Natyashastra (English)

by Bharata-muni | 1951 | 240,273 words | ISBN-13: 9789385005831

The English translation of the Natyashastra, a Sanskrit work on drama, performing arts, theater, dance, music and various other topics. The word natyashastra also refers to a global category of literature encompassing this ancient Indian tradition of dramatic performance. The authorship of this work dates back to as far as at least the 1st millenn...

Chapter III - Pūjā to the Gods of the Stage (raṅgapūjā)

Consecration of the playhouse

1-8. In the auspicious playhouse constructed with all the characteristics [mentioned above] cows, and Brahmins muttering [proper Mantras] should be made to dwell for a week. Then the master of the dramatic art who has been initiated [for the purpose] and has put on new cloths, fasted for three days, lived away from his bed-room (lit. the dwelling house), has kept his senses under control and has [thus] become purified, will besprinkle his limbs with water over which purificatory Mantras have been muttered, and consecrate the playhouse. This [consecration] should take place after he has made obeisance to the great god Śiva, the lord of all the regions, Brahmā who sprung from the lotus, Bṛhaspati, the preceptor of gods, Viṣṇu, Guha (Kārtikeya), Sarasvatī, Lakṣmī, Siddhi, Medhā, Smṛti, Mati, Candra (Moon), Sūrya (Sun), Winds, Guardians of all directions, Aśvins, Mitra, Agni, and other gods, such as Rudra, Varṇas[1], Kāla[2], Kali[3], Yama, Niyati, the Sceptre of Yama[4], Weapons of Viṣṇu[5], the Lord of the Nāgas (Serpents), the Lord or the birds (Garuḍa), Thunderbolt, Lightning, Seas, Gandharvas, Apsarasas, Sages, Nāṭya-maids[6], Mahāgrāmaṇī (the great leader of Gaṇas)[7], Yakṣas, Guhyakas[8] and the hosts of Bhūtas.

Having made obeisance to these, and other divine sages (devarṣi), he should with folded palms invoke all the gods to their respective positions, and say, “Ye, holy ones, should take us under your protection during the night, and ye with your followers should offer us assistance in this dramatic performance.”

Offering Pūjā to the Jarjara

11-13. Having worshipped [thus] all the gods as well as all the musical instruments (kutapa)[9] he should offer Pūjā to the Jarjara[10] for attaining good success at the performance [and pray to it as follows]. “Thou art Indra’s weapon killing all the demons; thou hast been fashioned by all the gods, and thou art capable of destroying all the obstacles; bring victory to the king and defeat to his enemies, welfare to cows and Brahmins, and progress to dramatic undertakings”.

14-15. After proceeding thus according to rules and staying in the phayhouse for the night, he (the master of the dramatic art) should begin Pūjā as soon as it is morning. This Pūjā connected with the stage should take place under the asterism Ārdrā (Alpha-Orionis) or Maghā (Regulus) or Yāmyā (Musca) or Pūrvaphalgunī (Delta-Leonis) or Pūrvāṣāḍhā (‘Delta-Sagittarii) or Pūrvabhādrapadā (Alpha-Pegasi) or Aśleṣā (Hydrae) or Mūlā (Lambda-Scorpionis).

16. The stage should be illuminated and the Pūjā of the gods in its connexion should be performed by the master of the dramatic art (ācārya) after he has purified his body, concentrated his mind [to these acts] and initiated himself [to the Pūjā].

Installation of the gods

17. During the concluding moments of the day, which are considered to be hard and full of evils, and are presided over by Bhūtas, one should perform Ācamana[11] and cause the gods to be installed.

18-20. [Along with these gods] should be [taken] red thread-bangle (pratisarā)[12], the best kind of red sandal, red flowers and red fruits. [With these and] articles such as barley, white mustard, sunned rice, Nāgapuṣpa[13] powder and husked saffron (priyaṅgu)[14], the gods should be installed.

