Abhinaya Darpana - The Galaxy of Indian Dance and Dramaturgy

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Item Code: NAP582
Author: Sayanika Goswami
Publisher: Pratibha Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788177024203
Pages: 181 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10 inch X 7.5 inch
Weight 610 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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23 years in business
Book Description
About the Book

The book Abhinayadarpana: The Galaxy of Indian Dance &Dramaturgy gives a detailed insight into the practical and practical and scientific explanation of bharatiya natya parampara based on Abhinayadarpana of nandikesvara which vividly explained the amgika abhinaya. An overview has been given even prior to natyasastra which includes the grammatical use of abhinaya and four divisions of abhinaya and four divisions of abhinaya. A comparative study has been prepared to distinguish between natya nrtta and nrtya with a systematic explanation of similarities and dissimilarities amongst them.

A comparative study has been prepared on the gestures of Abhinayadarpana and natyasastra. The most interesting part of the book is the explains in detail how the hand gestures of Abhinayadarpana has been used in the other Indian classical dances and this interpretation has been done with proper pictorial representation. This book reflects Indian cultural unity in diversity as many gestures and postures found in these classical dances are inspired by abhinadarpana and it is an author’s attempt to highlight that cultural unity.

About the Author

Dr. Sayanika Goswami : is hailing from a resourceful cultural and educated family of nalbari satra , assam . She has passed B.A with Sanskrit from Gauhati university in 1st class first position , B.Ed. under Gauther university too. She is also awarded with kavyasastri in Sanskrit. She has been awarded M. Phil for the dissertations natyarnasa in poetics and PhD for the research works abhinaya ,by the bharatiya Itihas sankalan samitee . She has presented many resourceful papers on Sanskrit literature , poetics and philosophy etc . in national and international conferences, seminars and published many valuable articles in national and international conferences ,seminars and published many valuable articles in national and international journals and books . now she is working as a guest faculty in the departments of Sanskrit sahitya , kumar bhaskar varma Sanskrit and ancient’s studies university , Nalbari, Assam . She is simultaneously working as a teacher of kathak dance in sadhana Kathak Kendra , nalbari which is one of the leading institution of kathak dance & classical music of Assam .

DR Sayanika is a disciple of renowned kathak dances kalita mudiar and smt . chandrani kalita ojah for last fourteen years and holistically having regorious talim through guru sishya parampara . she has completed nritya nipun in kathak with 1st class from Bhatkande sangeet vidyapith lucknow.


When I was only five , my mother admitted me in a dance school where I had to learn different gestures .In had to learn different gestures . In that school, when I was preparing for ‘prathama ’ examination of Kathak dance , I come to know about the theoretical part of those gestures . At the time of visharad examination of kathak , we the pupils were told that theories on the gestures are actually found in a book named the Abhinayadarpana and the author of that book is nandikesvara . While I was doing M.A in Sanskrit in the Gauhati University, the natyasastra there was mentions of some gestures similar to the VII chapter of this natysastra there was there was mentions of some gestures similar to the gestures found in the natysastra there was mention of some gestures similar to the gestures found in the abhinayadarpana . Again When I was a student of M.phil . course I found a reference of nandikesvara and his valuable work the Abhinaydarpana was in search of a book in the K.K Handique Library , Gauhati University , suddenly I found the great treasure for me . I was very much happy to find all the K.K Handique library , Gauhati University , suddenly I found the great treatise Abhinyadarpana . I felt a thrill of joy . Because , the treatise was the dearest treasure for me . I was very much happy to find all the gestures defined there clearly that are used in different , I decided to do my ph.d . on this very book , especially to study whether it is just only a follower of the natyasastra or not . Regarding this matter , I requested my ex . guide Late Prof . Laksahira Gogoi chutia to gudie me , but at first she refused to guide me on that treatise , because of its being a source of performing arts . Although abiding the request of my present guide me , but at first she refused to guide me on that treatise , because of its beings a source of performing arts . Although abiding the request of my presents guide at last she accepted my request , actually to fulfil my wish and dream . But unfortunately she suddenly passed away. In such a difficult situation , my kind hearted gure honourable Prof . Shrutidhara Chakravarty , M.A .,PH.D department of Sanskrit , Gauhati university , came forward to reuse me and agreed to guide me on the same topic.

