Karanas are the 108 key transitions[1] in the classical Indian dance described in 4th Chapter named "Tandava Lakshana" of Natya Shastra. Karana is a Sanskrit verbal noun, meaning "doing".

Sculptures of the Karanas performed by the god of dance - Nataraja - at Kadavul Hindu Temple, on Kauai, Hawaii.



Natya Shastra states that Karanas are the framework for the "margi" (pan-Indian classical) productions which are supposed to spiritually enlighten the spectators, as opposed to the "desi" (regional folk or pop dance) productions which can only entertain the spectators. "One who performs well this Karana dance created by Maheswara will go free from all sins to the abode of this deity," states Natya Shastra[2]

A variant of Vrscikakuttitam karana

Some of the well-known interpretations of karanas are by Padma Subramanyam that were based on 108 brief movement phrases describing specific leg, hip, body, and arm movements accompanied by hasta mudras described in the Natya shastra and other scriptures, and from depictions of the movements in sculpture in five South Indian temples, notably the Chidambaram temple which contains depictions of the full set. Padma Subrahmanyam has written a book called Karanas-Common dance codes of India and Indonesia, based on her research of karanas from the temples of Prambanan(Indonesia), Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Chidambaram, Thiruvannamalai, and Vriddhachalam. In the 20th century, she was the first dancer to reconstruct the Karanas as movements, which were considered mere poses earlier.

Some other Bharatanatyam gurus, such as Adyar Lakshman (Kalakshetra school), as well as the Kuchipudi gurus Vempati Chinna Satyam and C.R.Acharya have also attempted to reconstruct all the 108 karanas, which were often significantly different from Padma Subrahmanyam's interpretations so much so that even on the chari (leg movement) level there was no agreement as to whose interpretation is correct. [according to whom?] Due to the significant variations in the depictions, most traditional Bharatanatyam schools considered Padma Subrahmanyam's style, which incorporated Karanas as incorrect, which forced her to name her own style as Bharatanrityam rather than Bharatanatyam. Many of Padma Subrahmanyam's disciples, such as Bala Devi Chandrashekar (SPNAPA Academy of performing arts) - Sujatha Mohan (Padmashree Nrithyalaya), Uma Sriram, Jayashree Rajagopalan, Dominique Delorme (France) and others are teaching the 108 karanas based on Subramanyam's research.[citation needed]

There used to be[when?] devadasis who performed all the 108 karanas. Still, now in most contemporary Bharatanatyam or Odissi schools, only a small number of karanas and their derivatives have been transmitted by parampara up to date.

Apart from that, performing of the same Karana differs greatly across different classical Indian styles. Currently, as regards the exact technique, there are no established standards and no universally agreed-upon interpretations of the texts and sculptures.[citation needed]

List of 108 Karanas

  1. Talapuṣpapuṭam
  2. Vartitam
  3. Valitōrukam
  4. Apaviddham
  5. Samanakham
  6. Līnam
  7. Swastikarēchitam
  8. Manḍalaswastikam
  9. Nikuṭṭakam
  10. Ardhanikuṭṭam
  11. Kaṭīchinnam
  12. Ardharēchitam
  13. Vakśaswastikam
  14. Unmattam
  15. Swastikam
  16. Pṛṣṭhaswastikam
  17. Dikswastikam
  18. Alātam
  19. Kaṭīsamam
  20. Ākśiptarēchitam
  21. Vikśiptākśiptam
  22. Ardhaswastikam
  23. Añchitam
  24. Bhujaṅgatrāsitam
  25. Ūrdhvajānu
  26. Nikuñchitam
  27. Mattalli
  28. Ardhamattalli
  29. Rēchitanikuṭṭam
  30. Pādāpaviddakam
  31. Valitam
  32. Gūrṇitam
  33. Lalitam
  34. Daṇḍapakśam
  35. Bhujaṅgatrastarēchitam
  36. Nūpuram
  37. Vaiṣākharēchitam
  38. Bhramaram
  39. Chaturam
  40. Bhujaṅgāñchitam
  41. Daṇḍarēchitam
  42. Vṛśchikakuṭṭitam
  43. Kaṭībhrāntam
  44. Latāvṛśchikam
  45. Chinnam
  46. Vṛśchikarēchitam
  47. Vṛśchikam
  48. Vyamsitam
  49. Pārśvanikuṭṭakam
  50. Lalāṭatilakam
  51. Krāntam
  52. Kuñchitam
  53. Chakramaṇḍalam
  54. Urōmaṇḍalam
  55. Ākśiptam
  56. Talavilāsitam
  57. Argaḷam
  58. Vikṣiptam
  59. Āvartam
  60. Dōlāpādam
  61. Vivṛttam
  62. Vinivṛttam
  63. Pārśvakrāntam
  64. Niṣumbhitam
  65. Vidyutbhrāntam
  66. Atikrāntam
  67. Vivartitakam
  68. Gajakrīḍitam
  69. Talasamsphoṭitam
  70. Garuḍaplutam
  71. Gaṇḍasūchī
  72. Parīvṛttam
  73. Pārśvajānu
  74. Gṛdrāvalīnakam
  75. Sannatam
  76. Sūchī
  77. Ardhasūchī
  78. Sūchīviddham
  79. Apakrāntam
  80. Mayūralalitam
  81. Sarpitam
  82. Danḍapādam
  83. Harinaplutam
  84. Prēnkōlitam
  85. Nitambam
  86. Skalitam
  87. Karihastam
  88. Prasarpitam
  89. Simhavikrīḍitam
  90. Simhākarṣitam
  91. Udvṛttam
  92. Upaśṛtam
  93. Talasaṅghaṭṭitam
  94. Janitam
  95. Avahittakam
  96. Nivēśam
  97. Ēlakākrīditam
  98. Ūrūdvṛttam
  99. Madaskalitam
  100. Viṣṇukrāntam
  101. Sambhrāntam
  102. Viśkhambam
  103. Udghaṭṭitam
  104. Vṛśabhakrīḍitam
  105. Lōlitam
  106. Nāgāpasarpitam
  107. Śakaṭāsyam
  108. Gaṅgāvataranam

See also



  1. ^ ""108 Karanas: The Karanas are synchronized movement of hands and feet"". Site.voila.fr. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  2. ^ Natya Shastra translated by Manmohan Ghosh 2002 Chowkhamba Press, Varanasi ISBN 81-7080-079-X - Page 75.