The Maṇḍala for installing the gods

20. In this ceremony one should draw in proper place a Maṇḍala according to the manner prescribed.

21. This maṇḍala should be sixteen Tālas (hasta)[15] square and it should have doors on all its four sides,

22. In its middle should be drawn two lines vertically and horizontally (i.e parallel to the sides), and in the apartments made by these lines, should be installed the different gods.

23-30. In the middle of this (maṇḍala), should be put Brahmā who has lotus as his seat[16]. Then one should first of all put in the east Śiva with his host of Bhūtas, Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu), Indra, Skanda (Kārtikeya), Sūrya, Aśvins, Candra, Sarasvatī, Lakṣmī, Śraddhā and Medhā, in the south-east Agni, Svāhā, Viśvedevas, Gandharvas, Rudras and Ṛṣis, in the south Yama, Mitra with his followers, Pitṛs, Piśācas, Uragas and Guhyakas, in the south-west the Rākṣasas and all the Bhūtas, in the west the Seas and Varuṇa, in the north-west the Seven Winds[17] and Garuḍa with other birds, in the north Kuvera (Kubera), Mothers of the Nāṭya, Yakṣas with their followers, in the north-east leaders of Gaṇas such as Nandī, Brahmarṣis and the host of Bhūtas in their proper places.

31. And [in the eastern] pillar should be placed Sanatkumāra[18], in the southern one Dakṣa[19], in the northern one Grāmaṇī (lit. leader of Gaṇas)[20] and in the western one Skanda (Kārtikeya).

32. According to this rule all the gods in their [proper] form and colour should be placed in their respective positions.

Offering Pūjā to the gods

33. After they have been installed with regular ceremony in suitable places they should be worshipped in a fitting manner.

34. Gods [in general] should be given white[21] garlands and unguents, while Gandharvas, Agni and Sūrya should be given garlands and unguents of red[22] colour,

35. After being treated [thus] in due order and manner, they should be worshipped according to rules with suitable offerings.

36-39. [Offerings suitable to different gods and goddesses are as follows]: Brahmā Madhuparka,[23] Sarasvatī, Pāyasa,[24] gods like Śiva, Viṣṇu, and Indra sweetmeats, Agni rice cooked with ghee, Candra and Sūrya rice cooked with molasses. Viśvedevas, Gandharvas and sages honey and Pāyasa, Yama and Mitra cakes and sweetmeats, Pitṛs, Piśācas and Uragas ghee and milk, host of Bhūtas raw and cooked meat, wines of different kinds and grams covered with thick milk.

Consecration of the Mattavāraṇī

40-44 Similar shall be the rules regarding the Pūjā in connexion with the Mattavāraṇī. [Offerings to be made to gods and demigods are as follows]:[25] Rākṣasas raw and cooked meat, Dānavas wine and meat, the remaining gods cake and Utkarikā[26] and boiled rice, gods of seas and rivers fish and cakes, Varuṇa ghee and Pāyasa, Sages various roots and fruits, the wind god and birds different edible stuff (lit. bhakṣya and bhojya), Mothers[27] of the Nāṭya, and Dhanada (Kuvera (Kubera)) with his followers eatables including cakes, and Locitās.[28]

45. These different kinds of foodstuff should be offered to them and the Mantras to be uttered at the time of making offering to different gods will be as follows:—

46. (The Mantra for Brahmā), O the god of gods, the most lordly one, the lotus-born one, the grand-father [of the worlds] accept this my offering consecrated by the Mantra.

47. (For Śiva) O the god of gods, the great god, the lord of Gaṇas[29] and the killer of Tripura, accept this my etc.

48. (For Viṣṇu), O Nārāyaṇa, Padmanābha, the best of the gods, with unrestrained movement, accept this my etc.

49. (For Indra), O Purandara, the lord of gods, the thunder-bearer, the maker of the hundred exploits, accept this my etc.

50. (For Skanda), O Skanda the leader of the celestial army, the blessed one, the dear son of Śiva, O the six-mouthed one, accept this my etc.

51. (For Sarasvatī) O the goddess of the gods, the very blessed one, the dear wife of Hari, accept this my etc.

