Natyasastra of Bharatamuni, considered as the fifth Veda, has remained a Sarnhita with a systematic presentation of conceptual frameworks, theories and practices of Indian theatre for a few millennium years. Every performing art of India (dance-drama) has drawn both theoretical and aesthetics values from Bharata and his Natuasasira, giving continuity to a legacy, as it was written to set models and standards for actors, artisans, and the playwrights. Natyasastra's discovery in the nineteenth century was a milestone in the world history of aesthetics and theatre. The subsequent researches made Bharata and his theatre a vibrant topic of global dialogue and researches. This has resulted in the discovery of different versions of the Natyasastra.
This volume discusses in detail the divergent views on Natyasastra - its origin, concepts, philosophy, history, vrtti, impact on traditional stages, relevance in modern age and stage, and its applicability in post-modern stage. It also vividly talks about the interlinks between Natyasastra and the regional theatre forms with specific focus on south India. It therefore reinstates the fact that the regional theatric traditions have considerably contributed to the restructuring of Natyasastra texts.
With deliberations on varied topics, this book proudly announces that Natyasastra is not just a text, but a tradition of theatre that has remained vibrant till today, reminiscent of Indian world- view. And this makes this volume a must-study for "who is who" in the theatric domain.
About the Author
Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi is one of the senior-most professors of Sanskrit in the country. He has served as Vice-Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Vice-Chancellor on additional charge at Shri Lal Bahadur Shasri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth and Vice-Chancellor in charge of Dr H.s. Gour University. He was visiting professor at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, for three years.
Widely acclaimed for his original contributions to the study of Natyasastra and Sahityasastra, Prof. Tripathi has published 159 books, 216 research papers and critical essays as well as translations of more than thirty Sanskrit plays and some classics from Sanskrit into Hindi. He has received thirty-three national and international awards and honours for his literary contributions. He has been referred in various research journals on Indology. Research for Ph.D. has been completed as well as is being carried on his creative writings in Sanskrit in a number of universities. Three journals brought out special numbers on his writings. Four books comprising studies on his creative and critical writings are also available.
THE 15th World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) was organized by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, in collaboration with the International Association of Sanskrit Studies (lASS) during 5-10 January 2012. The Conference was conducted through twenty sections including Veda; Linguistics; Epics and Puranas: Tantra and Agamas; Vyakarana: Poetry, Drama and Aesthetics; Sanskrit and Asian Languages and Literatures; Sanskrit and Science; Buddhist Studies; Jain Studies; Philosophies; Religious Studies; Ritual Studies; Epigraphy; Sanskrit in Technological World; Modem Sanskrit Literature; Law and Society; and Manuscriptology along with Panditaparisad and Kavisamavaya. Apart from these sections, the event was marked with some panels on specific themes, viz. Models and Theories in Sanskrit Grammar and Linguistics; Electronic Concordance of the Great Epics; Re-interpreting Panini: New Perspectives on Scientific Literature in Sanskrit; Boundaries of Yoga in Indian Philosophical Literature; Saiva Philosophy; Innovations in Sanskrit Pedagogy; Manuscripts and Their Intellectual Preservation; and Sanskrit in Global Perspectives, etc.
In the glorious history of this Conference encompassing more than four decades, a special panel on Natyasastra in Modem World (as far as my understanding goes) was added for the first time on the occasion of the 15th WSC with me as its convener.
Discussions were carried out under this panel on various issues related to texual studies in Naivasasira and the deliberations covered a wide range of topics uncovering the significance that the text has acquired in the present global scenario. The panel reviewed contemporary scenario with reference to sanskrit theatre in regional language of India and South-East Asia with reference to theconcept of regional theaters in Natyasastra; it also focused on the regional froms of theatre as defined in the post Natyasastra tradition. I am greatful to all the scholars who have enriched this panel by their presentations and also sent me the revised drafts to their papers promptly
I express my gratitude to IASS for having authorized the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan to bring out all the volumes of the proceedings of the 15th WSC. I hope that the publication of this volume will stimulate the studies on Natyasastra
BHARATAMUNl stands as a Vyasa in the Indian theatric universe and like Vyasa's Mahabharata, his Nafyasastra (NS) has remained with us as a samhiit: (compendium) with a systematic presentation of the conceptual frameworks as well as the theories and practices of theatre that had evolved during a few millenniums in India before common era (BCE). The concepts are rooted in Vedas but are also correlated to traditions of the Agamas as well as oral traditions. Natyasastra has remained an akaragraniha (an authentic source book) for the whole tradition of performing and literary arts that have continued in India till today. With a pluralistic approach that has been offering scope for multiple interpretations, Nafyasastra also initiated a process of interplay between theory and practice and correspondences between the diverse streams of Indian theatre. In this way, Nafyasastra continued to be rediscovered in every age.
