Shiro, Drishti & Greeva Bhedhas & Anga 8

Shiro, Drishti & Greeva Bhedhas & Anga

The following describes the different shiro (head), drishti (eye) & greeva (neck) bhedhas (movements) and the categorisation of anga (body) that are used in Bharathanatyam.

Shiro Bhedha – head movements

Shira or shirasa means ”head” in sanskrit. The 9 head movements refer to the head positions when expressing a particular bhava.

  1. Samam: Keep head straight
  2. Udvahitam: Look up
  3. Adhomukham: Look Down
  4. Alolitam: Move head in a circular movement
  5. Dhutam: Move head to right and left
  6. Kampitam: Nod head up and down
  7. Paravrittam: Turn head to the right or left briskly
  8. Ukshiptam: Head is turned and raised or in a slanted position
  9. Parivahittam: Small shakes of the head done quickly


Sama udvahitam adhomukha-lolitam Dhutam
kampitam cha paravrittam ukshiptam parivahitam
navdhakathitam shirasa natyashastra visharadaihi


Drishti Bhedha – eye movements

Drishti means ”eyes” in sanskrit. The 8 eye movements refer to the eye positions when expressing a particular bhava.

  1. Samam: Keep eyes still
  2. Alokitam: Roll eye balls in a circular pattern
  3. Saachi: Look through the corner of the eyes
  4. Pralokitam: Move your eyes side to side.
  5. Nimilitam: It looks like a half shut eye, try to focus the eye ball towards the heart
  6. Ullokitam: Look upwards
  7. Anuvrittam: Move eyes up and down rapidly
  8. Avalokitam: Look down


Samam Alokitam Saachi pralokita Nimility
Ullokita-anuvritte cha tatha chaiva-avalokitam
Ithyashtho drishthi bhedaha syu kirtitah purvasuribhi


Greeva Bhedha – neck movements

Attamis exude grace in abhinaya pieces or acts as an ornament in Nritta. 4 types of neck movements mentioned in AbhinayaDarpanam.

  1. Sundari: Move neck side to side. It is also called as Attami
  2. Tirashchina: Move neck in a V-shape
  3. Prarivartita: Move neck in a semi-circle or moon-like shape
  4. Prakampita: Move neck forward and back


Sundari cha Tirashchina tathaiva Parivartita
Prakampita cha bhavagnair gneya greeva chaturvidha


Anga – body

In dance, the body limbs are classified as Anga, Pratyanga and Upaanga. The body limbs are used differently when expressing a particular bhava.

6 Angas comprise of

  • Chest
  • Waist
  • Bottom
  • Hands
  • Head
  • Legs

Some Bharathanatyam experts include the neck as well.

6 Pratyangas

  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Stomach

Some Bharathanatyam experts include the wrists, elbows and ankles as well.

12 Upaangas

  • Glance
  • Eyebrows
  • Eyelids
  • Eyeballs
  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Gums
  • Lips
  • Teeth
  • Tongue
  • Chin
  • Face

Some Bharathanatyam experts include the heels, fingers, feet and palms as well.

Important Rule for Dance :

Yetho Hasta Thatho Drishti
Yetho Drishtis Thatho Manah
Yetho Manas Thatho Baavo
Yetho Baavas Thatho Rasah

Sloka Translation:

Wherever the hand goes, the eyes follow
Wherever the eyes go, the mind follows
When the mind is engaged, expression results
Where there is expression, there is beauty.

– Abhinaya Darpana, Sloka No. 247


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