52. (For goddesses Lakṣmī, Siddhi, Mati, Medhā) O Lakṣmī, Siddhi, Mati and Medhā, ye who are honoured by all the worlds, accept this my etc.

53. (For Māruta) O Māruta, you who know the might of all the creatures and are the life of all the world, accept this my etc.

54. (For Rākṣasas) O the great Rākṣasas, the great-souled ones, the sons of Pulastya, born of different causes, accept this my etc.

55. (For Agni) O Agni, the mouth of the gods, the best of the gods, the smoke-bannered one, the eater of things offered in sacrifice, accept this my offering given with love.

56. (For Candra) O Soma, the lord of all the planets, the king of the twice-born ones, the favourite of the world, accept this my etc.

57. (For Sūrya) O the maker of day, the mass of heat, the best among the planets, accept this my etc.

58. (For lords of Gaṇas such as, Nandīśvara) O the great lord of Gaṇas, among whom Nandīśvara is the foremost, accept this my etc.

59. (For Pitṛs) I bow to all the Pitṛs, do ye accept my offering. (For Bhūtas) I always bow to all the Bhūtas who may have a liking for offerings.

60a. (For Kāmapāla) O Kāmapāla, I always bow to thee to whom this offering is made.

60-61. (For Gandharvas) O Gandharvas, amongst whom Nārada, Tumburu and Viśvāvasu[30] are the foremost, accept this my best offering.

61-62. (For Yama and Mitra) O Yama and Mitra, the gods who are adored by all the worlds, accept this my etc.

62-63. (For Nāgas) I bow to all the Pannagas in the nether region, who are devourers of wind, give me success in dramatic production after I have worshipped you.

63- 64 (For Varuṇa) O Varuṇa, you who is the lord of all waters and has the swan as your mount, be pleased along with the seas and rivers, after I have worshipped you all.

64- 65. (For Garuḍa) O the son of Vinatā, the high-souled one, the lord, the king of all the birds, accept this my etc.

64-66. (For Kuvera (Kubera)) O the superintendent of [all] wealth, the king of Yakṣas, the guardian of the world, the lord of riches, ye along with Guhyakas and Yakṣas accept this my etc.

66- 67. (For mothers of the Nāṭya) O mothers of the Nāṭya such as Brāhmī and others, ye be happy and pleased to accept my offering.

67- 68. (For others) O weapons of Rudra, ye accept my offerings. O weapons of Viṣṇu, ye too accept [things given by me] out of devotion for Viṣṇu.

68-69. O Yama, the Fate, the dispenser of death to all creatures and the end of all actions, accept my offerings.

69-70. Ye other gods who are occupying the Mattavāraṇī, accept this my etc.

70-71. To all other gods and Gandharvas too, who occupy the heavens, the earth, the middle region and the ten directions, these offerings are made (lit. let these be accepted by them).

71-72. Then an [earthen] jar[31] full of water with a garland of leaves in its front, should be placed in the middle of the stage, and a piece of gold should be put into it.

72-73. All the musical instruments covered with cloth should be worshipped with [sweet] scent, flowers, garlands, incense and various eatables hard and soft.[32]

Consecration of the Jarjara

73-74. Having worshipped all the gods in due order, and offering Pūjā to the Jarjara [in the following manner] one should have the obstacles removed.

74-76. [One should fasten a piece of] white cloth at the top [of the Jarjara], blue cloth at the Rudra joint, yellow cloth at the Viṣṇu joint, red cloth at the Skanda joint, and variegated cloth at the lowest joint.[33] And garlands, incense and unguents are to be offered to it (the Jarjara) in a fitting manner.

76-77. Having observed all these rites with incense, garlands and unguents one should consecrate the Jarjara with the following Mantra:

77-78. “For putting off obstacles thou hast been made very strong, and as hard as adament, by gods such as Brahmā.

78-79. Let Brahmā with all other gods protect thy topmost part, Hara (Śiva) the second part, Janārdana (Viṣṇu) the third part, Kumāra (Kārtikeya) the fourth part, and the great Pannagas the fifth part.

