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Nartananirnaya in Three Volumes (And Old and Rare Book))

Nartananirnaya in Three Volumes (And Old and Rare Book))
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Item Code: NAC070
Author: R. Sathyanarayana
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 1996
ISBN: VolI: 9788120812178
VolII: 9788120812185
Pages: 1440
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.8 inch X 7.5 inch
weight of the book: 4.40 kg

From the Jacket

The Nartananirnaya is one of the most influential, original Sanskrit treatises on Indian music and dance, appearing after the Sangitaratnakara of Sarngadeva. Its author is Pandarika Vitthala, a profound and versatile scholar who has also written Sadragacandrodaya, Ragamala, Ragamanjari, Dutikarmaprakasa and Sighrabodhini-namamala in the late 16th cent. A.D.

The Nartananirnaya is a primary, authoritative source for the theory and practice of these arts of its times and reflects the major changes which ushered in the modern ear for them. It has both range and depth and is illuminated with flashes of originality in every chapter. It is written in a simple, limpid literary style but with vivid imaginativeness in its reificatory descriptions.

With a unique methodical plan, the Nartananirnaya progresses through stepwise contributions of the Cymbal Player, the Mrdanga Player and the Singer to dancing in the first three chapters before culminating into its longest and fourth chapter on the Dancer. This chapter contains many novel features not only in the alphabet, vocabulary, grammar and idiom of the art, but in the performance conventions and repertoire including some dance forms of both South India and North India (some of which are actually choreographed). Its delineation of bandha nrtya and anibandha nrtya deserves the serious attention of both traditionalist and innovative dancers.

The present edition is based on extensive and wide-ranging critical apparatus; it offers detailed and exegetical text-critical comments. It is supported by a readable translation as well as a comprehensive and versatile commentary and numerous indexes.

Professor R. Sathyanarayana is widely recognized in India and outside as an authority on Indian Music and dancing. He is broadbased in several physical sciences, humanistic and indological disciplines. He has published many books, including critical editions, translation, commentaries, original works, monographs and research papers on music, dance and other subjects. He has received numerous academic distinctions (including doctoral degrees and fellowships), honours and awards. He is associated with numerous learned bodies in India and abroad.

Prof. Sathyanarayana belongs to the sisya-parampara of the Saint Music Composer Sri Tyagaraja. He is a music composer, teacher, public speaker and broadcaster. He travels frequently to interpret traditional Indian culture in several countries on cultural missions. He is acclaimed for his systematic contributions to the interdisciplinal and intradisciplinal bases of modern Indian musicology and danceology.


The Nartananirnaya is the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth volumes in the Kalãmülasãstra Series of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. The Nartananirnaya by Pandarika Vitthala is important from many points of view. It is written by a scholar musician from Karnataka who is at home with developments of the two arts in the North, particularly the courts of Man Singh, Madhava Singh and possibly, Akbar.

In the Foreword to the first volume of the Brhaddesi, I had mentioned that the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) was endeavouring to place before scholars and practising artists primary texts in the fields of arts, specially, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and dance, in a manner that the insulation between theory and the practice, the textual and the oral, the creative and the critical, can be broken. Within the tradition the two were complementary and there was a dynamic interplay. The scholar writer codified or systematised the practice, gave the latter a theoretical framework and the practising artists followed the broad categories formulated or enunciated by the theoretician. Also, it is clear from a careful persual of these texts, specially of architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and drama that two parallel life-lines were sustained. One, a pan-Indian or universal and the other, regional. Also, we observed that the Brhaddesi was the first to clearly identify two levels, namely, Marga and Desi.

Elsewhere I have drawn attention to the fact that the textual tradition can be divided in terms of chronology into the pre- and post-Natyasastra period to the Sañgitaratnãkara and again from the Sangitaratnãkara to the sixteenth century when many new texts were written in different parts of India. A last period is evident from the textual evidence which is gradually coming to light from the sixteenth to the early part of the nineteenth century. The periodisation has to be further refined by placing Matañga’s Brhaddesi on Music and Nandikesvara’s Abhinayadarpana on Dance between the Nãtyasastra and the Sañgitaratnãkara.

