Mudras of Indian Dance and Yoga

Sanskrit works on Mudras

1. नाट्यशास्त्रम्
2. अभिनयदर्पण
3. अभिनयचन्द्रिका
4. मुद्राप्रकाश
5. मुद्रालक्षण
6. मुद्रार्णव
7. मुद्राविद्धि
8. मुद्राविवरण

Most Important Publications of

1. Natyashastra of Muni Bharata, Vol.1
Chapter I-XIV, Nepal-Version: Critically edited

Title: नाट्यशास्त्रम् / Nāṭyaśāstra
भरतमुनिप्रणीतम् (Bharata-muni-pranitam) of Muni Bharata.

Nāṭyaśāstra of Muni Bharata / editor, Kamalesh Datta Tripathi ; asstt. editor, Narendra Dutt Tiwari.
New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi,

2015 (1st Edition).

Series Information:

Kala-mula-shastra (Esthetics)
(Kala-mula-shastra-grantha-mala = Kala-mula-shastra series; 59).
Physical Desc.: 534 pages,  volumes; 25 cm.
ISBN(Hardbound):  8120839846, 9788120839847
Price:    USD 84.80
Price (Hardbound): 2,100.00 INR

Territory: Available For Sale Worldwide
DK Number:    DKSAN-11578
ISBN:    9788120839854
Language: Sanskrit & English

Summary: Classical work on Sanskrit dramaturgy and music.

Volume Title:    prathamo bhagah. Prathama-adhyayatah catur-dasha-adhyaya-paryantah sampadita-nepala-pathah = (Chapter I-XIV of Nepal-version: critically edited.

. Dasarupakam /
3. Natyasastram /
4. Natyasastram. Adhyayah 1, 2, 3 evam (Abhinavabharatisahitah) : bhumika, anuvada ane vyakhya sathe /
5. Natyasastram : Srimadabhinavaguptacaryaviracitaya "Abhinavabharati" Samskrtavyakhyaya samudbhasitam /

Ramamurtisarmanah prastavanaya vibhusitam ; sampadakah Parasanathadvivedi.
Natyasastram /

DK Number: DKSAN-3330
ISBN: 8172700393
Title: Natyasastram /
नाट्यशास्त्रम् /
Author: Ramamurtisarmanah prastavanaya vibhusitam ; sampadakah Parasanathadvivedi.
भरतमुनिप्रणितं ; श्रीमदभिनवगुप्तकृतया "अभिनवभारती" व्याख्यया ; पारसनाथद्विवेदिकृतया "मनोरमा" हिंदीव्याख्यया च विभूषितम् ; संपादकः पारसनाथद्विवेदी.
Edition: 1. samskarana
1. संस्करणम्.
Physical Desc.: 6, 15, 771 p. ; 25 cm.
Series Information: Ganganathajha-granthamala ; 14
Year: 2001
Price: USD 20.15
Summary: On Indic dramaturgy and histrionics.
Volume No.: v. 3
Volume Title: Dvadasadhyayadarabhyastadasadhyayanto
Series: Ganganathajha-granthamala
More books by: Abhinavagupta, Rajanaka
  Bharata Muni

samudbhasitam /

DK Number: DKSAN-5365 Title: Natyasastram : Srimadabhinavaguptacaryaviracitaya "Abhinavabharati" Samskrtavyakhyaya samudbhasitam / Author: Bharatamunipranitam ; sampadakah Ravisankara Nagara. Edition: 3. samskarana. Imprint: Dilli : Parimala Pablikesansa,

Physical Desc.: 4 v. ; 22 cm. Series Information: (Parimala Samskrta granthamala sankhya ; 4) Price: USD 34.60 Language: In Sanskrit ; introd. in English. Subject Strings: Sanskrit drama--History and criticism.   Theater--India.   Drama--Technique.   Dancing--India.         Series: Parimal Sanskrit series         More books by: Bharata Muni.   Nagara, Ravisankara.

Natyasastram. Adhyayah 1, 2, 3 evam (Abhinavabharatisahitah) : bhumika, anuvada ane vyakhya sathe /
नाट्यशास्त्रम्. भूमिका, अनुवाद अने व्याख्या साथे /

DK Number: DKSAN-7034
Title: Natyasastram. Adhyayah 1, 2, 3 evam (Abhinavabharatisahitah) : bhumika, anuvada ane vyakhya sathe /
नाट्यशास्त्रम्. भूमिका, अनुवाद अने व्याख्या साथे /
Author: Bharatamunipranitam ; sampadaka, Tapasvi Sam. Nandi.
भरतमुनिप्रणीतं ; संपादक, तपस्वी शं. नांदी.
Edition: 2. avrtti.
2. आवृत्ति.
Imprint: Amadavada : Sarasvati Pustaka Bhandara,
अमदावाद : सरस्वती पुस्तक भंडार,
Physical Desc.: viii, 195, 487 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Series Information: (Saraswati Oriental Research series ; vol. 8)
Year: 2001
Price: USD 34.60
Language: In Sanskrit; translation in Gujarati; includes appendix in English.
Summary: Classical work on Sanskrit dramaturgy; includes Gujarati translation and notes.
Subject Strings: Sanskrit drama--History and criticism.
Series: Saraswati Oriental series
More books by: Abhinavagupta, Rajanaka, fl. c. 975-1025
  Bharata Muni
  Nandi, Tapasvi, 1933-

By Bharata Muni

Original Sanskrit text + Hindi translation by Babulal Shukla Shastri

2009     22 x 14 cm     2264 pages    
Set of 4 books
Deluxe hardcover edition     Rs. 3000 for the set


Natya-shastra: Bibliography

Natalia Lidova
Natya-shastra: Bibliography

LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2014

Table of Contents


General Overviews

Complete Editions

Partial Editions

Complete Translations

Patrial Translations

Comparative Studies

Abridgments and Lexicons

Commentary Tradition

Authorship and Date

Structure and Original Core

Historical Exploration

Myth and Ritual

Origin of Drama

Pūrvaraṅga: The Preceding Ritual

The Structure

Performing Space

Rasa: Aesthetic Theory

In the Nāṭyaśāstra


The Nāṭyaśāstra (Science of Drama) is the earliest and most authoritative Indian text on the performing arts. Written in Sanskrit, mainly in epic ślokas with some prose fragments, it is dated by scholars from the 5th century BCE to the 7th–8th century CE. Apparently, between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, it acquired the presently known form. The surviving manuscripts of significantly later date consist of 36–37 chapters, containing approximately 6,000 verses, though the tradition refers to a text of 12,000 verses. The structure comprises a series of accounts on various aspects of theatrical arts, narrated by the legendary author Bharata. The names and succession of chapters vary in different manuscripts. According to Manomohan Ghosh Edition (MGE) (see Complete Editions), chapter 1 describes the genesis of drama; 2, the characteristics of the playhouse; 3, the pūjā for the consecration of a new theater; 4, techniques of the Tāṇḍava dance; 5, the ritual of pūrvaraṅga; 6, the theory of rasa; 7, the definition of bhāva; 8, facial mimics and differentiation of glances; 9, hand gestures (single, combined, dance); 10, acting techniques for body limbs and feet position; 11, basic steps, standing postures, and positions with weapons; 12, combined steps and movements; 13, types of scenic gaits; 14, stage zones and conventions, local theatrical customs; 15, the theory of prosody, Sanskrit recitation, and metrical patterns; 16, examples of metrical patterns; 17, attributes of poetry and figures of speech; 18, Prākr̥t recitation; 19, modes of addressing and enunciation; 20, ten kinds of play; 21, structure of a plot; 22, basic models of scenic representation; 23, stage properties, costumes, and make-up; 24, female theater; 25, definition of women of easy virtue and amorous men; 26, various representations; 27, success of the drama; 28, general description of Gāndharva music; 29, basic melody types and music parts of pūrvaraṅga; 30, hollow instruments; 31, time-measure, stage songs, and their application in female performance; 32, dhruvā songs; 33, covered instruments (drums); 34, types of characters; 35, distribution of roles, ideal troupe; 36, descent of drama on earth. Numerous medieval treatises, including the famous Daśarūpa of Dhanañjaya (10th century), depend on the Nāṭyaśāstra. From many commentaries only one survives: the of Abhinavagupta (10th–11th century) commonly known as Abhinavabhāratī. The significance of the Nāṭyaśāstra is far beyond a mere compendium on drama. It contains the notion of the profound theatrical aspect of life, which became the fundamental characteristic of post-Vedic culture and determined the appearance of the unique and purely Indian system of ideas, according to which the world is the fruit of the divine game.

General Overviews

The general studies of the Nāṭyaśāstra are few in number, both due to the encyclopedic character of the treatise and rich specter of its themes, and to the long established scholarly approach that tends to examine separately various aspects of this multidisciplinary text. As a result, the general overviews of the Nāṭyaśāstra are rarely connected to the study of the treatise itself. Instead, the text is regularly used for the analysis of the theory and practice of Sanskrit drama, for the problems related to poetics and aesthetics, for the study of the dance, and so on. Vatsyayan 1996 represents a rare example of an integral vision of the Nāṭyaśāstra text and its tradition; Tripathi 2004 and Appa Rao 2001 introduce a detailed outline of the content of the Nāṭyaśāstra; Tripathi 1991 presents an analytical and structural approach to the text; Gupta 1954 and Bhat 1981 use the Nāṭyaśāstra for the study of technical, structural, literary, and production aspects of drama; Rangacharya 1998 provides adapted accounts of the Nāṭyaśāstra content; Kale 1974 offers a selective critical exposition oriented to Western audience; and Bhattacharya 1974 explores the treatise through the application of Western principles.
Appa Rao, Ponangi Śri Rama. Special Aspects of Nāṭya Śāstra. Telugu Original. Translated by H.V. Sharma. New Delhi: National School of Drama, 2001.

Comprehensive rendering of the Nāṭyaśāstra content (excluding chapters on music). Contains evaluation and explanation of the terminology, opinions of the later theoreticians, and parallels from Greek, Roman, English, modern Indian, and Western theater traditions. Valuable and accessible introduction to the Nāṭyaśāstra material, advisable as a course-book. Black-and-white illustrations and schemes. Translated from the second revised Telugu edition of 1988: Bharatamuni praṇītamaina Nāṭyaśāstramu: Viślēṣaṇātmaka adhyayanaṃ (The Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni: the content of chapters), Hyderabad: Nāṭyamālā. Originally published in 1959.

Bhat, Govind Keshav. Nāṭya-Mañjarī-Saurabha: Sanskrit Dramatic Theory. Pune, India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1981.

Accurate summary of the basic topics of the Nāṭyaśāstra: origin and development of drama, preceding rituals, production of a play, structural and literary aspects of dramatic text, characteristics of the main and subordinate dramatic genres, principal and secondary dramatic characters. Useful as a course text.

Bhattacharya, Biswanath. Sanskrit Drama and Dramaturgy. Delhi: Sharada, 1974.

Treats drama as a literary form and essential part of Sanskrit poetry. Studies the nature of drama, the role of dramatist, the dramatic structure, preceding rituals, styles, and so on. Compares Greek and Sanskrit dramas from the standpoint of technique. Appendices include a comparison between Tamil and Sanskrit dramas, description of prologue (prastāvanā), and English equivalents of Sanskrit terms.

Gupta, Chandra Bhan. The Indian Theatre: Its Origin and Development up to the Present Day. Banaras, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1954.

Examines the presentation of Sanskrit plays, construction of the theater building, staging, accessory arts, troupe, foregoing drama religious ceremonies, scenic dialects, nature and types of drama. Contains diagrams of different types of theater buildings, created according to the Nāṭyaśāstra description.

Kale, Pramod K. The Theatric Universe (A Study of the Nāṭyaśāstra). Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1974.

