In our series of basic grammar of Bharatnatyam, Mandal Bhedas are the various ways of standing, as in straight with both feet together or on one foot and so on. The shloka for this is as follows:
“Sthaanakam chaayataalidham prenkhanapreritaani cha
Pratyaalidham swastika cha motitam samasoochikaa
Paarshwesoochiti cha dasha mandalaaniritaaneeha”
Mandala Bhedas or standing postures with hand gestures are ten in number:
- Sthaanaka: Standing with feet together in Samapaada, and placing the hands on the hip (ardhachandra for men and shikhara for women) is Sthaanaka. They are six in number:
- Samapaadam: When the feet are placed together, standing straight, it is called Samapaadam. Uses: Pushpanjali, Devaropa (stance of Gods)
- Ekapaadam: Standing straight on one leg, placing the other foot across the knee is called ekapaadam. Uses: To show static position, tapasya.
- Naagabandham: When the hands and legs are twisted, it is called Naagabandham. Uses: To show snakes.
- Aindram: Standing on one bent leg, raise the other leg, so as to bring the foot to the knee, with both hands dropped to Dola Hasta on both sides. This is called Aindram. Uses: To show Lord Indra, a king.
- Garuda: In Alida Mandala, sit down on the right knee and raise both hands on both sides with Dola Hasta. This is called Garuda. Uses: To show Garuda Vaahana of Lord Vishnu.
- Bramha: Sit down in Padmaasana, with both feet placed on opposite knees. This is called Bramha. Uses: Doing Japa.
- Aayata: Placing heels together and the toes facing outside, with the knees bent at a distance of 1 and a half cubits, is called Ayata.
- Aalida: The left foot is placed three spans away from the right, diagonally in the front. The left hand is held in Shikhara and the right hand in Kartarimukhaha. This is called Aalida.
- Prenkhana: Putting one foot at the heel of the other, stooping down with Kurmaavatara Hasta, is called Prenkhana.
- Prerita: Moving the right leg forcefully on the ground at a distance of three soans away from the other foot, while holding the left hand in Shikhara at the chest and right hand in Pataka, outstretched in front. This is called Prerita.
- Pratyaalida: When Aalida is done on the reverse side, it is called Pratyaalida.
- Swatika: Crossing the hand at the waist in Aalapadma Hasta and placing one leg across the other is called Swastika.
- Motita: Sitting on the toes with raised heels, holding the outstretched hands in Tripataaka on the sides, alternately bringing the knees to touch the ground is called Motita.
- Samasoochi: Sitting on the toes with both knees on the ground is called Samasoochi.
- Paarsvasoochi: Sitting on the toes and placing only one knee on the ground is called Paarsvasoochi.
It is important for the students of Bharatnatyam to learn and memorise the Mandal bhedas for it helps during the instructions in the class and as evident some are used for specific depictions such as Aindram is used to portray Lord Indra.