The Natyasastra, the Brhaddesi and the Sañgitaratnãkara are the milestones of the Indian tradition, both in theory and practice for nearly a thousand years. Between the compiling of the Nätyasastra and the Sañgitaratnakara many changes took place and the journey of these changes can be traced to the seminal text of Brhaddesi. It speaks for the first time of the murchhanàs and räga. This was a clear departure from the Natayã-sastra tradition. The Sañgitaratnäkara crystallizes the changes which may have taken place, gives them a theoretical basis by evolving new categories, thus, providing a textual authority for the performances. The Sañgitaratnakara, therefore, was as deductive as it was inductive.

The Nartananirnaya, coming nearly 500 years later, is another major historical pillar which is established on the basis of several interesting, often radical, changes, transformations, which were taking place in India in the practice of these arts. Apart from the distinct regional schools mentioned in the Nätyasastra in the concept of the pravrttis, of the two levels expounded by the Brhaddesi as Marga and Desa and further elaborated upon by the Sangitaratnakara, the categories are modified and sometimes new definitions are introduced.

The Nartananirnaya was composed in a totally different ambience. Now the courts of Man Singh, Madhava Singh and Akbar provided a forum for interaction between the North and the South, of different schools as also influences from outside. Here was a surcharged atmosphere of eclecticism. In painting, this is reflected in the well-known series of paintings—the Hamzanama, the Akbarnama and the Tarikh-e-Khandan-e-Timuria. In the musical traditions, the emergence of the schools of Dhrupad and all that is understood by the Tansenbani, is recognised. In dance also there was interaction amongst the dancers from Fargana, Tirbizi, and the dancers from Mandu brought to the Court as a result of the defeat of Baz Bahadur. Coupled with this was the inflow of the pervasive Rasa tradition from Vrindaban. Pandarika Vitthala, known by several names, was the artist, scholar and author, who must have been spectator-rasika of this phenomenon. At home in Karnataka and in the court of Man Singh, Madhava Singh, possibly Akbar, witness to this eclecticism, exposed to the diverse regional traditions, does an impressive and painstaking job of providing, once again, a theoretical base to an alive practical tradition. Thus, once again, as in the case of the Sangitaratnakara, the Nartananirnaya is both a deductive as also an inductive text. Soon after the writing of this text, naturally, it influenced the practice in different parts of India. Judging from the provenance of the Manuscripts, it appears to have travelled to many parts of India and was accepted as the authority for the structural framework of the two arts. The details of technique mentioned in the text are an important source for reconstructing the history of the compositional aspects of Indian music and dance. Pandarika Vitthala, with great sensitivity, lays down a framework in which he takes into account the major categories of Täla, Instrumental Music, specially Mrdañga, singing (gáyana), dancing (nartana) and dancer (nartaka). Even a superficial glance at the text makes it clear that the author was familiar with the work of his predecessors, specially, Sarñgadeva but he was no blind follower. This is as evident in Tii1adhäya as it is in the Mrdañga, the Gãyana and the Nartanãdhyãya. Pandarika Vitthala subscribes to the broad classification of music (sañgita), dance (nãtya, nrtya) of his predecessors. However, it is in the details of the sub-categories that many new and radical departures are in evidence.

An important feature in the Tãladhyaya, for example, becomes evident in his speaking about the muktaya and tihai principle in Tãla. Of great significance is the details of the hastas in playing on the mrdanga. He mentions many fingering and stroking techniques. A detailed study of this section would reveal many intricacies in playing the mrdañga. In dance, the division of bandha and anibandha are new.

Important also is his very discreet but important deletion of many types of movements in dance. Obviously, by Pandarika Vitthala’s time many movements must have gone out of vogue and many new forms may have come into being, specially in the category of movement, known as the karanas. A careful persual of this portion of his text clearly shows that 108 karanas had already been reduced to sixteen. Also, it is clear that certain composition had come into being. These compositions have to be clearly distinguished from the structure of dance. It is in this respect that we have to understand the forms that he mentions as the jakkani, the rasa-nrtyam, etc.

Extensiveness of the manuscripts material of the Nartananirnaya is indicative of its influence and the manner in which the text must have travelled to different parts of India, South India and Rajasthan alike. Its connections with Orissa are also obvious. In short, soon after the writing of the Nartananirnaya, apparently, it permeated into different parts of India-East and the West, North and the South.

