Karana is described in the Natyashastra as “hastapaadasamaayogaahnrttsyakaranambhavet”.
It is a combination of three elements, namely nritta hasta (dance movement of the hands), sthaana (a dance posture for the body) and a chaari (a dance movement of the leg).
The karanas form the basis of the adavus. Therefore, each karana was practised as a movement and not as a mere posture, as often currently misunderstood.
The karanas are said to be numerous but 108 have been codified in the Natyashastra. They are found depicted in the stone carvings on the passage walls in the gopurams of the Nataraj temples of Chidambaram, as Lord Shiva is said to be the originator of the Karanas. They have found to have influenced all the classical and folk dances of India, as well as bear resemblance to Egyptian, Thai and Indonesian dances.
Let us analyse some Karanas in detail:
1. Talapushpaputam: (handful of flowers)
The left hand should hold Pushpaputam hasta, the right foot should be in Agratalasanchara, ie, the heel should be raised and the leg should rest on the first toe. One side should be in Sannata, to the left, ie, bent to one side.
This Karana is to be used for Pushpanjali.
2. Vartitam: (Inverted)
Abhinav gupta explains Kunchita as the palms being turned towards the chest and crossed at the wrists in swastika. Then they are separated and dropped at the respective thighs as uttana (palms upturned) or adhomukha (down turned). In case of the latter, pataka hands are made to rub the thighs. Katakamukha, Sukhatunda, or any other hasta may be utilised. Some are said to prescribe Agratalasnachara for this karana.
Abhinav gupta says that AdhomukhaPataka action, with the rubbing on the thighs denotes anger, while the UttanaPataka would denote jealousy. In extreme emotion, it would be better to avoid any movement of the feet. The action in sthana would be more meaningful and imposing.