Gati is a word which denotes the graceful gait enacted by the dancer in the Bharatnatyam dance. Gati Bhedas or the different types and speeds in walking as described in Abhinaya Darpanam, are ten in number. These are all based on the specific style of various living creatures, often used by the dancers to portray these creatures or convey their style in beauty and elegance.
They are as follows:
- Hamsi gati (Goose step):
“Parivartya tanum paarswam vitastyantaritam shaniah
Ekaikam tatpadam nyasya kapittham karayoh vahan”
It means placing one foot after the other slowly, at a distance of half a cubit, with knees slightly bent and bending the body alternately on either side, with both hands held in kapittha is hamsigati.
- Mayurigati (Peacock step):
“Prapadabhyaam bhuvi sthitwaa kapittham karayoh vahan,
Ekaika jaanu chalanaat mayuri gati ririta”
It means Moving on the toes with knees bent sideways and going down alternately with both hands held in kapittham is mayurigati.
- Mrigi gati (Deer step):
“Mrgavatgamanam vegaat tripataaka karou vahan,
Puratah paarswayoh chaiva yanam mrga gatih bhavet”
It means holding the hands in tripataka in front, running forward or sideways, like a deer in leaps is mriga gati.
- Gajalila gati (Elephant step):
“Paarswayostu pataakaabhyaam karaabhyaam vicharam statah,
Samapaadagatih mandam gajaleeleti visruta”
It means, holding both hands in pataka on either sides, walking heavily and slowly, swaying both hands and placing the feet in samapadam is gajalila gati.
- Turanginigati (Horse step):
“Utkshipya dakshinam paadam ullanghya cha muhurmuhuh,
Vaamena sikharam dhrtwaa dakshinena pataakikam,
Turangini gatih proktaa nrittasaastra visaaaradaiha”
It means, holding left hand in shikharam and right hand in pataakam, moving quickly forward in jumps of quick succession, with right leg lifted up is turangini gati.
- Simhi gati (Lion step):
“Paadaagraabhyaam bhuvi sthitwaa pura-utplutya vegatah,
Karaabhyaam shikharam dhritwaa yaanam simhagatih bhavet”
It means, standing on the toes, then jumping forward swiftly and proceeding in this manner, with both hands in shikharam is simhigati.
- Bhujangi gati (Snake step):
“Tripataaka karou dhritwaa paarsawayoh ubhayoh api,
Poorvawat gamanam yattu saa bhujangi gati bhavet”
It means, holding both hands in tripataakam and moving quickly in zigzag on the toes is bhujangigati.
- Manduki gati (Frog Step):
“Karaabhyaam shikharam dhritwaa kimchit simhisamaa gatih,
Manduki gatih ityeshaa prasiddhaa bharataagame”
It means, holding shikhra hands together and moving forward on the toes in jumps is manduki gati.
- Vira gati (Heroic step):
“Vaame tu shikharam dhritwaa dakshinena pataakikaa,
Dooraadaagamanam veera gati-rudeerita”
It means, holding left hand in shikhara (shield) and right hand in pataaka outstretched and moving forward with firm steps is vira gati.
- Maanavi gati (Human step):
“Mandalaakaaravat bhraantyaa samaagatya muhurmuhuh,
Vaamakaram nyasya katyou dakshine katakaamukham,
Maanavi gati – rityeshaa prasiddhaa poorva suribhihi”
It means, holding left hand in the waist in pataakam, swinging right hand in katakaamukham in semi-circles, back and forth and walking majestically is Maanavi gati.