Lucid and concise overview of the Nāṭyaśāstra material. Acknowledges the theater as a synthesis of sacred and profane elements, creating a vision of the nāṭya-Brahman (theatric universe). Conjectural interpretations of the key terms, with an idea to make them friendlier to the Western readers, raise a number of controversial points. Appendix contains compendious outline of the Nāṭyaśāstra content, based on Kedārnāth 1943 (cited under Complete Editions). Most appropriate for beginning students when used as supplementary material.

Rangacharya, Adya. Introduction to Bharata’s Nāṭya-Śāstra. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1998.

Short, simple and intelligible overview of the Nāṭyaśāstra material, terminology and most important concepts, essential to the theory and practice of drama: origin of the theater, stage conventions and craft, preliminary rituals, ten forms of stage representations and rasa theory. Originally published in 1966 (Bombay: Popular Prakashan).

Tripathi, Radhavallabh. Lectures on the Nāṭyaśāstra. Pune, India: University of Poona, 1991.

Explores a wide range of topics related to the Nāṭyaśāstra, and presents an analytical study of the subject. Several appendices examine ritualistic, dramatic and aesthetic principles of the Indian stage, dramatic directions in the classical Sanskrit plays, and the distinctive features of court and temple theater.

Tripathi, Kamlesh Datta. “Nāṭyaśāstra.” In The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Edited by Ananda Lal, 308–311. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Treats the Nāṭyaśāstra as the most important comprehensive source for the understanding of the Sanskrit theater, poetics, aesthetics, dance, music, and other arts. Offers a brief outline of the Nāṭyaśāstra content according to the Gaekwad’s Oriental Series (GOS) edition numeration of chapters. Useful for introductory courses, and can be recommended for beginning students.

Vatsyayan, Kapila. Bharata, The Nāṭyaśāstra. New Delhi: Sahitya Academy, 1996.

Extensive study of the fundamental issues of the Nāṭyaśāstra: the problem of authorship, the date and structure of the text, the oral and written tradition, the cultural context, the primary text, its key-concepts, etc. Appendix presents a valuable database of the Nāṭyaśāstra manuscripts from different libraries, compiled in the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Complete Editions

Several editions of the complete text of the Nāṭyaśāstra exist, but neither of them can be considered fully critical. Four of them are of primary importance. Śivadatta and Parab 1894 (KMS [Kāvyamālā Series]) presents an editio princeps. Sharmā and Upādhyāya 1980 (KSS [Kāśī Sanskrit Series]) introduces a longer version of the text. Kavi 1926–1964 (GOS [Gaekwad’s Oriental Series]) publishes the treatise along with the commentary of Abhinavagupta. Ghosh 1956–1967 (MGE [Manomohan Ghosh Edition]) provides a consolidated text on the basis of earlier editions. The subsequent publications Kedārnāth 1943, Nagar and Joshi 1981–1984, and Śāstrī 1972–1985 spring from the previous editions, giving preference to one of them.
Ghosh, Manomohan, ed. The Nāṭyaśāstra Ascribed to Bharata-Muni: The Original Sanskrit Text, Edited with Introduction and Various Readings. 2 vols. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, Manisha Granthalaya, 1956–1967.

Edition (36 chapters, Devanāgarī) prepared in connection with the first complete English translation. Does not provide any new manuscript material, but presents scrupulously recorded variant readings from three Indian (KMS, GOS, KSS) editions and one European (Grosset 1898, cited under Partial Editions) edition. Volume 2 (chapters 28–36) originally published in 1956 does not take into account Vol. 4 of GOS, which had not yet appeared. Vol. 1 (chapters 1–27) contains the full-length English introduction. Reprinted in 2009 (Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office).

Kavi, Ramakrishna Manavalli, ed. Nāṭyaśāstra with the Commentary of Abhinavagupta with a Preface, Appendix and Index. 4 vols. Gaekwad’s Oriental Series 36, 68, 124, 154. Baroda, India: Central Library, Oriental Institute, 1926–1964.

Important edition (37 chapters, Devanāgarī) based on nearly forty manuscripts and complemented by Abhinavagupta’s commentary. Widely used by scholars, though it can hardly be considered fully critical or completely reliable. Notes (in Devanāgarī) useful for the references to later theoreticians that follow the Nāṭyaśāstra in their writings. Monochrome plates present the wooden cut panels with dance poses that reproduce the sculptural reliefs from the Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu.

Kedārnāth, Kāvyabhūṣaṇa. Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni. Bombay: Nirṇaya Sāgara, 1943.

The revision of the previous Nirṇaya Sāgara Press publication (KMS) in accordance with the KSS and first two volumes of the GOS edition. Probably based on the same two manuscripts used in KMS, which remains unascertained due to the lack of an introduction and critical apparatus.

Nagar, R. S., and K. L. Joshi, eds. Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni, with the Abhinavabhāratī by Abhinavaguptācārya. 4 vols. Parimal Sanskrit Series. Delhi: Parimal, 1981–1984.

Mainly follows the GOS edition in rendering of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī texts, in consultation with KMS, KSS, and MGE, but even in comparison with them contains numerous mistakes and errata. The English introduction to Volume 1 discusses previous publications of both texts. Notes contain variant readings from the above-mentioned publications. This secondary edition became quite popular; it is widely used in India and has been reprinted several times.

Śāstrī, Bābū Lāla Śukla.
 Śrībharatamunipraṇītam sacitraṃ Nāṭyaśāstram: Pradīpa Hindīvyākhyā-ṭippaṇī-pariśiṣṭaiśca vibhūṣitam, sampādaka evaṃ vyākhyākāra. 4 vols. Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1972–1985.

Unaccomplished edition of the text and translation of the Nāṭyaśāstra, supplemented by the detailed Hindi commentary Pradīpa. Does not provide any new manuscript material. Closely follows MGE in rendering of the text and MGT (Ghosh 1950–1961, cited under Complete Translations) in Hindi translation. Contains detailed Hindi introduction, notes, and commentary, and insets of the theater building plans, monochrome plates with the wooden cut panels representing dance poses (the same as in GOS), and indexes.

Sharmā, Baṭuk Nāth, and Baldeva Upādhyāya, eds. Bharata-muni-praṇītaṃ Nāṭyaśāstram. Kāśī Sanskrit Series 60. Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Sansthan, 1980.

Edition (36 chapters, Devanāgarī) based on five related manuscripts from the Saraswati Bhavan Library in Varanasi, which are not described. Presents longer recension of the treatise. Published as editio princeps due to the unawareness of the previous Indian and Western publications. The edition, deprived of any introduction or information on the utilized manuscripts and notes, was repeatedly used for later publication of the treatise. Originally published in 1929.

Śivadatta, and Kāśināth Pâṇdurang Parab, eds. The Nāṭyaśāstra. Kāvyamālā Series 42. Bombay: Nirṇaya Sāgara, 1894.

The editio princeps of the Nāṭyaśāstra (37 chapters, Devanāgarī), based on two closely related manuscripts, which are not described. Presents shorter recension of the treatise. Chapter 28 reproduces Grosset 1888 (cited under In Theory). Suffers from the lack of critical apparatus and delineates a restricted one-sided approach to the original text. The edition has the academic value of rendering the text widely accessible to the scholarly milieu.

Partial Editions

Several partial and/or unfinished editions are worthy to be mentioned due to their relevance and historical role in the research discourse. Hall 1865 presents the first published partial edition of the Nāṭyaśāstra; Regnaud 1880 offers the first publication of chapter 17, on poetic languages of drama; Regnaud 1881 publishes for the first time chapters 15 and 16 on metric system with French translation; Regnaud 1884 prepares the first edition of chapters 6 and 7, along with the medieval text Rasataraṅgiṇī; Grosset 1898 provides an important edition of the fourteen opening chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra; Madhusūdanī Shastri 1971–1981 publishes the text up tochapter 28, along with Abhinavagupta’s commentary and two editor’s commentaries: Madhusūdanī and Bālakrīḍā; Dvivedī 1992–2004 offers a critical edition of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī supplemented by the author’s Hindi commentary, Manoramā; Nanavati 2009 presents a critical edition of selected chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra on the base of the multiple manuscripts, collated in accordance with the principles of the contemporary scholarship.
Dvivedī, Pārasanātha, ed. Nāṭyaśāstram Bharatamunipraṇītaṃ: Śrīmadabhinavaguptakr̥tayā Abhinavabhāratī vyākhyayā, Pārasanāthadvivedikr̥tayā Manoramā Hindī-vyākhyayā ca vibhūṣitam. 4 vols. Gaṅgānātha Jhā Granthamālā Series 14. Varanasi, India: Sampūrṇānanda-Saṃskr̥ta-Viśvavidyālayasya, 1992–2004.

An attempt at a critical edition of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī supplemented by the author’s Hindi commentary, Manoramā. Volumes 1–3 contain author’s forwards in Hindi, Volume 4 contains a Hindi foreword by Rajendra Mishra and an index.

Grosset, Joanny. Bhāratīya-nāṭya-ḉāstram: Traité de Bharata sur le théatre, texte sanskrite; Édition critique, avec une Introduction, les Variantes tirées de quatre manuscripts, une Table analytique et des Notes. Preface by Paul Regnaud. Annales de l’Université de Lyon 40. Paris-Lyon: Ernest Leroux, 1898.

The first attempt of a critical edition of the fourteen opening chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra on the basis of four manuscripts. Text in transliteration. French introduction contains a description of the manuscripts, a comparison of the names and succession of the chapters, an analytically compiled table of contents, and a description of the methods adopted in setting up the critical text. The second part of Volume 1 and the following volumes were never published due to the negative reviews and objective difficulties of collating corrupted manuscripts.

Hall, Fitz Edward, ed. The Daśa-rūpa or Hindu Canons of Dramaturgy by Dhanañjaya with the Exposition of Dhanika, the Avaloka. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1865.

The first ever published partial edition, resuscitating the Nāṭyaśāstra from the oblivion and inciting the search for its manuscripts. Сhapters 18 (20 in MGE), 19 (21 in MGE), 2 (22 in MGE) and 34 were given as an appendix in transliteration with the idea to present the parts of the treatise from which Dhanañjaya drew his material. The text was not properly edited due to the corrupt and incomplete state of the manuscript used.

Nanavati, Rajendra I., ed. Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata: An Attempt at Critically Editing of Chs. I, II, VI, VII. Vadodara, India: Oriental Institute, 2009.

Recent attempt to create a critical edition of the selected chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra on the basis of the multiple manuscripts, collated in accordance with the principles of contemporary scholarship. Introduction offers a detailed description of collated manuscripts and methods of reconstruction. Notes present variant readings. Confirms the assumption that a collation of numerous manuscripts, crucial for single verifications, does not alter significantly the known text.

Regnaud, Paul M. “Le Dix-septième chapitre du Bhāratīya-nāṭya-çāstra intitulé Vāg-abhinaya publié pour la première fois d’après un manuscrit de l’Asiatic Society de Londres.” Annales du Musée Guimet 1 (1880): 85–99.

The first publication of chapter 17 (18 in MGE) of the Nāṭyaśāstra in transliteration on the basis of the manuscript (36 chapters, Grantha script) from the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, with notes and variants. The use of only one manuscript limited the possibility to verify the text, which was reproduced without proper corrections.

Regnaud, Paul M. “La Métrique de Bharata: Texte Sanscrit de deux chapitres du Nāṭya-çāstra, publié pour la première fois et suivi d’une interprétation française.” Annales du Musée Guimet 2 (1881): 65–130.

The publication of chapters 15 (final 68 verses) and 16 in transliteration from the same manuscript, with a preface, notes, variants and a French translation of the text together with a range of poetic examples, cited in the Nāṭyaśāstra as illustrations of meters.

