P Raja Chennai March 11, am. All the three works form the encyclopaedia of Indian civilisation. Both the works leave no stone unturned in matters concerning body and mind. All the three works speak of the glory of India and proclaim to the world that Indian education did not stop with the scriptures and the philosophies.

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The text consists of 36 chapters with a cumulative total of poetic verses describing performance arts. The subjects covered by the treatise include dramatic composition, structure of a play and the construction of a stage to host it, genres of acting, body movements, make up and costumes, role and goals of an art director, the musical scales, musical instruments and the integration of music with art performance.

Combined with an epic story, tending to virtue, wealth, joy and spiritual freedom, it must contain the significance of every scripture, and forward every art. The text has survived into the modern age in several manuscript versions, wherein the title of the chapters vary and in some cases the content of the few chapters differ. The author of the Natya Shastra is unknown, and the Hindu tradition attributes it to the Rishi sage Bharata.

It may be the work of several authors, but scholars disagree. The Natyashastra is the oldest surviving ancient Indian work on performance arts. The Natasutras are mentioned in the text of Panini , the sage who wrote the classic on Sanskrit grammar , and who is dated to about BCE. According to Lewis Rowell, a professor of Music specializing on classical Indian music, the earliest Indian artistic thought included three arts, syllabic recital vadya , melos gita and dance nrtta , [30] as well as two musical genre, Gandharva formal, composed, ceremonial music and Gana informal, improvised, entertainment music.

The art schools of Shilalin and Krishashva, mentioned in both the Brahmanas and the Kalpasutras and Srautasutras , [33] may have been associated with the performance of vedic rituals, which involved storytelling with embedded ethical values. The roots of the Natyashastra thus likely trace to the more ancient vedic traditions of integrating ritual recitation, dialogue and song in a dramatic representation of spiritual themes.

The Vedic sacrifice yajna is presented as a kind of drama, with its actors, its dialogues, its portion to be set to music, its interludes, and its climaxes. The most studied version of the text, consisting of about poetic verses, is structured into 36 chapters. The structure of the text harmoniously compiles aspects of the theatrical arts into separate chapters. Chapters 6 and 7 present the "Rasa" theory on aesthetics in performance arts, while chapters 8 to 13 are dedicated to the art of acting.

The chapters 14 to 20 are dedicated to plot and structure of underlying text behind the performance art. The theory of music, techniques for singing, and music instruments are discussed over chapters 28 to Schwartz [8].

The contents of the Natyashastra , states Susan Schwartz, are "in part theatrical manual, part philosophy of aesthetics, part mythological history, part theology". The general approach of the text is treat entertainment as an effect, but not the primary goal of arts. The primary goal is to lift and transport the spectators, unto the expression of ultimate reality and transcendent values. Actors aim to journey the spectator to this aesthetic experience within him. The text discusses a variety of performance arts as well as the design of the stage.

The Natyashastra defines drama in verse 6. The text discusses the universal and inner principles of drama, that it asserts successfully affects and journeys the audience to a supersensual state of discovery and understanding.

The stories and plots were provided by the Itihasas epics , the Puranas and the Kathas genre of Hindu literature. The text states that the playwright should know the bhavas inner state of being of all characters in the story, and it is these bhavas that the audience of that drama connects with.

The best drama shows the good and the bad, actions and feelings, of each character, whether god or man. According to Natyashastra , state Sally Banes and Andre Lepeck, drama is that art which accepts human beings are in different inner states when they arrive as audience, then through the art performed, it provides enjoyment to those wanting pleasure, solace to those in grief, calmness to those who are worried, energy to those who are brave, courage to those who are cowards, eroticism to those who want company, enjoyment to those who are rich, knowledge to those who are uneducated, wisdom to those who are educated.

The text goes into specifics to explain the means available within dramatic arts to achieve its goals. Just like the taste of food, states Natyashastra , is determined by combination of vegetables, spices and other articles such as sugar and salt, the audience tastes dominant states of a drama through expression of words, gestures and temperaments. Further, states the text, there are 33 psychological states which are transitory such as discouragement, weakness, apprehension, intoxication, tiredness, anxiety, agitation, despair, impatience.

The Natyasastra describes the stage for performance arts as the sacred space for artists, and discusses the specifics of stage design, positioning the actors, the relative locations, movement on stage, entrance and exit, change in background, transition, objects displayed on the stage, and such architectural features of a theatre; the text asserts that these aspects help the audience get absorbed in the drama as well as understand the message and the meaning being communicated.

The Natyasastra discusses Vedic songs, and also dedicates over verses to non-Vedic songs. Without these melodic intonations, states the text, a song becomes like "a night without the moon, a river without water, a creeper with a flower and a woman without an ornament".

The ideal poem produces bliss in the reader, or listener. It transports the audience into an imaginative world, transforms his inner state, and delivers him to a higher level of consciousness, suggests Natyashastra.

The Natyashastra is, states Emmie Te Nijenhuis, the oldest surviving text that systematically treats "the theory and instruments of Indian music". The ancient Indian tradition, before the Natyashastra was finalized, classified musical instruments into four groups based on their acoustic principle how they work, rather than the material they are made of.

Chapters 15 and 16 of the text discuss Sanskrit prosody in a manner similar to those found in more ancient Vedanga texts such as the Pingala Sutras. The music theory in the Natyashastra , states Maurice Winternitz, centers around three themes — sound, rhythm and prosody applied to musical texts. The Natyashastra describes from chapter 28 onwards, four types of regular musical instruments, grouping them as stringed giving the example of veena , covered giving the example of drums, solid giving the example of cymbals, and hollow stating flutes as example.

