Concise Dictionary of Indian Theatre

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Item Code: IDJ963
Author: M. L. Varadpande
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 8170174406
Pages: 344
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.1" X 8.5"
Weight 1.28 kg
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Book Description
From the Jacket


Concise but comprehensive reference work on Indian drama.

Essentially it relates to classical theatre since its inception in the fourth century B. C. to the 16th-17th century A. D.

New dramatic forms started evolving in regional languages since 15th-16th century.

The dictionary contains references to major folk and traditional drama forms such as Ankia Nat, Yakshagana, Ramanattam, Krishnattam, Nautanki, Tamasha, Bhavai, Maanch, Raslila and Ramlila.

India is known as a 'Home of Puppet Theatre'. The dictionary contains references to major shadow, string, rod, glove puppet theatre forms.

Drama and dance have a close association in India. The dictionary contains history of classical dance and dance-drama forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi, Manipuri and Satriya.

The dictionary is a veritable mine of information.

Known for his erudition and scholarship M. L. Varadpande is an eminent theatre historian of India.

H is associated with several academic institutions of India including well known universities, drama schools, literary and fine arts organizations since several years. His works on Indian Theatre are studied all over the world. His works include.

History of Indian Theatre, Vol. I, II & III Critique of Indian Theatre (Ed)
Religion and Theatre
Mahabharata in Performance
Krishna Theatre in India
Ancient Indian and Indo-Greek Theatre
Dictionary of Indian Culture.

His book on Marathi dramatist Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar has been published by the Sahitya Akademi, National Akademi of Letters, in several Indian languages which went into several editions.



History of Indian theatre is spread over several centuries. Early glimpses of its existence can be seen in prehistoric cave paintings. Archaeological findings related to Indus valley civilization testify to its being. In Vedic and later Buddhist literature dramatic arts and drama itself is mentioned. Earliest extant dramatic works belong to fourth century B. C. In the Gupta age the Indian drama reached its zenith.

In the 15th-16th century numerous new dramatic forms emerged in different parts of the country propelled by Bhakti movement. They contributed to the richness of Indian drama.

Dramaturgists in India considered drama as an all-encompassing life-size art. To quote Bharata 'there is no wise maxim, no learning, no art, no craft, no device, no action that is not found in the drama.'

Efforts are made here to cover the history of this dramatic tradition that flourished in India for several centuries. I hope the readers will find this work useful in understanding the salient features of this great tradition.




Rich and varied in its form and content Indian theatre has an eventful history spread over several centuries. By the way of this book I invite the readers to have meaningful glimpses of the theatre history of one of the oldest civilizations of the world that flourished in the Indian sub-continent.

Indian theatre tradition has its beginning in the distant past. It evolved gradually assimilating in its fold various early performative arts like dancing, singing, music and several types of enactments ritualistic and otherwise.

Pre-historic records in the form of cave paintings testify to the early stages of this process of evolution. Several theatrical performances involving dancing, singing, playing on musical instruments, stage acting, hunt dramas are depicted on the walls of cave shelters since Mesolithic period.

Five thousand years ago there flourished in India a civilization popularly known as Indus Civilization. Spread practically all over north India and extending up to Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west this civilization had two main urban centers, Harappa and Mohenjodaro, and a flourishing, sea-port called Lothal. Excavations done by archaeologists revealed that the Indus people had their own forms of theatrical entertainment.

Vedic Aryans made significant contribution to the evolution of theatre. Their early book of hymns, Rig Veda, contained dialogues with story element which were known as Samvada Sukta or Akhyana Sukta. It is believed that these Suktas were enacted by Vedic priests. Several Vedic rituals were full of dramatic elements and when performed they more or less took the form of dramatic performances. Scholars believe that these performances contributed to the evolution of drama proper.

Ancient literary works are full of description of different kinds of theatrical performances but the question is when exactly a literary drama or Nataka as it is called emerged on the Indian scene?

The Buddhist Jataka tales which reflect the Indian social, cultural and religious milieu of the sixth century B. C. speak of Nataka as a form of entertainment. Both the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, mention the term Nataka. Preksha, yet another term for drama, is found frequently mentioned in ancient Indian literature.

Nataka reached such an advanced stage of evolution that in the fifth century B. C. the Natasutras or Manuals for Actors were written by Acharyas. Grammarian Panini refers to Natasutras written by Shilalin and Krishasva in his Ashtadhyayi.

In the fourth century B. C. Kautilya in his Arthashastra devised code of conduct for actors and for the first time imposed entertainment tax on dramatic performances. He also introduced censorship or laws against obscenity. Kautilya was the political mentor of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya who ruled from Pataliputra in the fourth century B. C.

