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 V - Preliminaries of a Play (pūrvaraṅga)

The Sages question.

1-4. On hearing the words of Bharata who continued the topic of drama, the sages were pleased in mind and said, “We have heard from you about the origin of drama[1] and the Jarjara[2] as well as [the means of] stopping obstacles,[3] and the worship of gods.[4] Having grasped the meaning we would like to know in detail (lit. exhaustively), O the very splendid one, about the Preliminaries with all their characteristics; it behoves you, O Brahmin, to explain [everything] for our understanding [the same properly].”

Bharata answers.

5-6. Hearing these words of the sages, Bharata spoke thus about the rules of the Preliminaries: “O the blessed ones, listen to me. I am speaking about the Preliminaries as well as of the Pādabhāga,[5] the Kalās[6] and the Walking-round[7] [which relate to them].

Preliminaries defined

7. As it is first performed at the beginning (pūrvam) in the stage (raṅga) it is called the (pūrvaraṅga)[8]

Parts of the Preliminaries

8-11. Its different parts are to be performed in due order with the playing of drums and stringed instruments as well as with Recitatives (pāṭhya). Pratyāhāra,[9] Avataraṇa[10], Ārambha[11], Āśrāvaṇā[12], Vaktrapāṇi[13], Parighaṭṭanā[14], Ṣaṃghoṭanā[15], Mārgāsārita[16], and Āsārita[17] of the long, the medium and the short types, are the songs outside the performance of a play to be sung by persons behind the curtain[18] to the accompaniment of drums and stringed instruments.

12-15. Then after removing the curtain[19], dances and recitals[20] are to be performed with the playing of all musical instruments, and some song of the Madraka[21] class is to be sung, or one of the Vardhamānaka[22] class along with the Class Dance [suitable to it] should be applied. Then should take place [one after another] during the Preliminaries the following:—Utthāpana[23], Walking round[24], Benediction[25], Suṣkāpakṛṣṭā[26], Raṅgadvāra[27], Cārī[28], Mahācārī[29], Three Men’s Talk[30] and Laudation[31].

16.[32] I shall now explain in due order the characteristics of all these which are to be included in the ceremony of the Preliminaries.


17. Arranging of the musical instruments (kutapa) is called the Pratyahāra*.


The seating of singers is called the Avataraṇa (lit. coming down)*.


18. The commencement of vocal exercise for singing (parigīta) is called the Ārambha (lit. banning).[33]


Adjusting the musical instruments for playing them in due manner is called the Āśrāvaṇā.[34]


19. Rehearsing (lit. dividing) the different styles (vṛtti) of playing musical instruments is called the Vaktrāpāṇi.[35]


The strings of instruments are adjusted duly during the Parighaṭṭaṇā.[36]


20. The Saṃghoṭanā[37] is meant for rehearsing the use of different hand-poses [for indicating the time-beat.]


The playing together [in harmony with one another] of drums and stringed instruments is called the Mārgāsārita.[38]


21. The Āsārita is meant for practising the division of kalās (kalābhāga).[39]

Application of songs

And the Application of songs (gītavidbi)[40] is for singing the glory of gods.


22-23. I shall now speak about the Utthāpana (lit. raising) ceremony which is so styled because from this, the reciters of the Benediction start (lit. raise) first of all in the stage the performance [of the play]. Hence the Utthāpana is considered by some to be the beginning [of the performance].


23-24. The Walking-round (parivartana)[41] is so styled because in it, the guardian deities of different worlds are praised [by the Director] walking all over [the stage].


24-25. The Benediction[42] is so called because it must always include [and invoke] the blessing of gods, Brahmins and kings.

Śuṣkāvakṛṣṭā Dhruvā

25- 26. When an Avakṛṣṭā Dhruvā is composed with meaningless sounds it is called Śuṣkāvakṛṣṭā.[43] It indicates verses for the Jarjara.[44]


26- 27. The Raṅgadvāra is so called, because from this part commences the performance which includes Words and Gestures.

Cārī and Mahācārī

27-28. The Cārī is so called because it consists of movements depicting the Erotic Sentiment, and in the Mahācārī occur movements delineating the Furious Sentiment.

Three Men’s Talk

28-29. The conversation of the Director (sūtradhāra), the Assistant (pāripārśvaka) and the Jester[45] is called the Three Men’s Talk (trigata).


