Natya Shastra
   Natya Shastra, “the authoritative scripture [shas-tra] regarding drama [natya],” is often considered the “fifth VEDA.” It was composed by the teacher Bharata around the second century C.E. Made up of over 5,000 verses, it delineates the art form of dance-drama of its time. The revived BHARATA NAT YA M dance-drama form of modern India still follows the guidelines of this text.
   The Natya Shastra claims that drama was created by the creator god BRAHMA himself. The text outlines every aspect of the drama, includ-ing the dress of the actors, the music, the stage, and the construction of the theater building. Indian drama has always relied greatly on dance; thus the steps, rhythms, and hand gestures or MUDRAS are carefully detailed. The text also sug-gests the most common themes that the drama can present, such as the battle between the gods and demons and the adventures of the individual gods. From a philosophical standpoint the two most important chapters are those that outline the principles of aesthetics in dramatic presen-tations. They present the distinctive theory of RASAS, the emotional “essences” that are commu-nicated via the drama.
   Further reading: The Natya Sastra of Bharatamuni (Delhi: Sri Satguru, 2003); Vasanta Vedam, A Handbook of Natya Sastra (Chennai: Vasanta Vedam, 2003).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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