Karana-Kusumakara or The Poems of The Body (A Color Photograph on Each Page)

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Item Code: IHE094
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan
Author: Bhatt Bhalchandra
Edition: 2004
Pages: 175 (136 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.2” X 7.0”
Weight 650 gm
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Book Description

Back of the Book

The human mind is not capable of composing a perfect work of art. So do not try in vain otherwise you will lose art form that work.



The inherent feelings of the human mind are usually expressed through different limbs of the body with their actions or gestures.

These physical gestures of the limbs of hands and feet are named as KARANAS. They consist of artistic lengthening and contractions of the human body. They are described in the Natyashastra.

When the relation between KARANA and Acting can be described as

- relation between a pervader and the pervaded objects or
- relation between a part and a whole.

We shall find similarity or likeness between a KARANA and acting in form. But we know that the KARANAS do not have that likeness and popularity which is consisted in acting.

For there is pre-eminence of characteristic specialty in the KARANAS. Because of this nature they are enjoyable by really cultured spectators only. Moreover the demonstration of the excitement of the feelings is imitative in Acting. There is nothing like this in case of KARANAS.

With this point of view the Natyasastra considers the importance of KARANAS more in subtlety than Acting. And we know that acting helps us in enjoying the dramatic sentiment. In the same way the KARANAS also become a medium of experiencing the sentiment. This sentiment is enjoyable by the characters as well as the spectators.

KARANA is a form of art. We know that even sculptures idols and pictures which are devoid of life element are in the form of KARANAS.

Just as KARANAS are visible the RASAS (or sentiments) can also be expressed through the body. They are expressed thus. Thus the sentiments are in the train of the KARANAS. So they also have been given a place in this work.

Regarding KARANAS there is no statements in the Natyasastra which confines them to a particular number. Really speaking there is multiplicity in KARANAS. Moreover there is scope fro research too. They are open for permutations and combinations.

We find variety of physical postures in ancient sculptures and idols of different gods and goddesses. Sometime they are found in dancing postures. One of such dance is ODISI. Therein the Verses from gitagovinda by devotee poet Jayadeva are artistically woven. The Devadasis who have sacrificed their felling of Love, Devotion, Service and total surrender sing the verses while dancing. At the time we feel that they are seen in the from of various KARANAS. As if they are themselves KARANAS incarnate.

The Kathakali dance consists of costumes, feelings, different, postures of hands and the sentiment concerned. It gets its perfection in a variety of physical gestures various tones of speech and adventitious gestures. But in ancient times it was staged under the sky in moon-light. And so it was called Folk-dance

In this dance there are on or more characters. They stage puranic legends, Dramas, Episodes and Historical Events. They are expressed with a variety of musical tones. These episodes are evinced with the help of various KARANAS, symbols connected with particular gods and goddesses and adventitious gestures.

The aim is that of spiritual path. The Devadasis are totally devoted to the Lord. They dance with music and songs before the lord. This worship takes place daily in the morning as well as the evening. In a way we can say that prayer, worship, light-worship, are offered to the lord by the dancer. And thus the Puranic legends are staged through variety of physical postures in dance.

In Kathak Dance various events of the life Radha and Krishna are presented with musical tunes and songs. Herein their love-dialogues salutations etc are presented. There are swift movements of physical gestures.

Musical movements of the dancer’s body are special features of this sort of Dance. This dance is performed by a couple of dancers. At that time the dancing postures are performed singly or in couple postures or KARANAS.

The Manipuri dance has as its special features – a peculiar pause form and gracious movements. The symbols and KARTAL are its special symbols. This dance is performed with the rhythm of the drum and the sweet tunes of a flute. At the performance of this dance we find that KARANAS of one or more than one dancers intermingle.

This dance is performed by the team of Radha Krishna and cowherds. It is called RASALEELA (the Rasa-Dance). It is presented in the company of the two sided drum, rhythm, recitation and musical kirtan in Vraj dialect.

In this dance the dancers put on the costumes of Radha and Krishna and presented the life-story of Radha- Krishna. Therein occasionally the KARANAS are3 performed singly or in mass by the team of dancers. Various phases of Krishna life are indicated through different KARANAS. Thus the life-story of Radha- and Krishna is being exhibited through musical movements of the KARANAS.

The KUCIPUDI dance is a well-known dance of Andhra Pradesh. This sort of dance developed in the days of the EMPIRE of Vijaya Nagar. In this dance the puranic Episodes of the 17th century are exhibited in the style of Kuci Pudi. Special sorts of physical postures are enacted in this dance.

In Assam Jepursali dance is popular. Therein also various KARANAS are performed. But hey are in the form of physical exercise before dancing and for developing symmetry of the body.

The European dances belong to the NRITTA class of dancing. Therein the team of dancers performs a dance in a congregation it may be one or two members or the whole group. But mostly they are of the sort of gymnastics.

In Asia outside India in Middle-south East countries Java Bali and others in dances there is likeness of Indian dance KARANAS and a glimpse of Indian dances.