The thirteen plays written around the same time by Bhasa in Sanskrit have survived the vagaries of time. Bhasa is the first known playwright of India. He borrowed his themes mainly from the epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This gave credence to the theory that drama in India emerged and evolved from the tradition of reciting the epics.

After Bhasa a number of playwrights wrote dramas but a few plays by authors such as Ashvaghosha, Kalidasa, Shudraka, Bhavabhuti, Vishakhadatta, Harsha, Bhattanarayana, Murari, Rajashekhara have survived. Apart from the plays some works on dramaturgy like Natya Shastra of Bharata written way back in the second century B. C. have survived the vagaries of time.

In India drama was considered as most exalted art. It was considered as meeting place of all arts and sciences. It was believed by ancient practitioners of this that 'the actor who on the stage delights and amuses his audience is reborn after death among the gods of laughter.' But some opposed it saying that 'it induces sensual, misanthropic, or mentally confused states in others and causes them to lose earnestness.' It is full of mischief-bahuka hi dosa samajasa-some said.

So numerous are the references to the puppet theatre in ancient Buddhist and Brahmanical works that many scholars consider India as a Home of Puppet Play. Some scholars went up to the extent of saying that human theatre emerged in diverse puppet theatre forms have still survived in many parts of the country. India has also a rich tradition of folk theatre.

Since ancient times India developed the art of dancing and music. Several chapters of Bharata's Natya Shastra are devoted to the art of dancing. It was so closely associated with the dramatic art that a term 'dancing out a drama' came into vogue. Dancing performances formed part of drama and sometimes dramas were presented as ballets. In some forms of drama these two arts are beautifully integrated and blended.

This book in dictionary form takes note of these diverse trends to present before the readers the panorama of Indian theatre.