After starting my research works I was surprised to find out Nandikesvara as one of the brightest star in the galaxy of Sanskrit dramaturgy. His talent and personality was multifaceted. He composed sastras on purvamimamsa , kamasatra , limgayat saivisim , tala , rasa , yoga abhinaya , grammar etc . He has two books on dramaturgy viz., the bhararnava and abhinayadarpana and both the books very special regarding the art of abhinaya. The treatise Abhinayadarpana is popular among the experts and also learners of Indian classical dance because of its practical implications and easy and simple language. There is no doubt that nandikesvara is a great follower of bharata. Even then he has shown his own minute surveillance in every phase of his work. For example, Nadikesvara’s observation regarding rasa i.e sentiment is too minute and clear, that nowhere in Sanskrit literature such deep study on rasa is found. For this reason Rajasekhara in his kavyminamsa mentioned Nandikesvara as the exponent of rasa , while Bharata as the natya.

The gestures defined and analysed in the pages of the Abhinayadarpana. are very important for the performers and students of Indian classical dance expect kathakali, mohiniyattam and mainpuri all the Indian classical dance froms follow those gestures and postures of the Abhinayadarpana . Generally there is a belief that the Abhinayadarpana is just a collection of a some verses of abhinaya of the Natyasastra. But a thorough study of the work shows how the author observes totally new gestures and postures applicable in both nrtya i.e ., dance and natya .,i.e. ,drama . Especially some innovative gestures indicating different castes ,devas , ten incarnations of lord Vishnu , and some useful gestures etc . of the abhinayadarpana are very popular among Indian classical dance traditions . But the natyasastra has no such reference. So, these are based totally on new concept of nandikesvara.

In the days of the natyasastra there were practices on natya and nrtta performed in group. Nrtta was one of the components of natya and nrtta performred in group . nrtta was one of the components of natya. But the abhinayadarpana , for the first time in the components of natya. But the Abhinayadarpana ,for the first time in the components of natya and nrtta performed in group . Nrtta was one of the compontes of natya . But the Abhinayadarpana , for the first time in the history of Indian literature, introduced the solo performance produced from the combinations of both natya and nrtta called nrtya . Thought the treatise looks very shorts , wherever nandikesvara wrote was sufficient to fulfil the purpose of dance i.e nrtaprayaga . He says himself that he would define only those which are useful for nrtya only . Only the karanas and amgaharas as used in classical dances are seen to been to be absent in the Abhinayadarpana . The reason for this is that perhaps those are actually the components of nrtta , but as the time passed , Indian classical dances inculeded . be considered as nrtyasastra i.e , a treatise on drama .

Most of the works done later stage on dramaturgy seem to follow the views of the Abhinayadarpana . Among them rajasekhara , sarangdeva included nandilkesvara in the list of pioneers in the field of dramaturgy . not only that but he quoted almost 20 verses from the abhinaydarpana in the 7th chapter of the samgitaratnakara .

The Abhinayadarpana of nandikesvara is the treasure and sources books of the Indian classical dance forms and it will remain like that forever. To deal with such a great work has really been a thrilling experience for me.