29-30.[46] An appeal with a view to success which is made [by the Director] after suggesting the action (kārya) of the play in hand with [proper] reasoning and arguments is called the Laudation (prarocanā).

Origin of the Bahirgīta and its justification

30-31. I shall now describe in detail the Āśrāvaṇā which is included in the Bahirgīta and shall speak of its origin as well as its justification.

31-32. Now when songs in seven forms[47] and in Citra[48] and Dakṣiṇa[49] Mārgas together with the Upohana[50] and the Nirgīta[51] were started by musical experts like Nārada in praise of gods, all the gods and the Dānavas, in the assembly were made to hear the Nirgīta[52] performed with proper tempo and time-beat.[53]

Daityas and Rākṣasas provoked to jealousy

33-34. Now on hearing these happy songs praising the gods, the Daityas and the Rākṣasas were all provoked to jealousy.

34-36. Under these circumstances they pondered [over the matter] and said to one another: “We are glad to hear (lit. accept) this Nirgīta in accompaniment of the instrumental music; and the gods were pleased to hear the songs in seven forms[54] about their exploits. [But] we shall hear the Nirgīta only and shall always be pleased with it. Then these Daityas [and Rākṣasas] pleased with the Nirgīta urged for its repeated performance.”

Gods approach Nārada to stop the Nirgīta.

37-38. This enraged the gods who said to Nārada, “These Dānavas and Rākṣasas are pleased with the Nirgīta only [and do not want anything else i.e. songs]. Hence we wish this performance [of the Nirgīta] to come to an end. What do you think of this?”

Nārada pacifies the gods.

38-41. Hearing these words of the gods Nārada replied, “Let the Nirgīta dependent on the music of stringed instruments be not stopped, and this (nirgīta) combined with the Upohana and accompanied by the music of stringed instruments will have seven forms. Enraptured (lit. bound down) by this Nirgīta the Daityas and the Rākṣasas will not be provoked, and they will not create any obstruction [of the performance].

41-42. This is called the Nirgīta to satisfy the vanity of the Daityas while in honour of the gods it is called the Bahirgīta.

42-44. This is to be played by experts in the Citravīṇā[55] with Dhātus[56] containing light and heavy strokes (akṣara) and Varṇas[57] and Alaṃkāras[58]. It is called the Nirgīta because in it there is sung a combination of sounds carrying no sense, and to satisfy the vanity of the gods it is called the Bahirgīta”,

Gods are pleased with the Nirgīta (Bahirgīta).

44-45. The reason behind the Nirgīta in its seven forms as well as the Utthāpana and the like, will now be given.

45-54. The Pratyāhāra pleases the Rākṣasas (Yātudhāna) and the Pannagas, while the Apsarasas are delighted with the Avataraṇa. The Gandharvas are pleased when the Ārambha is performed, and in the performance of the Aśrāvaṇā the Daityas take delight. The Vaktrapāṇi pleases the Dānavas and in the Parighaṭṭanā the hosts of Rākṣasas are [again] pleased. By the Saṃghoṭanā Guhyakas are satisfied, while the Mārgāsārita pleases the Yakṣas. When songs (gītaka) are sung the gods enjoy them, and Rudra with his followers is pleased by the performance of the Vardhamāna. Similarly in the performance of the Walking-round (parivartana) Lokapālas (the guardians of the worlds) are delighted, and the Moon-god is pleased with the Benediction. During the singing of the Avakṛṣṭā (Dhruvā) Nāgas are pleased, while Śuṣkāvakṛṣṭā (Dhruvā) pleases the host of Pitṛs (ancestors). In the Raṅgadvāra Viṣṇu is pleased, while the Jarjara ceremony pleases the leaders of Vighnas. On the Cārī being performed Umā takes pleasure while in the performance of Mahācārī the Bhūtas arc delighted.

55. So much about worshipping the deities in different parts of the Preliminaries beginning with the Pratyāhāra and ending in the [Mahā] cārī.

56. O the best of Brahmins, in course of describing the different parts of the Preliminaries I have named the gods pleased by them, and mentioned [the individual] parts of it in which they take delight.

57-58. The performance of the Preliminaries which means worshipping the gods, is praised by them (i.e. gods) and is conducive to duty, fame and long life. And this performance whether with or without songs, is meant for pleasing the Daityas and the Dānavas as well as the gods (lit. denizens of the celestial region).

