Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Famous work related to dances”
1) Natya Shastra talks at length of “natya”, which provides the basic source of information on the intricacies of Indian theatre. Discuss and also explain the rasa theory in Natyashastra? (250 words)
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to bring out the kind of information we get from Natyashastra about the intricacies of Indian theatre, how Natyashastra sets the rule of theatre and the various aspects of theatre covered in Natyashastra. Thereafter, we need to explain the rasa theory in Natyashastra.
Discuss – Here, your discussion should focus on bringing the different elements of theatre talked about in Natyashastra and explain the rasa theory.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Briefly explain about Natyashastra. The Natyashashtra of Bharat is an ancient treatise on theatre, dance and music. It was written during the period between 200 BC to 200 AD. It covers stage design, music, dance, makeup, and other aspects of theatre. It is called the foundation of the fine arts in India. It was based upon Gandhravaveda. Mention that The Natya Shastra talks at length of “natya”, a derivation from the word “nat”, meaning to dance or to act.
- Explain how Natyashastra gives us information on intricacies of Indian theatre – The mythic origin of dramatic art, the construction of playhouses, the detailed preliminaries, the treatment of “rasa” and “bhava”, the different types of abhinaya-aharya (costume and make-up), vachika (verbal), angika (gestures and dance movements) and sattvika (indicating mental reactions) — dances, footsteps, songs, modes of address, classification of the story (itivritta) which form the body of the theatre. Explain that the treatise is so detailed that even the role of audiences is explained in Natyashastra.
- Explain the rasa theory in Natyashastra – The fountainhead of the rasa theory is Bharata’s Natyashastra. Rasa or essence refers to the dominant emotional theme of a performing art which is invoked in the audience. The Rasa Theory says that Rasa arises from a (proper) combination of the vibhavas (the stimulants), the anubhavas (the physical consequents) and the vyabhicharibhavas (the transient emotional states)”. The Natyashashtra describes the eight Rasas which are to be mentioned. Explain that Abhinavgupta, who is known for have written the best commentary on Natyashashtra called Abhinavabhāratī, had proposed a ninth Rasa called Śāntam which together with eight rasas in Natyashastra forms the Navras.
Conclusion – Mention that Indian drama from the earliest times was shaped by Bharata’s Natya Shastra. Not only were its rules strictly followed by eminent classical dramatists whose plays were performed in temples and palaces, but were also obeyed to the core in the common man’s theatre. The work remained a source book for scholars and writers of drama and inspired several other treatises.