80-81. Let all the gods protect thee, and be thou blessed. Thou, the killer of foes, hast been born under Abhijit (Vega), the best of the asterisms. Bring victory and prosperity to the king!”

Homa or pouring ghee into sacrificial fire

81-82. After the Jarjara has thus been worshipped and all offerings have been made to it, one should with appropriate Mantras perform Homa and pour (ghee) into the sacrificial fire.

82-83. After finishing the Homa he should with torches lighted [in the place of sacrifice] do the cleaning work which is to enhance the brilliance of the king as well as of the female dancers.

83-84. After having illumined the king and the dancers together with the musical instruments one should sprinkle them again with water sanctified by the Mantra, and say to them:

84-85. “You are??? in noble families and adorned with multitudes of qualities, let whatever you have acquired by virtue of birth, be perpetually yours.”

85-86. After saying these words for the happiness of the king, the wise man should utter the Benediction for the success of the dramatic production.

86- 87. [The Benediction]: Let mothers such as Sarasvatī, Dhṛti, Medhā, Hrī, Śrī, Lakṣmī, and Smṛti[34] protect you and give you success.

Breaking the Jar

87-88. Then after performing Homa according to rules with ghee and the proper Mantra, the master of dramatic art should carefully break the jar.

88-89. In case the jar remains unbroken the king (lit. the master) will have a cause of fear from enemies; but when it is broken his enemies will meet with their destruction.

Illumination of the stage

89-90. After the breaking of the jar, the master of the dramatic art should illuminate the auditorium with a lighted lamp.

90-91. Noisily, that is, with roaring, snapping of fingers, jumping and running about, he should cover the auditorium with that lighted lamp [in his hand].

91-92. Then a fight[35] should be caused to be made [on the stage] in accompaniment with the sound of all the musical instruments such as conch-shell, Dundubhi, Mṛdaṅga and Paṇava.

92-93. If the bleeding wounds [resulting from the fight] will be bright and wide, that will be a [good] omen indicating success.

Good results of consecrating the stage

93-94. If the stage is properly consecrated it will bring good luck to the king (lit the master) and to people, young and old, of the city as well as of the country.

94-95. But when the auditorium is not consecrated in proper manner it will be indifferently held by gods, and there will be an end of the dramatic spectacle, and it will likewise bring evil to the king.

95-96. He who willfully transgresses these rules [of consecration of the stage] and practises [the dramatic art], will soon sustain loss and will be reborn as an animal of lower order.

96-97. Offering worship to the gods of the stage is as meritorious as a [Vedic] sacrifice. No dramatic performance should be made without first worshipping the deities presiding over the stage. When worshipped, they (these gods) will bring you worship, and honoured they will bring you honour. Hence one should by all efforts offer Pūjā to the gods of the stage.

Evils following non-consecration of the stage

98-99. Never will fire fanned by violent wind burn things so quickly, as defective rites will burn quickly [the master of the dramatic art].

99-100. So the stage should be worshipped by the master of the dramatic art who is purified, disciplined and proficient in the rules of the art and initiated into the practice of it and has quiet of mind.

100-101. He who with an agitated mind places his offering in a wrong place, is liable to expiation like one who pours ghee into the sacrificial fire without proper Mantras. This is the procedure prescribed for worshipping the gods of the stage. It should be followed by producers [of plays] in holding a theatrical show in a newly built playhouse.

Here ends Chapter III of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of Pūjā to the gods of the stage.

Footnotes and references:


varṇas—No gods called varṇas are to be met with in any other work. They may be taken as deities ruling specially over the four varṇas of people.


Kāla—There are several legendary heroes (gods, sages and Astras) of this name; see Vidyalankar, JK. sub voce.


Kali—There are many legendary heroes of this name, see JK. sub voce.


Sec note 5 below.