Regnaud, Paul M. La Rhétorique Sanskrite exposée dans son développement historique, et ses rapports avec la Rhétorique classique, suivie des textes inédits du Bhāratīya-nāṭya-çāstra – sixième et septième chapitres et de la Rasataraṅgiṇī de Bhānudatta. Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1884.

The first edition of chapters 6 and 7 in transliteration with notes and variants along with the medieval text Rasataraṅgiṇī of Bhānudatta. Includes a study on Sanskrit literary theory, poetics and rasa. Reprinted in 2010 (Kessinger).

Shastri, Madhusūdanī, ed. Nātyaśāstram Śrīmad Bharata Muni praṇītaṃ: Śrimadācārya Abhinavaguptopajna Abhinayabhāratī vivṛtyā Madhusūdana Śāstrin viracitābhiḥ prauḍha Bhūmikā Madhusūdakaḥ Madhusūdanaśāstrū, Bālakrīḍābhiḥ samudbhāsitam. Samskrita Sahitya Anusandhan Series 1–3. Varanasi, India: Banaras Hindu University, 1971–1981.

An unfinished publication of the Nāṭyaśāstra (up to ch. 28) along with Abhinavagupta’s commentary and two editor’s supercommentaries: Madhusūdanī to the Nāṭyaśāstra (in Sanskrit) and Bālakrīḍā to the Abhinavabhāratī (in Hindi), edited in accordance with traditional Indian scholarship. Volume 1 includes an introduction in Hindi, an alphabetical index of ślokas, an index of titles, and notes in Sanskrit and Hindi.

Complete Translations

The main difficulty of the translation and interpretation of the Nāṭyaśāstra is not so much related to the understanding of Sanskrit, which is substantially undistorted and decipherable, but determined by the wide range of specific and original terms that, due to their crucial role in the content of the treatise, call for finding adequate and corresponding equivalents. Medieval treatises, often closely following the Nāṭyaśāstra text along with renowned Abhinavagupta’s commentary, are scarcely helpful for the interpretation of its terminology. This explains why, notwithstanding the relevance of the information of the treatise, full translations among all European languages were only done into English. Basically, even nowadays the preference is to be given to the very first translation of Ghosh 1950–1961 (MGT), which maintains its importance. Kumar 2006 reproduces it in a new form. Unni 1998 combines an English translation of the Nāṭyaśāstra with a summary of the Abhinavabhāratī. Raṅgāchārya 1996 and A Board of Scholars 1986 provide manageable and popular one-volume English renderings of the text. Full translation into Tamil is in Sriramadesikan 2001, and translation into Sinhala is in Pannakitti 2007, both of which are of secondary value, though they make the treatise known and accessible to other linguistic milieus. The complete Malayalam translation in Pisharodi 1987 is rather more valuable.
A Board of Scholars, trans. The Nāṭya Śāstra of Bharatamuni. Rāga Nr̥tya Series 2. New Delhi: Sri Satguru, 1986.

Popular rendering of the text (36 chapters) deeply dependant on MGT (Ghosh 1950–1961). Translators did not make any particular progress in clarifying the specific terminology of the treatise, nor did they provide a more intelligible understanding of the ancient text. Most probably based on MGE, though no reference to the original Sanskrit text or names of translators is given. Scarce scientific apparatus is limited to general introduction, short notes at the end of the chapters, and index.

Ghosh, Manomohan, trans. The Nāṭyaśāstra: A Treatise on Hindu Dramaturgy and Histrionics. Ascribed to Bharata Muni, Completely Translated for the First Time from the Original Sanskrit with an Introduction and Various Notes. 2 vols. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1950–1961.

The first and still the best full English translation, based on the author’s edition of the text. Rendering the content basically helpful and understandable retains a lot of untranslated Sanskrit terms, which pose serious problems of adequate comprehension, not solvable by random notes. Second revised author’s edition of Vol. 1 (Calcutta: Manisha Granthalaya, 1967) contains an expanded introduction. Reprinted in 2009 (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office).

Kumar, Pushpendra, ed. Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni: Text, Commentary of Abhinava Bharatī by Abhinavaguptācārya and English Translation, Introduction and Index. 3 vols. New Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation, 2006.

Secondary edition, published with the idea to edit and reprint in a new form the previous, less accessible publications. Combines the original text of the Nāṭyaśāstra and the Abhinavagupta’s commentary (in Devanāgarī) with MGT [cited under Complete Translations]. The insignificant novelty consists in a detailed summary of the chapters and in a new introduction, while notes and index are reproduced from MGE (Ghosh 1956–1967, cited under Complete Editions). In case the original MGT is inaccessible, this can be recommended to students.

Pannakitti, Hiripitiye, trans. Bharatamuni viracita Natyasastraya. Translated in Sinhala. 4 vols. Colombo: S.Godage, 2007.

Complete Sinhala translation along with the original Sanskrit text, influenced by English MGT [cited under Complete Translations] and Hindi translation of Śāstrī 1972–1985. Contains notes with valuable comments, explanations, and references to the Abhinavagupta’s commentary.

Pisharodi, Narayana K. P., trans. Bharatamuniyute Natyasastram (The Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni). 3 vols. Trichur, India: Kerala Sahitya Akademy, 1987.

Full word-by-word Malayalam translation characteristic for the traditional Indian scholarship. Important for the South Indian Malayalam speaking milieu.

Raṅgāchārya, Ādya, trans. The Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni: English Translation with Critical Notes. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1996.

Free translation (36 chapters) based on the merging of a few editions (Kedārnāth 1943, MGE, GOS [all cited under Complete Editions]) and prepared in consultation with MGT. Renders the Nāṭyaśāstra text readable for the general public and fit for the requirements of modern theater. Contains four appendices, represent author’s articles on rasa and theater building, critical epilogue, and an annotated glossary of the selected terms. Revised edition. Originally published in 1986 (Bangalore: IBH Prakashana).

Sriramadesikan, Sirungattur Nadathur, trans. Bharatanatiya Sastriram (The Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata): Translated into Tamil from the Original Sanskrit. Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies, 2001.

Complete translation, which represents a free rendering of the text for the Tamil-speaking milieu. The original Sanskrit text is not reproduced. The verses are grouped in order to maintain continuity, and are paraphrased. The problem of technical terms that do not have Tamil equivalents was solved with the help of lucid Tamil summaries at the end of the chapters. Contains extensive preface, monochrome illustrations of 108 dance positions and 38 hand gestures, and a glossary of terms.

Unni, N. P., trans. Nāṭyaśāstra: Text with Introduction, English Translation and Indices in Four Volumes. New Delhi: Nag, 1998.

Recent English translation alternating with the Devanāgarī text, the use of which renders it difficult for an unprepared reader, while the lack of proper notes, variant readings, and analytical references diminish its academic value. The peculiar feature consists in short English summaries of corresponding parts from Abhinavagupta’s commentary in brackets unhappily intermingled with the author’s comments. The introduction discusses the general issues of the historiography of the text. Index of ślokas and glossary.

Patrial Translations

A number of partial translations in various Indian languages exist and render some parts of the text widely accessible among the Indian public. The selection of the translated chapters is in itself indicative of the primary interests of contemporary Indian society in connection with the Nāṭyaśāstra text. Dwivedi 2005 presents a Hindi translation, combining the traditional Indian approach and Western methods of comparative and historical study; Rastogi 1989 provides a Hindi translation with the author’s commentary, Nāṭyacandrika; Caturvedi 1988 offers a Hindi translation of chapters 1, 2, and 6; Kangle 1973 is a translation into Marathi of chapters 6–7 along with the Abhinavagupta commentary; Nandi 2001 is a Gujarati translation of chapters 1, 2, 3, and 6; Marasinghe 2004–2005 provides a Sinhala translation up to chapter 27, with references to the Abhinavagupta’s commentary.
Caturvedi, Brajamohan. Natyasastram: Prathamadvitiyashashthadhyayatmakam; Hindivyakhyopetam. Delhi: Nirmaṇa Prakaśana, 1988.

A Hindi translation of chapters 1, 2, and 6, along with Sanskrit text and commentaries.

Dwivedi, Reva Prasād, ed. and trans. Bharatamunipraṇītaṃ Svayambhuva Nāṭya Śāstra: Sampādaka, anuvādaka, ṭippaṇīkāra. Part 1, Kāvyalakṣaṇakhaṇḍa. Shimla: Bhāratīya Ucca Adhyayana Saṃsthāna, 2005.

A Hindi translation of selected chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra that derives from the author’s edition of the Sanskrit text. Presents a combination of the traditional Indian approach and Western methods of comparative and historical study. Includes chapters 1–3, 6, 7, 13–27, 35, 36, an extensive Hindi introduction, detailed author’s commentary and notes with numerous passages from Abhinavabhāratī (partly in Sanskrit, partly in Hindi translation), and illustrative examples from the Daśarūpa and Dhanika’s commentary, Avaloka.

Kangle, R. P., ed. and trans. Rasa-Bhāva-Vicāra: Bharatamunincaya Nāṭaśāstrātil Adhyāya 6 va 7 yānce Abhinavabharati ṭīkesaha Saṭīpa Marathi Bhasantara. Bhāṣāntaramālā 22. Mumbai: Maharashtra Rajya-Sahitya-Saṁskr̥ti Maṇḍal, 1973.

A Marathi translation of chapters 6–7 that follows the author’s edition of the Nāṭyaśāstra text along with the Abhinavagupta commentary. Contains general examination of the rasa and bhāva categories, valuable Marathi explanatory notes and commentaries.

Marasinghe, E.Walter, trans.
 Bharatamunipranita Natyasastra. Translated into Sinhala. 2 vols. Colombo, Sri Lanka: S. Godage, 2004–2005.

Partial Sinhala translation up to chapter 27. Notes with valuable comments, explanations, and references to the Abhinavagupta’s commentary.

Nandi, Tapasvi S., ed. and trans. The Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni (Adhyāyas 1, 2, 3 and Adhyāya 6 with Abhinavabhāratī). Ahmedabad: Saraswati Pustak Bhandar, 2001.

A Gujarati translation of the selected chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavagupta’s commentary, which follows the original text, compiled by the author. Both texts depend on GOS edition [cited under Complete Editions] and retain numerous corrupted and unclear readings. Detailed introduction discusses the concepts of nāṭya and rasa. Contains explanatory notes, author’s commentary on the selected chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra, two indexes with half verses, and a paper on rasa.

Rastogi, Sudha, ed. and trans. Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni. Part 1. Kasi Sanskrit Series 105. Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1989.

A partial Hindi translation (chapters 1–10), with author’s commentary (Nāṭyacandrika) and notes.

Comparative Studies

As an ancient and comprehensive sourсe, underlying not only the Indian but the entire Eastern theater tradition, the Nāṭyaśāstra has more than once become the object of comparative studies. The overwhelming majority of these studies compare the Nāṭyaśāstra with another famous ancient treatise, Aristotle’s Poetics, which is representive of the Western ancient Greek dramatic tradition. Singal 1977, Rai 1992, and Gupt 1994 discuss different aspects of the ancient Greek and Indian theories of drama through the comparison of the Nāṭyāśāstra and Aristotle’s Poetics; Ley 2000 compares the Nāṭyaśāstra not only with Aristotle’s Poetics, but also with the Japanese Zeami’s treatise; Gerow 2002 raises the question of finding appropriate definitions within the field of comparative studies, bestowing particular attention to rasa and catharsis; Chaudhury 1956 assumes the healing resources of rasa and catharsis for the cure of emotional disposition; Sukla 1977 focuses on the mimetic nature of drama and discusses the concepts of imitation in Greek and Indian aesthetics; Kantak 1987 compares the conceptual approaches to dramatic art in Indian and Western theories; Thakkar 1984 discusses the theoretical principles underlying the structure of drama in the Nāṭyāśāstra and Aristotle’s Poetics.
Chaudhury, Pravas Jivan. “Catharsis on the Light of Indian Aesthetics.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 15.2 (December 1956): 215–226.