59. I shall tell you [afterwards] while discussing the rules of Dhruvās[59] the characteristics and function of performances with or without songs as well as of the Vardhamāna.[60]

The Caturasra Preliminaries

60-63. After performing the songs[61] and the Vardhamāna,[62] one should sing the Utthāpanī (Raising) Dhruvā[63] which has in its feet of eleven syllables the first two, the fourth, the eighth and the eleventh as long. It should be [sung in] the Caturasra (Tāla)[64] and [should consist of] four feet and four Sannipatas[65] as well as three kinds of tempo[66] and three caesura.[67] Besides this it should consist of four Walking-rounds and of three Pāṇis,[68] and it should be in the Viślokā[69] metre and in the same kind of Tāla.

64. The Tāla in question should consist consecutively of Śamyā[70] of two Kalās, Tāla of two Kalās, Śamyā of one Kalā and Sannipāta of three Kalās.

First Walking-round

65. Thus a Sannipāta Tāla of eight Kalās should be observed by the experts. And it is said that a Walking-round is made up of four such Sannipātas.

66. The first Walking-round in the Preliminaries should be made in slow tempo (sthitalaya) and on the termination of the third Sannipāta in it (i.e. the first parivarta) drums should be played.

Second Walking-round

67. On the termination of the first Walking-round the second one (i.e. Walking-round) having commenced in medium tempo, the Director [and the two Assistants][71] should enter [the stage].

68-69. The three should simultaneously enter [the stage] with handfuls of flower-offering. But before that they should get themselves purified, initiated and furnished with charms for protection [against evil spirits]. They should be clad in white, and flowers carried by them should [also] be white, and they should be looking with the Adbhuta glance[72] and be in the Vaisnava Sthāna[73] with Sausthava of the body.

70. The two[74] Assistants should carry a golden pitcher and the Jarjara, and with them by his side the Director should put forward five steps.

71. These five steps [will be] for the purpose of worshipping Brahmā, and the manner of putting them forward will be described [below] in detail.

72. They should slowly place their two feet three Tālas[75] apart and then raise [them one by one] on each side and again put them down at the same [distance],

73. After going five steps[76] in the manner described above, the Director and his two Assistants (lit. others) should perform the Sūcī Cārī with left foot moved first and the right foot afterwards.

74. Then the Director should offer flowers in Brahmā’s Circle (Brāhma-maṇḍala) which is another name for the centre of the stage where the deity is supposed to be present.

75-77. And afterwards he (i.e. the Director) should respectfully bow to Brahmā (lit. Pitāmaha) with Lalita gesture,[77] and to measure the length of time during the salutation he should thrice touch the ground with his hand, and his steps should be [suitably] divided. The second Walking-round which begins with the entrance of the Director and ends with the salutation [to Brahmā] and use of gestures [related to it], should be performed in medium tempo.

Third Walking-round

77-78. Next during the third Walking-round the Director should go round the Brahmā’s circle (i.e. the centre of the stage), perform Ācamana and take up the Jarjara. [The manner of taking it up is as follows:]

78-80. Rising up quickly from [Brahmā’s] Circle he should perform the Sūcī (lit. Vedha) Cārī with this foot (i.e, the right foot) put forward first and the left foot afterwards. And then he should again raise his right foot which was on the side and perform the Sūcī (Vedha)[78] Cārī putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards.

80-83. Going round [the centre of the stage] the Director should call the person (i.e. one of the Assistants) who carries the golden pitcher[79] and perform ablution (śauca) [with water from this vessel]. He should then perform Ācamana and sprinkle himself with water in due order. Thus after performing properly the ablution, the Director should carefully take up the Jarjara, the destroyer of obstacles, and this act should be performed along with the beginning of the last Sannipāta [of this second Walking-round].

83-84. The third Walking-round beginning with going round the centre of the stage (i.e. Brāhma-maṇḍala)[80] and ending with the taking up of the Jarjara should be performed in a quick tempo.

Fourth Walking-round

84-87. After taking up the Jarjara to ward off evils he should mutter [some Mantras] in eight Kalās. Then he should perform the Sūcī (Vedha) Cārī by putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards, and then, move five steps towards the musical instruments. And then again he should observe the Sūcī (Vedha) Cārī by putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards. The fourth Walking-round which begins with the taking up of the Jarjara and ends with an approach to the musical instruments, should be made in a quick tempo.

