Drishtikosh – The Drishti Guide to Dance and Music Terminology

Adhama Nayika: An angry, quarrelsome jealous woman. The low category of woman as classified by the Natyashastra texts. A nayika is a heroine, the romantic concept of the beloved. There are different types of nayikasadhama nayika is one of them.

Nayikas are classified into three types, depending on their culture and upbringing: Uttama (one who returns good for evil and is always happy in her husband’s happiness), Madhyama (one who, if the lover is angry, becomes angry too; if the lover is good, she is also good to him), and Adhama nayika as explained above. There are 384 nayikas.

Adhara Krama: Movements of the lower lip. Six of these are kampana, samudghataka, sandashtaka, viniguhana, visarga, vivartana.

Kampana: Trembling and throbbing of the lips to show pain, stiffness, cold, fear, anger, etc.
Samudghataka: Contracting the lips and holding them at rest. Denotes pity, kissing, greeting.
Sandashtaka: The lips are bitten with the teeth. Denotes anger.
Viniguhana: The lips are drawn in and concealed. Denotes effort.
Visarga: The lips are opened wide apart. Denotes anger in a women, affected indifference, painting the lips.
Vivartana: The lips are narrowed. Denotes envy, pain, contentment, laughter.

Adhomukha: One of the shiro bheda (head movement) in which the head is bent to denote repsect, grief, bashfulness, anxiety, fainting, or plunging into water.

Aharyabhinaya: One of the modes of abhinaya, where costumes, makeup, jewellery and props are emphasised. These are worn according to the character (patra) depicted.

Akampita: One of the shiro bheda (head movement) in which the head is moved up and down slowly, to denote teaching, questioning, addressing, or ordering.

Alambana Vibhava: Vibhava is the determination of a bhava; events, or objects giving rise to a bhava may be alambana, for example, the nayaka-nayika relationship.

Alapadma: An asamyuta hasta (single-hand gesture); the fingers are opened and separated, little finger over palm, others sloping downward, thumb in line with palm. This is used to denote lotus, circular movement, full moon, beauty, mountain, asking ‘who are you?’ and so on.

Alarippu: One of the dance items in the Bharatanatyam repertoire. Literally, “blossoming forth”; an invocation dance generally performed at the beginning of every Bharatanatyam recital, where through a series of pure nritta movements (rhythmic elements), the body is dedicated to god.

Amad: A pure dance number in Kathak suggesting entry on the stage.

Ang: Body.


Antara: The second section of a composition (in Hindustani music) based on higher notes of the scale.

Anudatta: The lowest note in the three-toned chant of the Rig Veda.

Anudrutam: One of the angas used in reckoning tala. The symbol used is U. It consists of one beat.

Anupallavi: The second section in musical forms (in Carnatic music) like the varnam and the kriti.

Anuvadi: Notes in a raga other than the vadi and samvadi. They are secondarynotes.

Apurva Ragas: Uncommon, unusual ragas.

Archika Gana: The mono-toned chant of the Rig Veda.

Arohana: A series of notes in an ascending order of pitch.

Asthai: The first section of a composition (in Hindustani music).

Ashtapadi: Means eight verses or stanzas. It is used to describe the songs in the Gita Govinda by poet Jayadeva.

Ashtachhap: The set of eight poets who wrote devotional poetry in Brijbhasha.