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 XX - Ten Kinds of Play (daśarūpa)


1. I shall now describe the division of plays into ten classes[1] with their names, functions and modes of production.

2-3. For defining them the plays are to be known as Nāṭaka,[2] Prakaraṇa, Aṅka[3] (Utsṛṣṭikāṅka), Vyāyoga, Bhāṇa, Samavakāra, Vīthi, Prahasana, Ḍima, and Īhāmṛga which is the tenth [in order]. I shall describe their characteristics in detail.

4. Styles (vṛtti)[4] are traditionally known as the constituent elements of all dramatic works (lit. poems). With respect to their production, the ten kinds of play are considered to have proceeded from these.

5. Just as the [musical] notes (svara) constitute scales (grāma)[5] due to the Śrutis[6] together with their Jātis[7], so the [Varieties] of plays (lit. poetical works) come into existence due to Varieties of Styles.

6. Just as the Ṣaḍja[8] and the Madhyama[9] scales include all the notes, so these two [kinds of] dramatic composition (Nāṭaka and Prakaraṇa) are made up of all the Styles.

7. The Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa are to be known as made up of all the Styles, and they include varieties of situation.

8-9. The Bhāṇa, the Samavakāra, the Vīthi, the Īhāmṛga, the Utsṛṣṭikāṅka (Aṅka), the Vyāyoga, the Ḍima, and the Prahasana should not include the Graceful Style. I shall describe hereafter the different methods of constructing plays.

The Nāṭaka

10-11. [The play] which has for its subject-matter a well-known story,[10] for its Hero a celebrated person of exalted nature[11] and which describes the character of a person born in the line of royal seers,[12] divine protection [for him], his many superhuman powers,[13] and exploits such as, success [in different undertakings], and amorous pastimes, and which has suitable number of Acts (aṅka)[14] and Introductory Scenes (prāveśaka)[15] is called a Nāṭaka.

12. Behaviour of kings due to their joys and sorrows, when revealed by means of acts expressing in varied ways the Psychological States carrying many Sentiments, is styled a Nāṭaka.

The Act

13. An expert should properly make an Aṅka containing changed conditions [of the Hero] and restricting it to the mere transmission of the Vital Drop (bindu).

14. The Aṅka is the customary word. As by means of presentation of the Psychological States and Sentiments, it causes the purposes of the play to develop, and as it adheres to some technical rules [for this purpose] it is called an Aṅka[16] (Act).

15. An Act should be brought to a close by (lit. in) a division of the play, and no final disposal of the Seed (bīja) should be made in it. And the Vital Drop (bindu)[17] of (lit. arising from) the play should again and again be made to occur in the plot (vastu).

16.[18] That [part of the play] where a [particular] incident, is fully expressed, but where the Seed is not finally disposed of, is always to be known as an Act which slightly clings to the Vital Drop (bindu).

17. An Act which relates to the direct exploits of the persons mentioned before (i.e. the Heroes) and their various conditions, should not be made too long.

18. It should also be known that an Act is to contain more Sentiments than one, arising from [words and deeds of] of the Hero, his queen,[19] and their superiors,[20] priest, minister and leader of the caravan (sārthavāha).[21]

19. Pacification of anger, grief, pronouncing a curse, terrified flight, marriage ceremony, commencement of any miracle and its actual occurrence, should not be made visible in an Act.[22]

20. A battle, loss of a kingdom, death, and siege of a city not being presentable in an Act[23] should be referred to by means of Introductory Scenes.

21. In an Act or in an Introductory Scene of the Nāṭaka or the Prakaraṇa, there should be no killing of a person who is known as the Hero.[24]

22. His flight, or capture or treaty [with the enemy] should be brought about, and these should be indicated in the Introductory Scenes by referring to relevant actions.

23.[25] An Act should cover events that can take place in course of a single day. And it should relate to the Seed of the play and should proceed without a clash with the routine duties.

24. A wise play-wright should not put in [too] many events in a single Act.[26] Events in it should be depicted without a hindrance to routine duties.[27]

23. Persons appearing on the stage during an Act (lit. there) would go out after performing things connected with the Seed and the purpose of the play, and should lead to relevant Sentiments.

26. Knowing the length of a day which is divided into Kṣaṇas, Yāmas and Muhūrtas, one should distribute exhaustively the entire action in different Acts.

Introductory Scene

27. When events that are to be finished in course of a day cannot be accommodated in an Act, these should be presented in an Introductory Scene after closing the [same] Act.

28. By closing the Act [in which they begin[28] events requiring a month, or a year but never more than that[29] for their happening, are also be presented similarly.

29. When in an Act any person starts on business on a long journey, it should be brought to a close [at that point] as prescribed before.

30. With an Act of the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa the Hero should be closely associated. And an Introductory Scene should be made up of a conversation of attendants.

31. In plays so for as they relate to the Nātaka and the Prakaraṇa, an Introductory Scene coming between two Acts will refer briefly to the [next] Segments.

32. It (the Introductory Scene) should not consist of exploits of the superior and the middling characters, and there should be no exalted speech in it. And in practice it should adopt speeches and manners of the common people.

