Natya Shastra

Text on Stagecraft

The Natya Shastra, the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in the world, is believed to have been written by the Sage Bharata between 2OO BC and AD 200. Some believe that it may have been written by various authors at different times. The book is said to have been written, inspired by Lord Brahma.

The text is written in the Sanskrit language, and consists of 6,000 sutras, or verse stanzas, incorporated in 36 chapters. There are some passages that are composed in a prose form.Ten types of drama, ranging from one to ten acts, are described. The Natya Shastra, wide in its scope, covers stage-design, music, dance, makeup, and virtually every aspect of stagecraft. Bharata refers to bhavas and rasas, and stipulates that the plays should have a mingling of rasas and not be dominated by a single one.

As the only text which gives all details about the music and instruments of the earlier period, Natya Shastra is of great relevance to musicians as well.

Updated on 23rd November, 2005


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