Discusses the historical and philosophical understanding of catharsis. Treating it as allopathic principle of therapy and cure of emotional disposition, Chaudhury compares catharsis with Indian system of medicine (Āyurveda) and rasa aesthetics.

Gerow, Edwin. “Rasa and Katharsis: A Comparative Study, Aided by Several Films.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 122.2 (April–June 2002): 264–277.

Theoretical article that designates a problem of adequate vocabulary for the discussion on Western, especially Greek, and Indian poetics. Poses the problem of translatability of the Indian term of rasa and Aristotelian notion of catharsis (katharsis) and seeks for help an equivalents for these categories in the art of modern cinema.

Gupt, Bharat. Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian: A Study of the Poetics and the Nāṭyaśāstra. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1994.

A comparison of Greek and Indian theories of drama exemplified by the Aristotle’s Poetics and the Nāṭyaśāstra, considered as a work of a single author, written in 5 BCE. Without suggesting any direct relationship, Gupt proposes the dependence of the treatises on shared Indo-European heritage of hieropraxis. He singles out two main similarities of the theater traditions—the ability to transform reality and to arouse aesthetic pleasure—revealed through the Greek concept of catharsis and Indian theory of rasa.

Kantak, V. Y. “The Nāṭyaśāstra: Dramatic Mode, in the Light of the Western Concept of Drama.” In India’s Intellectual Traditions. Attempts at Conceptual Reconstructions. Edited by Daya Krishna, 128–147. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

Compares the basic conceptual approaches to dramatic art in the Nāṭyaśāstra and in Aristotle’s Poetics. Defines the distinctive feature of the Eastern theater tradition as synthetic, searching the depiction of the emotional states, in contrast to the mimetic character of Western drama, where action is determined by the development of the plot.

Ley, Graham. “Aristotle’s Poetics, Bharatamuni’s Nāṭyaśāstra and Zeami’s Treatises: Theory at Discourse.” Asian Theatre Journal 17.2 (Autumn 2000): 191–214.

A comparative study of the status and discourse of the theoretical treatises significant for the three dramatic traditions: Aristotle’s Poetics, which appeared as an offspring of the Greek philosophical debates; Bharatamuni’s Nāṭyaśāstra, influenced by the Indian religious and ethical writings; and Zeami’s treatise, the fruit of Japanese courtly aesthetics.

Rai, Rama Nand. Theory of Drama: A Comparative Study of Aristotle and Bharata. New Delhi: Classical, 1992.

Comparative study of the Greek and Indian theories of nature, structure, and function of drama based on the texts of the Nāṭyāśāstra and Aristotle’s Poetics.

Singal, R. L. Aristotle and Bharata: A Comparative Study of Their Theories of Drama. Chandigarh, India: Singal, 1977.

Compares the most important aspects of ancient Indian (the Nāṭyaśāstra) and ancient Greek (Aristotle’s Poetics) theories of drama, including plot, characters, diction, language, style, music, dance, etc. Places special emphasis on the aesthetic enjoyment (rasa and catharsis) in both traditions. Contains two appendices: on the evolution of the concept of rasa, and a glossary of Sanskrit words.

Sukla, Ananta Carana. The Concept of Imitation in Greek and Indian Aesthetics. Calcutta: Rupa, 1977.

Valuable study of the theories of imitation in Aristotle’s Poetics and the Nāṭyaśāstra from the points of view of poetics, aesthetics, and philosophy.

Thakkar, Bhalcandra Kantilal. On the Structuring of Sanskrit Drama: Structure of Drama in Bharata and Aristotle. Ahmedabad: Saraswati Pustak Bhandar, 1984.

General overview of the theoretical premises on the structure of drama in the Nāṭyāśāstra and Aristotle’s Poetics, more interesting for the proposed topic and used material than for the author’s conclusions and generalizations.

Abridgments and Lexicons

The existing adapted and abridged editions of the treatise represent a rather helpful tool for the popularization and primary apprehension of such a long, complicated, and ancient text as the Nāṭyaśāstra. The difficult task of applying appropriate principles to the reordering of the text and the extraction of its main parts explains why really useful abridgements are very few in number. Bhat 1975 presents the most valuable academic abridgement with an English translation. Tripathi 2009 provides an abridgement with a Hindi translation. The specialized lexicons, glossaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works could be helpful in solving the problem of the understanding of the Nāṭyaśāstra terminology and its translation into different languages, but the existing editions, including the fundamental Kavi 1983, Tripathi 2012, and Miśra 1996, and the more unpretentious Gupta 1994, only feebly fulfill this function.
Bhat, Govind Keshav. Bharata-Nāṭya-Mañjarī: Bharata on the Theory and Practice of Drama; A Selection from Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, edited with English Translation, Explanatory Notes, and Introduction. Post-Graduate and Research Department Series 12. Pune, India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1975.

Important scholarly selection of the most essential theoretical precepts from the Nāṭyaśāstra (GOS edition, with the consultation of MGE [all cited under Complete Editions]), rearranged in topical order and precisely translated into English, with variants. Extensive introduction with the basic themes of the treatise. Useful as a course book, and especially suitable for undergraduate students due to the clear rendering of the text and explanatory notes that make difficult passages more understandable.

Gupta, Naresh, ed. A Glossary of Nāṭya Śāstra. Rāga Nr̥tya Series 7. New Delhi: Sri Satguru, 1994.

General annotated glossary of subjects and technical terms, mainly selected from the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Kavi, Ramakrishna Manavalli. Bharatakośa: A Dictionary of Technical Terms with Definitions Collected from the Works on Music and Dramaturgy by Bharata and Others. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983.

A fundamental lexicon brings forth a wide context of use and subsequent historic development of technical terms. Contains a detailed English introduction and numerous entries with the definitions in Sanskrit (Devanāgarī), extracted from the original sources starting from the Nāṭyaśāstra up to the modern treatises. The value of the lexicon is partly diminished by a relatively large number of mistakes, and by the lack of detailed explanations and comprehensive scientific apparatus. Revised by V.Raghavan. Originally published in 1951 (Tirupati: Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams).

Miśra, Braja Vallabha. Nāṭyaśāstra kā pāribhāshika sandarbha-kośa. New Delhi: Siddhārtha, 1996.

Reference work in Hindi with selections from the Nāṭyaśāstra, focuses on the most important concepts and technicalities of the treatise. Numerous errors and mistakes reduce the validity of this edition.

Tripathi, Radhavallabh, trans. Saṅkshiptanāṭyaśāstram: Bharatamuni kr̥ta Nāṭyaśāstra ke sabhī chattīsa adhyāyoṃ se saṅkalita aṃśa tathā Hindī anuvāda. Rev. ed. New Delhi: Vāṇī Prakāśana, 2009.

An abridged version of the Nāṭyaśāstra text, based on carefully selected passages from different chapters with liberal Hindu translation. Includes indexes. Originally published in 1992 (Allahabad: Akṣayavaṭa Prakāśana). Useful for beginning students more familiar with Hindi than with European languages.

Tripathi, Radhavallabh, ed. Nāṭyaśāstraviṣvakośa. 2. vols. Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation, 2012.

A full-length encyclopedia on the Nāṭyaśāstra and Sanskrit drama, compiled in Sanskrit with Hindi explanations. The most recent revised edition still contains a fair amount of misprints and errors, in the bibliography as well. Monochrome illustrations. Originally published in 1999.

Commentary Tradition

As the vocabulary of the Nāṭyaśāstra is highly technical and contains a lot of specific terms, scholars have always had long-term expectations from the publication and translation of the only one surviving commentary, Nāṭyavedavivr̥ti, written by Abhinavagupta and commonly known as Abhinavabhāratī. It was first fully published in GOS (Kavi 1926–1964, cited under Complete Editions), with multitudinous corruptions, unintelligible words, and obscure passages. This edition does not solve the problem of the correlation between the two textsthe Nāṭyaśāstra and the commentaryas neither of the existing manuscripts of the treatise fully correspond to the Abhinavabhāratī. The full version of the commentary, if the liberal rendering of Unni 1998 (cited under Complete Translations) is left aside, still remains substantially untranslated. Partial translations in the majority of cases deal with the parts on rasa considered to be the most important and the focus of scholarly interest (see). Ghosh 1934 first expresses doubts on the utility of viewing the commentary as the main source and key to the interpretation of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Raghavan 1980 argues against this position and, like Kulkarni 2003, proposes numerous corrections and emendations of the corrupt passages of the Abhinavabhāratī. Gupta 1987 offers a helpful analysis of the commentary. Pathak 2009, on the base of Abhinavagupta’s citations, reconstructs the attitudes of the two early authors. Tubb 1985 proposes a comparison between Abhinavagupta’s and Vāmana’s treatments of the guṇas. Kulkarni 2000 and Kulkarni 2002 regard the commentary as the most authoritative source and deal with various aspects of Abhinavagupta’s creativity.; Kane 1934 and Janaki 1987 focus on Abhinavagupta’s contribution to the Sanskrit drama tradition.
Ghosh, Manmohan A. “Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī.” Indian Historical Quarterly 10.1 (March 1934): 161–163.

Short but valuable overview, which triggers a discussion on the interpretative principles of the Nāṭyaśāstra material and on the value of Abhinavagupta’s commentary for the preparation of the critical edition of the treatise and its correct evaluation.

Gupta, Mahjul. A Study of Abhinavabhāratī on Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra and Avaloka on Dhanañjaya’s Daśarūpaka (Dramaturgical Principles). Delhi: Glan, 1987.

Helpful study of two commentaries—Abhinavabhāratī by Abhinavagupta on the Nāṭyaśāstra, and Avaloka by Dhanika on Daśarūpaka—with particular attention to the main dramaturgical principles and essential elements of Sanskrit drama. Reveals the nature of divergences existing between the views of different commentators, including those cited in the texts. Cites examples from Sanskrit dramaturgy, mainly from the Ratnāvalī of Harṣa and Veṇīsaṁhāra of Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa.

Janaki, S. S. “Abhinavagupta’s Contribution to Sanskrit Drama Tradition.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 68 (1987): 525–535.

Explores the contribution of Abhinavagupta to Sanskrit drama theory in general, and the concept of rasa in particular.

Kane, P. V. “Gleaning from the Abhinavabhāratī.” In K.B.Pathak Commemoration Volume. Edited by Rao Bahadur and S. K. Belvalkar. Pune, India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1934.

Valuable selection of the most important passages from the Abhinavabhāratī, with an attempt to investigate Abhinavagupta’s aesthetic attitude.

Kulkarni, Vaman Mahadeo. “Abhinavagupta’s Concept of Kāvya and Nāṭya.” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai 74 (2000): 114–126.

Explores the difference and similarity between poetry (kāvya) and drama (nāṭya) in two available commentaries of Abhinavagupta: Abhinavabhāratī on the Nāṭyaśāstra and Locana on Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka.

Kulkarni, Vaman Mahadeo. “Abhinavagupta on the Goal of Poetry.” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai 76 (2002): 53–60.

Scholarly discussion of Abhinavagupta’s interpretation of the various purposes of drama, analyzed as the main and integral part of poetry (kāvya): pleasure (priīti), instruction (vyutpatti), delight (ānanda), aesthetic rapture (rasasvāda), etc.

Kulkarni, Vaman Mahadeo. Abhinavabhāratī Text, Restored, and Other Articles. Shresthi Kasturbhai Lalbhai Collected Research-Articles Series 6. Ahmedabad: Shresthi Kasturbhai Lalbhai Smarak Nidhi, 2003.