The Discovery of the Natyasastra in Modern World
The discovery of Natyasastra during nineteenth century has been one of the most important events in the global history of aesthetics and theatre. Amongst the modem savants of oriental learning, Sir William Jones was the first scholar to have referred to Natyasastra in the preface of his edition of Abhijfianasakuntalam with English translation in 1789. Thereafter, H.H. Wilson in his Select Specimens afthe Theatre of Hindus (1826) regretted the loss of the manuscripts of Natyasastra. During the later half of the nineteenth century, Natyasastra attracted the attention of scholars in India and Europe and it was the beginning of a global dialogue on Bharata and his theatre. However it was Fitz Edward Hall who referred to the manuscripts of Natyasastra and also included some chapters from Natyasastra in his edition of Dasarupakam (1865). Around 1880, Paul Regnaud published critical editions of chapters XV and XVI, and then chapters VI and VII of Natyasastra with French translation. In 1888 Grosset published a critical edition of chapter XIV of Natyasastra, based on five manuscripts. The Kavyamala (KM) edition of Naivaeastra, prepared on the basis of two different copies of one manuscript came out in 1894. Grosset again published a critical edition of the first fourteen chapters of Natyasastra in 1898. The first volume of Natyasastra with Abhinavabharatf (Abh.), said to have been based on forty manuscripts, came out from Vadodara in 1926 under the Gaekwar Oriental Series (GaS) with Ramakrishna Kavi as its editor. Batuk Nath Sharma and Baldev Upadhyaya published another edition of Natyasastra under Kashi Sanskrit Series (KSS) in 1927. Other three volumes of Vadodara edition appeared in 1934, 1954 and 1964, respectively. Meanwhile another critical edition with English translation by M.M. Ghosh appeared from Calcutta. R.S. Nagar edited the text with Abhinavabharatf on the basis of the four printed editions from Delhi.
Recently, N.P. Unni has brought out a complete edition of Natyasastra with English translation and notes based on the Kerala edition by Narayan Pisharoti.
To sum up, the following editions in printed form of this text are noteworthy - (i) KM edition, (ii) KSS edition, (iii) GOS edition, (iv) Kolkata edition, (v) Delhi edition, and (vi) Kerala edition.
Besides these, R. Gnoli has done a monumental work by the way of textual studies on the rasa-portion of Abhinavabhdraii.
Ramaswami, K. Krishnamurthy, T.S. Nandi and Rajendra Nanavati have made attempts at re-editing Natyasastra as edited by Ramakrishna Kavi. Ramaswami utilized copies of two old manuscripts obtained from S.K. Belvelkar. He consulted as many as fifty manuscripts and also consulted the texts of Pundarika Vitthala, Sarngadeva, Haripaladeva, Somesvara and others for correcting the readings of chapter IV on katanas and angaharas.
The manuscripts of NatyaSilstra or their copies were acquisitioned from Almora, Andhra, Bengal, Darbhanga, Madras, Nepal, Pune, Tamil Nadu, Trivandrum, and Ujjain. The database of the manuscripts of Nafyasastra as given by Kapila Vatsyayan as an appendix to her monograph on Bharata's Natyasastra lists 112 manuscripts. Not all of them have been properly utilized by the learned editors of different extant editions of Bharata's text. One important manuscript, still to be unearthed and utilized, is in Rajasthan. Credit goes to Kamlesh Datta Tripathi for having acquired seven new manuscripts of Natyasastra from Nepal in Bhojimol, Newan and Devanagan scripts. They belong to the period from thirteenth to nineteenth century CEo Ramakrishna Kavi and K. Krisnamurthi have already utilized a manuscript from Nepal in the GOS edition of Natyasastra volume IV. Anvita Sharma in her paper in the present volume has tried to examine the significance of the readings in old Newan manuscripts of Natyasastra. It is clear from the deliberations of various scholars on this issue that the textual riddles of Natyasastra including the text of Abhinavabharati require further investigations.
Natyasastra and the Modem Stage
Parallel to the onslaught of European realistic theatre in India and the emergence of Parsi theatre following it, Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal and Bharatendu Harishchandra at Kasl made pioneer attempts at recreating, regenerating and resuscitating the spirit of Indian theatre and in doing so, they revived interest in Natyasastra and established the immense potential of its system for building up a national theatre. They were followed by a number of scholars and theatre experts. As a result, some institutions like the National School of Drama at Delhi, the Kalidasa Akademi at Ujjain and Kerala Kala Mandalam could take initiatives at rediscovering Bharata in our times.
This led to a discourse on the question of continuity and change in traditional Indian forms of theatre. Kapila Vatsyayan as well as many other authors have done considerable work on interlinks between Natyasastra and the regional forms of theatre.
In the tradition of Natyasastra, the regional forms of dance and drama are classified as nrttaprabandhae, nrtyas, desirupakas, gevarupakas, anvarupakas. samktrnarupakas and uparupakas. Certain key concepts and stylizations, borrowed directly or indirectly from Natyasastra, are universally accepted in almost all the regional theatres of India. These include the preliminaries or puroaranga, rasa-oriented aesthetics, the non-linear concept of time and space, and a number of theatrical conventions like kak$yavibhaga and bhumikmnkalpa.
Later authors of Natyasastra tradition like Dhanika-Dhanaftjaya, Ramacandra-Cunacandra, Hemacandra, Sarngadeva, Saradatanaya, Sagaranandin. [ayasenapati, Sornesvara, Sudhakalasa, Amrtanandayogin, Visvanatha, Kumbha, Pundarika Vitthala, Subhankara, Raghunatha, Vipradasa and others record the growth of regional forms of theatre.
Despite the apparent discontinuity of the Natyasastra traditions in the medieval period, the legacy of Bharata thrived in textual tradition through the enormous contributions of these authorss.
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