In the case of Matralaksanam, Brhaddesi and the Dattilam the manuscript material was meagree. Our editors had to work on a single manuscript or a fragment of the manuscript. In this case, the material was not only extensive, but voluminous. No wonder, many editions of this text have appeared, the latest being of Mandakranta Bose. Dr. R. Sathyanarayana who has dedicatedly concentrated on texts of music and dance over the last three decades or more, has collated and edited the text on the basis of 15 manuscripts. He has given us a most erudite introduction, focused attention on the distinctive contribution of Pandarika Vitthala and has compared this text with other works of the same author. Dr. Mandakranta Bose in her edition has drawn attention to the connection between this text and the styles of Odissi and Kathak. There is more in this text which invites further discussion, discourse and dialogue between the scholars and artists from the South and the North, as also from Eastern India and the North.


The past is always relevant to the present in preparation for the future. This is true of both the individual and the society. A conscious and eclectic assimilation of the best in the past and an awareness of historical continuity are helpful in gaining a clearer perception of perspectives and goals. The cultural history of a people is effective in its message only in so far as it gives such a direction and focus. Art history is an important and integral part of cultural history.

Music and dance have always been the most powerful cultural expressions of man; they are not only mirrors for contemporary life but an index of his achievements and aspirations. But their experience becomes fully meaningful only when envisioned in their spatiotemporal continuity and multiple relationships. A first step towards this vision is interpretation of the past in relevance to the present. In art history, this involves the scientific and competent fixation of the texts of the past, their accessibility in contemporary idiom and interpretation in terms of the present. It also involves an articulation of the interdisciplinal and intradisciplinal ramifications of the fundamental concepts, definitions, axioms and assumptions of the various art forms which pervade the mother culture in a general form and are particularised within their own individual systems.

The Kalãmülasãstra Series and other activities of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts are engaged in magnificent work in this direction. The Centre has earned the deep gratitude of the world of art for its comprehensive and effective services to the Indian Arts in their many aspects. Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan is a seer f our times; artist, critic, author, art historian and researcher; she has bought a holistic vision, tireless enthusiasm, indefatigable energy and indomitable determination as well as administrative acumen into making the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts an enduring monument to Indian Art and Culture. I take this opportunity of paying my humble tribute to her and to her devoted band of workers.

When Dr. KapilaVatsyayan asked me to prepare the Nartananirnaya for the KMS I accepted readily because the work has attracted me in many ways: it is both comprehensive and original; it is distinctive in both content and form. Its author, Pandarika Vitthala is a profound, versatile scholar, hailing from Karnataka with a holistic vision of art and culture; he is equally authoritative in the music and of both South India and North India, in both empirical and textual An orthodox brahmin, but with a catholicity of outlook, yet retaining his own identity, he travelled extensively in the then war-torn India, carrying the message of peace and harmony of art with a singleminded devotion and dedication. He adorned the royal courts of Hindu rulers and Muslim rulers alike. He has imbibed and nourished the spirit of the authors of the Visnudharmottarapurana, Natyasastra, Abhinavabharati and Sangitaratnakara in their total vision. He and his works are golden bridges and are true symbols of national integration.

The editio princeps of the Nartananirnaya was first published by Karnataka State Sangeetha Nruthya Academy and Directorate of Kannada and Culture (Government of Karnataka) in 1986 with my editing, translation, commentary and indexes in Kannada in Pundarjkarnã1 (Collected Works of Pandarika Vitthala). This was followed by Dr. Mandakranta Bose’s edition from Calcutta in 1991. The present work is issued in three volumes as follows: Vol. I; Tãladhartr-prakaranam (Ch. I) and Mrdñgi-prakaranam (Ch. II); Vol. II: Gayaka-prakaranam (Ch. III: Rãgädhi- karanam and Prabandhadhikaranam); Vol. III: Nartaka-prakaraiarn (Ch. IV: Nartanãdhikaranam and Nrttãdhikaranam). Each volume is self-sufficient with regard to Text, Text-Critical Comments, Translation, Commentary and Indexes. The third volume also contains Bibliography and a Text-Critique. The principles adopted in editing, translation and commentary are set forth in the Introduction. The author’s name is determined by both intrinsic and extrinsic evidence to be Pandarika Vitthala, and not Pundarika Vitthala.

I am very thankful to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts for asking me to prepare this work for inclusion in the KMS Series. I am beholden to Prof. Dr. Satkari Mukhopadhyaya for his constant support, courtesy and affection. I have been greatly helped by many individuals and institutions in securing the collative sources. I have acknowledged their names in the Introduction. I acknowledge with much pleasure the help I have received from the learned scholar Vidwan H.V. Nagaraja Rao, M.A. of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore for his valuable suggestions in respect of Sanskrit grammatical usage. My sincere thanks are also due to Vidwan S. Jagannatha, M.A. and my wife Ms. Gown Sathyanarayana, M.A., RBV., and my grand nephew Chi. A. Nandagopal for collation and proof-correction and to my son Sangeethavidhwan R.S. Nandakumar for preparing the Indexes and Bibliography.