33. An Introductory Scene may have many purposes.

[For example], it may explain the advent of time, change of purpose, or the inversion of movement, or making a beginning [of some event].

34. Events which depend on many [persons] are to be compressed in Segments by means of Introductory Scenes. For a play containing [too] many prose passages[30] will be tiresome [to the spectators] at [the time of] the production [of a play].

35. When a particular item cannot be completely presented in an Act, lest it should be too large for [successful] production, its account should be compressed in a few words and put in an introductory Scene.

The Supporting Scene

36. In the Nāṭaka the Supporting Scene (viṣkambhaka) should always be made up with the middling characters[31] and it should be concise, and adopt Sanskritic speech.[32]

37. It should be of two kinds: pure (śuddha) and mixed (saṃkīrṇa). Of these, the pure is made up with the middling characters [only][33], and the mixed with the inferior and the middling characters.[34]

38. In the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa Supporting Scene between two Acts or at the beginning of an Act, should always include the middling and the inferior characters.

Number of dramatic personae

39. The Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa should not be made to contain a great number of attendants [to the Hero]. The Hero’s attendants (lit. men of work) in such plays (lit. there) should [at most] be four or five.[35]

40. Plays of the Vyāyoga, the Īhāmṛga, the Samavakāra, and the Ḍima classes should be made to have ten or twelve Acts.[36]

Introducing chariots and palaces on the stage

41. A chariot, an elephant, a horse and a palace should not be presented on the stage. These should be provided [in a play] by means of appearance and costumes [of men related to them] and [their] Gaits[37] and movements (gati-vīcāra).[38]

42. But model works of an elephant, a horse, a palace, a hill or any conveyance as well as [imitation] weapons out of cheap materials are to be made for a presentation of these by those who know the rules [for their construction].[39]

Introducing an army on the stage

43. If due to any reason a detatchment of an army is to be introduced on the stage (lit. here), only four or six persons are to make their appearance.

44. [The show should be made as consisting of a small number of men, horses, vehicles and attendants, and it should move slowly. For in the military role (kṣatra) [actual] rules of polity do not apply.

45. In the composition of a play Action should be made [like] the tip of the cow’s tail,[40] and all the exalted situations in a play should be placed at the end.

46-47. At the conclusion of all the plays which contain various Psychological States and Sentiments, experts should always introduce the Marvellous Sentiment.[41] Thus I have briefly but properly spoken about the characteristics of the Nāṭaka. I shall hereafter describe the Prakaraṇa by mentioning its characteristics.

The Prakaraṇa

48. The play (lit. where) in which the writer prakurute (devises) by his own intellect an original plot with its Hero, and works up its elaboration (śarīra), is called the Prakaraṇa.

49. When a playwright constructs a play of marvellous qualities with an original (lit. invented) Seed, and a Hero not coming out of Ṛṣi’s works to carry on the action the same is also called the Prakaraṇa.[42]

50. The plot and its elaboration as the basis of the Sentiments, which have been prescribed in case of the Nāṭaka are also to be applied to the Prakaraṇa. Only its plot should be newly created.

51. The varied exploits[43] of Brahmins, merchants, ministers, priests, officers [of the king] and leaders of caravan [when presented in a play] are to be known as the Prakaraṇa.[44]

52. The Prakaraṇa should be known as not made up with an exalted Hero. And it does not contain the character of any god, has no story of king’s enjoyment [of pleasures], and it is connected with the men outside [the royal palace].

53. The play of the Prakaraṇa type should include [in some cases] slaves, Viṭa[45] and head of the bankers’ guild [as characters and should contain incidents arising from] the attendance of courtezans as well as exploits of depraved women of good family.[46]

54. [In an Act of the Prakaraṇa] where a minister, head of bankers’ guild, Brahmin, priest, minister and leader of caravans stay in their family circle, no courtezan should be brought in there.[47]

55. [In the Prakaraṇa] when a person is in the company of a courtezan, there should not be [at the same time] his meeting with any respectable woman (lit. woman of good family), and while he is with a woman of high family no courtezan should meet him then.

56. If out of necessity (lit. reason) there occurs a meeting[48] of courtezans and respectable ladies in [any scene of] a Prakaraṇa, their language and manners should be kept undistorted.

57. In the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa the playwrights should have the number of Acts as not less than five and more than ten; and this should be furnished with the various Sentiments and the Psychological States.

58. After considering the need and action of the plot one should place between two Acts the Introductory Scenes which are to compress the events in the Segments (sandhi)[49].

The Nāṭikā

59. In a play of the Nāṭikā (Nāṭī) class, producers are to recognise a more or less well-known variety of these two (the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa).[50]

60. Different in origin from the two [types of plays] the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa, its plot should be invented, the Hero should be a king, and it should be based on [an incident relating to] music or affairs of the harem.[51]

61. And it contains an abundance of female characters, has four Acts, graceful gestures as its soul; well-arranged constituents, many dances, songs and recitations, and love’s enjoyment are its chief features.[52]

62. The Nāṭikā should be known also to contain [a display of] royal manners, [a fit of] anger and its pacification, and to have the Hero, His queen, the female Messenger and the attendants [as its dramatis personae ].