The Natyashastra enshrines the male and female actors in any performance art to be the most important. For an actor who is not yet perfect, the techniques described in the Natyashastra , are a means to achieve perfection, enlightenment, moksha, and run parallel to reaching this state through yoga or meditation practices. The text dedicates significant number of verses on actor training, as did the Indian dramaturgy literature that arose in its wake.

Specific training on gestures and movements for actors, their performance and significance, are discussed in chapters 8 through 12 of the Natyashastra. The Natyashastra and other ancient Hindu texts such as the Yajnavalkya Smriti assert that arts and music are spiritual, with the power to guide one to moksha , through empowering the concentration of mind for the liberation of the Self soul, Atman. The goal of performance arts, states Natyashastra is ultimately to let the spectator experience his own consciousness, then evaluate and feel the spiritual values innate in him, and rise to a higher level of consciousness.

Drishtaphala [visible fruits] like banners or material rewards do not indicate success of a play production. Real success is achieved when the play is performed with skilled precision, devoted faith and pure concentration.

To succeed, the artist must immerse the spectator with pure joy of rasa experience. The spectator's concentrated absorption and appreciation is success. Abhinavagupta asserts that Natyasastra and performance arts appeal to man because of "the experience of wonder", wherein the observer is pulled in, immersed, engaged, absorbed, and satisfied.

The detailed Natyasastra review and commentary of Abhinavagupta mentions older Sanskrit commentaries on the text, suggesting the text was widely studied and had been influential. The first chapter of the text declares that the text's origins came after the four Vedas had been established, and yet there was lust, covetousness, wrath and jealously among human beings.

The text originated to enable arts that influence the society and encourage each individual to consider good counsel, to explain sciences and demonstrate arts and crafts widely. It provided the foundation of theatrical and literary works that followed, which shaped the post-Vedic culture. The Natysashastra text has been influential in other arts.

The dance forms described in the Natyasastra , for example, have inspired Shiva sculptures of the 1st-millennium BCE, particularly the Tandava style which fuses many of these into a composite image found at the Nataraja temple of Chidambaram. The specifications provided in the Natyashastra can be found in the depiction of arts in sculpture, in icons and friezes across India.

The artist repeats and chisels this imagery by giving it concrete shape through stone, sound, line or movement. The Rasa theory of Natyashastra has attracted scholarly interest in communication studies for its insights into developing texts and performances outside the Indian culture.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sanskrit text on the performing arts. Other scriptures. Bhagavad Gita Agamas. Ramayana Mahabharata. Shastras and sutras. Chronology of Hindu texts. Dramatic arts [Natyashastra praises dramatic arts] as a comprehensive aid to the learning of virtue, proper behavior, ethical and moral fortitude, courage, love and adoration of the divine. Various classical dance forms.

Musical instrument types mentioned in the Natyashastra string, flute, drums and cymbals. Training actors For an actor who is not yet perfect, the techniques described in the Natyashastra , are a means to achieve perfection, enlightenment, moksha, and run parallel to reaching this state through yoga or meditation practices.

When is a play successful? Westview Press. Beck University of South Carolina Press. Quote: "A summation of the signal importance of the Natyasastra for Hindu religion and culture has been provided by Susan Schwartz, "In short, the Natyasastra is an exhaustive encyclopedic dissertation of the arts, with an emphasis on performing arts as its central feature.

It is also full of invocations to deities, acknowledging the divine origins of the arts and the central role of performance arts in achieving divine goals Schwartz Rasa: Performing the Divine in India. Columbia University Press.

Approaches to Acting: Past and Present. Bloomsbury Academic. Loom Of Time, Kalidasa. Penguin Books. Sanskrit Documents. Harvard University Press. The Theatric Universe: a Study of the Natyasastra. Popular Prakashan. Calcutta: Asiatic Society. CS1 maint: extra text: authors list link See introduction p. Drama and Ritual of Early Hinduism. Motilal Banarsidass. Richmond, Darius L. Zarrilli , p. The Routledge Companion to World Literature. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre.

Cambridge University Press.


Summary of Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra

The myth of the origin of theatre in India, told at the very beginning of the Natyashastra , or the Drama Manual , shows the central role of theatre and dance in Indian culture. Natya , the art of theatre including dance , was the work of God Brahma, the creator, who was asked to give mankind a fifth Veda , which, unlike the four earlier Vedas, could be understood by everyone, even those who did not know Sanskrit i. Thus Brahma created the Natya Veda , with the assistance of other gods. Natya was then taught by God Brahma to the mythic sage Bharata , who is said to have recorded this teaching in the Natyashastra. The origin of the book is thus shrouded in mythology, but the work itself is indeed living reality. The instructions of the Natyashastra became established through centuries of practical theatre work. The compilation of this treatise dates back most probably to the second century AD, although the tradition formulated in it was older.



Natyashastra , in full Bharata Natyashastra, also called Natyasastra , detailed treatise and handbook on dramatic art that deals with all aspects of classical Sanskrit theatre. It is believed to have been written by the mythic Brahman sage and priest Bharata 1st century bce —3rd century ce. Its many chapters contain detailed treatments of all the diverse arts that are embodied in the classical Indian concept of the drama , including dance, music, poetics, and general aesthetics. Its primary importance lies in its justification of Indian drama as a vehicle of religious enlightenment. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback.

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