I thank Sri Ramashis and M/s Neographics for their patience with me and for the skilful and difficult task of typesetting of this work.

Preface from the Second Volume

Nartananirnaya is an influential, authoritative and original treatise on Indian music and dancing. It was composed by Pandarika Vitthala of Karnataka in the late sixteenth cent. A.D. under the patronage of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Like many other similar works it is indebted to earlier authorities such as Bharata and Sarngadeva (and especially to the latter’s commentator, Kallinãtha), but is, nevertheless, a valuable primary source for authentic data on the development and trends in these arts of the sixteenth cent. A.D. Pandarika Vitthala is the only Indian musicologist who was uniquely authoritative in several cognate art disciplines such as Karnataka music, Hindustani music, Persian music, classical and folk idioms of dancing, poetics, lexicography, etc. He is much esteemed, respected and borrowed by later authorities on music and dancing in both South India and North India.

Nartananirnaya comprises four chapters (prakarans), viz. Tãladhartr (cymbal Player), Mrdañgi (Mrdanga Player), Gayaka (Singer) and Nartaka (Dancer). Thus the treatise focusses and climaxes on the final chapter, the previous three chapters are infrastructural, resolved into the auxiliaries of dancing, viz. rhythm content (nattuvanga, tãla and mrdanga), melodic content (raga) and word content (prabandha). Such method of exposition is unique to Nartananirnaya.

The present publication of Nartananirnaya is issued in three volumes: the first volume contains the first two chapters, viz. Tãladhartr prakaranam and Mrdangi prakaranam (no. 17 of the KMS series). This second volume comprises the third chapter, viz. Gayaka Prakarana, subdivided into Ragadhikaranam and Prabandhãdhikaranam. The third and final volume will comprise the fourth and final chapter, viz. Nartaka prakaranam, again subdivided into Nartanadhikaranam and Nrttãdhikaranam. It will also have a Bibliography and a Text - critique. Each volume is self contained in respect of text, translation, Text-Critical comments, Commentary on the Text as well as numerous indexes relating to the Text and the Commentary.

Nartananirnaya was composed during the watershed of the history of Indian music and dancing. Each of its chapters reveals flashes of originality, innovation and new trends engendered in the contemporary practice of these arts. Thus, the Ragadhikaranam reflects the dramatic and dynamic changes which were taking place in the melodic content of Indian music at the time. Instances of this include (a) shift in the dynamic equilibrium between grãma and mela towards the latter, (b) metastability in the concept of mela and of rága classification, (c) fluidity in the criteria of raga-classification, (d) metastability in the antara, kakali and laghu (or mrdu) pancama notes, (e) Scalar temperament, (f) realignment of madhyama-grama ragas into Sadje-grãma (g) transference of the functions of the gráma to the mela by decentralisation, (h) reorientation in sonance and dasaprana, (i) systematic tabulation of melas by mathematical and methodological devices, (j) uniformity in svara vikrti, (k) develop men of paryaya tattva and of pratinidhi tattva, (1) recorganisation and redistribution of intervals in raga scales (m) individual and collective growth of ragas as a phenomenon in cultural dynamics due to intracultural and inter-cultural forces, (n) mutual interaction between spatio temporal continuity and provincial variance, (o) concretisation or reification (murtikarama, dhyeyarupa) of rãgas by intersensory image transference, (p) tonal and visual imagery in relation to mood evocation, (q) recognition and ‘classicisation’ of melodic material of Lolk, ethnic, exotic and provincial origin as well as their standardisation within the aesthetic coordinates, (r) development of equations between Hindusthani rãgas and Persian pardahs, (s) dynamic equilibrium between stabilisation-expansion, stasis-growth, tradition-innovation, etc. in the evolution of rágas, (t) family (or gender) classification of ragas on the criterion of bhãva-sãdrsya as an alternative to svara-sadriya.

