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Bharata (Natya Shastra)

Unveiling the Artistic Splendor and Philosophical Depth of Indian Classical Arts

Also Called Natyashastra also as the Natyaveda


Bharata, also known as the Natya Shastra, is a remarkable Mahakavya attributed to the ancient sage Bharata Muni. It stands as a comprehensive treatise on the performing arts, encompassing drama, dance, music, and aesthetics. This seminal work not only lays the foundation for Indian classical arts but also provides profound insights into the artistic and philosophical aspects of human expression. This article explores the origins, key themes, and enduring significance of the Natya Shastra, shedding light on its profound impact on the world of performing arts and cultural heritage.


The Natya Shastra, commonly referred to as Bharata, is a masterpiece of ancient Indian literature and a revered text in the realm of performing arts. Attributed to the sage Bharata Muni, this Mahakavya is an extensive treatise that serves as a guide to the creation and presentation of various art forms, including drama, dance, music, and aesthetics. Composed in the form of a dialogue between Bharata and the celestial being Brahma, the Natya Shastra delves deep into the principles, techniques, and philosophy of artistic expression, enriching the cultural heritage of India.

Origins and Context:

The Natya Shastra is believed to have been composed around the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE, during the early centuries of the Common Era. The ancient tradition attributes its creation to Bharata Muni, who is considered one of the pioneers in the field of performing arts. The genesis of the Natya Shastra can be traced back to the larger context of Indian cultural and spiritual evolution.

During the Vedic period, artistic expressions were an integral part of rituals and religious ceremonies. The Natya Shastra emerged as a formal and structured system to govern the arts, combining elements from the Vedic tradition, classical dance forms, and music. It provided guidelines for practitioners to communicate stories, emotions, and philosophical concepts through the medium of performance.

Key Themes and Teachings:

Rasa and Bhava:

The Natya Shastra emphasizes the concept of “Rasa,” referring to the emotional experience or sentiment conveyed to the audience. It identifies nine primary Rasas, such as love, anger, joy, and fear, which are evoked through “Bhavas,” the expressive emotions portrayed by the performers. The harmonious combination of Rasa and Bhava is regarded as the pinnacle of artistic achievement.

Nava Rasas:

Along with the nine Rasas, the Natya Shastra introduces the concept of Nava Rasas (nine emotions). The performance of each Rasa is an intricate interplay of facial expressions, hand gestures (mudras), body movements, and musical accompaniment. The Nava Rasas constitute the fundamental elements of artistic expression in Indian classical arts.

Natya and Abhinaya:

The Natya Shastra classifies dramatic representation (Natya) into four types – Angika (physical expression), Vachika (verbal expression), Aharya (costume and makeup), and Sattvika (emotional expression). The art of “Abhinaya” refers to the act of conveying emotions through bodily movements, facial expressions, and gestures.

Nritta and Nritya:

The text distinguishes between Nritta (pure dance) and Nritya (expressive dance). Nritta involves rhythmic and abstract movements, while Nritya integrates storytelling and emotive elements. Bharata Muni’s classification laid the groundwork for the evolution of classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, and others.

Aesthetics and Architecture:

The Natya Shastra also touches upon aesthetic aspects, such as stage design, costume, makeup, and use of props. It outlines the ideal proportions and dimensions for a stage (Rangamandapa) and discusses the roles of actors, musicians, and directors in a performance.

Enduring Significance:

The Natya Shastra’s enduring significance lies in its profound impact on Indian classical arts, culture, and aesthetics. Its principles and techniques have been preserved and passed down through generations of artists, gurus, and schools of performing arts. Even today, practitioners and scholars refer to the Natya Shastra as a foundational text in their artistic pursuits.

The Natya Shastra’s teachings transcend time and cultural boundaries, providing universal insights into the art of storytelling and emotive communication. Its influence extends beyond traditional Indian classical arts, inspiring contemporary dance, theater, and music forms globally.


Bharata, known as the Natya Shastra, is a true testament to the richness and depth of India’s cultural heritage. Composed by the sage Bharata Muni, this Mahakavya serves as a timeless guide to the performing arts, encompassing drama, dance, music, and aesthetics. The Natya Shastra’s exploration of Rasa, Bhava, Nava Rasas, and Abhinaya continues to inspire artists and audiences, resonating with the human experience of emotions and stories.

Through its enduring significance, the Natya Shastra has become a bridge between the ancient past and the contemporary world, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indian classical arts and the profound philosophical insights embedded within them. This timeless epic stands as a living testament to the transformative power of artistic expression, transcending time and cultural boundaries to inspire and enrich the human spirit.

Editor – Kaalchakra Team

[ Note – Before Concluding anything as a Finale, Please Go through Original Scriptures of Vaidik Literature Written in Sanskrit and Also with Meaning of That time of Language. Because English is a Limited language to Explaining the Deeper Knowledge of Vaidik Kaal. ]