63.[53] The characteristics of the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa have been briefly described by me. I shall now speak about the characteristics of the Samavakāra.[54]

The Samavakāra

64-65. It[55] should have the [exploits of] gods and Asuras as its subject matter and one of them as its well-known and exalted Hero, and it is to consist of three Acts [presenting] the three kinds of deception, the three kinds of excitement or the three kinds of love.[56] [Besides this] it should have as many as twelve dramatis personae and require a duration (lit. length) of eighteen Nāḍikās[57] [for its performance]. I shall now speak about the rule regarding the number of Nāḍikās to be alloted to the different Acts.

66. A Nāḍikā[58] should be known as the half of the Muhūrta[59] which is a [well-known] measure of time. The Acts in a Samavakāra should be measured according to the directions given in terms of this Nāḍikā.

The first act of the Samavakāra

67. The first Act [of the Samavakāra] should have a duration of twelve Nāḍikās[60] and it is to contain laughter, excitement, deception or a Vīthi.[61]

The second and the third acts of the Samavakāra

68. The second Act also should be similar [except that] it is to have a duration of four Nāḍikās.[62] And the third Act, as enjoined in the rule about the length of the plot will have a duration of two Nāḍikās[63] only.

69.[64] In composing such a play the different Acts should be made to have different topics. And topics in the Samavakāra are to be loosely related to one another.[65]

Three kinds of Excitement

70. Excitement (vidrava) is known to be of three kinds, such as being due to battle, flood (lit. water), storm (lit. wind) and fire, or to a big elephant at large, or the siege of a city.

Three kinds of Deception

71. Deception (kapaṭa) is known to be of three kinds, such as being due to a devised plan, accident or that [practised] by the enemy. It creates joy or sorrow [to persons].

Three kinds of Love

72. In this connexion (lit here) three kinds of love to be presented through different actions are: that in relation to duty (dharma), that actuated by material gain (artha) and that actuated by passion (kāma).

Love together with duty

73. When in [sticking to] the duty one’s [much] desired well-being is accomplished in many ways, by regular austerities it is to be known as love in relation to duty (dharma-śṛṅgāra).

Love together with material gain

74. Love for money according to its meaning is of various kinds, due to a desire for money. In it one shows a simulated passion in the matter of intercourse with a woman.

Love due to passion

75. Love actuated by passion (kāma-śṛṅgāra) includes the seduction of a maiden and also gentle or excited love-affair of a man with a woman.

Metres not allowed in the Samavakāra

76.[66] In the Samavakāra the playwright should make proper use of metres other than Uṣṇik and Gāyatrī etc., which are of complex construction.[67]

77. In this manner an expert should compose a Samavakāra which will deal with joys and sorrows. I shall hereafter speak about the characteristics of the Īhāmṛga.

The Īhāmṛga

78. It (Īhāmṛga) has as its dramatis personae divine males who are implicated in fights about divine females. It should be constructed with a well-arranged plot and should be convincing.[68]

79. It is to abound in vehement (uddhata) Heroes and to have its construction dependent on feminine anger which is to give rise to commotion (saṃkṣobha) excitement (vidrava) and angry conflict (saṃpheṭa).

80. The Īhāmṛga should be a play with well-ordered construction in which the plot of love is to be based on causing discord among females, carrying them off and oppressing [the enemies].

81. All that are to be made [available] in the Vyāyoga—its male characters, Styles and Sentiments—should be brought in the Īhāmṛga also, except that the latter is to include (lit. have connexion with), the goddesses (lit. divine females) only as its female characters.[69]

82. [In the Īhāmṛga] when persons intent on killing are on the point of killing, [the impending] battle should be avoided on some pretext.

83. The characteristics of the Īhāmṛga have been briefly mentioned by me. I shall speak hereafter on the characteristics of the Dima.

The Ḍima

84. The Ḍima should be constructed with a well-known plot, and its Hero should be well-known and of the exalted (udātta) type. It is to contain the six Sentiments and to consist of four Acts only[70].

85-86. It should contain all the Sentiments except the Erotic and the Comic, a plot (kāvyayoni) with exciting Sentiments and various Psychological States, and it is [also] to include incidents such as an earthquake, fall of meteors, an eclipse of the sun or of the moon, fighting in battle and personal combat, and angry conflict.

87-88. The Dima should should abound in deceit and jugglery, and should include energetic activity of many persons, and dissention (bheda) among themselves, and it is to include sixteen characters which may be gods, Asuras Rākṣasas, Bhūtas, Yakṣas and Nāgas, and [besides this] the play is to be carefully made in the Grand and the Energetic Styles and is to have many Psychological States to support it.

89. The Ḍima has been described by me in all its characteristics. I shall speak now about the characteristics of the Vyāyoga.

The Vyāyoga

90. The Vyāyoga should be constructed by experts with one well-known Hero as its basis, and it should include a small number of female characters and [the events related in it] will be of one day’s duration only[71].