All dancing is based on the principles laid down by Bharata’s Natyasastra. It is said that Bharata the author of the Natyasastra adopted the story- elements (pathya) from the Rigveda acting from the Yajurveda, music from the Samaveda and various sentiments from the Atharveda. The work consists of 6000 verses divided into 36 Adhyayas.

The sculptures described in the Natyashastra are found in the inner part of the Chidambaram Temple.

The number of these sculptures are 108 in number.

These KARANAS sculptures of dancing came into existence between 1243 and 1273 during the rule of Prince Rajasinhadev the erudite scholar in arts. These sculptures have been given birth in accordance with the verses of the Natyashastra. These sculptures are in rocks. Out of them fifteen have not been mentioned in Natyashastra. They are as follows:

No Name of the Karana

9. Atha Nikuttakam
10. Atha Ardhanikuttakam
56. Atha Talavilasitam
62. Atha Nisumbhatam
68. Atha Gajakriditam
70. Atha Garuda Plutam
71. Atha Gandasuci
72. Atha Parivrittam
79. Atha Apakrantam
80. Atha Mayuralalitam
88. Atha Prasarpitam
93. Atha sanghattitam
95. Atha Avahitthakam
102. Atha Viskambham

It is quite possible that the above sculptures have not been carved out because of some reason or they might have been demolished by the ravages of time.

The enduring pictures of Karanas mentioned in the Natyashastra verses have been expressed through different gestures or postures of hands. They have also been expressed through the relation of one part of the body or other. They have been set into motion as if.

If looked at with this point of view the Karanas of dancing mentioned in the Natyashastra are enduring as well as active. This activeness of the Karanas is called ANGAHARA. And through these ANGAHARAS the inner feelings of the characters of the plot are expressed. And these BHAVAS give expression to the Sentiment.

In dancing variable Karanas are performed. Except them the other Karanas are performed behind some type of curtain. Afterwards that curtain is removed and the Karanas are exhibited. For such Karanas are dependent upon the parts of the body. Such enduring Karanas are exhibited before the spectators at the end of the acting.

The following Karanas are mentioned without the help or the support of the parts of the body in the Natyashastra. They are mentioned below with their nos and names :

No. Names of Karana

26. Nikuncitam
76. Suci
46. Vrscikarecitam
87. Harinaplutam
42. Vrscikakuttitam
44. Latavrscikam
47. Vrscikam
53. Kuncitam

Such dancing Karanas are possible in sculptures and pictures having no support from the technical works. But not in practical performances. For the body skeleton which is covered by the body. It is important too. For the body has its outline marked on the skeleton or the natural arrangement of bones etc. < So it goes without saying that the body is the external expression of the inner skeleton. I have made a research in the subject of the human body by means of deep study various Yogic postures (Yogasanas) and beholding the ancient sculptures I have also made use of my intuition. And presented this study in this outline of the Karanas.

Several postures described in the Natyashastra have similarity with the postures of the body. This postures present dancing through various physical postures and is called Nrttam. They are called Cari and Maha cari in the Natyashastra. It is also physical exercise in symmetry of the human body. Another type of the Karana is kelikarana i.e. love-sport for sex-act (copulation).

If we look at the beginning and developments of love-sports we find that copulation is natural with human begins, animals, birds etc. So copulation is the first cause of all living organisms and this creation is sustained by copulation or sexual intercourse.

A couple means a man and a woman or the difference of sex male and female. The primitive human beings had the knowledge of this difference of sex. They found animals and birds copulating. And following them perhaps they might have got inspiration for sexual intercourse and love-sports associated with the actual sex-act.

In this way the primitive human beings might have started believing that copulation is the cause of life. First of all they might have started thinking that their very life and the birth had their origin in this kind of intercourse. And they might have thought of different types of postures associated with this act and started celebrating them. They might have thought that the organs of generation are the cause of human race. With this belief they might have installed the male and female organ for worshipping. Thus the cult of phallus worship might come into vogue.

We came to know of this by means of excavations of the earth and other researches. Many tablets bearing the symbols of the male and female organs of generation have been found out. They also bear the symbol of a bull. Many idols bearing actual love-sports have been found out. They bear an evidence of belief faith and culture of the primitive people.

Puranic legend goes that Madana, the god love was reduced to ashes by the fire that came of the eye of the lord shiva. On hearing the lamentation of Madana’s spouse Rati the lord was highly touched at heart and He brought him to life in the form of Ananga (the bodiless god) in all creation like human beings animals birds etc. And the lord himself enjoyed that instinct and married Parvati.

These symbols of male organ as well as female organ are worshipped in India and outside where there is Indian culture prevalent. We can say that is a remnant of the worship of organs of generation prevalent in the primitive communities.

Thus the manifestation of copulation and symbols of organs of generation and the custom of worshipping them is a tradition inherited from the primitive culture.

With the passage of time man got himself cultured and accepted certain moral values regarding the sexual relations of men and women. Regarding the sexual intercourse that there are three views prevalent in our society.

