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India in the Natyasastra of Bharata

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India in the Natyasastra of Bharata
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Item Code: IDF535
Author: Dr. Dileep Kumar Kanjilal
Publisher: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar
Language: English
Pages: 212 (Map: 1)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5" X 5.7"
weight of the book: 355 gms

My first appointment in the west Bengal educational Service was at Krishnanagar Govt. College Krishnanagar in Nadia. Krishnanagar has been a centre of music fine arts and culture for the last 300 years. Some of the elite of the city of Krishnanagar in dance and music used to come to the college for satisfying their queries on these topics and very often the burden used to fall on me. But this offered me the chance of going through the Natyasastra of Bharata which was the fountain head of music and histrionics. Except the Gaekwad oriental institute edition of the Natyasastra the College Library possessed copies of the Kavaymala edition of the Natyasastra and the English translation of Dr. Manomohan Ghosh. The Study of these books apart from meeting the queries revealed before me a vivid picture of the ancient Indian society in different shades. I began jotting down the data and on transfer to the Calcutta Sanskrit College I was privileged to discuss the matter with Dr. Kali kumar Dutta Sastri Prof. of Sanskrit Language and culture in the post graduate training and research Dept. who encouraged me to proceed on the work. Frequent transfers caused inevitable delay but the recluse at Oxford from 1969-71 gave me the opportunity of consulting the old references and to check up the linguistic data contained in the Natyasastra of Bharata. Some more time was consumed in completing the work and we are now in a position to bring out the fruits of our labor. Except the brief analysis of the cultural data found in the Natayasastra of Dr. M. Ghosh no other significant inroad has been made into this field however I admit my inability to go 1991 but even then I hope that this integrated study of the Natayasastra will be of substantial help for those who are interested in this topic.

I have generally followed the principal texts of the NS in the G.O.S edn and in the Kavyamala series No. 42 in our studies on the Prakrta portion of CH XVII we have examined in addition the variants given in the footnotes of both of these texts. Prof. Dr. Satyaranjan Banerjee of the Dept. of Linguistics University of Calcutta has been kind enough to go through the entire Ch VIII of this study and to suggest correction and alterations. It lapses are noticed even then these are due to my ignorant venture into a highly specialized field of study. My daughter Miss Sarbani Kanjilal B.Sc. M.C.A. (final) has taken much pains in the computerized re-editing of the 108 historinci postures noticed in the temple of Chidambaram Madras and reported in the excerpts of the Dept. of Epigraphy, Madras I acknowledge my debts to the Lucknow Museum for the picture of the dancing Yaksi and to Stella Kramrish’s book. The art of India for the Frontis piece.

I convey my best thanks to Sri Debasis Bhattacharyya for expressing his willingness to publish this from the Sanskrit pustak Bhandar Kolkata.


The Natyasastra of Bharata is a voluminous text on histrionics. Histrionics include drama, dance, music and fine arts as well as stagecraft. 1-listrionics as art is the gift of an enlightened and progressive society. A treatise on the science of histrionics will, as a matter of fact, contain meagre or detailed account of the society which has given birth to it. In this process of presentation of the data the details of geography, topography and the geo-physical peculiarities, the general administrative and economic condition of the society come in. The Natyasastra illustrates these aspects. M reference to any dynastic rule can be found in this Political history in the modern sense of the traceable here; but some elements of political geography and of history dealing with the rise and the coalescing of the states and the extension of their boundaries are noticeable in the discussions of political geography and of history in the text of the Natyasastra. The present study covers all the 36 chapters of the Natyasastra, but the remaining six chapters are given to the development and the display of music in all niceties which are essentially specialized and have not been included here.

