danza india shivanataraja



danza shiva nataraja



danza di shiva






danza tempio


The Natyashastra ascribed to the mythical Bharata is one of the major sources about the theatrical performance and the dance. It is written in Sanskrit language. It is proposed in the traditional learning form where the student seated at the feet of his master receives the teaching from him. The information contained in it are many and cover many knowledge fields. An honourable position has been given to this treatise beside the Veda. It is also known as the fifth Veda o Natyaveda and for this reason venerated and respected as it helps man to develop the noblest qualities.
The word natya is not here used only to mean the theatrical performance and the dance, but also all the activities included in the theatre, therefore the prescription of scene, dance, music, aesthetic, dialectology, costume, make up etc.
Its importance does not come from being the first treatise about this subject (references to these arts can also be found in previous texts) but from the fact that it is the first one to give to these arts a codification and to establish their form.
Without going deeply into the matter of the controversies relative to the birth of dance and therefore if that originated from the theatre or vice versa, it is enough to observe that these two artistic styles developed themselves in the same way, integrating one in each other.
In the text Bharata himself tells a story which narrates the birth of the dance and the dram, their practice, the effects and the use. The story tells that long time ago the great wise men Atri and others, blessed with self control and wisdom, visited the hermitage of Bharatamuni, expert in dramaturgy.
The wise Bharata having completed his daily austerities and meditations, was seated under a tree surrounded by his disciples, his own progeny. He welcomed his guests with respect, he offered them as per the custom, some water to refresh their hands and their feet, some mixture of milk, fruit and honey as refreshment; therefore the wise men asked to the supreme Bharata to reveal them the essence of the Natyaveda as he had received such knowledge directly from Brahma, the Creator.
The first chapter of this book continues by telling that with the arrival of the treta age, men started to be victims of lasciviousness and avidity, to engage themselves in degrading rituals, to be dominated by passions and jealousy, subject to joy and grief. Therefore the Gods led by Indra went to Brahma requesting to create a fifth Veda able to cure the above mentioned diseases and to bring pleasure to both eyes and ears of all men, without distinction of caste; hence a Veda that on the contrary of the other four was accessible also to the shudra.
After accepting the request of the Gods Brahma meditated deeply on the essence of the four veda and elaborated the Natyaveda from their synthesis.

Brahma the supreme Being considered this way: “I must compose a fifth veda, entitled the Natyaveda, in harmony with the legends (itihasa) that will lead to the respect of the laws (dharma), to the achievement of the wealth (artha) and the pleasure (kama); it will be a collection of principles and wise advises; it will be useful as a guide for all the actions of the future generations; it will be enriched with the teachings of all the important treatises (shastra) and it will propose every type of art and job.
() He took the drama (pathyam) from the Rigveda, the singing (gitam)from the Sama; the gestural expressiveness of the theatre (abhinaya) from the Yajurveda and the sentiment (rasa) from the Atharvaveda. The Natyaveda was then created, linked with the veda and the Upaveda, from God Brahma who is omniscient”  (Natyashastra, I, 14-18).

When the “fifth  veda” was completed Brahma asked Devendra to spread this knowledge to the other divinities and to the men. But its formulation came out to be of difficult comprehension and therefore Devendra called the wise Bharata and charged him to transmit this knowledge in a simpler way to all humanity.

The tradition says that Bharata Muni, contained the monumental wisdom in 3600 shloka or verses in a voluminous treatise, the Natyashastra and transmitted it to the future generations.
This theory about the origin cannot of course claim historical authenticity, however it let believe that could find formulation only in a society where the dance and the drama enjoyed a great prestige. The name Bharata can already be found in the books of the vedic time, however as he is not mentioned in any other book and there are not clear references to the author of the Natyaveda, it is not possible to establish an historical identity. The identity of Bharata is in fact surrounded by the mystery and it is subject of study for many Indian historians. Bharata is the name of the eponymous hero of India and of the author of the Natyashastra; the word bharata meaning the actor could derive from his name. In this reading key, the Natyashastra would come out to be a guide to the activities of a bharata, of an actor and hence called Bharatashastra. But afterwards this work took the meaning of shastra transmitted by Bharata. However the first one to refer to Bharata Muni as the author of the Natyashastra seems to be the dramatist Bhavabhuti.
The dating remains anyway object of discussion and many are the dates proposed.
The most credible is however the one saying that the treatise would be the result of different authors and would have been composed a during a long length of time reaching the present drawing up around the Bhamaha (IV-V century a.C) and Dandin (end of VII – beginning of VIII century) age or maybe even earlier; the oldest parts could go back, in fact, to the I century a.C.
Other scholars like for example M.Gosh propose even earlier dates till 500 b.C, H.P. Shastri sets it in the II century a.C. In other words as it is impossible to establish a correct date a range of time that goes from the I century a.C to the VII-VIII century is accepted.
From the VIII century on many comments to this book arose. Among these the following are worth to be  mentioned: Udbhata (VII-VII century); Lollata (middle of VIII century); Shankuka (813 a.C); Kirtidhara (IX or X century), Abhinavaguptta (XI century) and many other.
By recognizing to the drama divine origins, Bharatamuni gave to it not only a religious background, but also a literary one for both, the technique and the theory showing at the same time the aesthetic and secular scopes of it. This deep link established by the dance with literature, religion and mythology constitutes also a precious help in the attempt of drawing up an historic profile of this art. The Indian classical dance would only be  a cold technique without that rich literature on which the Indian dance is based. Literature is what makes it rich of noble meanings and that, together with the gestural expressiveness of the body and the music, represent the heart of it.
“When a dancer dances a specific literary and religious tradition liven up; she expresses through the movement of her body what a writer wants to describe through the words and the poetry”