(Last Updated on : 26/09/2011)
Karana in Natyshastra is a technical term which in Sanskrit means "doing". According to Natyashastra
Karanas is the framework for the "margi" productions that would spiritually enlighten the spectators. As per Natyashastra one who performs well would be free from all sins and would secure a place in the abode of this deity. It is a combination of the three elements: leg movements, gesture for hands and posture for the body. It is not a static concept.
Karanas have been interpreted well by Padma Subramanyam that were based on 108 movement phrases describing specific leg, hip, body, and arm movements that have been accompanied by hasta mudras.
The Angaharas are evolved through Karanas. While dancing the simultaneous movements of hands and feet can be called Karana. One matrika is made up of two Karanas. Out of three karanas a Kalapaka is evolved. A Mandaka is evolved out of four Kalapaka and a Sarfighataka is evolved out of five. Some of the well known Angaharas consists of six to nine Karanas.
Some of the one hundred and eight Karanas are Talapuspaputa, Vartita, Valitoru, Apaviddha, Samanakha, Lina, Svastikarecita Mandalasvastika, Nikuttaka, Ardhani-kuttaka, Katicchinna, Ardharecita,. Vaksassvastika, Unmatta, Svastika, Prsthasvastika, Diksvastika, Alata, Katisama, Aksiptarecita, Viksiptaksipta, Ardhasvastika, Ancita, Bhujanga Trasita, Urdhvajanu, Nikuncita, Matalli, Ardhamatalii, Recaka-nikuttita, Padapaviddhaka, Valita, Lalita, Danda Paksa, Nupura, yaisiikharecila, Bhrama-raka, Catura, Dandakarecila, Vrscikakuttita, Katibhranta, Latavrscika, Chinna, Vrscikarecita, Viscika, Vyamsita, Parsvanikuttana, Lalatatilaka, Kuncita, Cakramandala, Uromandala, Aksipta, Talavilfsila, Argala, Viksipta, Avrtta, Dolapada, Vivrtta, Vinivrua, Parvakranta, Nisumbhita, Vidyudbhranta, Atikranta, Vivartitaka, Gajak-ridita, Talasamsphotita, Garudaplutaka, Gandasuci, Parivrtta, Parsvajanu, Grdhravalinaka, Sannata, Suci, Ardhasuci, Suri-viddha, Apakranta, Mayoralalita, Sarpita, Dandapada, Harina-pluta, Prerikholita, Nitamba, Skhalita, Karihasta, Prasavpita, Siriihakridita, Simhakarsita, Udvrtta, Upasrta, Talasamghattita, Janita, Avahitthaka, Nivesa, Elakakradita Urudvrtta, Mada-skhalita, Visnukranta, Sambhranta, Viskambha, Lol'taka, Sakatasya, and Gangavatarana.
These Karanas are probably employed in dance, fight, personal combats. The foot movements are allotted to the exercise of Sthanas and Carls must be considered to the Karanas also.
There are still some elderly devadasis who perform all the 108 karanas. However in most contemporary Bharatnatyam
schools only 50-60 karanas have been taught.
Performing of the same karana vary depending on various Indian classical styles.