91. Many males are to take part in the Samavakāra, but it is not to have the latter’s length, for it is to have only one Act.

92-93. It should have a royal sage as its Hero and not a divine personage, and it should include battle, personal combat, challenge and angry conflict. Thus the Vyāyoga should be made with exciting Sentiments as its basis. I shall now speak of the characteristics of the Utsṛṣṭikâṅka (Aṅka).

The Aṅka (Utsṛṣṭikāṅka)

94. The plot in it is [usually to be] well-known, but it may sometimes be otherwise, and it is to be furnished with male characters other than those who are divine.[72]

95-96. The Utsṛṣṭikāṅka should abound in the Pathetic Sentiment; it will treat women’s lamentations and despondent utterances at a time when battle and violent fighting has ceased; it should include bewildered movements [of mourners], and it must be devoid of the Grand, the Energetic and the Graceful Styles, and its plot should relate to one’s fall (lit. end of the rise).

Scenes with celestial Heroes

97. [Scenes of] all the plays which have celestial Heroes, and which [treat] a battle, capture and killing [of enemies], should be laid in Bhārata-varṣa.

98. Why, of all the varṣas (sub-continents) created by the gods, is Bhārata-varṣa chosen [in this connexion]? Because the entire land here is charming, sweet-smelling and of golden colour.

99-100. [But scenes of their] garden party (lit. going to a garden), sports, pastimes, and enjoying the company of females, are always to be laid in these varṣas; for there is neither any sorrow nor any grief there. Their enjoyments should take place in the mountains which are connected with those varṣas in the Purāṇic accounts, but their [other] deeds should begin here (i.e. in Bhārata-varṣa).

101. The characteristics of an Utsṛṣṭikāṅka (Aṅka) have been exhaustively explained by me, I shall now speak of the Prahasana with its characteristics.

The Prahasana

102. The Prahasana should be known to be of two kinds: pure and mixed. I shall separately treat their characteristics.[73]

The pure Prahasana

103-104. The Prahasana is known as pure (śuddha) when it contains comic disputations by Śaiva gurus (bhagavat)[74] ascetics, Bhikṣus, Śrotriya Brahmins, and others, and abounds in jocular remarks by persons of low class; and all this gives uniformly to the Plot a realistic picture of the language[75] and the conduct of all these, in passages describing their special Psychological States.

The mixed Prahasana

105. That Prahasana is called mixed[76] in which courtezans, servants, eunuchs, Viṭas and Dhūrtas and unchaste women appear with their immodest appearance, dress and movements.

106-107. Some popular topic [of scandal] or incident of hypocrisy should be introduced in the Prahasana through the disputations of Dhūrtas[77] and Viṭas. The Prahasana should include [any of] the types of theVīthi it may properly require.[78]

The Bhāṇa

107-108.[79] I shall now speak of the characteristics of the Bhāṇa. The Bhāṇa is to be acted by a single character, and it is of two kinds: that [with one’s] recounting of one’s own feelings, and that [with] describing someone else’s acts.

109. [The Bhāṇa which is to include] somebody else’s words addressed to oneself, should be acted by means of replies in course of conversations with an imaginary person (ākāśa-bhāṣita) along with the [suitable] movements of the limbs.

110. The Bhāṇa should include characters of Dhūrtas and Viṭas and treat their different conditions, and it is always to consist of one Act, and should include many incidents which are to be acted by a Dhūrta or a Viṭa.

111. All the characteristics of the Bhāṇa have been described by me according to the tradition (āgama). I shall [now] speak of the characteristics of the Vīthi in due order.

The Vīthi

112-113. The Vīthi should have one Act and is to be acted by two persons or one. And it is to include characters of the superior, the middling or the inferior type, and it may contain [any of] the Sentiments, and it may be the thirteen types. I shall now speak of the characteristics of all these.

Thirteen types of the Vīthi

114-115. The thirteen types[80] of the Vīthi are: Accidental Interpretation (udghātyaka), Transference (avalagita), Ominous Significance (avaspandita), Incoherent Chatter (asat-pralāpa), Compliment (prapañca), Enigma (nāli=nālikā) Repartee (vākkeli), Outvying (adhivala), Deception (chala), Declaration (vyāhāra), Crushing (mṛdava), Three Men’s Talk (trigata), and Undue Combination of Words (gaṇḍa).

116. [Any of these] thirteen types is always to be attached to the Vīthi. I shall now speak of their characteristics in due order.

