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Techno Corner

Jyothi Venkatachalam

In March, we learnt about the first seven hand gestures in Bharatanatyam. Today, we shall learn eight more.

1. Shukatundaka: This mudra is shown by bending the third finger or ring finger from the Arala. This is used to depict the releasing of an arrow, revealing a secret, throwing a spear, throwing a dice, talking of the future and thinking about the past.

2. Mushti: The four fingers are bent together into the palm and the thumb is placed on them. The mudra is used to show firmness, wrestling with the fists, holding the hair, anger, lifting the thigh and effortlessness

3. Shikhara: From the Mushti hand, the Thumb is raised. The mudra is used to show husband, Lord, definite, bow, worshipping the ancestors with water, lower lip, tooth, pouring something, hero, drinking a liquid, asking a question and embrace.

4. Kapita: From the Shikhara hand, the forefinger is bent over the thumb. The mudra depicts Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, churning, worshipping the Gods with Lights (Arati) and incense, playing the cymbals while dancing, milking cows and holding a lotus.

5. Kataka-Mukha: From the Kapitha hasta, the forefinger, thumb and middle finger are joined together. The mudra is used to show speech, glancing, giving betel leaves, plucking flowers, wearing a pearl necklace, wearing a garland of flowers holding a mirror in front, and breaking a stalk.

6. Suchi: From Kataka-mukha, the forefinger is raised up. This is used to show the No. 1, 100, beating the drum, pointing to a far away country, world, sun, city, circumference, nose, and beak and listening.

7. Chandrakala: From the Suchi hand, the thumb is separated. The mudra is used for only a few specific things such as the moon face, a span, measuring an object, the Ganges, Lord Shiva's crown and falling down.

8. Padma-Kosha: The fingers are stretched out and then bent a little, making a hollow in the centre of the palm. The hand looks like a perfect lotus. It is used to show elephant's trunk, White lotus, bending branch of a tree, cluster of buds, shape of a ball, heap, snakes mound, an egg, fruit breasts, mango and a handful of anything.

9. Sarpa-Shirasha : From the pataka, the top of all the fingers are curved to represent a snake's head. It is used to show a snake, washing of face, slowness, shape of the elephant's head, sprinkling, giving water to gods and rishis sandal paste and slapping on arms like the wrestlers.

10. Mriga-Shirsha: From the Sarpa-shirsha, the thumb and little finger are extended. The mudra is used to denote a swan's wings, women, No. 6, writing with nails and covering, decorating the entrance of a house (rangoli) drawing three lines on the forehead and massaging the legs.

To be continued.

Jyothi Venkatachalam, director of Abhyasa School Of Dance, Club Tampa Palms, offers classes in Bharat Natyam, traditional folk dances, Indian percussion instruments (Mridangam, Dholak, Ghatam, Kanjira, Morsingh and Konakol). She can be reached at (813) 977-9039 or (813) 404-7899 or via e-mail at


Lavanya Dinesh

The 'bansuri' or the Indian bamboo flute has been an integral part of Indian mythology, music and religion for centuries. As a young cowherd, Lord Krishna - the most inspirational God to Indian music, dance, art and architecture, excelled in the art of enchantment through his playing of the flute - also known as 'Venu' or 'Murali.' Lord Krishna mesmerized humans and animals alike with his haunting and rapturous music. When I listen to the bansuri, especially played by the inimitable maestro Pandit Ronu Majumdar, I often visualize the mellifluous strains of melodies emanating from Krishna's flute. So sublime and pleasing is Majumdar's music.

Until the 20th century, the bansuri was a folk or pastoral instrument used mostly by shepherds. It was elevated to the Hindustani classical genre in modern times by the legendary flutist Pandit Pannalal Ghosh. Others followed, including Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao, Pandit Venkatesh Godkhindi (in the south), etc. There is a new breed of popular Hindustani bansuri players such as Praveen Godkhindi, Nityanand Haldipur, Rupak Kulkarni and Rakesh Chaurasia.

Pandit Ronu Majumdar
Majumdar's outstanding resume and long list of accomplishments are truly extraordinary. This artist is a complete musician - apart from being a flutist par excellence, Ronu also is a highly creative composer, envisioning and constructing whole melodic music symphonies. Apart from several solo albums of Hindustani classical music, the musician is part of several national and international albums. He has composed music for India's first IMAX movie "Mystic India" (2004) based on the life and times of the great saint Swaminarayan who lived two centuries ago. This movie has been screened in several IMAX theaters around the world. It is still running at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Tampa. The synchronized harmony of many Indian instruments, including bansuri, sitar, sarod, santoor, guitar, violin, veena, tabla, pakhawaj, etc. and also a unique blend of Western instruments for a perfect and harmonious fusion, is the hallmark of Majumdar's composing style. To him, melody is king, emotion the queen and technical excellence, purity and fidelity to the subject matter form the throne from which they reign. This is reflected in not only the music of "Mystic India" but also in several of Majumdar's fusion albums, including "Dhyana," "Krishna's Journey," "Song of Nature," "Carrying Hope," etc.

Majumdar has collaborated with Western musicians such as Ry Cooder, John Hassles, Christian Seiferd and so on for many international releases such as "Fascinoma," "In Search of Life," etc. "Ethereal Rhythms" and "Mysticism of Wood Wind" are Majumdar's other popular releases.

Majumdar and the bansuri are synonymous. He is a household name in India and his star is on the rise on the world music scene. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 and has composed soundtrack for the Hollywood film "Primary Colors" (1998) starring John Travolta.

Having interviewed and witnessed live performances of many famous musicians in my capacity as a music critic and classical vocalist, I am not easily flustered by the prospect of meeting someone new. But when I got the opportunity to meet Majumdar recently (he had come to Tampa for a performance and set up camp in the city for a week), I was truly excited and star-struck. I was immediately taken by Majumdar's unpretentious demeanor and lively candor. This artist was easy to converse with. My mention of his brilliant album "Krishna's Journey" being a favorite in our house, including that of my musician husband and 7-year-old daughter, struck a nerve with him. He explained the synthesis of the various tracks of this album depicting Lord Krishna's life and it was fascinating. During my meeting, I was fortunate enough to witness his singing prowess as well as listen to his beautiful rendition of several pieces from this album and a few devotional numbers in an intimate setting. Majumdar narrated the anecdote where he used the melody from a moving Bengali lullaby that his father sang to him as a child. This formed the basis for one of the themes of "Krishna's Journey." Majumdar seems to be constantly inspired by life's journey. The beauty, the pathos, the agony and ecstasy of our eternal sojourn are reflected in his music and compositions. The sincerity and commitment that came across in his live performance and narration added a new dimension to my enjoyment and appreciation of his music as a whole.

There have been great influences in Majumdar's musical life, including his father and guru Pandit Bhanu Majumdar, guru Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao and also the legendary Pandit Ravi Shankar. He has remained ever faithful to the traditions of the 'Maihar Gharana' or School of Hindustani classical music. Majumdar's soulful bansuri playing, simply put, captures the colors and emotions of life, creating a truly transcendental experience for the listener.

Lavanya Dinesh is an accomplished performer and teacher of Hindustani classical vocal music and resides in Tampa. Lavanya regularly performs at musical venues both in India and the US. She has three album releases to her credit. The artist has worked as a music critic and feature writer for The Times of India and Deccan Herald. She can be reached at

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