A collection of articles previously published in different Indian magazines, dealing with the textual criticism of the Abhinavabhāratī (GOS edition [cited under Complete Editions]). Proposes numerous corrections and emendations (many of which seem to be convincing) justified by parallel quotations from Hemacandra’s Kāvyānuśāsana, the Nāṭyadarpaṇa of Rāmacandra and Guṇacandra, and other medieval works. Some chapters were previously reprinted in 1983 in Studies in Sanskrit Sāhitya-Śāstra: A Collection of Selected Papers Related to Sanskrit Poetics and Aesthetics, B.L.Series, Vol. 1 (Patan: Bhogilal Leherchand Institute of Indology).

Pathak, A. S. “Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra: Mātṛgupta and Rāhula.” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai 82 (2009): 102–112.

An attempt to reconstruct the attitudes of two early authors from the cited excerpts and references to their views scattered throughout Abhinavagupta’s commentary and other sources: treatise of Mātṛgupta devoted to the plot construction, treatment of the subplot, the problem of characters and language, and Rāhula’s work on poetics and dramaturgy, which supposedly was written as a commentary on the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Raghavan, V. Abhinavagupta and his Works. Chaukhambha Oriental Research Studies 20. Delhi: Chaukhambha Orientalia, 1980.

A collection of papers previously published in different Indian magazines. Includes “Abhinavagupta’s Polymathy,” which discusses M. Ghosh’s view on Abninavagupta’s attitude to the objective appraisal of the Nāṭyaśāstra; “Writers, quoted in the Abhinavabhāratī,” a study on the authors whose opinion is mentioned or discussed by Abhinavagupta; “Some Corrections and Emendations to the Text of the Abhinavabhāratī,” which proposes numerous corrections and emendations to the text (Vols. 1–2, GOS edition [cited under Complete Editions]) on the basis of the related Sanskrit works.

Tubb, Gary A. “Abhinavagupta on Phonetic Texture.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.3 (1985): 567–578.

Studies Abhinavagupta’s comments on the concept of guṇas in the Nāṭyaśāstra and in Vāmana’s Kāvyālaṁkārasūtravṛtti. Through the comparison of Abhinavagupta’s and Vāmana’s views on guṇas, related to phonetic texture, Tubb explains with greater precision the position of both theoreticians and corrects several corrupt readings in the Abhinavabhāratī.

Authorship and Date

Since the moment of its discovery, the problem of the date and authorship of the Nāṭyaśāstra has occupied the minds of scholars. The initial assumptions were already made by the first editors and translators of the text (see Complete Editions, Partial Editions, Complete Translations, and Partial Translations). Shastri Haraprasad 1909 proposed one of the first trustworthy dates; Ghosh 1930, Gode 1931–1932, and De 1959 discuss the existence of the two versions attributed to Bharata and Ādi-Bharata (previous or old Bharata); Ghosh 1934 and Gupt 1986–1987 present a detailed discussion of the problem of authorship; Miller 1972 provides a comprehensive overview of the research literature dealing with the date of the Nāṭyaśāstra; Sharma 1971 and Pāṇḍeya 1992 treat Bharata as historical ācārya and real author of the treatise.
De, Susil Kumar. “The Problem of Bharata and Ādi-Bharata.” In Some Problems of Sanskrit Poetics. By Sushil Kumar De, 16–37. Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1959.

Challenges the existence of two versions of the Nāṭyaśāstra text, written by Bharata and Ādi-Bharata, on the basis of the textual criticism and evidences of the medieval theoreticians.

Ghosh, Manmohan A. “Problems of the Nāṭyaśāstra.” Indian Historical Quarterly 6 (1930): 72–80.

An older article that, notwithstanding a number of inaccuracies and disputable interpretations, maintains its importance for the discussion of the authorship and mytho-historical status of Bharata, in particular his succession to Śilālin and Kṛśāśva, authors of the Naṭasūtras, mentioned by the grammarian Pāṇini. Discusses the problem of the Nāṭyaśāstra date and the possible existence of the two versions attributed to Bharata and Ādi-Bharata. Contains an appendix with parallel quotations from both texts.

Ghosh, Manmohan. “The Date of the Bharata-Nāṭyaśāstra.” Journal of the Department of Letters, University of Calcutta 25 (1934): 1–55.

Important article on the subject, with a review of the preceding literature and detailed analysis of different aspects of the Nāṭyaśāstra text. Recollecting all the evidences, Ghosh proposes the following date for the Nāṭyaśāstra text: 1st century BCE–2nd century CE. The revised material of the article, with significant reconsideration of the upper limit of the initially proposed date up to 5th century BCE, was used in the introduction to Volume 1 of MGE (Ghosh 1956–1967, cited under Complete Editions).

Gode, P. K. “The Bharata-Ādibharata Problem and the MS of Ādibharata in the Government Oriental Library, Mysore.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 13.1 (1931–1932): 92–93.

Short but valuable observations of different views regarding the identity of Bharata and Ādi-Bharata and the authorship of one of the manuscripts of the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Gupt, Bharat. “The Date of Nāṭya Śāstra.” Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 36.1–4 (1986–1987): 69–86.

An attempt to establish a comparative chronology of the texts, providing information on music, dance, and drama, in an effort to define more accurately the date of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Discusses the prose passages of the treatise, the problems of the compiler, the structure and later extension the text, the antiquity of the dramatic and musical systems, pre-epic themes of early drama, and the Nāṭyaśāstra relations with Rāmāyaṇa.

Miller, Charles James. “Bharata and the Authorship and Age of the Nāṭya Śāstra (Being an Exploratory Study).” Samskrita Ranga Annual 6 (1972): 27–37.

Comprehensive overview of the research literature dealing with the date of the Nāṭyaśāstra, the manner of its compilation, and the personality of its legendary or semi-historical author, Bharata. Concludes with some general remarks and assumptions on the time and authorship of the treatise.

Pāṇḍeya, Rameśa Kumāra. Bharatamuni sāhityaśāstra ke ādi Ācārya: Vidyānivāsa Miśra ki prarocanā se vibhūshita. Viśvavidyālaya-rajatajayantī-granthamālā 17. Varanasi, India: Sampūrṇānanda Saṃskr̥ta Viśvavidyalāya, 1992.

An analytical study of the personality of Bharata Muni as a historical Sanskrit ācārya and his contribution to the theory of Sanskrit dramaturgy (in Hindi, citations in Sanskrit).

Sharma, Shiva Sharan. Ācārya Bharata. Bhopal: Hindī Grantha Akādamī, 1971.

Explores a wide range of topics in connection with Bharata, treated as an ancient teacher (ācārya) and the real author of the Nāṭyaśāstra (in Hindi, citations in Sanskrit).

Shastri Haraprasad, Mahamahopadhyaya. “The Origin of Indian Drama.” Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 5 (1909): 351–361.

Proposes one of the first trustworthy dates for the Nāṭyaśāstra text, the 2nd century BCE, on the basis of historical, linguistic, epigraphical, and cultural evidence.

Textual Criticism and the History of Study
The significance of the Nāṭyaśāstra, as well as more than two thousand years of its continuous existence in the Indian culture—where the text was first passed down orally, and then copied manually by scribes—that brought to it both random errors and intentional corrections and interpolations, determine the need for thorough analysis of existing material in order to identify the most authentic version. The textual criticism of the Nāṭyaśāstra has a few different trends and considers the problem of the original manuscripts and available editions. Rocher 1981 reveals numerous problems in the up-to-date publications and the necessity to establish the stemma codicum of the treatise; Krishnamoorthy 1987 designates the problems connected to the preparation of the authentic critical editions both of the Nāṭyaśāstra’s and Abhinavagupta’s commentary texts; Vatsyayan 1989 treats the Nāṭyaśāstra as the basic and primary source on the śastric tradition in the field of Indian arts; Tripathi 1992 highlights the problems of textual criticism and interpretation of the Nāṭyaśāstra; Tripathi 1987 provides important evidence related to the Nāṭyaśāstra textual tradition; Srinivasan 2007 applies a multidisciplinary approach to the text; Warder 2009 presents the literary criticism of kāvya, treated as the main topic of the Nāṭyaśāstra.
Krishnamoorthy, K. “Some Problems of Textual Criticism and Methodology of Editing Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī.” Journal of Oriental Research 42–46 (1987): 38–45.

Valuable discussion on the textual criticism of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavagupta’s commentary. Designates the most important problems connected to the preparation of the authentic critical editions of both texts, and provides as an example some significant emendations and corrections. Points out the necessity to compile a new readable and workable version of the Nāṭyaśāstra text, even at sacrificial costs of intelligent modifications of the generally accepted standard of textual criticism.

Rocher, Ludo. “The Textual Tradition of the Bhāratīyanāṭyaśāstra: A Philological Assessment.” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens und Archiv für Indische Philosophie 25 (1981): 107–130.

Comprehensive critical analysis of the history of the editing, publishing, and translating of the Nāṭyaśāstra text and the Abhinavagupta’s commentary. Reveals numerous problems in the up-to-date publications, neither of which corresponds to the criteria of a scientific critical edition. Underlines the necessity of the new collation of the manuscripts and the creation of the stemma codicum of the text. Provides valuable and trustworthy consultation material and can be recommended for graduate and undergraduate students.

Srinivasan, Amrit, ed. Knowledge Tradition Text: Approaches to Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra. New Delhi: Sangeet Natak Academy, 2007.

A collection of essays presenting a multidisciplinary approach with the intention to improve the textual understanding of the treatise. K. J. Shah presents his working translation of chapters 1, 6, and, with introduction, notes, and glossary. K. D.Tripathi and Rekha Jhanji consider receptive aspects of rasa, M. C. Byrski treats the myth of the origin of theater, while Prem Lata Sharma, Amrit Srinivasan takes up the performative and textual aspects of the treatise.

Tripathi, Radhavallabh. Aprāpta nāṭyaśāstrīya grantha. Sāgara, India: Nāṭya Pariṣad, 1987.

A collection of rare Sanskrit dramatic works, aiming to restore the textual tradition of the Nāṭyaśāstra and reconstruct the lost literary evidence (in Hindi with Sanskrit quotations).

Tripathi, Kamlesh Datta. “Nāṭyaśāstra: Problems of Textual Criticism and Interpretation of Text.” Saṁskṛti Sandhāna: Journal of the National Research Institute of Human Culture 5 (1992): 81–89.

Discusses the most important problems of textual criticism and interpretation of the Nāṭyaśāstra text, the validity of the existing editions and the necessity of the new collations of the manuscripts that would take into consideration the newly discovered materials.

Vatsyayan, Kapila. “The Nāṭyaśāstra—A History of Criticism.” In Shastric Traditions in Indian Arts. Vol. 1, Texts. Edited by A. L. Dallapiccola, C. Walter-Mendy, and S. Zingel-Avé Lallemant, 333–338. Beiträge zur Südasienforschung, Südasien-Institut, Universität Heidelberg 125. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1989.

Treats the Nāṭyaśāstra as the basic and primary text on the śastric tradition in the field of Indian arts, and analyzes the history of its discovery, study, and publication. Evaluates the language of the treatise as bad, corrupt Sanskrit, as well as the language of the only survived commentary of Abhinavagupta, which in its turn is full of interpolations, grammatical mistakes, etc. Critically examines the main lines of Nāṭyaśāstra scholarship and discerns major trends of the research.

Warder, Anthony Kennedy. Indian Kāvya Literature. Vol. 1: Literary Criticism. 2d rev. ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009.

Comprehensive study of the literary criticism of kāvya. Includes important sections on aesthetics, language, plot construction, poetics, and general observations on drama as literary form in the Nāṭyaśāstra and works of later theoreticians. Explores the social background, audience, and readers of kāvya in order to show for whom this literature was written and what functions it performed. Appendix contains enlargements and elucidations of some paragraphs of the volume. Originally published in 1972.