Accidental Interpretation

117. If, in order to explain them, men connect words of obscure meaning with words other than [those intended by the speaker] it becomes Accidental Interpretation.[81]


118. When [anything] occurring in [relation to] some thing, will be made to accomplish something else, it becomes [an instance of] Transference (avalagita).[82]

Ominous Significance

119. That, one attaches (lit. creates) out of misunderstanding an auspicious or inauspicious meaning (lit. auspicious or inauspicious rise) to the words (lit. meaning) mentioned, is [an instance of] Ominous Significance (avaspandita).[83]

Incoherent Chatter

120. When an irrelevant question (lit. sentence) is followed by [an equally] irrelevant answer, it is [an instance of] Incoherent Chatter (asat-pralāpa).[84]

121. When to a foolish person a learned man speaks the right words, but his words are not listened to, it is [an instance of] Incoherent Chatter.[85]


122. When comic and untrue words purporting to be mutual praise of two persons, are uttered in the interest of one [of them] it is [an instance of] Compliment (prapañca).[86]

Enigma and Repartee

123. An enigmatical remark that gives rise to laughter (lit. followed by laughter) is called an Enigma (nālikā)[87] Repartee (vākkeli) arises from a single or twofold reply.[88]


124. When somebody else’s words and those of one’s ownself, in course of a dialogue, lead to their mutual modification, it is [an instance of] Outvying (adhivala).[89]


125. When after alluring one by replies, something opposite is done through those very replies being considered meaningless, it is [an instance of] Deception (chala).[90]


126. If anything [liable to occur] is described vividly in the presence of the Hero and is similarly made to happen [there] without any fear, it is [an instance of] Declaration (vyāhāra).[91]


127. That due to an altercation one represents [another’s] merits as dements by [showing] cause [for it] and vice versa, is called Crushing (mṛdava).[92]

Three Men’s Talk

128. When exalted words with the Comic Sentiment are shared by three [characters] it should be known as Three Men’s Talk (trigata).[93]

Undue Combination of Words

129. Undue Combination of Words (gaṇḍa) according to the wise, occurs due to excitement, confusion, quarrel, reviling and many people’s abusive words.[94]

130-131. If in a play any of these thirteen types with clear meanings, occur and they possess all the characters, Sentiments and Psychological States prescribed for them by the Śāstra, it is called the Vīthi. It may be acted by one or two persons.

The Lāsya[95]

132. [Similar] other limbs are attached to the Nāṭaka in connexion with the performance of the Lāsya,[96] and they owe their origin to this (i.e., Nāṭaka), and are to be acted like the Bhāṇa by a single person.

133. The Lāsya Has a form similar that of the Bhāṇa, and it is to be acted by one person.[97] Its action is to be imaginary like that of the Prakaraṇa and should relate to many Psychological States.

Twelve types of the Lāsya

134-135. The [twelve] types of the Lāsya are: Geyapada, Sthitapāṭhya, Āsīna (pāṭhya), Puṣpagaṇḍikā, Pracchedaka, Trimūḍha, Saindhava, Dvimūḍhaka, Uttamottamaka, Vicitrapada, Ukta-pratyukta and Bhāvita (Bhāva).[98]


136. When [the Heroine] being seated[99] surrounded with stringed instruments and drums, songs are sung by her diyly i.e. without any accompaniment of these, it is called the Geyapada (simple song).

137. If a woman in a sitting[100] posture sings a song in the praise of her beloved, and delineates the same with a dance including gestures of her different limbs, it is called the Geyapada.


138. If a separated woman burning with the fire of love, recites anything in Prakrit while resting on her seat,[101] it is [an instance of] the Sthita-pāṭhya.

Āsīna (pāṭhya)

139. When one sits[102] without making any toilet and is overcome with anxiety and sorrow, and looks with oblique glances it is [an instance of] the Āsīna (pāṭhya).


140. When a woman in the guise of a man recites something sweetly in Sanskrit íor the pleasure of her female friends, it is [an instance of] the Puṣpagaṇḍikā.[103]


141. When a [separated] woman pained by the moonlight prepares to go to her beloved, even if he has done her wrong, it is [an instance of] the Pracchedaka.[104]


142. A play adorned with even metres and abounding in manly feelings and composed of words which are neither harsh nor large, is called the Trimūḍhaka.[105]


143. When [one represents] a lover who has failed to keep his tryst and is using Prakrit [to express his grief] through well-performed Karaṇas, it is [an instance of] the Saindhavaka.[106]


144. Delineating a song of the Caturasra type which has an auspicious meaning and which treats (lit. has) clear Psychological States and Sentiments, with the pretension of efforts, is called the Dvimūḍhaka.[107]


145. The Uttamottamaka is composed in various kinds of Ślokas; it includes various Sentimentts and is adorned with the condition of Passion (helā).[108]


146. If any woman burning with the fire of love soothes her mind by seeing the portrait [of her lover], it is [an instance of] the Vicitrapada.[109]


147. The Ukta-pratyukta is a duett (lit. a dialogue) expressing anger or pleasure, and it [sometimes] contains Words of censure. It should contain interesting things in a song.[110]


148. If a woman who is burning with the fire of love after seeing her beloved in a dream, expresses [her] different Psychological States, it is [an instance of] the Bhāvita.[111]

149. These are the characteristics of the [different] types of Lāsya that I had to tell you in detail. If anything more has not been said, it has been due to the fact that nothing more is required in this connection.

150. The rules regarding the ten kinds of play with their characteristics, have been stated by me. I shall now speak about their bodies and the Segments with their characteristics.

Here ends chapter XX of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of Ten Kinds of Play.

