dance, or they may be used in a very specific sense to interpret the words of a song or to tell a story through dance. Notinee, to make it welcoming to students from all backgrounds, teaches the mudras in English instead of Sanskrit. Where ever possible, we use an English word that is a close translation to the original Sanskrit as possible. For example, ‘pataka’ literally means ‘flag,’ ‘ardha-pataka’ means ‘half-flag’ (ardha=half), and tri-pataka is translated to mean ‘three-quarter flag’ (tri=three).

Notinee is quite unique here; we don’t know of any other classical-based Indian dance-group in the USA which provides translated English words to the students for hand-mudras.

Mudras Illustrated: From Bhagyachandra’s Govinda Sangit Leelabilas and the book “Laithok Laikha Jogoi” the following Mudra’s are found:

Basic Mudras

O-songyukta (single hand): Potaka, tripotaka, ordopotaka, kotokamukh, sondongsa, mrigashirsha, hongsashya, olopollob, bhruksa, angush, ordhochandra, kurak, mushti.

Songyukta (Double hand): Shangkha, Chakra, onjoli, Taksa, Paas, korkot, Somput, rombhasum, pushpaput, kukil, shoshtik, sook.