A civilisation is signified by its cultural heritage. Art and culture are the assets of a region or a nation. In art and culture reflection of the society is natural. Even society is the source of art and culture. Because, what is happening in the entire social atmosphere is reflected in the contemporary as well as later art, culture and literature. For example, a poet collects the theme for natya or Kavya from society and gives it a new shape with his wonderful touch of imagination. In case of dance art also, the nrtyacaryas compose their works depending on the traditional uses of the gestures by dancers practised in the society and handed down by previous scholars. That is why in any form of art regional influence is remarkable. Regional social influence in dance art is seen especially in case of costumes and ornaments and music etc. India has a more than 5000 years old history of cultural glory.' According to Bhartrhari, the great Sanskrit poet, without literature, music (samgita) and art, a human being is like a beast without the tail and horn. Attraction to art and music is the general tendency of human being. So, without having this quality, the person without emotions or feelings is rightly regarded as an animal by Bhartrhari. Relishment of rasa or rasanubhitti is the pleasure attained from enjoyment of any kind of art, literature and music. This rastinubhuti is also regarded as entertainment and it is the ultimate purpose of art forms. It is always compared with supreme pleasure attained through the attachment with Paramabrahman. Nandikegvara, the author of the Abhinayadarpana even considers this rasasvada (natyasvada, in his word) superior to the brahmasvada. He provides example of the sage like Narada, whose heart is captivated by this Natyasastra. So, people get entertainment or pleasure by any art and literature. As Bharata considers, those people who are suffering from sorrow and despondency and hard work can get relief by watching natya. 4 This happens in case of other art forms also. This source of entertainment is used as a tool to educate the people of that society which is in the darkness of ignorance, by the scholars like Bharata by composing sastras on the art forms like natya (i.e., Natyasastra) which is also regarded as paricamaveda.

The analysis of gestures, given by Nandikegvara is very popular and easy to understand. Though various gestures of the Abhinayadarpana have similarities with those of the Natyasastra, Nandikegvara's addition of gestures and minute observation on rasa are especially notable. Whatever it is, Nandikegvara being the author of the Abhinayadarpana, has played a great role in the formation of various classical dances as they are practised today.

Two main purposes of any art form are rasasvada i.e., to get entertainment or pleasure and to give education. And we may observe that education can be given through the medium of entertainment by the different art forms. For a better and civilised society both are equally important. Because, education makes a man civilised and pleasure provides peace to the mind. Thus a well balanced society can be maintained. It was the ancient purpose of art and culture in the time of creation of the Natyaveda as found in the Natyasastra. So art forms are the foremost need of a society always. The Abhinayadarpana is a book on performing art. So, in the present dissertation we propose to make a study of the Abhinayadarpana and find out the specialties of the work regarding angikabhinaya.

The Abhinayadarpana

The Abhinayadarpana is actually a treatise on dance i.e., nrtya rather than drama i.e., natya. After a short introduction of other dramatic elements Nandikegvara shows interest on dealing with various aspects of the nrtya. Though his defined gestures are applicable for natya too, his maximum attention is concentrated on nrtya. This work comprises of 324 (three twenty four) verses only. No chapter division is found in the Abhinayadarpana aryl in the whole work a great influence of the Natyasastra is experienced. The Abhinayadarpana, despite of its textual problems has been used in a wide range as a reference book by exponents of Indian classical dances especially of the Bharatnatyam.

After the mafigalficarana verse, dedicated to Lord Siva, Nandikegvara describes the genesis of natya. He describes that Caturmukha i.e., Lord Brahma gives Natyaveda to Bharata and Bharata performs natya, nrtya and nrtya in front of Lord Siva. This reference is found in the fourth chapter of the Nityasastra. Bharata also got instructed in the uddhata style from Tanclumuni and lasya form of dance from Parvati as ordered by Siva due to his affection to Bharata.8 After learning tarf4ava from Tanclumuni, sages spoke of it to human beings. A reference of the state of Pragjyotisapura i.e. the ancient name of Assam is found here. It is said that Parvati instructed lasya to Usa, the daughter of Bana, who was the king of Pragjyotisapura. This is a new addition by Nandikegvara in the Abhinayadarpana as not mentioned by Bharata. Nandikegvara mentions that Usa instructed this art to the cowhand women of Dvaraka. They again trained Iasya to the women of Saurastra (now Gujarat). They in their turn instructed the women of different parts of the country. Thus this art form was traditionally handed down by Goddess Parvati to the female folk in the world.


Preface iii
scheme of Transliteration vi
Acknowledgement vii
List of Illustrtions x
Introduction 1-26
Natya, nratta and nrtya 27-51
Influence of The Natyasastra The Abhinayadarpana 52-100
Influences of The Abinayadarpana Classical dances 101-151
Conclusion 153-157
Bibliography 159-162
Index 163-178
Sample Pages

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