Preface 11
Introduction 13
Abhijnana Shakuntala 15
Abhinaya 23
Abhishekanataka 24
Adbhutadarpana 24
Adbhutataranga Prahasana 25
Agen 25
Akhyana 26
Akhyanakapata 27
Aksha Kitava Ninda 28
Amrita Manthana 31
Amritodayam 31
Anargharaghava 32
Anka 32
Ankia Nat 33
Antigone 36
Apsara 37
Arthopakshepaka 38
Ashcharyachudamani 39
Ashtanayika 40
Ashvaghosha 41
Atandrachandra Prakarana 42
Avimaraka 42
Ayudha Purusha 43
Balacharita 44
Balarama 45
Balaramayana 47
Banning the Theatre 47
Bhagavadajjukam 49
Bhagavata Mela Nataka 50
Bhana 51
Bharata 52
Bharata Natyam 53
Bhasa 55
Bhatta Narayana 57
Bhavabhuti 58
Bhavai 60
Bhavana Prushottama 62
Bodhayana 62
Bommalattam 63
Brihatkatha 63
Cave Man's Theatre 64
Censorship 68
Chaitanyachandrodayam 70
Chandakaushika 71
Charudatta 71
Chaturbhani 73
Chaurakarma 75
Chitrakathi 77
Chorus 78
Danakelikaumudi 79
Dance in Dramatic Tradition 79
Dandaras 81
Dasha Rupa 82
Dashavatar 83
Dattaka 84
Dharmavijayam 85
Dhurtasamagama 85
Dhurta Vita Samvada 87
Dima 89
Dionysus in India 89
Drama Characteristics 91
Drama Definitions 92
Drama of Thirtytwo Types 93
Drama-Vile Art 94
Drama as Yajna 96
Durdinabhisarika 98
Duta Ghatotkacha 98
Dutangada 99
Dutavakya 100
Duti 101
Entertainment Tax 102
Erotic Plays 103
Festival of the Rain God 103
Gandharva 106
Ganga and Yamuna 107
Ganika 108
Garuda 109
Gaulan Kala 109
Ghost-mask Dance 110
Golla Kalapam 110
Gombeyatta 111
Gopal Kala 111
Greek-Kannada Farce 112
Guhyaka 116
Gunadhya 117
Hanumannatak 118
Harsha 119
Hasyachudamani 120
Hero 121
Human Sacrifice 121
Hunt Drama 122
Ihamriga 123
India in Greek Plays 123
Indus Civilization 125
Ishvaradatta 129
Itihasa 129
Jagannathavallabha Nataka 130
Jambavati Kalyanam 131
Jambudwipa 131
Janakiparinaya 132
Jatra 132
Jhanki 133
Jivanmukti Kalyanam 133
Jogimara Cave Inscription 134
Kalidasa 134
Kamadeva 136
Kamalini Kalahansam 138
Kamalini Rajahansam 139
Kamasutra 139
Kamsa Vadha 141
Kanishka 142
Kapalika 143
Karayila 145
Karnabharam 146
Karnasundari 147
Karpuracharita Bhana 147
Karpuramanjiri 148
Kathak 150
Kathakali 151
Kathaputali 153
Kirtaniya 153
Koothampalam 154
Krishna 154
Krishna Abhyudayam 157
Krishna Attam 157
Krishnamisra Yati 163
Kuchipudi 164
Kumudvati Prakarana 165
Kundamala 166
Kundhei Nacha 166
Kuravanji 167
Kushiava 167
Kutiyattam 168
Kuttanimatam Kavyam 169
Lalitmadhav 171
Lokananda 171
Maanch 172
Madanabhushana Bhana 173
Madhyamavyayoga 174
Mahabharata 175
Mahavrata 176
Mahendravikramavarman 177
Malati Madhava 178
Malavikagnimitra 180
Mallika Marut 183
Manipuri Ras 184
Matrika 185
Mattavilasprahasana 187
Moharajaparajaya 188
Mohini 189
Mohini Attam 189
Mricchakatika 190
Mrigankalekha 193
Mudiyettu 194
Mudrarakshasa 195
Murari 196
Nagananda 197
Nagarjunakonda Amphitheatre 198
Nandi 200
Nata 200
Nataka 201
Natakashala 201
Nata Mandir 202
Nataraja 203
Natasutra 204
Nati 205
Natika 206
Natyacharya 206
Natya Shastra 208
Natya Veda 209
Nautanki 210
Navaranga 212
Nayaka 212
Nayika 213
Nepathya 215
Nishumbha Nritya 217
Obscenity 217
Odissi 218
Oja Pali 220
Padataditakam 223
Pancham Veda 225
Pancharatra 226
Pandavani 227
Parijatamanjiri Natika 228
Pashupata 229
Patiyani 230
Patra 231
Pava Koothu 231
People-Ultimate Destination 232
Pishacha 232
Pithamarda 234
Playhouse 234
Play within a Play 234
Plot 235
Prabodhachandrodaya 235
Prabuddharauhineya 238
Prachandapandava 238
Prahasana 239
Prakarana 240
Prasannaraghava 240
Prashnika 241
Pratijnayaugandharayana 242
Pratimanataka 243
Pratinayaka 243
Pratishirsha 244
Preksha 245
Prekshagriha 247
Priyadarshika 248
Pulinda Dance 249
Puppet Theatre Tradition 249
Purana 252
Pururava-Urvashi Samvada 253
Purvaranga 256
Putul Nauch 257
Radha 257
Radhavipralambha 259
Rajashekhara 259
Ramabhyudayam 260
Ramanattam 260
Ramayana 261
Ramlila 263
Ranga 265
Rangadevata 266
Rangapuja 266
Rani Gumpha Amphitheatre 267
Rasasadana Bhana 269
Rasa Theory 269
Rasikavinoda 271
Raslila 271
Ras Lilagriha 275
Ras Mandal 276
Raso 276
Ratnavali 277
Ravan Chhaya 278
Ritu Vasanta 279
Rupa Goswami 280
Samavakara 281
Savadasukta 282
Sanskrit Drama 282
Saraswati 284
Satriya Dance 286
Saugandhikaharana 287
Shailalaka 287
Shailusha 288
Shalabhanjika 289
Shankha Parabhava 290
Shrikrishna-bhakti-chandrika 290
Shringarabhushan Bhana 291
Shringaratilak Bhana 291
Shudraka 292
Shyamilaka 293
Sitabenga Cave Theatre 294
Stage Craft 295
Stree Preksha 296
Suta 297
Sutradhara 298
Swapnavasavadatta 299
Swarupa 300
Tala Maddale 301
Tamasha 302
Terrukuttu 303
Teyyam 305
Theatre of the Ghosts 306
Theory of Imitation 307
Tholu Bommalatta 308
Time for Performance  
Togalu Gombe Atta 309
Tolpava Koothu 310
Tripuradaha 311
Ubhayabhisarika 312
Ullagharaghava 314
Unmattaraghava 314
Unmattaraghava 315
Urubhanga 315
Utsristikanka 317
Vana Jatra 318
Vararuchi 320
Vatasavitri Festival 320
Vatsaraja 321
Vatsyayana 322
Venisamhara 323
Very First Theatrical Spectacle 324
Vidagdhamadhav 324
Viddhashalabhanjika 325
Vidushaka 325
Vidyadhara 327
Vikramorvashiya 328
Villain 329
Vishakhadatta 330
Vishnu 331
Vita 332
Vithi 333
Vithi Bhagavatam 333
Vritti 334
Vyayoga 335
Works on Dramaturgy 336
Yajnaphala 337
Yaksha 337
Yakshagana 339
Yama-Yami Samvada 341
Yoginivalayanartanakeli 343
Yuktiprabodham 344
Select Bibliography 345


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