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Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam dancer. Happily married to Dileep Kannan. Mother of a beautiful angel -Tamanna. Daughter of Mr. E.M Haridas & Mrs. Girija Haridas. Daughter-in-law of Dr. K. P Kannan & Mrs. Shobhana Kannan A Disciple of Smt. Shyamala Surendran at Dharani School of Performing Arts, Kochi MFA in Bharatanatyam from SASTRA University under the guidance of Dr. Padma Subramanyam

February 15, 2012

Facets of Indian Classical Dance - V: Bhavas


When one conveys ones’s feelings using Upangas i.e. through facial expressions combined with speech and body movements, it is known as Bhava. Bhava is formed and/or communicated through Vibhava, Anubhava and Sanchari/ Vyacharibhavas.

Vibhava - is that which leads to  awareness. It is the cause of words, gestures, and facial expressions. So, in ordinary parlance, vibhaavita means “apprehend”. Vibhava is of two types:
  • Alambana- Portraying a particular trait of a character
  • Udipana – Expressing emotions according to the situation or stimulated emotions. Udipana itself is divided into 4 emotional states:
o   Describing the beauty or youth of the hero or heroine
o   Depicting the state of mind of the hero or heroine.
o   Displaying the costumes and jewellery
o   Describing the moonlight, breeze etc.

Anubhava – It is the outcome of the Bhava /Vibhava  or one’s feelings  communicated through the medium of Abhinaya.

Sthayi Bhava 

It is the permanent state of mind. The emotional state in Sthayi Bhava is strong and clear. Bharatamuni mentions in the sixth chapter of Natyashastra:


This means the realisation of Rasa results from the union of Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabicharibhava, and its alignment with the permanent mood known as Sthayibhava. Even when a person experiences various emotions, there is no change in Sthayibhava. Sthayibhavas are of 8 types:

  • Rati - Love
  • Hasa - Laughter
  • Shoka – Grief
  • Krodha – Anger
  • Utsaha – Resilience
  • Bhayam - Fear
  • Jugupsa – Disgust
  • Vismaya – Wonder
E.g. The fundamental emotion a mother has towards her child is love and affection. Though she becomes angry at him/her when the child is naughty, she still loves her child the same. Hence the mother’s love for her child is constant i.e. Love is the Sthayibhava.

Sanchari/ Vyabhichari Bhava

Sanchari Bhava is the transitory state of mind associated to the Rasas or can be described as the intersecting feelings which are complementary to a permanent emotion. They are a combination of Vachika-Angika-Satvika Abhinaya (mentioned in an earlier post) used in Rasas. Sancharibhava is derived from Sthayibhava and blends into the latter.

E.g. When a child does something wrong, a mother feels angry, sad, surprised and sometimes even disgusted at the child’s wrong-doing. A mother’s anger, sadness, surprise, disgust etc. are the transitory moods or the Sanchari Bhavas. It is because of a mother’s love for her child that she has all those feelings mentioned above but her permanent feeling for her child comprises love and affection. Sanchari Bhavas are 33 in number. The Sloka is as follows:-

nirvedaglAnisha~NkAkhyAstathAsuuyA madaH shramaH .

Alasya.n chaiva dainya.n cha chintAmohaH smR^itirdhRitiH 

vrIDA chapalatA harSha Avego jaDatA tathA .

garvo viShAda autsukya.n nidrApasmAra eva cha 

supta.n vibodho.amarShashchApi avahitthaM athogratA .

matirvyAdhistathA unmAdastathA maraNameva cha

trAsashchaiva vitarkashcha vidnyeyA vyabhichAriNaH 
trayastri.nshadamI bhAvAH samAkhyAtAstu nAmataH

The explanation of the Sancharibhavas are given below along with their respective Vibhavas and Anubhavas.