1. There are people who believe that sex is a cause of birth which is full of misery and pains. So they adopted values cults and creeds of ascetics giving up worldly pleasure came into existence. The followers of theses cults perform penance for getting complete liberation from the cycle of birds and death. This is the first ideology hailing from human intellect.

2. The second ideology is that sexual attraction of a man and woman is an inborn instinct. And the followers of this ideology claim that it can never be uprooted from life.

We know that this instinct is natural. But it can be sublimated into Service love submission Music, Dance Arts etc. Bhakti can also become a happy medium. This can be through pure penance and practice. By achieving this state aspirant can get through the ocean of worldly affairs and attain the Supreme Bliss.

3. Sex instinct is inborn with all human beings, animals, birds etc. that instinct demands gratification just like other instinct of hunger and thirst to try to curb that instinct is against nature.

This the third view is held by people who believe in free-sex and licentious behavior. There are certain places where this kind of wantonness is relished and certain celebrations of worshipping the sex-symbols are worshipped or actual practices are also carried out. There too Karanas of love sports are formed and Phallus worship takes place.

Certain sculpture ancient as well as modern pictures, caves, temples, and shrines and Shaktipiths give free vent to this instinct. Especially such places are found in Kutch, Saurashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Such a cult is prevalent in the world in variety of forms.


List of Karanas

1. Cittam
2. Ancitakuncitam
3. Bhujangakriditam
4. Sucipadonnatam
5. Padmanabham
6. Sucisavyam
7. Uttanvrscikam
8. Angasucikam
9. Padmankuram
10. Vilolotam
11. Kuncitasarspitam
12. Purnavrscikam
13. Savyavrscikam
14. Adhojanukam
15. Urdhvahitam
16. Avalokitam
17. Utkshiptancitam
18. Vrscikasvastikam
19. Recitasvastikam
20. Angavalanam
21. Sikharam
22. Kriditavrscikam
23. Suscipadakuncitam
24. Urdhvavrscikam
25. Viksiptam
26. Latapallavam
27. Vihangaviharakam
28. Prapatakam
29. Ancitasarpitam
30. Svastikam
31. Padaskhalitam
32. Krantavracikam
33. Mandalam
34. Nupurpadam
35. Pallavavrscikam
36. Dandapadapallavam
37. Utsangam
38. parsvakuncitam
39. Padakuttitam
40. Karavrscikam
41. Dikkuncitam
42. Vrscikanikuncitam
43. Urupadam
44. sucipadam
45. Vicalam
46. Gopuram
47. Samapadam
48. Angacchinnam
49. Kritmukham
50. Yogasanam
51. Padaviddham
52. Ardhavrscikam
53. Vaidyutam
54. Vilasitam
55. Alatapadam
56. Dolangam
57. Pallavam
58. Kuncanikuncitam
59. Sucimukham
60. Padancitam
61. Sucipadmandalam
62. Parsvasuciakm
63. Ardhasamputam
64. Ardhasucikam
65. Recitaken
66. Savyam
67. Ardhamandalam
68. Recitavrscikam
69. Udbhavam
70. Angam
71. Bhrngam
72. Urdhvangam
73. Darsanam
74. Svastikancitam
75. Sucimandlam
76. Valitam
77. Catuspadakam
78. Aksiptam
79. Purnavrscikam
80. Samputam
81. Digancitam
82. Januvidham
83. Angarecitam
84. Madonmattakam
85. Pucchavrscikam
86. Parsvadandaoadam
87. Viksiptavrscikam
88. Urdhvamandalam
89. Avalolotam
90. Padaksiptam
91. Urdhvapadam
92. Sammohitam
93. Hastapadviddham
94. Skhalitam
95. Samarpitam
96. Prasarpitam
97. Padalolitam
98. Ardhacakrangam
99. Mayurakam
100. Trivikramam
101. Parswavrscikam
102. Udghatitam
103. Vrscikakuncitam
104. Vrscikancitam
105. Apasavyam
106. Dikparsvam
107. Karnangam
108. Urdhvapadatalam
109. Purnacakrangam
110. Unmattakam
111. Urdhvapadakuttitam
112. Talasancaram
113. Aksiptam
114. Parikramam
115. Angabhangam
116. Talapadmam
117. Purnakuncitam
118. Chinnasvastikam
119. Ekatratrayam
120. Kuncitancitam
121. Taruvaram
122. Sobhanam
123. Pralambitam
124. Angaviddham
125. bhujangadvandvam
126. Ardhanikunchitam
127. Sucipadancitam
128. Sucipadancitam
129. Yugalamadhuryam




1 Welcome to the Sincere and Life-Long Penance
by Shri K.V. Shastri
2 Co-operation Thanks and Acknowledgements VI
3 Preface VII
4 Dedication XV
5 Human- Skeleton XVI
6 Karana: Tree & Karana Purusa XVIII
7 Submission by the Author XIX
8 List of Karanas or the Poems of the Body 1-5
9 Definitions of Karanas 6-11
10 Karanas  
11 Rasa or the Sentiment  
12 Glossary of Important Words 12-34
13 Perfection (Last cover-page) 35


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