Structure and Original Core

Various manuscripts of the Nāṭyaśāstra contain different number of chapters, which in their turn diverge in the quantity of passages. This makes it necessary for the scholars to determine the original core and reconstruct subsequent history in the formation of the text that expanded with later interpolations. Another important task is to reveal the structure of the treatise that characterized the text at different historical moments, as well as to reveal the content of the Nāṭyaśāstra known to Abhinavagupta and later theoreticians. Heymann 1874 was one the first to establish a reliable table of contents and structure for the Nāṭyaśāstra. Srinivasa 1980 focuses on the original core and composition of the treatise. Bhatnagar 1987 explores the conceptual structure underlying the text, while Wright 1963 studies the history of the Nāṭyaśāstra text on the basis of one particular chapter. Finally, Varma 1958 concentrates on the basic terms essential for the structure and historical development of the text.
Bhatnagar, R. S. “The Conceptual Structure Underlying the Nāṭyaśāstra.” In India’s Intellectual Traditions: Attempts at Conceptual Reconstruction. Edited by Daya Krishna, 95–103. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

Explores the conceptual terminology of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Considers the treatise from the point of view of philosophical discourse and points out three main types of concepts underlying it: descriptive, prescriptive, and belief. Brings forth the understanding of nāṭya as a complicated multidimensional activity, introducing it as an action-theoretic concept of its own.

Heymann, Wilhelm. “Über Bharata’s Nāṭyaçāstram.” Nachrichten von der Königlischeren Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften und der Universität zu Göttingen (1874): 86–107.

The first textual analyses and scholarly descriptions of the three Nāṭyaśāstra manuscripts from the European collections. The comparative survey of the chapter headings allowed Heymann to establish the table of contents and more clearly display the structure of the treatise, and to reject manuscripts that were misleadingly considered as texts of the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Srinivasa, Ayya Srinivasan. On the Composition of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik Monographie 1. Reinbek: Verlag für Orientalistische Fachpublikationen, 1980.

Unintelligible study with a complex sequence of cases and quotations. Arrives at a precarious conclusion that the Nāṭyaśāstra did not have any original core due to the diversity of later historical accretions, and was not even composed as a consistent text, but assembled as a muddle of the highly heterogeneous incoherent fragments, borrowed from the sundry preexisting sources and put together without changes, therefore failing to overcome their substantial disparateness.

Varma, K. M. Seven Words in Bharata: What Do They Signify. Calcutta: Orient Longmans, 1958.

Critical analysis of seven basic terms, i.e., sūtra, bhāṣya, saṅgraha, kārikā, nirukta, ānuvaṁśya, and nidarśana, mentioned in synopsis (saṁgraha) from chapter 6 and essential for the structure and historical strata of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Considers the terms sūtra and bhāṣya as proof that the Nāṭyaśāstra is based on the preceding texts, and extensively uses quotations (ānuvaṁśya) from them for the justification of the content of the new treatise, which generally follows the list of saṅgraha.

Wright, J. C. “Vṛtti in the Daśarūpakavidhānādhyāya of the Abhinavabhāratī: A Study in the History of the Text of the Nāṭyaśāstra.” Bulletin of SOAS 26.1 (1963): 92–118.

Scholarly study of the history of the Nāṭyaśāstra text with careful analysis of the passages on vṛtti (modes of scenic representations) in chapter 18 of the GOS [cited under Complete Editions] edition (chapter 20 in MGE [cited under Complete Editions]). Brings up the important question of the appropriate correlation between the Abhinavabhāratī text, which is quite corrupt and frequently obscure, and the structure of the Nāṭyaśāstra, known to Abhinavagupta and restored in the GOS edition. Contains the list of textual corrections.

Historical Exploration

Among many various existing trends in the scholarship on the Nāṭyaśāstra text, there is one that treats it as a representative source for the reconstruction of the historic, political, economic, and sociocultural background of ancient Indian society. Kanjilal 1962 draws an image of the political life as it is reflected in the Nāṭyaśāstra, while Kanjilal 2002 develops the subject and analyzes the Nāṭyaśāstra from sociopolitical and cultural points of view. Pande 1993 uses the Nāṭyaśāstra as an appropriate source for the reconstruction of ancient Indian social and cultural history, Pande 1996 provides a general historical and cultural overview of the treatise, and Bhat 1970–1971 discusses the practice of dramatic competitions in ancient India.
Bhat, Govind Kesav. “Dramatic Competition in Ancient India.” Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 20.1–4 (1970–1971): 36–43.

Dwells on the practice of dramatic competitions in Ancient India mentioned in the Nāṭyaśāstra and classical Sanskrit dramas.

Kanjilal, Dilip Kumar. “Glimpses of Political History from Nāṭya Śāstra of Bharata.” Indian Historical Quarterly 38 (1962): 200–212.

On the basis of the Nāṭyaśāstra, the author draws an image of the political life of the time, geographical knowledge, position of the tribes, location and arrangement of the settlements and states, administrative conditions, and so on.

Kanjilal, Dilip Kumar. India in the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata. Kolkata: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 2002.

Explores different aspects of Indian society through the text of the Nāṭyaśāstra (GOS and KMS edition [cited under Complete Editions], and MGT [cited under Complete Translations]), both general (geography, political history, economy, common features of the society, administration, religion, culture, literature, language, and linguistic) and those more characteristic of the treatise, such as the metrical system, stage and stagecraft, comments on the basic text, and the date of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Contains appendix with illustration of 108 dance postures from the Chidambaram temple.

Pande, Anupa. The Nāṭyaśāstra Tradition and Ancient Indian Society. Jodhpur: Kusumanjali Prakashan, 1993.

An attempt to evaluate the Nāṭyaśāstra tradition from a sociocultural point of view. Parts dealing with the definitions of nāṭya, a comparison with Greek drama and Aristotle’s Poetics, dance forms, historical evolution of music, and so on are more convincing than the chapters directly related to the announced theme and dedicated to the reconstruction of the social context of the Nāṭyaśāstra tradition (urbanism, material life, social classes, etc.). The absence of a proper bibliography is greatly felt.

Pande, Anupa. A Historical and Cultural Study of the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata. 3d ed. Jodhpur: Kusumanjali Prakashan, 1996.

Study of the Nāṭyaśāstra as an appropriate source for the reconstruction of ancient Indian social and cultural history. Along with the typical themes, like the date of the treatise, ancient Indian theater, theory and practice of drama, dance, the concept of rasa, the language of gestures, and the musical system and instruments, it discusses the problems of the geography, material culture (food, drink, settlements, furniture, dress, ornaments) and the structure, institution, and values of social life. Originally published in 1991.

Myth and Ritual

The ritual and mythological content of the Nāṭyaśāstra is self-sufficient as study material, interesting for the the idea of the synthesis between the ritual and entertainment expressed in the text and for the information on early Hindu culture it provides. The treatise considers itself as Fifth Veda, encompassing the elements of the four previous Vedas. Its aims to educate people through the performance and help them to achieve three goals of life: religious duty (dharma), wealth (artha), and glory (yaśas) (which here substitutes the erotic passion, kāma, more characteristic for later Trivarga). The pantheon of the Nāṭyaśāstra has Brahmā as the supreme god, and Shiva and Vishnu as main deities, though the concept of a triune god (Trimūrti) is not yet developed. At the same time, there are several references to characters, such as patron gods of four varṇas that are otherwise unknown. The main ritual that the Nāṭyaśāstra meticulously describes is pūjā, which has to be performed before the drama (in the form of pūrvaraṅga) and used for the consecration of the newly built theater (raṅgadaivatapūjana).

Origin of Drama

Among other things, the ritual and mythological core of the treatise contains very important hints regarding the question of the genesis of ancient Indian theater. Still, basic questions have yet to be sufficiently answered, though the problem has been studied for over a century and numerous hypotheses been put forth. The scholarly argument concentrates on two basic questions: whether the Sanskrit drama had a ritual or secular background, and when and in what ethnic and cultural milieu it first emerged. In seeking answers to this problem, Parikh 1951–1952 explores the myth of the conception of the drama; Byrski 1974 investigates the drama as a ritual form, created in the likeness of the Vedic sacrifice; Kuiper 1979 analyses the concrete Vedic context that determined the genesis of drama; Gitomer 1994 observes the Vedic reminiscences in the myth of the conception of the drama; Tripathi 1994–1995 explores the Vedic background of the theater; Lidova 1996 substantiates a new hypothesis of the origin of drama in the context of the early Hindu culture and pūjā cult; Tripathi 1995 argues the āgamic background of the Nāṭyaśāstra rite of the consecration of the theater; and Lidova 2010 establishes a connection between the rite of theater consecration and one of the Artharvavedic rituals.
Byrski, Maria Ch. Concept of Ancient Indian Theatre. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1974.

Reconstructs the intellectual ideas underlying the general concept of the Nāṭyaśāstra and proposes a historical connection between Vedic sacrificial ritual (yajña) and Sanskrit drama (nāṭya). Widely uses the Nāṭyaśāstra mythology in an attempt to consider drama as part of Vedic sacrificial sessions and ritual form created in the likeness of the sacrifice. In connection with this assumption, Byrski analyzes several important topics of the treatise (plot, structure of the performance, rasa theory, etc.).

Gitomer, David L. “Whither the Thick Sweetness of Their Passion? The Search for Vedic Origins of Sanskrit Drama.” In Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation. Edited by Laurie L. Patton, 171–198. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Guided by Kuiper 1979 and its prejudices against the Vedic origin of the myth of chapter 1 of the Nāṭyaśāstra, Gitomer treats it as an allegorical story, in which Vedic cosmogonic and ritual reminiscences are deliberately used in order to raise the status of theater. He criticizes the attempts to “religify” the drama and to discern in it the cosmogonic, ritual, and transcendental meanings. Nevertheless, he accepts the idea that drama might be considered an equivalent of yajña.

Kuiper, Franciscus Bernardus Jacobus. Varuṇa and Vidūṣaka: On the Origin of the Sanskrit Drama. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afdeling Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks 100. Amsterdam: North Holland, 1979.

Thoroughly documented study that brings to light the position of the god Varuṇa in the Vedic pantheon and discovers the traces of the Vedic sacrificial, mythological, and cosmogonic context in the Nāṭyaśāstra. Considers pūrvaraṅga as a relevant ritual and equivalent of the Vedic sacrifice (yajña), and drama (nāṭya) as a scenic representation of the Vedic cosmogonic myth. Estimates the vidūṣaka as the god Varuṇa in the appearance of divine scapegoat. Three indexes: general, Sanskrit words, and Sanskrit text-places.

Lidova, Natalia R. Drama and Ritual of Early Hinduism. 2d ed. Performing Arts Series 4. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996.

Challenges the historical and symbolical connections of Sanskrit drama with Vedic sacrificial ritual (yajña) and substantiates a new hypothesis of its origin in the context of the rite pūjā. Connects the Nāṭyaśāstra with the culture of early Hinduism and its most important innovations: construction of the temples and worship of the images of gods. Second edition. Originally published in 1994.

Lidova, Natalia R. “The Changes in Indian Ritualism: Yajña versus Pūjā.” In Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia. Edited by Himanshu Prabha Ray, 205–231. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

On the basis of a detailed comparison of the ritual archetypes, proves that yajña and pūjā ascend to different ritualistic systems and possess highly distinct structures and symbolism. Proposes the typological and direct genetic links between the Nāṭyaśāstra rite raṅgadaivatapūjana and Artharvavedic ritual Brahmayāga, described in Atharvaveda-pariśiṣṭa XIX b.

Parikh, J. T. “The Orthodox Tradition about the Origin of the Sanskrit Drama.” Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 1.1–4 (1951–1952): 338–342.

Treats the myth of chapter 1 of the Nāṭyaśāstra as a comprehensive source, which demonstrates that the stage performance from the very beginning included two parts: pūrvaraṅga, or ceremonial worship of the stage, and the drama proper.

