Karanas in dance
According to Hindu mythology dance was created and originated from
Lord Siva, who is believed to have taught his method of pure dance
technique to Thandu Muni and Bharatha Muni learnt the technique based
pure Nirtha dance form Thandu Muni. Later Bharatha Muni wrote the
thesis, which was known to the world as Natya sastra, which consists of
altogether 36 chapters. All the chapters deal with various important
aspects and technique of dance and drama. Among all the chapters, fourth
chapters, is called thandava Lakshana.
According to sage Bharatha Karana means one body position,
co-ordinates with one hand and one leg position is called Chari .
Each Thandava Karana of 108 Thandava Karanas have their own meaning.
In dance, 108 Thandava Karanas are fundamental and basic dance poses to
depict Lord Siva. Generally, a combination of Karanas is called
Angaharana. According to sage Bharatha there are altogether 32 Angaharas
mentioned in Natya Sastra. In Karana, the body position is in fixed
stance, but in Angakarana, the body position is continuously changing.
Two Karanas are called Matrika, three together are called kalapaka, four
together is called Mandaka and five together is called Sanghataka and
six,seven,eight,or nine Karanas together called Angahara. Another
important position in Karanas is Rechakas meaning raised or moving or
whirling movements of the body. The Rechaskas are associated with neck,
hand, waist and body. In some Karanas the hand positions are crossed the
against one another, in some the legs are crossed against one another,
in some the legs are crossed against one another. Some Karanas are
depicted in full sitting positions, some are depicted in half sitting
positions, and some Karanas are in flying positions. Some Karanas have
leg positions and unique stances like raising the leg up to the head
level. For instance in the Karana Lala Thiathilaka the leg level is
raised up to the head level most of the Karanas resemble the aerobatic
positions, which one can not expect to intermingle the teal dance.
Another important aspect in Karanas is called Pindis. These pindis
are related to sequence of Angaharas of different gods. According to
Natya Sastra, Lord Nataraja performed 48 Karanas by himself, 36 Karanas
with goddess paravathi, nine with Lord Vishnu and three with Lord Muruga
and twelve with various Ganas. Three various writers had written many
aspects of Karanas. After sage Bharatha, various writers have given
different descriptions and interpretations about the same Karanas and
some wanted to increase the number of Karanas. Among the writers
Manasollasa of someswaradeva and Sarangadeva of Sangeetha Ratnakara are
deserved to mention. However, Sarangadeva faithfully sticks to the
illustrations of saga Bharatha.
All the Karanas are well preserved in the stone carvings and temple
pillars in South India . In the Chithambaram temple all the 108 Thandava
Karanas are well depicted. The Chithamparam temple has four Gopuras or
four temple towers. Four Gopuras are facing four different directions.
Each Gopura was built by different periods. In these tower pillars 108,
Thandava Karanas of Lord Siva are well depicted. These Karanas were
arranged one below another. Each Karana figure is depicted with
musicians mainly men singers and men drum players playing drums and men
striking the cymbals on side. Female dancers are depicted in the Karana
poses. In the entire temple tower wall pillars the Karanas are depicted
but these do not seem to follow any sequence or order. As compared to
Northern and Southern towers, Western and Eastern towers, the builders
paid special attention to arrange the Karanas according to Bharaha's
order. Under each karana, Sanskrit verses of Natya Sastra related to
such Karanas were embossed.
In the Bragatheeswarar temple of Tanjavur , one can see 81 Thandava
Karanas in the Garpa Giaha. Here in these Karanas depicting as Lord Siva
performing. These sculptural Karanas have four arms at least two hands
with weapons. Even the size of the figure is bigger than that of the
Chithamparam temple. Fortunately, Chithamparam Temple is the only temple
where the 108 Thandava Karanas with appropriate slokams from Natya
Sastra are seen.
Even now, we can see the Karanas in various temples such as
Kumbakonam, kanchipuram, Maduri, perur and Virdachalam.