Footnotes and references:


Early writers on the subject like Kohala mentioned additional types of play such as, Saṭṭaka, Toṭaka and Rāsaka (Ag.). Bhoja ignores Toṭaka and recognizes only twelve kinds of play including the Nāṭikā mentioned in the NŚ. See V. Raghavan, Śr. Pr. p. 27.


This word is often loosely used as a synonym of rūpa or rūpaka.


To distinguish it from aṅka (an Act) it is also called Utsṛṣṭikāṅka.




See XXVIII. 36ff.






See XXVIII. 22ff.




It must occur in some from in the Purāṇa, Itihāsa (Rām. and Mbh.) or any such celebrated work (e.g. Bṛhatkathā).


Rāma, Kṛṣṇa and Udayana are ex. of such persons. This and the other conditions mentioned in the above note exclude living persons as a Hero of the Nāṭaka. Gf. NL, p. 27.


Janaka and Viśvāmitra are ex. of such persons.


Divine persons may be mentioned in a Nāṭaka only as Heroes of an episode (patāka) or Episodical Incident (prakarī). See Ag. and ND. (loc. cit.).


For the description of an Act (aṅka) see below 13-15, and 23.


For the Introductory Scene see below 19-21 and 27-35.


This is a folk-etymology and does not help as at ail to understand the real meaning of the word.


From a repetition of the Vital Drop the play seems to attain compactness.


The emendation of the text was necessary from the special meaning of the wor bīja. cf. sarveṣām aṅkānāṃ yo’rtho bījalakṣaṇaḥ (Ag.).


Queens include his chief queen (mahādevī) as well as other consorts (Ag).


Superiors include the parents and teachers (Ag).


Ag. interprets sārthavāha as senāpati (leader of the army). This is inadmissible.


B. and C. read before this an additional couplet which in trans, is “The number of Acts in the Nāṭaka and the Prakaraṇa should not be less than five and more than ten.” But in view of couplets 25 and 57 this seems to be superfluous. For a support of the emendation see Rucipati’s commenty on A.R. (p.53) where we have “adbhutadarśanamaṅkai pratyakṣajā na kkāpi syuḥ” below note 2 on 20.


Cf. See Sāgaranandin’s view on the point (NL, p. 13).


A misunderstanding of this rule as adopted by SD. (274) gave rise to the belief of modern scholars that the ancient Indian playwrights did not permit death-scenes in on the stage. See Keith, Sanskrit Drama, pp. 293, 354; Haas, DR. p. 93.


Sāgaranandin quotes other views on the duration of events presented in an Act. See NL. p. 13.


Some mss. read the text here ekāṅkena instead of ekāṅke na. The Controversy over the reading is much older than the time of Ag. (See Ag).


Routine duties include prayers as well as taking meals.


The meaning of this rule seems to be that interval between two Acts should include events requiring a month or a year only.


B. reads the first hemistich with the change, accepted by Ag. The passage in B. in trans. will be as follows : An Introductory Scene may have many purposes. For example, it may indicate the advent or passage of time, or present some explanation or other aspects of planning the action (kārya).


(C.35; B.XVIII.36).1 See NL. 351-352.


36 (C.37; B.XVIII.54).1 This is meant that superior characters are not appear in a Supporting Scene.


See below 37 note1.


Ex. Pratijñā II. Śak. III.


Ex. Pratimā. II. Vīkram. III.


This rule is possibly meant for avoiding the practical difficulty of producing a drama with too many characters.


C. only gives it in a mutilated form. Its second hemistich should be read as daśabhiḥ dvādaśabhir vāṅkaih kāryāṇi......


See NŚ. XXIII. 6-9.


See NŚ. XII.


See above 41 note 2.


The exact significance of this expression as well as the implication of the entire rule is not quite clear. Ag. however quotes two different views on the subject.


This is mostly to be done by causing unexpected things to happen. The sudden revelation of Āvantikā as Vāsavadattā in Bhāsa’s Svapna. (VI) and the dramatic re-union of Śakuntalā with Duṣyanta in Śak, (VII) are examples of this rule.


Rām. and Mbh. are examples of such works.?—?Bhāsa’s Pratijñā is an example of this. See its Prologue.


From this “varied exploits” one is to understand that Prakaraṇa was not concerned exclusively with love-themes. See Mudrā.


The types of characters mentioned in the rule are mostly absent in the scanty number of extant plays of this type. The Pratijñā, is an example of a Prak. having a minister as its Hero.


For Viṭa see the Introduction.


Extant plays do not contain such characters.


See 56 below.


The nature of the necessity, and the language which the author of the NŚ. had in view in formulating this rule, has probably been indicated in the following couplet: “śilpādivyapadeśena bhavedveśyābhāgamaḥ | bhāṣate prākṛtaṃ veśyā saṃsakṛtaṃ kulanāyekā ||” See Bh, pp. 242. also Ag.


Cf. DR, I.118 (ed. Haas, pp. 34-35) and SD, 302. The Introductory Scene cannot be placed at the beginning of a play and it must be in Pkt.


See Avaloka on DR. (ed. Nirnayasagar) III.43, Description of the Nāṭikā given here (59-63) has been rightly suspected as an interpolation, though Keith is for rejecting this suspicion. See Sanskrit Dr. p, 349.


