From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Bhaṅga literally means ‘break or bend’.

This is a technical term used by the iconographical works. It may mean either ‘bend or inclination’ or ‘posture’. Images sculptured in the standing pose may have any one of the following four bhaṅgas :

  1. Samabhaṅga (equally balanced) : The image is poised firmly on both the legs. The right and left halves are identical. The only exception is that the mudrās or poses of the hands may be different.
  2. Ābhaṅga ( slightly bent) : The upper half of the image is made to incline slightly to the right side.
  3. Tribhaṅga (bent in three places) : The head and the hips are disposed slightly to the right and left sides of the center line.
  4. Atibhaṅga (excessively bent) : This is really an accentuated form of tribhaṅga.

In some iconographical works, the images are classified in two ways :

  • Sabhaṅga (with bhaṅga) - It is divided into five varieties. The word ‘bhaṅga’ is interpreted as ‘posture’ as follows :
  1. sthānaka - standing
  2. Āsina - Seated
  3. Śayana - Recumbent
  4. Yānaka - Moving about
  5. Nṛtta - Dancing
  • Abhaṅga (without bhaṅga) - Images standing with both legs firmly placed on the ground is the characteristic of the image. typify the latter.

The first three among these, are sometimes, again subdivided into yoga (in meditation), bhoga (in enjoyment), vīra (in heroic posture) and ābhicārika (black- magical).


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore