Summary of Natyashastra

In the arts, it is highly common for performers such as musicians, dancers, actresses, and actors to express a wide range of events and feelings from their lives through song, dance, drama, and action. According to Vedic literature, the primary modes of expression used during Vedic rites and sacrifices were singing, dancing, and debate. A number of verses in the Vedas make mention to music, dancing, speech, and other actions that are generally performed during religious rites, celebrations, and festivals.Thus, Bharata’s Natyashastra systematised the art of music and dance, which were highly developed throughout the Vedic period. He distilled and formalised the laws governing music, dance, and theatre. Not just these three, but all of the other prerequisites for authors and actors, such as understanding of grammar, prosody, rhetoric, and rasa bhava, are also discussed explicitly in this text. In any encyclopaedic treatise on dramatic art, his Natya Shastra with its 36 chapters covers the writing of drama and its production. It is known as the Natyaveda because the word or speech is derived from Rigveda music, the song is derived from Samaveda, the skill of playing theatrical expressions is derived from Yajurveda, and the elements of Rasa are derived from Athervaveda.

Numerous authors prior to Bharata, such as Parasara, Shilali, Krishashva, Kohala, Dantila, Thumbura, Narada Nandi, and Shandilya, wrote about the fundamentals of dance, but the original writings are no longer available. Bharata modified, added dramatic laws and norms, and created a complete work replete with minute aspects of dramatic art.

This composition is considered to have been composed between 200 BC and 200 AD. Natya Shastra’s technical words are present in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Kalidasa fully accredits Bharatamuni with Natyashastra (Vikramorvashiya-II-7, Kumarasambhava 7-91), and so he can be put before Kalidasa. Considering allusions in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi and the Kharavela Hathigumfa inscription, scholars believe that Bharata thrived before to the Christian era, most likely during the second century B.C.

We now have Abhinavagupata’s commentary on the Natya Shastra.

Abhinava Bharati is a Natyaveda vivritti. There are several older comments to Abhinavagupta, including Bhattalollata, Udbhata, Shankuka, Bhattanayaka, and Kirtidhara, which are listed in Sangita Rathnakara (1-19), but the majority of them are unavailable. Numerous works, such as Danunjaya’s Dasarupaka, Sangaranandi’s Nataka Lakshana Ratnakosa, Ramachandra and Gunachandra’s Natyadarpana, and Sharadatanaya’s Bhavaprakasha, were based on the dramaturgy of Bharata3. These books include dramaturgy in the form of Rasa, Bhava, Abhinaya, and Nayika Nayaka, as well as the production and presentation of theatre in all its manifestations.

The Bharatas Natya Shastra is the preeminent text on rhetoric since it encapsulates the laws regulating the construction of a play. An budding actor can obtain extensive lessons on all forms of dramatic applications, including the rules, styles of language, and stories applicable to drama. He regards Gunas, Dosas, and Alankaras as subordinate to the goal of arousing Rasa, as Sanskrit theatre is primarily concerned with awakening proper sentiments. The objective of dance or theatre is fulfilled when the evoking sentiments are brought to life through grace, verbal ability, and movements.

As previously stated, the 6000 slokas were divided into 36 chapters, and Abhinava Gupta divided the 36th chapter into two, giving a total of 37 chapters. The contents of Natyashastra are described in full in Gackwad’s oriental series, Barada…..

According to Natyashastra, all the Gods requested that Lord Brahma create something to play (Kirdaniyakam) (N.S.I 2) that might be seen, heard, enjoyed, and instructional, a fifth Veda for the benefit of all mankind. Brahma absorbed the essence of the four Vedas during his meditation (NS I,17) and constructed this Natya Veda, which is replete with stories from epics and legends that guided people toward the righteous path. He then entrusted Bharata with bringing this art to the world’s attention. The Natya is the embodiment of the lives of Gods, Demons, Kings, Householders, and Great Sages (NS I 107).

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The first chapter of Natya Shastra is titled Natyotpatti, which means “the origin of drama.” It has 127 slokas. Atreya and others raised issues regarding the circumstances surrounding the birth of Natya, the birth of Natyaveda, the goal of the sensitive style of expression, the first play produced during the Indradhvaja festival, the play’s disturbances, pacification, and the benefits of theatre. (1) How was the Natyaveda created? (2) To whom was it intended? (3) What are the constituent parts? (4) What is its scope, and (5) how will it be implemented. However, the answers to these queries do not follow a chronological order and are scattered throughout the text of Natyashastra. While explaining the nature and purpose of Natya, Brahma states that nothing is missing from it, whether it is knowledge, action, or craft4. It encompasses all sciences, arts, and crafts and is a simulation of all three worlds’ conditions. The play’s theme may be drawn from historical accounts, Vedas, or Shastras and presented in an entertaining manner. Thus, Natya embodies the world’s hardships and pleasures through four distinct types of abhinaya, namely Angika – physical movements and gestures, Satvika – emotional reaction. Vachika – Vocal & linguistic abilities Aharya – Costume and make-up.

Chapter II deals with Natya Mandapa (the theatre) in 105 slokas. Standards for theatre, constructions, of 3 varieties of Natyamandapa, namely Vikrishta – the rectangular, Chaturasara the square, Tyasra – the triangle along with paintings of the walls sealing arrangements, entrances for king and others, the rear and front stage were described.

In 105 slokas, Chapter II discusses Natya Mandapa (the theatre). The standards for theatres, their constructions, and the three varieties of Natyamandapa, namely Vikrishta – the rectangular, Chaturasara – the square, and Tyasra – the triangle, were described, as well as the paintings on the walls sealing arrangements, king and other entrances, and the rear and front stage.

Chapter III is devoted to Ranga Devata Puja, the 102-sloka worship of the Gods. It incorporates chants of Lord Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha, and Brihaspati for the purpose of maintaining the drama’s continual presentation.

Chapter IV describes the Tandava dance in 320 slokas.  The two plays Amritha  Mathana and Tripuradaha were presented in the presence of Lord Shiva.  The description of 108 Karanas (postures) the basics of pure dance with detailed description and usage 32 Angaharas (movements of limbs) and Rechakas (gestures) were dealt.

Chapter V contains Purva Ranga vidhana, which details the rituals that must be performed prior to the presentation of the dance. In 174 slokas, Purva Ranga, Nandi, Druva, and Prastavana were explained as preliminaries.

Chapter VI Bharata responds to Sages’ queries on how the actor’s sentiments acquire particular traits, what bhavas are and how they affect us, and what the major terminology like Sangraha, Karika, and Nirukta mean. The Sangraha, which encompasses eleven facets of drama, was founded.

Chapter VII devotes 121 slokas to bhavas, or emotions, with numerous prose passages. Characteristics Bhava – the emotion, Vibhava – the determinant, and Anubhava – the consequence – and their interrelationship; the significance of eight sthayi bhavas – static emotions; 33 Sancharibhavas – transitory emotions; and eight satvika bhavas – consequential emotions. The role of bhavas – responding emotions in creating Rasa in the audience’s heart was discussed in length.

Chapter VIII describes in full the four Abhinayas, namely Angika, Satvika, Vachika, and Aaharya. The head expression, glances, pupil activity, eye-lids, brows, nose and Nostrils, cheeks, lower lip, neck, and coloration of the face were all characterised.

Chapter IX discussed Angabhinaya expression through motions and limbs in 283 slokas, Pataka, Tripataka, and so on. 24 single hand gestures (Asamyutahastabhedas), Anjali, Svastika, etc., 13 coupled hand gestures (Samyanuta hasta bhedas), 27 Tandava (pure) dancing hand gestures (Nritha hastas), Karanas of hand gestures, movement with the chest, sides, abdomen, waist, thighs, shanks, and feet were described.

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Chapter X was entirely devoted to different types of footwork. In 103 slokas, the uses of 32 charis (earthly and aerial), the sthanas, four Nyayas of weaponry, acts involving the bow, and good activity are discussed.

In Chapter XI the Mandala movements both earthly and aerial were described in 70 slokas.  

In Chapter XII the different gaits of men, women, the stout, the intoxicated, the Jester etc were found in 236 Slokas.

Chapter XIII describes Kakshya Vibhaga – stage division as regards to musical instruments and four kinds of Pravritti (the regional identity), definitions Loka Dharmi and Natyadharmi.

Chapter XIV treats with Vyakarana-the grammar and Chandah-the prosody in 133 slokas.  

Chapter XV decribes Vrittas – the Slokas.  Metres  of balanced slokas with examples, and meter with unbalanced slokas with examples.  Aarya Vritta and Arya gita were dealt elaborately in 227 slokas.

Chapter XVI is dealt with 36 Kavya Lakshana – embellishments, 4 Alankaras the figures of speech, 10 Gunas – the merits and 10 Doshas – demerits in 128 slokas.

Chapter XVII deals with Kakusvara – the modulation in voice, Bhasha – the language, Sambhuddhi – the addressing, Name – the name, musical notes, origin of musical notes etc.

Chapter XVIII gives full description of Dasarupakas – Nataka, Prahasana etc the ten forms of drama in 126 verses.
Chapter XIX discusses the Sandhi Nirupana – Construction of Plot in 154 slokas. The  division and  nature of plot, 5 Karyavasathas – the five  executive  processes, 5 Arthaprakrittis – the five causation,  4  Pataka sthanatas  –  the four dramatic ironies, 5 Sandhis – the five divisions of plot,  64 Sandhyangas – intermediary  divisions, 5 Arthopakshepakas – the five suggestive devices Lasyangas, along with ideal drama and its proprieties were discussed.
Chapter XX is of Vritti Vikalpanam – Modes of expression Bharati, Satvathi, Kaishiki and Arabhati Vrittis were described (in 77 Slokas) for the promotions of Rasa in the drama.

