Drishtikosh – The Drishti Guide to Dance and Music Terminology


Abhilasha: Aspiration

Abhanga: the body slightly bent, weight on one leg, the other leg relaxed near the first. The pose depicts Rama, repose, etc.

Abhinaya: The art of histrionics. A Sanskrit word combining the prefix ‘abhi‘ meaning ‘towards’ and the root ‘ni‘ meaning ‘to carry’, i.e. “carrying” across n idea, emotion, or event to the audience; acting in which bhavarasa, (bhava – emotion, rasa – mood or response for that emotion) and gestures are used.

Abhinaya Darpana: A treatise on the gestures and postures used in dance and drama, written by Nandikeshwara in the third century AD. One of the standard texts on Bharatanatyam.

Abhisarika Nayika: This is one of the Ashta Nayikas. A woman who goes to meet her lover, in spite of many obstacles, for a secret rendezvous.

Abhugna: Hridaya Krama – the chest is slightly bent and lowered, back held up, shoulders bent. Denotes hurry, despair, fainting, fear, sorrow, sickness, a broken heart, touching a cold object, rain.

Adavu: A fundamental dance unit used in nritta where hands, feet, head, eyes and other parts of the body move in a cooridnated manner.

Adhbuta: Adhbhuta rasa is one of the nine rasas (Expressions-Feelings-Emotions), an expression of wonder or surprise.

Addami: The movement of the head and neck from side to side. This is one of the most important movements in all Indian classical dances and denotes the beginning of dance, affection, love, satisfaction, etc.


Abhyasa Gana: Music intended for practice.

Adhara Shadja: The tonic or Sa that is kept constant so that all melodies are played and sung with this note as base.

Adi: One of the most popular talas. Technically known as Chatusra Jati Triputa Tala, it has eight beats, divided 4+2+2.

Alankaras: Sol-fa exercises based on the basic seven talas.

Alap / Alapana: Free raga improvisation without any rhythmic accompaniment.

Anagata: Refers to the eduppu or beginning of a composition in relation to the rhythmic cycle. In this case, it starts after the down-beat.


  1. One of the ten elements of rhythm (Tala Dasa Pranas). It refers to the components or sections; for e.g. the angas in the basic seven talas are the laghu, the anudrutam and the drutam.
  2. In a musical form like the Kriti it refers to the three sections – pallavi, anupallavi and charanam.