87-88. In this [pūrvaraṅga of the Caturasra type] movements of hand and feet, will occupy sixteen Kalās while it being of the Tryasra type such movements will occupy Twelve Kalās only.

88-89. [The Director and the two Assistants] should make three salutations by touching the ground, with the hand, and before this they are to sprinkle themselves with water, but in case of the Tryasra [Preliminaries such sprinkling] has not been prescribed.[81]

Parivartanī Dhruvā

89-90. In this manner they should perform the Utthāpana (lit. raising). Then comes the Parivartanī (Walking-round) Dhruvā which should be performed in the Caturasra (Tāla) and medium tempo and with eight Sannipātas.

90-91. The Dhruvā (song) which has only the last syllable long in its four feet of eleven syllables, is called the Parivartanī (Walking-round) Dhruvā.

91-92. During the singing of this Dhruvā the Director should move leftwards in the Vārtika Mārga[82] with graceful step in accompaniment of instrumental music and should bow to [different] deities in directions belonging to them.

92-93. And during the foot movement [mentioned above] each step of the Director should consist of two Kalās and movement in each direction should consist of two Sannipātas.

93-94. Then he would observe the Sūci (Vedha) Cārī putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards and putting the latter at a distance of two Tālas.

94-95. In this manner he should go five steps with the Atikrāntā Cārī,[83] and bow to different deities in directions belonging to them.

95-97. First of all he should bow to the eastern direction presided over by Śakra (Indra). Secondly he should bow to the southern direction belonging to Yama. Thirdly he should bow to the western direction ruled by Varuṇa. Fourthly he should bow to the northern direction of which Dhanada (Kuvera) is the protector.

97-98. After bowing to these directions he should perform the Sūcī Cārī putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards and begin the Walking-round.

98-99. Then with his face towards the east the Director should bow to Rudra (Śiva), Brahmā and Upendra (Viṣṇu) while going forward three steps by ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’ and ‘neuter’ feet [one after another].

99-100. The right foot is ‘masculine’ and the left foot is ‘feminine’ while the right foot not much raised is called ‘neuter.’

100-101. Īśa (Śiva) should be bowed to with the masculine foot [put forward first] while in bowing to Brahmā the neuter foot [should be so put forward].

The Fourth Man enters.

101-102. The Walking-round should be [finished] thus, and then the Fourth Man (caturtha-kāra) should duly enter [the stage] with flowers [in his hands],

102-103.[84] And he should duly offer Pūjā to the Jarjara and to all the musical instruments (kutapa) as well as to the Director.

103-104. His foot-movements during the Pūjā should be made to accompany the playing of drums, and there should be no song sung then, but only meaningless syllables should be chanted (stobhakriyā).:

Singing of the Apakṛṣṭā Dhruvā

104-105. After offering the Pūjā the Fourth Man (caturtha-kāra) should make his exit. And then should be sung an Apakṛṣṭā Dhruvā[85] in Caturasra (Tāla) and slow tempo.

105-1.06. This Dhruvā should abound in heavy syllables and depend on the Sthāyi-varṇa[86] and be made up of eight Kalās, and its Tāla should be Avapāṇika.

106-107. The Apakṛṣṭā Dhruvā is a song consisting of four feet of ten syllables of which the fourth, the fifth, the seventh and eighth will be short.


107-108. Then the Director will recite in a medium tone the Benediction which should consist of eight or twelve feet.[87]

108-109.[88] (These are the specimens of Benediction):

namo’stu sarvadevebhyo dvijātibhyaḥ śubhaṃ tathā |
jitaṃ somena vai rājñā ārogyaṃ gobhya eva ca ||

Tr. Salutation to all the gods. Blessed be the twice-born class. Let the king and the cows attain good health by his Soma-sacrifice.


brahmottaraṃ tathaivāstu hatā brahmadviṣas tathā |
praśāstvimāṃ mahārājaḥ pṛthivīṃ ca sasāgarām ||

Tr. Let there be an advancement of the cause of the Brahmins, and let their enemies be killed, and let the great king rule this earth together with all the seas.


rāṣṭraṃ pravardhatām caiva raṅgaś cāyam samṛdhyatām |
prekṣākartur mahān dharmo bhavatu brahmabhāvitaḥ ||

Tr. Let this state prosper, and this theatre[89] flourish and let the producer of the theatrical show attain virtues inspired by the Vedic knowledge.


kāvyakartur yaśaś cāstu dharmaś cāpi pravardhatām |
ijyayā cānayā nicyaṃ prīyantāṃ devatā iti ||

Tr. Let the playwright (lit. writer of the kāvya) attain fame, and let his virtue increase, and by this kind of sacrifice let the gods be always pleased [with him].