Keith seems to be in error about the nature of the subject matter) (plot) of the Nāṭikā. See Sanskrit Dr. p. 349. Justification for calling the Pratijñā. a Nāṭikā may be found in the facts that its plot is based on musical lessons given by Udayana to Vāsavadattā, and it has four Acts. But according to the Prologue it is a Prakaraṇa. Pusalker, Bhāsa, pp. 271-272. also note 1 on 59.


But for this feature of having four Acts only, the Mālavi. may be considered a Nāṭikā. See Keith. Sanskrit Dr. p. 350. Ratnā. is a well-known example of the four Act Nāṭikā.


B.C. read one additional couplet (C. 64; B.XVIII.61) on the basis of two mss. It does not give any new information.


C. Prakaraṇanāṭaka-nāṭi-lakṣaṇam uktam for ° nāṭaka-lakṣaṇam uktaṃ vipra. Evidently the interpolator who is responsible for the description of the Nāṭī (Nāṭikā) inserted nāṭī in the reading of C. See above 59 note.


No old specimen of this type of play is available. The Samudra-manthana by Vatsarāja (12th century) is a very late work. See Keith, Sanskrit Dr. p. 267. Bhāsa’s Pañca. is not a Samav. Cf. Mankad, Types of Sanskrit Dr. p. 58; Pusalker, Bhāsa, pp. 202-210.


It is not likely that any one play of this type will include all three objects (deception, excitement and love) in their three varieties.


As the topics (and hence the Acts) in the Samavakāra are to be loosely related (see 69 below), this limitation has been placed on the time lest it should be made too long.


nāḍikā = 24 minutes. See below 67 note.


muhūrta = a period of 48 minutes. See below 66 note 1. Curiously enough Śāradātanaya thinks that nāḍikā is one fourth of a muhūrta. See BhP. p. 249.


12 nāḍikās (nāḍīs) = 4 hours and 48 minutes.


See 113-129 below.


4 nāḍikās (nāḍīs) = 1 hour 36 minutes.


2 nāḍikās = 48 minutes.


Before this B. reads one additional couplet (B.69) which does not give any important information and has the support of two mss. only. In C. this occurs after C. 68.


From this it appears that Samav. was not a play of the regular type and belonged to a very early stage of evolution of Indian drama.


The reading accepted by Ag. seems to be corrupt. For Uṣṇik and Gāyatrī type of metres cannot by any means be considered as being of complex construction (bandhakuṭila). Our emendation has in a way the support of Udbhaṭa (the noted commentator of the NŚ.) who too thinks that the rule prescribes complex metres such as Sragdharā for the Samav. See Ag.


Lengthy, sami-even and uneven types of metres.


No old specimen of this type of drama is available. Rukmiṇīharaṇa by Vatsarāja is an artificial production of a very late period (12th century), (See Keith, Skt. Dr. p. 266). Two other late specimens of this kind are Kṛṣṇamiśra’s Vīra-vijaya and Kṛṣṇa Avadhūta’s Sarva-vinoda-nāṭaka (See Sten know, ID. p. 114).


See below 90-03.


No old example of this type of drama is available.


Bhāsa’s Madhyama. is its solitary old specimen unless Karṇa, also is to be taken as such (see ID. p. 52). Prahlādanadeva’s Pārtha-parākrama (12th cent.), Vatsarāja’s Kirātārjunīya (12th cent.) and Viśvanātha’s Saugandhikā-haraṇa etc. are very late specimens of this type. See Keith Sanskrit Dr. p. 265. Pusalker, Bhāsa. p. 203. Dūtavā., Dūtagha., Pañca, and Ūru. cannot be called Vyāyogas. Cf. Pusalker, Bhāsa, pp. 186, 187, 190, 209. Mankad, Types of Sanskrit Dr. p. 59-61.


Bhāsa’s Ūru. is a solitary example this type of drama. See Pusalker, Bhāsa, pp. 199, 200. Keith seems to be in error when he says that a play within a play is often called an Aṅka. See Sanskrit Dr. p. 268.


Śaṅkhadhara’s Laṭaka-mela (12th century), Jyotirīśvara’s Dhūrta-samāgamā (15th century) and Jagadīśvara’s Hāsyārṇava (date uncertain), etc, are very late works (See Keith Sanskrit Dr. pp. 261-262). The Matta-vilāsa of Mahendra-vikrama-varman (620 A.C.) and the Bhagavad-ajjukīya ascribed to Baudhāyana Kavi, are fairly old specimens of the Prahasana, See Keith Sanskrit Dr. pp. 182. Bhagavad-ajjukīya ed. P. Anujan Achan, Cochin, 1925.


The word bhagavat relates primarily to a Śaiva saint. It is in this sense that the word has been used in the Prahasana named Bhagavad-ajjukīya, and this speaks for the antiquity of this work (See above 102 note). A Śaiva saint appears in the Matta-vilāsa, the Dhūrta-nartaka and the Hāsyacūḍāmaṇi. The last two Prahasanas are however late. See Keith, Sanskrit Dr. pp. 182, 262, 265.