Tripathi, Radhavallabh. “Origin and Development of Theatre in Ancient India: Sambodhi.” Indological Research Journal of L.D.Institute of Indology 19 (1994–1995): 1–20.

Discusses several technical and historical aspects of drama externalization from the yajña sacrificial system, how it provided the ground for the growth of theater and determined its most important features. Considers nāṭya as Veda, the ultimate knowledge or Brahman and equivalent of yajña ritual.

Tripathi, Radhavallabh. “The Cosmic View of Raṅgadaivatapūjana. The question of its Āgamic Background.” In Prakr̥ti: The Integral Vision. Vol. 3, The Āgamic Tradition and the Arts. Edited by Bettina Bäumer, 79–85. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1995.

Denies the āgamic background of the raṅgadaivatapūjana rite, described in chapter 3 of the Nāṭyaśāstra and performed for the consecration of the newly constructed theater building. Treats numerous similarities between Śaiva-āgamas rites and the Nāṭyaśāstra rituals as mere coincidental, and through a rejection of the ritualistic dichotomy between Vedic and post-Vedic cultures, returns to the idea of the origin of drama in the context of the Vedic yajña.

Pūrvaraṅga: The Preceding Ritual

A ceremony preceding drama called pūrvaraṅga is an important topic of Nāṭyaśāstra scholarship that has brought to light numerious interpretations and suggestions on the subject. Some scholars view pūrvaraṅga as a mere prologue preceding performance, others consider it a self-sufficient ritual that rivals the drama in terms of its importance. Feistel 1969 and Feistel 1972 study pūrvaraṅga in detail and translate the corresponding parts of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Dave 1941 discusses the position of nāndī in pūrvaraṅga, and Sastri 1963 studies pūrvaraṅga in connection with the prologue scenes of classical dramas. Thieme 1987 expounds the connection of pūrvaraṅga with puppet theater. Kuiper 1975 treats pūrvaraṅga as a religious drōmenon and equivalent of the Vedic sacrifice. Finally, Burman 1994 compares pūrvaraṅga with the prologue scenes of modern drama.
Burman, A. D. “The Pūrvaraṅga and the Prologue Scenes in the Indian and South-East Asian Theatres.” Indo-Iranian Journal 37.4 (1994): 297–316.

Compares pūrvaraṅga in the Nāṭyaśāstra with the prologue scenes of modern performances in India and Southeast Asian countries, and shows their great structural and symbolical similarities.

Dave, Urmila. “Nāndī in Theory.” Indian Historical Quarterly 17 (1941): 359–369.

Proposes the identification of nāndī (the main litany of pūrvaraṅga) as prarocanā or the laudation verses, uttered at the turn of pūrvaraṅga ceremony and proper drama.

Feistel, Hartmut Ortwin. Das Vorspiel auf dem Theater: Ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte des klassischen indischen Schauspiels. PhD diss, Universität zu Tübingen, 1969.

An accurate German translation of chapter 5 of the Nāṭyaśāstra on pūrvaraṅga, with some extraction from chapter 20 (22 in MGE [cited under Complete Editions]) on vṛtti (modes of scenic representations), variant readings from GOS, MGE, KMS, KSS [all cited under Complete Editions], and consultations with MGT [cited under Complete Translations]. Analyzes the relationship of pūrvaraṅga with prologues of classical Sanskrit plays and proposes a tentative chronology between the theoretical prescriptions of the śāstra and surviving examples of ancient dramaturgical practices.

Feistel, Hartmut Ortwin. “The Pūrvaraṅga and the Chronology of the Pre-classical Sanskrit Theatre.” Samskrita Ranga Annual 6 (1972): 1–26.

Summarizes the material and most important conclusions of Feistel 1969. Considering pūrvaraṅga as “preliminaries” and provides a general discussion of its eighteen constituent elements. Traces the development of pūrvaraṅga from its earliest to the latest stage, illustrated with the examples from Sanskrit dramaturgy, and proposes a tentative chronology between the treatise and classical Sanskrit plays.

Kuiper, Franciscus Bernardus Jacobus. “The Worship of the Jarjara on the Stage.” Indo-Iranian Journal 16.4 (1975): 241–268.

Argues against the interpretation of pūrvaraṅga as “preliminaries,” “prelude,” or “vorspiel,” and considers it as a religious drōmenon, intended to worship the gods and to consecrate the stage. Separates pūrvaraṅga from drama, assuming that each possessed individual ritual functions. After these theoretical assertions, concentrates on the role of jarjara (sacrificial pole, symbolizing the banner of Indra) in pūrvaraṅga.

Sastri, Kali Kumar Dutta. “Pūrvaraṅga in Sanskrit Drama.” Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal 1.2 (September 1963): 299–308.

General overview of the role and status of pūrvaraṅga in Sanskrit drama and its connection with the prologue scenes of classical plays.

Thieme, Paul. “Sūtradhāra- und Pūrvaraṅga-”. Studien zur Indologie und Iranistic 13/14 (1987): 289–300.

Sustains the assumption that the sūtradhāra (chief actor and manager of the theater) originally meant “puppet-player” and came from the puppet theater. Considers that pūrvaraṅga initially was a scene, taking place in front of the puppet-stage and later turned into the prelude of classical Sanskrit plays. Adduces some new philological and linguistic evidence to support both of these premises. Contains short English summary.

Theater Building and Stage Properties
The Nāṭyaśāstra represents the earliest text with a detailed description of the theater building (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) and related stage properties. In the absence of any acknowledged archaeological remains of the ancient Indian theater buildings, the description in chapter 2 of the Nāṭyaśāstra becomes the only evidence of their early existence. Described as being constructed with brick walls and wooden pillars, theater buildings could be large, middle-sized, or small, and they could assume one of three main shapes: oblong, square, or triangular. The interior space was decorated with paintings depicting men, women, and their amorous endeavours, as well as with numerous wooden statues and carved figures of elephants, tigers, and snakes. It had consecutive rows of seats, forming of a kind of staircase overlooking the stage, as well as mechanized latticed windows.

The Structure

The stucture of the theater building was not only the focus of Sanskrit scholars’ research, but it also provoked deep interest among the specialists of ancient Indian architecture. Raghavan 1955 summarizes related material and provides one of the first comprehensive accounts on the subject. Mankad 1960 reconstructs the technical aspects of the theater building, while Subha Rao 1992 presents the viewpoint of the practicing architect. Kulkarni 2008 demonstrates an integrated technico-theoretical approach. Gônc Moačanin 2003 considers the evidences of the treatise as a merely hypothetical (ideal) model, whereas Dash 1976 treats it as a reliable source and, with the help of the textual data, seeks the surviving remnants of ancient theaters; Sharma 2001 and Panchal 2004 reconstruct the middle-sized square and rectangular theater buildings.
Dash, Dhiren. Catara, Jathara, Jatra—The Theatre: New Light on Ranigumpha, It’s a Theatre; New light on Nāṭyaśāstra (Chapter II): Khandagiri/Udayagiri, a Theatre-Complex. Bhubaneswar: Padmini Dash, 1976.

An attempt to connect the theoretical description of the theater building in chapter 2 of the Nāṭyaśāstra with the existing cave and temple structures and interpret them as theater complexes. Contains monochrome plans and schemes.

Gônc Moačanin, Klara. “Nāṭyamaṇḍapa: A Real or a Fictional Performing Space of the Classical Indian Theatre.” Saṁbhāṣā: Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture and Buddhism 23 (2003): 29–37.

Challenges the commonly accepted opinion that theater existed in ancient India as a separate and specially constructed edifice. Proposes the alternative idea that drama was performed only periodically during festivals in temporary pavilions or temple halls. Therefore, the Nāṭyaśāstra describes a hypothetical theatrical building and ideal model of sacral space. The fact that no sketches, drawings, paintings, models, ruins of the theater buildings, or any other material evidence have survived is used as a proof of the proposed hypothesis.

Kulkarni, Raghunath P. The Theatre According to the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata. New Delhi: Kanishka, 2008.

Detailed examination of different aspects of the theater building on the basis of chapter 2. Treats numerous technical terms and features (preparation of the soil, foundation and column laying ceremonies, shapes, dimensions, and divisions of the theater structure) from an engineering point of view, guided by Śilpaśāstras and other treatises. Includes original Sanskrit text with English translation, twelve appendices with the extractions from various Sanskrit sources on the subject (all in Devanāgarī), glossary of technical terms, numerous schemes and drawings, and index.

Mankad, D. R. Ancient Indian Theatre: An Interpretation of Bharata’s Second Adhyāya. 2d ed. Vallabh Vidyanagar: Charutar Prakashan, 1960.

One of the first reconstructions of the technical features of the theater building, based on the description of the Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavagupta’s commentary. Contains schemes and two appendices with the corresponding verses from the architectural treatise Śilparatna and relevant technical terms. The core of the text was originally published as an article in Indian Historical Quarterly 8 (1932): 480–499, then enlarged and published as a book in 1950 (Vallabh Vidyanagar: Charutar Prakashan).

Panchal, Goverdhan Hemchand. “Architecture.” In The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Edited by Ananda Lal, 16–20. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Compact but comprehensive general overview of the development of Indian theater architecture over the centuries. Enriches the theoretical premises of the Nāṭyaśāstra with selected examples of archaeological remains of the theater buildings and dance pavilions (maṇḍapa) still present in the Hindu temples. Contains black-and-white photos, schemes, and diagrams.

Raghavan, Venkataraman. “Theatre Architecture in Ancient India.” In The Theatre of the Hindus. Edited by H. H. Wilson, V. Raghavan, K. R. Pisharoti, and Amulya Charan Vidyabhusan, 156–161. Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1955.

Pioneering article that examines the constructive features and types of the theater architecture and proves the existence of permanent theater buildings in ancient India. Proposes some corrections to previous interpretations of chapter 2 of the Nāṭyaśāstra, and evaluates the equipment and setting of theater, historical information, and further developments on the basis of later Sanskrit texts. Contains a drawing scheme with the reconstruction of rectangular theater. Originally published in 1931 in The Triveni 4.6: 69–77.

Sharma, H. V. Caturaśra mādhyama nāṭyamaṇḍapa. New Delhi: National School of Drama, 2001.

The architectural reconstruction and theoretical substantiation of a middle-sized square theater on the basis of chapter 2 of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Includes schemes of the proposed examples.

Subha Rao, D. “A Critical Survey of the Ancient Indian Theatre in Accordance with the Second Chapter of the Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra.” In Nāṭyaśāstra with the Commentary of Abhinavagupta, with a Preface, Appendix and Index. Edited by Ramakrishna Manavalli Kavi and K. S. Ramaswami Śāstrῑ, 418–448. Vadodara, India: Oriental Institute, 1992.

Important overview of the Nāṭyaśāstra material related to the construction of the theater building, done by a professional Indian architect. Contains several drawings with plans and reconstructions of the theater, accompanied by vast Sanskrit quotations from the Nāṭyaśāstra and other sources (in Devanāgarī). Appendix 6 to the fourth revised edition of GOS 36 [cited under Complete Editions]. Reprinted from 1956 second revised edition, 423–454.

Performing Space

The majority of scholars adhere to the idea that theater space, described in chapter 2 of the Nāṭyaśāstra, cannot be reconstructed without an integrated approach, comprising several disciplines that would take into account the relationship between the producing technique, stage directions, play conventions, and freestanding structures where drama was performed. Panchal 1974 studies the theater space and stage in action; Panchal 1996 provides a general overview of the development of theater architecture in India over the centuries in the connection with play production; Diwekar 1961 and Sandesara and Shah 1961 discuss the enigmatic part of the Nāṭyaśāstra theater, named mattavāraṇī; De 1948 discusses the existence of the curtain in the ancient Indian theater; Panchal 1972 dwells on linguistic questions, and on the types and function of the curtain in ancient Indian theater.
De, Sushil Kumar. “The Curtain in Ancient Indian Theatre.” Bhāratīya Vidyā 9 (1948): 125–131.