112-113. After the recitation of each of such Benedictory poems, the two Assistants should loudly and distinctly say, “Let this be so.”

The Śuṣkāpakṛṣṭā Dhruvā

113-114. The Benediction should thus be performed duly according to the rules [mentioned above]. Then should be sung the Śuṣkāpakṛṣṭā Dhruvā and verses praising the Jarjara.

114-113. This Dhruvā should consist of nine long syllables first and then six short syllables followed by three long syllables, e.g.


digle digle jhaṇḍe jhaṇḍe jam
bu ka va li ta ka te te jā.


116-118. After properly performing the Śuṣkāpakṛṣṭā Dhruvā, he (the Director) should recite in a loud tone one Śloka in adoration of the deity in course of whose worship [the dramatic performance is going to be held], and then [another Śloka] paying homage either to the king or to the Brahmins should be sung.

118-1,19. After reciting the Jarjara Śloka in what is called the Raṅgadvāra (lit. entry into the performance) he should again read another Śloka in lowering the Jarjara.[90]

119-120. And after the Jarjara has been lowered,* he should perform a Cārī, and the two Assistants should step backwards.

120-121. Then the Aḍḍitā Dhruvā[91] should be performed with the medium tempo, Caturasra Tāla and four Sannipātas.

121-122. The Dhruvā (song) which has the first, the fifth and the last syllables long and the remaining syllables short in all its four feet of twelve syllables, is called the Aḍḍitā.

122-123. I shall relate its application according to the procedure adopted by Maheśvara (Śiva) and Umā when performing it in the past with [the display of] different States and movements.

123-125. After assuming the Avahittha Sthāna (posture),[92] and placing the left hand [first] with its palm downwards on the navel and holding the Jarjara loosely on his [other] palm,[93] the Director should go five steps, with his left hand showing the Pallava gesture; and while going he should cover one Tāla at each step and move his limbs gracefully.

125-127. Afterwards he should perform the Sūcī Cārī by putting forward his left foot first and the right foot afterwards. Then the Director (lit. the expert one) should recite a Śloka with love as its subject-matter. And after reciting this Cārī Śloka and performing the Walking-round, he should with his face towards the front, withdraw backwards with steps described before.

127-128. And after placing the Jarjara in the hands of one of the Assistants, he should perform the Mahācārī in accordance with the rules laid down below.

128-130. During this Cārī the Dhruvā song should be of the Caturasra type and in quick tempo, and it should have four Sannipātas and eight Kalās. This Dhruvā song should have feet of eleven syllables of which the first, fourth, seventh, tenth and the last are long and the remaining ones short.

130-131. (An example of the Cāturasra Dhruvā):

pādatalāhati-patita-śailaṃ kṣobhita-bhūta-samagra-samudram |
tāṇḍava-nṛttam idam pralayānte pātu harasya sadā sukhadāyi ||

Tr. Let the ever-pleasing Class Dance of Hara (Śiva) after the destruction of the world, which smashed the hills by the impact of his feet and agitated the ocean with all creatures living in it, always give you protection.

131-132. Then he should step towards the drums (bhāṇḍa) and afterwards perform the Sūcī Cārī followed by a change of the Vikṣepa.

132-133. Afterwards he should move his feet gracefully with a quick tempo, and keeping them three Tālas apart, he should go five steps. There again he should perform the Sūcī (Vedha) Cārī with his left foot put forward first and the right one afterwards.

134-135. And with the foot movement [described above] he should move backwards with his face towards the front, and again he should go three steps forward in a similar manner, and then he should again perform the Sūcī Cārī with his left foot put forward first and the right foot afterwards.

135-137. Then he should recite a couplet calling up the Furious Sentiment while bringing his feet together, and then after going three steps he should call for the two Assistants, and on their coming up, a Narkuṭaka Dhruvā should be sung. At the time of singing this Dhruvā he should perform the Sūcī (Vedha) Cārī by putting forward the left foot first and the right foot afterwards.