Nirveda – Detachment
Sadness, jealousy, spirituality
Fancying, sighing
Glani – Torment
Thirst, hunger, pain
Change of colour, carelessness, lack of energy
Alasya – Indolence
Slightly conceited
Yawning, stretching
Shrama – Hard Work/ Fatigue
Pain, diligence
Shanka – Doubt/ Apprehension
Feeling vulnerable due to one suffering ill-treatment by others
Change in voice & face colour, stunned expression
Asooya – Envy
Feeling resentful seeing others' prosperity, good  fortune etc.
Ridicule, crinkling one’s eyebrows
Mada – Intoxication
Usage of objects which causes inebriation
Slurring and unsteadiness in speech, movements. Eyes turning red.
Dainya – Helplessness
Sadness, poverty, powerlessness.
Vulnerable, timid, lack of confidence, feeling heavy
Chintha – Anxiety
Loss of beloved objects, bad fortune
Worried, sighing, thinning of face
Moha – Perplexity
Due to frightening experiences
Giddiness, lack of Knowledge, widening of eyes
Unmada – Insanity
Fear, Downfall, Loss of wealth etc
Laughing without any reason, crying, jabbering, abnormal physical movements
Avahita – Dissimulation
Fear, shame, deceit
Covering one’s face, not looking straight into one’s eyes, changing conversation topic disjointedly
Dhrithi – Fortitude
Strength of mind when one gains what one desires and is philosophical about it
Experiencing what one has received, never frustrated about anything
Smrithi – Recollection
Remembering old times
Shaking head, raising eyebrows, eyes not blinking
Mathi – Determination
Thoughtful, decisive, intellectual
Advising, clearing doubts
Vreeda (Lajja) - Embarrassed
Desire, hearing one’s own praise, flattery, breaking a promise
Lowering the head, raising eyebrows, drawing figures with toes
Chapalya – Inconsistency
Using abusive words when one is in uncontrollable rage, punishing others without reason. Basically no control over one’s emotions
Varied expressions. This is not seen in an Uttama character.
Jadya – Stupor
Feeling weak ,upset and even ill after hearing criticism from others about one’s preposterous actions
Keeping quiet, stammering, saying wrong things, looking without blinking
Ugrata – Ferocity/ Violence
Turning violent when one sees danger against one’s loved ones
Fear, thrashing others
Amarsha – Indignation
The feeling of vengeance  against those who has insulted and humiliated oneself
Perspiring, vigorous shaking of the head, breaking objects
Garv – Arrogance/Pride
Becoming conceited because of one’s beauty, nobility, knowledge, talent
Insulting others, contemptuous
Harsha – Joy
The happiness one feels when one’s wishes come true
Perspiring, quivering, tears of joy
Outhsukya – Yearning/ Longing
The grief one feels due to separation from a loved one
Misery, sighing
Nidra – Sleepiness
Thoughtful, emptiness, hardwork
Closing eyes, yawning
Prabodha – Awakening
Lack of sleep, indigestion, affected by sound or touch
Yawning, rubbing one’s eyes, stretching
Supthi – Slumber/ Dreaming
Generally just dreaming
Inhaling and exhaling deeply,  no movement
Vyadhi – Sickness
Feeling feverish due to utmost grief or anger
Shivering, holding one’s own hair, horripilation, tightening of the muscles (This is generally not seen in Mohiniyattam)
Apasmara – Dementedness
Having a fit due to any major trouble or due to the decrease in any chemical in the body
Throbbing, extending the tongue, foam coming from the mouth, perplexed
Thrasa – Fear/Terror
Due to lightening, thunder, noise like a lion roaring, fear of being killed
Stunned, trembling, horripilation, change of voice
Marana – Death
When one loses life due to illness or accidents
Dying, collapsing, closing one’s eyes, hiccups, breathlessness. Accidental death should be enacted according to the situation.
Vishadha - Dejection
When one’s job is not done according to one’s wish
Weak-willed, thinking of a solution, sighing, just staring
Vitharka – Argument
Contradictions caused in one's mind due to various thoughts
Thinking, having doubts
Avegha – Agitation
When one gets agitated due to unexpected events like storms, fires, earthquakes etc. 

Also when one becomes stirred when one hears extremely happy news

Running helter skelter, shivering,

When one gives away gifts, horripilation

Sathvika Bhava

It is the most important yet the most complicated mode of expression. “SAT" means mind. It is the result of the psychological state of mind. These are actually the states of mind at a certain stage and displayed through visible signs. The dancer should feel the emotions thoroughly according to the character and then express them authentically. Sathvika Bhavas are 8 in number:-

Sthambha - Stillness
Happiness, Fear, Illness, Sadness, Surprise, Anger
Absolute immobility, like a numb body, like a corpse
Swedha – Perspiration
Rage, Fear, Joy, Shyness, Sadness, Exertion, Illness, Heat, Fall, Exercise, Pain
Wipe away sweat, fanning, act like one wishes for a cool breeze
Romancha – Horripilation
Cold, Rage, Fear, Exertion, Illness, Delight, Ticklish
Patting one’s body, shivering due to cold, being shocked once in a while
Swarabheda – Change in voice
Fear, Joy, Rage, Illness, Old age
Throat closed, voice shaking, shivering
Vepathu - Shudder
Cold, Fear, Joy, Anger, Touch
Shake while shivering, leaping
Vaivarnya – Change in colour
Rage, Exertion, Fear, Cold, Pain
Face colour changes (become red or pale or even blue), pain in veins
Aashru – Tears
Happiness, Annoyance, Something in the eyes, Fear, Sadness, Sitting without blinking for a long time
Eyes fill up with tears, Tears falling from eyes
Pralaya – Fainting
Exertion, Sleep, Intoxication, Swooning
Collapse, not budging, breathing becomes slow