Indian Dance Mudras

POIndianDanceMudras400Mudras of India
By ShaktiBhakti, 2010

The word mudra stems from the Sanskrit root mud, which means “to delight in”. This hints at the power of these beautiful gestures to evoke deep feeling in the observer and joy in the practitioner. The word mudra also denotes “seal,” and is employed in a yogic sense to explain the process of sealing and strengthening the body’s vital energies.

Mudras are an essential part of Classical Indian Dance, Yoga, and other spiritually based practices. Mudras are practiced for concentration, healing, and expressing the vast array of human emotion and experience.

In [the Mudras of India] blog I will include images, description, and usage of the fifty-two mudras described in the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara (twenty-eight asamyukta, single-hand, and twenty-four samyukta, joined-hand mudras). As well as various Yogic Mudras from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Tantric traditions of practice.

We have two beautifully designed posters: One of the 52 Traditional Dance Mudras, and one of the 60 Hand Mudras of Yoga. Go to

Pataaka – ‘Flag’
Pataaka Hasta is the first Mudra of the 28 single handed Mudras as described in the Abhinaya Darpana. The name Pataaka literally translates as ‘Flag’. Hasta means ‘Hand’. This Mudra is the most versatile of all Mudras and has many meanings and usages.

The thumb is slightly bent to touch the fingers and the fingers are extended. the Palm is flat. Keep in mind that in most occasions your hand gesture is held at least a hand distance away from your body to create an harmonious movement and spacious and graceful affect.

Below are all of Pataaka Mudra ways of usage as listed in the Abhinaya Darpana (Listed below in the original Sanskrit and English translation):

Natya Rambha – Beginning of the Dance (or Drama)
Vaari Vahay – Rain clouds
Bhana – Forest
Vasthu Nishay Dhanay – Forbidden things (avoiding things)
Kucha sthala – Bosom
Nisa – Night
Nadyaam – River
Amara Mandala – Heavens
Thuranga – Horse
Kandhana – Cutting (Ignoring)
Vaayu – Wind
Shayana – To sleep (reclining)
Gamano Dhyama – Walking (Going on a long journey)
Prathaapa – Prowess (Praised)
Prasaada – To Bless (Graciousness)
Chandrika – Moonlight
Gana Dhapa – Strong sunlight (Unbearable)
Kavaata Paatanam – Opening and closing the door (Knocking)
Saptha Vibakthyartham – Mentioning of the seven cases
Tharanga – Wave
Veethipravaysha Bhava – Entering a street
Samathva – Equality
Angaraagaka – Massaging / Applying sandal paste
Aathmaartham – One’s self
Shapatham – Taking an oath
Thooshneem Bhava Nidharshanam – Silence, Secret act
Thaala Pathra – Palm Leaf (To write a letter)
Kayday – Shield
Dravyaa Dis Sparshanam – Touching things
Aashirvaada – Benediction
Kriyaa – Good Deeds, Blessings.
Nrupasreshtrasya Bhaavana – An emperor or a Powerful King
Thathra thath raychi vachanam – To say this or that (“Such and such”)
Sindhu – Ocean Wave
Sukrudikrama – to be good
Sambhodhanam – Addressing (a person some distance away)
Purogaypee – To move forward
Kadga – Sword
Roopasya – Form
Dhaarana – To wear
Maasa – Month
Samvathsara – Year
Varsadhina – Rainy Day
Sammarjana – To sweep

When a student completes learning all of Pataaka gesture usages he / she recites:
Yevamardyeshu Yujanthay Pathaaka hasta Bhaavanaahaa.



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2 thoughts on “Indian Dance Mudras

  1. Emma's Cup August 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm Reply

    Huh? Such a nice post, but it is not in the reader. I will practice my pataaka hand regardless. 🙂

  2. thesevenminds August 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm Reply

    Thanks, Emma. I will repost it. 🙂

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