The Natyasastra probably is one of the earliest and certainly one of the best treatises on Indian Dramaturgy. At the same time, the book available now is not an early one but may be as late as the seventh or eighth century AD. The authorship is traditionally ascribed to Bharata, the Sage.
The eminence of Natyasastra is not that it was the first book on the subject but that it was the first comprehensive treatise on dance, drama and music. Like the Mahabharata, Natyasastra too boasts that "what is found here may be found elsewhere. But what is not here cannot be found anywhere".
To confer upon it prestige as the sole authority, it was described as the fifth Veda : A Veda accessible to all the castes of society. The essential elements of stage-craft have been described by the Natyasastra thousands of years ago.
The question arises, naturally, whether such a treatise can serve any purpose of our time. This was the very question which the author set about to explore in the present translation and his notes on each chapter amply demonstrate how latest problems of actors and directors have been anticipated and resolved in it.
Table of Contents:
- About the Natyasastra
- The Origin of Natya
- The Natyagrha
- Worship of the Stage and of the Gods
- Tandava Nrtya
- Acting of the Subordinate parts of the body
- Abhinaya of the hands and of the major limbs
- Performance of Caris
- The Stage walk of characters
- Regional styles and nature of plays
- Verbal representation and prosody
- Metrical Patterns
- Poetic concepts: Projection in acting
- Rides on the use of languages
- Ten kinds of plays
- The plot
- Aharya Abhinaya
- Samanya Abhinaya
- Men and Women - Outward characterisation
- Success of the Production
- Instrumental Music
- Stringed Instruments
- Hollow Instruments
- Rules of Tala
- The Dhrua Songs
- The Avanaddha Instruments
- Types of Characters
- Distribution of roles
- Descent of drama of earth.