Prahasanas named in note 1 above may be taken as specimens of the pure variety.


Prahasanas like the Dhūrta-samāgama and the Hāsyārṇava may be taken as specimens of the mixed variety. See Keith, Sanskrit Dr. pp. 260-262.


For the meaning of Dhūrtā see the Introduction to the text.


See below 112-129.


The four Bhāṇas (Ubhayābhisārīka, Padma-prābhṛtaka, Dhūrta-viṭa-saṃvāda and Pāda-tāḍitaka) published under the title Caturbhāṇī placed by F. W. Thomas between the 6th and the 7th century, are the oldest available specimens of this type (F.W. Thomas, J.R AS. 1922, pp. 262ff. F.W. Thomas, Centenary Supplement JRAS. 1924 pp. 129-136; S.K. De, in JRAS. 1926, pp. 63-90, Hist of Sanskrit Lit. pp. 241ff. The first three Bhāṇas, however, may be much earlier. For later Bhāṇas see Keith, Sanskrit Dr. pp. 263-264.


Aṅga in this connexion has been translated as ‘division’ (Haas, DR. p. 84). But ‘type’ seems to be a more suitable word.


Haas translates the word as ‘Abrupt Dialogue’ (DR. p. 84). For an example see SD. 228; cf. Ag. DR. (III. 13-14) seems to define it differently.


Haas translates it as ‘Continuance’ (See p. 85). For an ex. See SD. 292; Ag. Cf. DR.III. 14b-15a.


The spelling avasyandita though accepted by SD. and DR. seems to be wrong (See Ag.). Haas translates the word as ‘Re-interpretation’ (pp. 84, 87) probably under the influence of the SD. (528). DR. (III. 19a) has a different definition. For an example see Ag.


We accept the reading of mss, ḍa and da in B. (under 119) which has the support of DR. III, 20 and SD. 530. Ag. differs and accepts the reading of 121 below. See Haas. p. 87.


See 120 note and Ag.


See Haas, p. 85; SD, 522. DR III. 15b.


See Hans, pp. 87; SD. 529.


See Haas, p. 86, SD. 525.


See Hass, p. 86; SD. 526.


See DR. 17a; Haas, p. 96; SD. gives two def. of this including the present one; see 524-525.


B.s reading seems to agree with the def. given in DR. III. 20b and SD. 531. Haas translates the term as ‘Humourous Speech.’ See p. 88.


DR. III. 21a; SD. 532. Haas translates the term as ‘Mildness’; see p. 88.


DR III. 16 and SD. 523 define this differently and they agree with the reading of B. Our reading is supported by the pa ms. in B. Haas translates the term as “Triple Explanation.” See p. 84.


DR. III. 18b and SD. 527 seem to def. it differently. Haas translates the term as ‘Abrupt Remark’ see p. 87.


Ag. reads Lāsyāṅgas in the next chapter (his XIX). It is possible that these were introduced later in the NŚ. For the ms, bha of B. and some commentators using it ignore them altogether, Śāradātanaya and others reads lāsyāṅgas differently. See Kavi’s Intr. to B. pp. XI-XII. foot note.


Lāsyāṅgam is an one act play which requires lāsya or a gentle form of dance for its representation; for this term may be interpreted as lāsyam aṅgaṃ yasyaḥ tat (that which which has lāsya as its principal element). The ten lāsyāṅgas seem to be only so many varieties of the Lāsya. These are not its ‘elements’ as some scholars are apt to consider.


See above 132 note; lāsya used in this passage means merely lāsyāṅga.


SD. (504) gives only ten and BhP. (p. 245-246) eleven lāsyāṅgas; but DR. (III. 52-53) gives their number as ten, but does not define them.


See SD. 505. The sitting posture included in this and some of the other varieties of the lāsya need not appear to be puzzling. For the Gentle Dance in this connexion did not imply the movement of the entire body. See Gilbert Murray, Euripides and His Age, London, 1946, p. 150.


See above 136 note 1.


SD. 509; also note 1 above of X36. Cf. K. XVIII. 173. BhP. p. 245, 1. 17-18.


SD. 507; see above 136 note 1. The Gentle Dance (lāsya) in this connexion will consist of slowly moving glances only. Cf. BhP, p. 245, 1.19-20.


Cf. SD. 507; see above 136 note 1. Cf. K. XVIII. 175, BhP. p. 245, 1. 21-22.


The def. given in SD. (507) is different DR. and SD. read the term as Trigūḍhaka. Cf. BhP. p. 246, 1. 1-2.


See BhP. p. 246, 1. 3-4.


Cf. SD. 508. Cf. K. XVIII. 178, BhP. p. 246. 1. 5-6.


Cf. SD. (509) which reads the term as Dvigūḍha. Cf. K. XVIII. 179, BhP. p. 246, 1. 7-8.


Cf. SD. (509). Cf. BhP. p. 246, 1. 9-10.


SD. and BhP. omit this.


See BhP. p. 246. 1. 11-12. Cf. SD. 509.


SD. omits this. See BhP. p. 246. 1. 13-14.

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