Discusses various problems and linguistic aspects connected to the existence and function of the curtain in the ancient Indian theater, cited in the treatise with the name yavanikā (javanikā) but not mentioned in the parts of the Nāṭyaśāstra dealing with the space of the theater (ch. 2).

Diwekar, H. R. “Mattavāraṇī.” Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 10.1–4 (1961): 431–437.

Linguistic and technical exploration of the term mattavāraṇī. Contains critical analysis of the previous interpretations. The proposed hypothesis that matta-vāraṇī (literally “intoxicated elephant”) could be a pavilion, used for retaining elephants during the elephant fight, is not entirely convincing.

Panchal, Goverdhan Hemchand. “The Curtain in Classical Sanskrit Drama.” Sangeet Natak, Journal of the Sangeet Natak Academy 25 (July–September 1972): 23–38.

Analyzes the function and types of curtain on the basis of stage directions from the classical Sanskrit plays in comparison with the Nāṭyaśāstra material. Treats the problem of the curtain from the terminological, technical, staging, and architectural points of view. Contains drawings with the reconstruction of the permanent and temporary types of curtain.

Panchal, Goverdhan Hemchand. “Bharata’s Stage in Action.” Sangeet Natak: Journal of the Sangeet Natak Academy 34 (July–September 1974): 64–80.

An attempt to reconstruct a middle-sized rectangular theater (vikṛṣta mādhyama) with the application of the practical systematic approach, embracing various stage conventions and elements used for the play production. Contains a scheme of the theater building.

Panchal, Goverdhan Hemchand. The Theatres of Bharata and Some Aspects of Sanskrit Play-Production. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1996.

Discusses different architectural aspects of the three main types of theater. Focuses on the problem of identification of the mattavāraṇī, treated as the structure with four columns situated on the side of the main stage. Dwells on the relationship of the theater types with the play production.

Sandesara, B. J., and U. P. Shah. “A Further Note on Mattavāraṇam.” Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 10.1–4 (1961): 438–441.

Argues against the assumption that mattavāraṇī is a pavilion for keeping intoxicated elephants. Provides references from various sources to prove the idea that in Indian architecture mattavāraṇī was not a temporary hall or pavilion, but a permanent structure attached to the building and representing a veranda or balcony near the wall, used during the play production.

Rasa: Aesthetic Theory

Rasa is considered to be the primary ancient Indian aesthetic category. In the Nāṭyaśāstra it is described for the first time and treated as a specific type of feeling that might be experienced by a spectator during a theatrical performance, or, later, by an art connoisseur before an ingenious poetic or artistic work. Though the word rasa, among others meanings, stands for “taste,” by the time the Nāṭyaśāstra was created, it was generally used as a theoretical notion. Three main stages can be singled out in the evolution of this concept: first, when rasa emerged as a symbolic expression of a ritualistic content and possessed strong sacral meaning; second, when rasa evolved into a theoretical term and acquired a specific aesthetic significance, which gradually ousted its sacral essence; and third, when the aesthetic aspect became absolutely dominant, while the transcendental (alaukika) understanding of rasa continued to be highlithed and emphasized in the late philosophical and mystical tradition.

In the Nāṭyaśāstra

Two chapters of the Nāṭyaśāstra—chapter 6, describing eight types of rasa, and chapter 7, containing a definition of forty-nine varietes of bhāva—are by far are the most studied parts of the treatise. Together, they reflect a complex and integral concept that became the core of the Indian theory of aesthetics. Masson and Patwardhan 1970 introduces a valuable English translation of chapter 6. Raghavan 1975 offers the first detailed exposition of the subject. Gerow 1977 provides valuable theoretical observation of rasa in the Nāṭyaśāstra. Tieken 2000 analyzes the interpretations of the term rasa in the up-to-date research literature. Lidova 2012 substantiates a new hypothesis on the origin of the concept of rasa. Kulkarni 1986 reexamines different aspects of rasa. Vora 2002 treats the interpretations of rasa in various systems of Indian philosophy. Shah 1987 studies the relevance of rasa to contemporary literary and aesthetics theories. Sen 1966 proposes a conceptual influence of the ancient Indian system of Āyurveda on the aesthetic theory.
Gerow, Edwin. “Nāṭyaśāstra: Rasa in Dramatic Criticism.” In A History of Indian Literature. Vol. 3, Indian Poetics. Edited by Jan Gonda, 245–250. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977.

Concise but valuable theoretical observation on rasa description in the Nāṭyaśāstra. Treats rasa as a technical term, critical principle, structural component, and concrete element of a play.

Kulkarni, Vaman Mahadeo, ed. Some Aspects of the Rasa Theory. Ahmedabad: B. L. Institute of Indology, 1986.

A collection of papers that reexamines the most important aspects of rasa theory: its nature, interpretation in the traditional philosophical systems, application to other fine arts, relevance to modern literature, and relation to catharsis. Two articles on rasa’s relevance to contemporary aesthetic theories and literary criticism are given in appendices.

Lidova, Natalia. “Rasa in the Nāṭyaśāstra—Aesthetic and Ritual.” Indologica Turinensia, The Journal of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies 38 (2012): 1–25.

Substantiates a new hypothesis on the origin of the concept of rasa. Treats it as a reinterpretation of the Vedic complex of soma, from which rasa inherits the name “taste,” endowment with colors, association with gods, and supernatural qualities. Argues that in the period of classical Sanskrit drama, an aesthetic interpretation of rasa ousted its initial sacral meaning, which was rediscovered in the later philosophical (Abhinavagupta) and mystical (Gaudiya Vaiṣṇavism) traditions.

Masson, Jeffrey Lloyd, and Madhav Vinayak Patwardhan. Aesthetic Rapture: The Rasādhyāya of the Nāṭyaśāstra. 2 vols. Deccan College Building Centenary and Silver Jubilee Series 69. Pune, India: Deccan College, Postgraduate Research Institute, 1970.

Reliable and easy to read scholarly translation of chapter 6 of the Nāṭyaśāstra with the excerpts from the Abhinavagupta’s commentary. Volume 1, besides the elaborately annotated translation, contains the analysis of the early Indian ideas on the nature of beauty, an overview of Abhinavagupta’s predecessors and teachers, and a vision of rasa as imaginative experience. Volume 2 is dedicated to detailed notes.

Raghavan, V. The Number of Rasas. Adyar, India: Adyar Library and Research Centre, 1975.

Pioneering work with the first detailed analysis of the subject, which still retains its research value. Focuses on the original number of rasas and the position of śanta rasa, unknown in the Nāṭyaśāstra but accepted by Abhinavagupta as an additional ninth dramatic emotion. Treats many important topics, including the original and late rasa varieties. Accompanied by the author’s edition of the śanta rasa section from Abhinavagupta’s commentary (in Devanāgarī). Originally published in 1940.

Sen R. K. Aesthetic Enjoyment: Its Background in Philosophy and Medicine. Calcutta: Calcutta University Press, 1966.

Considers rasa theory apart from the late medieval Abhinavagupta’s commentary, and sets it within a group more concurrent with the Nāṭyaśāstra texts of the epic period (6th century BCE–2nd century CE). Argues for a very strong conceptual influence on the aesthetic theory of the ancient Indian system of Āyurveda. Treats rasa as an entirely personal and subjective aesthetic response, through which one could achieve the balance prescribed by the early medical texts.

Shah, K. J. “The Theory of Rasa: Its Conceptual Structure.” In India’s Intellectual Traditions: Attempts at Conceptual Reconstraction. Edited by Daya Krishna, 115–127. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

Considers the ancient Indian rasa theory as a system of ideas relevant to the contemporary literary and aesthetics thoughts and valuable for modern discourse on the moral virtues of works of art. In accordance with the proposed approach, interprets the conceptual structure and philosophical and ethical content of the rasa theory in the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Tieken, Herman. “On the Use of Rasa in Studies of Sanskrit Drama.” Indo-Iranian Journal 43 (2000): 115–138.

Reliable survey of the existing approaches of interpretation of the term rasa in recent research literature. Includes general critical analysis and author’s position on the dramatic concept and rasa theory of the Nāṭyaśāstra.

Vora, P. R. “The Influence of Various Darśanas on the Interpretations and Presentation of Rasa Theory.” Sambodhi: Indological Research Journal of L. D. Institute of Indology 25 (2002): 1–19.

Explores the most important features of the rasa theory in the Nāṭyaśāstra, namely the origin of the term, the number and perception of rasa, its location, and aesthetic and supernatural qualities. Also analyzes the perception of rasa by later theoreticians that followed different traditional systems of Indian philosophy.

In the Abhinavabhāratī
The existing translations and interpretations of Abhinavagupta’s commentary on chapters 6 and 7 of the Nāṭyaśāstra represent an important and quite independent field of research. The focus on the commentary allows researchers not only to reveal the perception of rasa in the work of the greatest philosopher of Kashmir Sivaism, but also to trace the historic development and changes in the views of the theoreticians preceding Abhinavagupta whose opinion is referred to in the Abhinavabhāratī. Gnoli 1968 presents a valuable translation of Abhinavagupta’s commentary on chapter 6 of the Nāṭyaśāstra, while Abhinavagupta 1973 provides its Hindi translation. Masson and Patwardhan 1969 explores the position of śanta rasa in Abhinavagupta’s philosophy of aesthetics. Gerow and Aklujkar 1972 provides a critical review of the previous research. Gerow 1994 provides a new and improved translation of the śanta rasa section in the Abhinavabhāratī. Bhat 1984 studies Indian aesthetic ideas through the prism of Abhinavagupta’s interpretation of rasa, Walimbe 1980 reconstructs the views on rasa of the preceding theoreticians, and Kulkarni 1998 discloses Abhinavagupta’s approach to Indian aesthetics and art experience.
Abhinavagupta Rājānaka. Abhinavabhāratī. 2d ed. Edited by Nagendra, translated by Viśveśvara Siddhāntaśiromaṇi. Hindi Anusandhana Parishad Granthamala. Delhi: Delhi University, 1973.

A liberal Hindi translation of Abhinavagupta’s commentary on chapters 1, 2, and 6 of the Nāṭyaśāstra. Hindi introduction and notes with valuable commentaries. Originally published in 1960.

Bhat, Govind Keshav. Rasa Theory and Allied Problems. Baroda: MS University of Baroda, 1984.

Compact and useful evaluation of the aesthetic theory of the Nāṭyaśāstra and related poetic concepts, analyzed through the prism of Abhinavagupta’s interpretation of rasa as a transcendental and supernatural experience.

Gerow, Edwin, and Ashok Aklujkar. “On Śanta Rasa in Sanskrit Poetics.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 92.1 (January–March 1972): 80–87.

Review article on Masson and Patwardhan 1969. Expresses a different position on Abhinavagupta’s philosophy of aesthetics and some other significant poetical concepts. Defines more precisely the place of śanta rasa in the rasa theory and its status in the philosophical exposition of the Abhinavagupta’s works. Proposes several corrections and more accurate translations of Sanskrit quotations cited in the reviewed study.

Gerow, Edwin. “Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetics as a Speculative Paradigm.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 114.2 (April–June 1994): 186–208.

Important article that provides new translation of the śanta rasa section of the Abhinavabhāratī, with the intention to improve the Masson and Patwardhan 1969 translation and suggest new arguments for the aesthetic grounding of the Abhinavagupta’s metaphysical theology.

Gnoli, Raniero. The Aesthetic Experience according to Abhinavagupta. 2d rev. ed. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Studies 62. Banaras.

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