Weapons of Viṣṇu appear as deities in the Act, 1 of Bhāsa’s Bāla.


nāṭyakumārī—Such goddesses are possibly mentioned nowhere else.


mahāgrāmāṇī—The great leader of Gaṇas. It is very difficult to accept Ag’s identification of mahāgrāmaṇī with Gaṇapati (mahāgrāmaṇir gaṇapatiḥ). For īn 58 below occurs the term mahāgaṇêsvara (in the plural number) indicating the different leaders of Gaṇas who followed Śiva. One of such leaders has been mentioned there as Nandīśvara (Nandin). Besides this the term Ganeśa (the leader of Gaṇas) has also been applied to Śiva in 47 below. In describing piṇḍībandhas the piṇḍī of Gaṇeśvara has been named as daskṣayajña-vimardinī (IV.260). This too shows that the words gaṇeśvara, grāmaṇī or mahāgrāmaṇī meant simply the leader, one of the leaders or the great leader of Gaṇas. The fully developed Gaṇapati seems to be non-existent at the time when the NŚ. was composed. Our. suspicion in the matter seems to be corroborated by the variant tathā grāmādhi-devatā recorded in the ms ṭha of B. for mahāgrāmaṇyaṃ. Gaṇapati seems to be a late entrant into the Hindu pantheon. He is not mentioned in any one of the old Purāṇas. Only the Varāha, Vāmana, Garuḍa and Brahma-vaivarta P. which are late, know the deity (Winternitz, Vol. I. pp. 566-568, 573, Vidyalankar, JK. sub voce). Yājñavalkya mentions Gaṇesa (Hindu Law and Custom, pp..42-44).


Kālidāsa makes no distinction between Yakṣa and Guhyaka, See Meghadūta, 1 and 5.


See below 72-73 note 3. The reading saṃprayujya in all editions and mss. seems to be wrong, It should be emended as saṃprapūjya.


See 73-81 below.


ācamana—ceremonial rinsing of the mouth by sipping water from the palm of the hand.


pratisarāsūtra-vinirmita-granthi-mantaḥ kaṅkaṇaviśeṣaḥ, Ag. (i. p. 74).


nāgapuṣpa =the campaka tree (Apte), but Ag. says nāgapuṣpaṃ nāgadantaḥ.


priyaṅgu =saffron, and not the fruit of the priyaṅgu creeper.


hasta in this passage is to be interpreted as hasta-tala or tāla i.e., the interval between the tips of the thumb and the middle-finger stretched in opposite directions. SR. VII. 1046, Otherwise it will be impossible to accomodate the maṇḍala on the stage which is eight cubits wide (See II. 33-35). The ancient commentators like Śaṅkuka and others pointed out how absurd it would be to take hasta in the passage in the sense of cubit. (see Ag. I. p. 75).


According to Ag. a lotus is to be described in the centre of maṇḍala.


For the seven winds see the Vāmana P, (see Vidyalankar, JK. sub voce).


Sanatkumāra—ane of the great ṛṣis, and a son of Brahmā.


Dakṣa—one of the lords of the creation (prajāpati), son of Pracetas. There were other Dakṣas besides. See Vidyalankar, JK, sub voce.


See above 1-8 note 7.


See above 1-8 note 7. ‘White’ here seems to be the symbol of purity and good grace.


‘Red’ here seems to be the symbol of energy.


madhuparka—see above II, 41-42. note 3.


pāyasa—see above II. 41-42 note.


See above.


utkarikā =a kind of sweetmeat.


These goddesses (nāṭyamatṛkās) seem to have been ignored by the Purānas.


locitā—This word seems to be connected with the NIA locī, luei.


It should be marked here that Śiva has been called Gaṇeśvara, a term applied in later times to Gaṇapati only.


Three ancient masters of music.


For the significance of this jar see below 87-89.


This passage with some minor variation has been repeated in B. and G. But this is out of place there. For the order in which musical instruments (kutapa) and the Jarjara should be worshipped see 11-13 above.


For identifying the joints see 78-79 below.


These are the seven Nāṭya-mātṛkās. See 23-30 above.


The significance of this fight is not clear.

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