Three Men’s Talk

137-138. Then in case of a play in the Verbal Style (bhāratī vṛtti) the Three Men’s Talk should take place. During it (this Talk) the Jester should suddenly come in and deliver a discourse consisting mostly of irrelevant words to excite the smile of the Director.[94]

139. [In this discourse] should be brought in some controversial topic (vitaṇḍā) with an abrupt remark (gaṇḍa) or an enigmatical utterance (nālikā) [of some kind], and questions such as who is [there] and who has won, leading to the plot of the play (lit. the poem).

140. In the Three Men’s Talk an Assistant talks with the Jester who finds fault with his words which are, [however,] supported by the Director.


141. Then the Director (lit. an expert) should put in the Laudation and the appeal [to members of the audience], and for the success[95] of the performance (lit. the stage) the subject of the play should again be mentioned.

1142. After putting into practice all these rules, all the three persons (i.e. the Director and the two Assistants) should perform the Śūci (Vedha) Cārī, and they should go out together while performing any Cārī other other than the Āviddha one.

Tryasra Preliminaries

143-144. Thus, O Brahmins, should be performed the Preliminaries of the Caturasra type; now I shall speak of that of the Tryasra type. Its use is similar and its component parts are the same; the only feature that distinguishes it from the Caturasra one, is its abridged measure of Tāla.

145-146. [In it] the Śamyā should consist of two Kalās and the Tāla of one Kalā, and again the Śamyā is to consist of one Kalā and the Śannipāta of two Kalās. With this kind of measurement of Kalā, Tāla and tempo, should be performed the Tryasra Preliminaries which include the Utthāpana and such other items.

147. The Dhruvā (song) which has the fourth, the eighth, the tenth and the last syllables long in all its four feet of twelve syllables, is called the Utthāpanī Dhruvā of the Tryasra (type).

148. In the Tryasra Preliminaries an expert dancer should abridge the instrumental music, movements [of persons], Dhruvā songs and their Tāla.

149. The actions and movements [of a dancer] are to be made of two types—elaborate and abridged—according as the instrumental and vocal musics are such.

150-151. It is said that each movement of hands and feet should be of two Kalās’ duration, and in any Walking-round in the Caturasra (Preliminaries) the hands and feet should be moved sixteen times, while in the Tryasra Preliminaries they are to move only twelve times.

151-152. This is the measurement of both (i.e. of hand and foot movements) in the Preliminaries. But in the Walking-round, the foot movement should consist of three steps only, but in bowing to [the different] directions in the Caturasra Preliminaries, one should go five steps.

153. [But all these matters] should be performed in the Tryasra Preliminaries according to the measure of Tāla as the master of the art thinks fit. Hence to avoid repetition no [elaborate] direction about the same has been given, [here].

154. O the best of Brahmins, thus should be performed the pure Preliminaries of the Caturasra and the Tryasra types, which relate to a play depending on the Verbal Style.

Mixed Preliminaries

155. So much about the pure Preliminaries (Caturasra and Tryasra) which I was to describe. I shall now tell you how the producers may turn them to one of the mixed (citra) type.

156-157. During the Utthāpanī Dhruvā when the Walking-ground has been decorated with flowers given by the Fourth Man and [the stage] resounded with the well measured loud songs of musical experts, divine Dundubhis (drums) should be played again and again.[96]

158. [And in the mixed Preliminaries thus begun] clusters of white flowers should be scattered all over [the stage], and the Aṅgahāras should be performed by [dancers dressed as] goddesses.

159-160. The Class Dance which has been described above with its [Piṇḍīs], Recakas, Aṅgahāras, Nyāsas and Apanyāsās should intervene the separate feet of the Benedictory poems. This rule should be put into practice by those who would turn pure Preliminaries into mixed ones.

161. After the ‘pure’ Preliminaries have been duly made ‘mixed’, [all the dancers dressed as] goddesses should make their exit.

162. After the exit of all the female dancers the other parts of the Preliminaries should be performed.

163. This is the manner in which the pure Preliminaries should be changed into mixed ones. But in the Preliminaries, be they of any type, there should not be too much dance and song.

164. If [at the beginning of a performance] songs, music and dance continue for too long [a time] they tire out the artistes as well as the spectators.

165. Tired [persons] can neither attain or give help in attaining a clear impression of the Sentiments and the States, and because of this, the rest of the performance (i.e. of the play itself) cannot [properly] excite feelings.