Chapter XXI and XXII gives a detailed description of Aharyabhinaya – Makeup and costume, Samanyabhinaya – general histrionic  expression in 227 and 332 slokas respectively.  Ornaments of men, women, making up the face and other limbs with grease paints etc, details of Natural, derives and subsidiary colours false hair, manufacturing of masks etc were described in Aharayabhinaya. Physical, natural, involuntary graces in women, men, twelve forms of voice expression, 8 varieties of heroines in love (Astavidha Nayikas), general exclusions on the stage were treated.

Chapter XXIII deals with Bahyopachara – the courtesans and the vaishika in 80 slokas.
Chapter XXIV is dealt with the Prakriti – the character in men and women 89 slokas. The three types of characters in men and women, four types of heroes, four types of heroines with  their assistants and details there of.

Chapter XXV deals with Chitrabhinaya – the particular expression for indicating morning, sunset etc.  Seasons, birds, animals, demons, celestials, expression in Soliloquies, aside etc in 125 slokas.
Chapter XXVI deals with vikriti Vikalpa – that is creating moulds of animals and birds and set design in 38 slokas.

Chapter XXVII deals with Natya Siddhi – Success of Production of play in 104 verses. The Daivi Siddhi,Manushi Siddhi (success due to divine blessings and success due to human effort), four types of interruption in a play, qualifications of judges, audience, right time of the day when plays are to be produced and are not to be produced the success were discussed.

Chapter XVIII deals with Jaativikalpanam – the properties of music both Instrumental and Vocal in 142 Slokas. The four types of musical instruments, their nature and variations, saptaswaras, gramas, moorchanas etc were detailed in this chapter.

Chapter XXIX is continuation of 28th chapter, which deals with stringed instruments – the Tala Atodya.  Use of melodies according to Rasa, suitability of particular musical note to the instrument and Rasa, playing the tunes in the preliminary rituals, the four varnas etc were dealt in 119 slokas.

Chapter XXX deals with Sushira Atodya – the wind instruments played in combinations with Vina, Venu and Vocal in 125 slokas.
Chapter XXXI is Tala Adhyaya where time, various units of time, laya, qualities of singer and instrumentalists, rhythm, tempo etc along with delicate dance (lasya) its division and presentation were discussed in 378 slokas.

Chapter XXXII is dealt with Dhruva Vidhana – types of songs, five situations in which the song is used, content and metre of the song, its relation with character, emotion, and rasa in 436 slokas.  Suggestions and purpose of song in drama is also discussed.

Chapter XXXIII deals with qualification of vocalists and instrumentalists in 23 slokas.
Chapter XXXIV deals with Pushkarvaadyas – percussion instruments in 304 slokas include some prose passages. Major and minor instruments, various aspects of playing the three types of percussion instruments, various tastes of audience etc were discussed.

Chapter XXXV deals with Bhumika Vikalpa – the distribution of roles to sutradhara, actors and actresses in 41 slokas.

Chapter XXXVI deals with Natya Shapa – the curse on drama in 50 slokas. Sages initiated Bharata regarding the drama dropped down to the earth from the heaven, Bharata’s explanation, importance of preliminaries, arrogant sons of Bharata being cursed by the sages, representation of celestials, compromise by Bharata were discussed.
Chapter XXXVII, Guhyatatvakathana (The Mythical account the drama   descending on the earth) is dealt in 31 slokas.  Nahusha invited the sons of Bharata to bring the drama to the earth, the greatness of Natyaveda and benefits were explained.
Thus the 6000 slokas in Bharata Natyashastra have been distributed in 37 chapters.

In Chapter VI-10 Bharata   states that the eleven aspects are very important to define the picture of drama in so far as the author and the actor are concerned.  They are eight types of (1) Rasas, the ninth Santa Rasa is added on, eight sthayi bhavas, thirty three Sanchari bhavas, eight satvika bhavas, thus total number of (2) Bhavas emotions are 49, (3) Abhinaya histrionic expression is of 4 types (Satvika) Vachika, Angika and Vachika (4) Dharmi school of acting is of two types Lokadharmi and Natya Dharmi, (5) Vritti – mode  of expression and (6) Pravrithi regional identity are of four types each, Bharati, Satvati, Kaishiki and Arabhati, Avanti,Dakshinatya, Odri Magadhi, and Panchala Madhyama respectively, (7) Siddhi the success is of two types Daivi and Manushi.  (8) Svara is of seven notes Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni, (9) Aatodhya i.e. instrument is four types Tala, Avanaddha, Ghana, Sushira. (10) Gana the song is of five varieties Praveshaka, Akshepa, Nishkrama Prasadika and Antara. (11) Ranga the theatre is three forms Chaturasra, Vikrishta and Tyasra.  This is the essence of Natya Shastra.

The chief aim of the presentation is to arouse a particular sentiment in the minds of audience.  Drishya Kavya which is enacted on the stage and seen by audience is more effective to give the desired aesthetic pleasure. The plot, the characterization and everything is subordinate in promoting Rasa.
As Drama is a composite art, Bharata’s treatment towards all related subjects such as Architecture, Preliminaries, Postures, movements of limbs, songs, dance, speech, dress, musical instruments etc gave importance and greatness to Natyashastra.

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