We continue with the double hand gestures listed in Abhinayadarpanam.

If you remove the mystique from classical dance gestures, they are a great exercise for the hands. Mudras position the fingers in more varied ways than do activities like writing, eating, typing, etc., for which we use our hands in a contemporary urban environment.

Here is the seventh double-hand gesture listed by Nandikeswara:

Utsanga

Hold the two hands in mrigasheersha. (As described in the single-hand gestures: Hold the index, middle and ring fingers straight and parallel to the ground, while the thumb and little finger are straight, pointing upwards.) Place the two hands on shoulders, such that the tips of the index, middle and ring finger touch the shoulders. Either the right hand is placed on the right shoulder and the left on the left, or the arms cross the body with hands on opposite shoulders.

Uses

While the name comes from the word for Sanskrit word for shoulder, the utsanga hasta does not always remain there. Its position depends what is being portrayed. Dancers use it to show an embrace, shyness, or draping a garment round the body. While these make use of crossed arms, the uncrossed utsanga is also used to depict the notion of self realisation or enlightenment. Abhinayadarpanam also mentions its use in armlets and in teaching (also translated as coaching) a child, which could be interpreted as gathering the child to oneself affectionately while speaking.

ANJANA RAJAN