166. After performing the Preliminaries, be they Caturasra or Tryasra of the pure or mixed type, the Director along with his Assistants should make their exit from the stage.

Introduction of the play

167. After the Preliminaries have been duly performed[97] in the manner described, the Introducer (sthāpaka)[98] should enter [the stage], and he should resemble the Director in every respect (lit. in quality and form).

168. He should assume the Vaiṣṇava Sthāna (posture)[99] and have the Sauṣṭhava[100] of the body, and on entering the stage he should observe the foot movements which the Director had used.

169. At the entrance of the Introducer, the Dhruvā should be made suitable to the occasion (lit. meaning) and it will be either Caturasra or Tryasra and be in medium tempo.

170. Then he should perform a Cārī in praise of gods and Brahmins in accompaniment with the recitation of Ślokas containing sweet words and evoking various Sentiments and States.

171. After thus pleasing the spectators (lit. the stage) he should announce the name of the play-wright (lit. the poet), and then he is to start the Prologue (prastāvanā) which relates to proclaiming the theme of the play (lit. the poem).

172-173. Then by mentioning (lit. having recourse to) a god in a divine [play], a man in a human [play] and a god or a man in [a play] where gods and men [meet, he] should proclaim in different ways the subject of the play [lit. the poem] by variously alluding to its Opening (mukha) and Seed (bīja).

174. After introducing the play the Introducer (lit. the Brahmin who makes the introduction of the play) should go out [of the stage]. Thus should be performed the Preliminaries according to the rules.

175. If any producer of a play will perform the Preliminaries according to the rules laid down, nothing inauspicious will happen to him, and [after his death] he will reach the heavenly region.

176. [On the contrary] whoever produces a play in an wilful violation of the rules [in this matter] will sustain a great loss, and will [after his death] be reborn as a creature of lower order.

177. Fire fanned by a strong wind does not burn [anything] so quickly as does the wrongly made production.

178. In this manner the Preliminaries of two different extents (pramāṇa) should be performed by the people of Avanti, Pañcāla, Dākṣiṇātya and Oḍra regions.

179. O Brahmins, these are the rules regarding the Preliminaries. Tell me properly what other rules relating to the Nāṭyaveda should be discussed now[101].

Here ends Chapter V of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of the Preliminaries to the production of a play.

Footnotes and references:


See I. 13-18.


See I. 69-73.


See I. 54.68.


See III.


pādabhāga—See XXXI, 247. This is a term relating to tāla.


kalā—unit of the time measure in music. See XXXI. 1-4 See Ag. (I. 211).


parivarta. On this see below 23-24, 65-89.


BhP. defines pūrvaraṅga as follows:

kalāpātāḥ pādabhāgāḥ parivartāśca sūribhiḥ |
pūrvaṃ kriyate yadraṅge pūrvaraṅgo bhavedataḥ (SR. p. 742).

The definition in the commentary of DR. (III. 2) is corrupt.


See below 17.


See below 18.


See below 18.


See below 18.


See below 19.


See below 19.


See below 20.


See below 20.


See below 21.


From this statement it appears that the first nine items of the preliminaries were performed behind the curtains on two doors of the tiring room.


See 8-11 note 10 above.


Recitals of the Benediction (nāndī) and the Laudation (prarocanā) etc.


madraka—a class of songs.


vardhamānaka—a class of songs with dance. See XXXI 76-101; XXXII.; 259 ff. 224ff.


See below 22-23.


See below 23-24, 65-89.


See below 24-25, 107-113.


See below 25-26, 113-116.


See below 26-27.


See below 27-28, 119-120.


See below 27-28, 127-130.


See below 28-29, 137-141.


See below 29-30, 141-142.


It appears that these items of the Preliminaries to be performed behind the curtains of the tiring room have been made needlessly elaborate. But it is not so. In ancient times people due to different conditions of their life, were not so much punctual in coming to the theatrical show. They did not come to it all at once and at any fixed time. Quite a long time passed before they all assembled. Hence from behind the curtain the Director offered to the early-comers whatever they could, while preparing for the actual performance. Ag. (I. p. 215) says that nine items of the Preliminaries were meant for a [common] women, children and fools. The same practice about the Preliminaries may be observed even now in case of the Yātrās or the open air theatrical performances in Bengal.


ārambha—See XXIX, 131 ff.