A cultural study waits for a reference to the date. Examination of the data given in the Natyasastra points to a society which was in all probability free from political turmoil’s and indicate a process of cohesion and social absorption. From the available annals of old Indian history we find a period of settlement and of placidity from the time of Asoka upto the 1st cent. B.C. The total picture of Indian society emerging from the Natyasastra seems to place it in this age of cultural contact and peace. Economy as gathered from the Natyasastra was stable with gold and silver coins serving as the medium of exchange. No reference to draught or shortage of food can be found here. Among the foreign tribes settled in the North or North-West of India no reference to the Hunas or to the Guijaras can he traced. The Arthasastra of Kautilya refers to the Hunas along with the Gandharadesa. It refers to the Sakas, Yavanas, Pahlavas, Bãhlikas, the Paradas and the Khasas. The Paradas were settled in the North-West extremities of Balucistan from the 4th cent B.C. and came down the Sindhu land one or two centuries later. Some of the administrative terms found in the Natyasastra like mahattara and ãyuktika are not traceable in a more comprehensive treatise like the Arthasastra. On the other hand the NS refers to Brhaspati as an authority on political science. The reference to Arthasastra in conjunction with Brhaspati (XXVI. 85-91) is indicative of Bharata’s acquaintance with a text on Arthasastra attributed to Brhaspati who has been referred to by Kautilya. The reference to Kämatantra cannot be taken as a reference to the Kãmasutra of Vatsyayana which belongs to the 3rd cent. A.D. There were earlier texts on the science of erotics as well. The geo-political state of India described in the NS includes two territories (i) the Andhra-Maharãstra and (ii) Odra-Magadha. As we have discussed in Ch II the formation and the emergence of these two states point to a period which is not later than 1st Cent. A.D. at the lowest and the mention of Kaa-Koala as one unit also points to a tradition some centuries prior to B.C. The agreement almost verbatim of the Prakrta section of the NS with the Prakrta-prakasa of Vararuci seems to suggest either that the NS had copied the Prãkrta portion from Vararuci or both have taken from a common source — a possibility which cannot be ruled Out. Similarly the NS is in close agreement with the text of Pingala as we have shown in Ch IX Pingla was not much later than Pänini and his text can be placed in the 3rd. cent. B.C. at the latest. From all these evidences we are inclined to place the extant text of the Nttyasastra in the 1st Cent. B.C. but some portions of the text may be as early as the 4th cent. B.C.


Geography of Ancient India
Two aspects of Geography - physical and political - physical geography includes mountains, rivers and the landscape - political geography includes the description of the countries of that time - the North and North-Western boundary - the regions of the extreme North-West and of the North - regions watered by the Indus - regions of the Central and of the West - the Central East and the extreme Eastern regions - regions of the Southern India - of the South-East.
Political History
Settlements of the Sakas, Yavanas, Bactrian-Greeks, Parthians, Khasas, Daradas - the territory occupied by these tribes - the impact of the presence of these tribes on Indian life and on the society - data regardig the Hunas and the Gurjara people - the Odra-Magadha region and the impact of its presence the rice of a Maharastra state - the states of Anga, Vanga and of Kalinga - the pictures of India of that time.
General features of the society
The case system - the relation of the various castes and groups - features of family life - food and drink - fruits and vegetables - possible provenance - the use of house-hold effects - customs and habits - the use of ornaments - hair arrangement - marriage and the status of women - the avocation of the women of the day - festivities and recreation - miscellaneous items of social interest.
General features of the economy - nature of industry - metal workers - artisans, domestic workers - cooks and confectioners - goldsmith, weavers, carpenters, industrial workers - agriculturists - trade and merchandise - other professions - general economic condition of the society.
General administration of the country - metropolitan and rural administration - some aspects of the bureaucracy - the administrative set-up - various categories of the office-bearers - mentioned in the Arthasastra and other texts.
Religion and Culture
Religion and the religious sects - the Buddhists and the non-Buddhists - the Brahmanas, Sramanas, Pasupatas, Bhiksus etc. - the deities worshipped - the prominence of the orthodox Aryan system - the prominence of the Smrti cult.
Literature and Literary references
Literature and the literary works mentioned - reference to the Arthasastra whether of Brhaspati or of Kautilya - the Kamasutra - the Manusmriti and other texts.
Language and the linguistic set-up
The distribution of Language and the varieties mentioned - the languages used by the various types of people - various languages and their distribution - the use of Prakrt - comparison of the Prakrt of the Natyasastra with the text of Vararuchi - the uses of the vowels, consonants, case-endings etc. - the use of Magadhi and of the Sauraseni - examples from the Dhruva
Metrical Data from the Natyasastra
The metrical data available from the Natyasastra - the Vrtta, Jati, Sama, Ardhasama, Visama etc. - The use of Yati - comparison of the Natyasastra with Pingala - comparative analysis and evaluation.
Stage and the Stage-craft
The various types of stages mentioned and their measurements - the technicalities of the construction of the Rangasirsa, Rangamandapa, Rangapitha and of the Saddaruka and the Mattavarani - the data found in the Sitavenga caves - the Caturasra Jyestha as the best types of popular stage - stage lighting and revolving stage - blemishes of the histrionic performance and the reaction of the audience - acting techniques and the use of pusta etc.
The text and the date
The basic text of the Natyasastra - the sutra and vrtti style combined - the anuvamsa slokas - whether the Natyasastra is a recast - the views of Mm P.V. Kane and of others - the position of Bharata and of Adi-Bharata - the question of the recension - the date of the Natyasastra.
I. Illustrations of the postures192-209
II. Bibliography210-212

Of Related Interest:

The NATYASASTRA (English Translation with Critical Notes) (Book)

Shiva as Nataraja - Dance and Destruction in Indian Art (Article)

Introduction to Bharata's Natyasastra (Book)

BHARATA - The Natyasastra (Book)

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