āśrāvaṇā—For details about the performance of this see XXIX, 135ff.


vaktrapāṇī—For details about the performance for this see XXIX. 157ff.


parighaṭṭanā—For the performance of this see XXIX. 148-150.


sāṃghoṭanā—For the performance of this see XXIX. 143ff.


mārgāsārita—For the performance of this see XXIX. 151ff.


āsārita—For the performance of this see XXXI, 62ff; 170ff.


See XXX. 200ff.


parivartana—parivarta see below 65ff,


For its specimens see below 107ff.


See below 113-115.


B.G. read between 25b and 26a two prose lines.


The Jester’s role is assumed by one of the Assistants. See below 70 where two Assistants enter along with the Director. For details of the Three Men’s Talk see below 137-141.


For details about the Laudation see below 141-142. See also Ag. for the meaning of siddhenāmantraṇā.


See XXXI. 220ff; 365ff.


See XXXI. 358


See XXXI. 357.


See XXXI. 138ff.


Another name for bahirgīta. See below 33-42.


nīrgīta—instrumental music.


For different aspects of the tāla see XXVIII. 18-20, and XXXI.


The seven forms—On this see Ag. (1. p. 224)


cītraviṇā—nāṭyoparañjanārthā yā vīṇā; a kind of vinā (Ag.) suitable for being played during the performance of a drama. But Ag. ignores XXIX. 120 which describes a Viṇā of this name,


See XXIX. 82ff


See XXIX, 8-22.


See XXIX, 23ff.




Before this couplet (59) B. reads one additional śloka (B. 60).


See XXXI. 200ff.


See note 4 on 12-15 before.


The term utthāpanī dhruvā does not occur in the Dhruvādhyāya (XXXII.).


See XXXI. 7


See XXXI. 39.


See XXXI. 3


See XXXI. 486-488.


See XXXI. 493-495.


See XXXII. 148.


Cf. XXXI, 173.


Entrance of the two Assistants is implied in this passage. See below 68-69.


See VIII. 48.


See XI. 50-52.


One of the Assistants is to assume the role of the Jester in the Three Men’s Talk. See above 28-29, 137-141.


Jarjara—see III, 73ff.


tāla—a unit of length. The distance from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist. See III, 21 note.


See IX. 201.


According to Ag. (I. p. 233) VedhaSūcī Cārī.


See above 70.


See III, 23-30 note.


This and the preceding (87-88) passage should properly go after NŚ. 64 for they relate to the Utthāpana which should come before the Walking-round; see 22-23 above.


See XXXI. 491-492.


See XI. 29.


See III. 11-13.


One of the six kinds of Dhruvās, See XXXII. 155-160.


See XXIX. 19.


For different interpretations of pada see Lévi, pp. 132-133, II. 25-26. Rāghavabhatta’s quotation from Ag. in his Śākuntalatīkā (p. 6) does not occur in the published Abhinavabhāratī.


See Lévi, p. 133.


According to Ag. this means the actors and their associates.


B. reads is jarjarasya vināśanam and G. (vināmataḥ). But these give no relevant meaning.


See below 121-122, also XXXll, 11, 388.


Defined in XIII. 164-165.


Mss. read tulādhṛtam. But its meaning is not clear. It is just possible that the original reading has been changed. We therefore emend this to talādhṛtam.


See D. R. III. 36.


See Ag. on B. 30 for the meaning of siddenopanimantranā=siddhanā mantranā.


The text here seems to be corrupt.


The reading prayujya in this passage is defective; for the nominative to this prayujya cannot be sthāpaka (Introducer). Dhanañjaya (c. 10th century) clearly says that the sūtradhāra (the Director) having gone out after the Preliminaries (pūrvaraṅga), another actor enters to introduce the drama (III. 2). The same is the opinion cf Sāradātanaya (c. 1175-1250). See the Bh P. p.228, lines 56. Viśvanātha also expressed a similar opinion. See the SD. VI. 26. Hence this has been emended. It seems that Bhāsa cut down the Preliminaries and made an end of the practice of getting the play introduced by the sthāpaka, This assumption will explain why Bāṇa wrote sūtradhāra-kṛtārambhaiḥ etc. (Harṣacarita, Introduction, 15).


Ag. says sūtradhāra eva sthāpakaḥ, cf. note 1 above.


See XI. 50??.


See XI. 89b, 91a.


The portion of this chapter following this couplet is not from the hand of the author of the NŚ. Its translation is given as an Appendix.

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