Similarly, even though Pandarika Vitthala is heavily influenced by Kallinãtha’s commentary on the Prabandhadhyaya of Sañgitaratnakara of Sarñgadeva in delineating time-honored musical forms under the suddhasuda, alikrama, viprakirna and salagasuda classification, he offers for the first time eleven new song forms which were renowned in South India. It is noteworthy that unlike the traditionally transmitted prabandhas such as the ela varna sriranga dhruva, etc. candraprakasa etc. are not described in terms of angas and dhãtus. This is suggestive, as in other areas of Indian music and dance of the time, of a wave of renaissance which had begun to sweep over musical forms also. It is however, equally to be noted, that like many other musicologists of the past, Pandarika Vitthala so pointedly ignores song forms which were flooding the practice of both Karnataka music (pada, sulãdi, ugabhoga, vrttanama, vacana, mantragopya etc.) and Hindusthani music (e.g. khyal, Thumri) even in his own homeland and in the very royal courts in which he flourished. Notwithstanding, the original contribution of Nartananirnaya in its Gayaka prakaranam is substantial and merits serious study. The commentary on both adhikaranas endeavours to set the study of ragas and prabandhas in a continuous, historical perspective on a pan-Indian canvas.

Anew feature is introduced into the second and third volumes of the Nartananirnaya: The reader’s attention is invited to the availability of Text-Critical Comments (TCC) and Commentary on the Text (COT) in terms of the 1oka number and its pada (quarter e.g. 81d, 128c) on the appropriate recto (translation) pages, where more padas than one are given, the reference may be to each quarter or to their totality. In COT references a hypen indicates range (e.g. 28cd-3Oabcd, 129-144ab).

I am very thankful to Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and its academic director Dr. KapilaVatsyayan for asking me to undertake preparing the Nartananirnaya for inclusion in the KMS Series. I am beholden to Prof. Dr. Satkari Mukhopadhyaya, eminent scholar and teacher as well as coordinator, Kalakosa for his unfailing sympathy, understanding, courtesy and affection. He is indeed a golden bridge between an author and publisher. I have received much help from many individuals and institutions in securing collative material for this edition. I have duly acknowledged such help in the Introduction to the first volume. I acknowledge with much pleasure the help I have received from the learned scholar Vidwan H.V. Nagaraja Rao, M.A. of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore for his valuable suggestions in respect of Sanskrit grammatical usage. My sincere thanks are due to Vidwan S. Jagannatha, M.A. and my wife Ms. Gowri Sathyanarayana, M.A., RBP for collation and proof-reading and also to my son Sangeetha Vidwan R.S. Nandakumar for preparing the indexes and bibliography.

I thanks Sri Ramashis and M/s Neographics for their patient, painstaking, skilful and difficult task of typesetting this work.

From the Jacket Third Volume

Nartananirnaya (late sixteenth cent A.D.) is perhaps the most significant and influential treatise on music and dance after the Samgitaratnakara in theory and practice, in range and depth, in authentic tradition and epoch-making new trends. Flashes of primary originality and a deep concern for conservation are clearly visible in all its four chapters, viz. I. Taladhartr, II. Mrdangi (Vol. I), III, Gayaka: I. Ragadhikaranam, 2. Prabandhadhikaranam (Vol. II), IV. Nartaka: 1. Nartanadhikaranam, 2 Nrttadhikaranam (Vol. III). Its author Pandarika Vitthala has composed five more treatises. He is a versatile expert in multiple, cognate art disciplines with an eye for intradisciplinal detail and a vision of interdisciplinal perspective. He is an outstanding symbol of integration in art and culture.

This third and final volume of Nartana-nirnaya presents the fourth and final chapter which deals with nartaka (dancer); this is divided into two subchapters which delineate (a) aesthetic representation of affect (bhava and rasa in nrtya), (b) autonomous meaning in dance (nrtta). Among the unique and major contributions of this chapter of Nartananirnaya may be mentioned: i. classification of all dance into bandha (rigorously structured with prescribed items) and anibandha (which leaves scope for the dancer’s individualistic contributions in a given or inherited frame), ii. Revelation of a parallel corpus of professional terminology, iii. Analytic description of numerous unitary and segmentary dance forms pf which all extant dance compositions-both bandha and anibandha-were composed, iv. Refocusing of a North-South axial polarization of art forms and trends on a national canvas, v. indication of aesthetic tensions which were later resowed into new identities in dance, viz. bharatanatya, kathak and odissi, vi. Choreographed descriptions of actual, contemporary dance compositions.

The present volume contains two special editrorial contributions: I. a new method of indicating availability of Text-Critical Notes and Commentary on the Text to facilitate ready reference, ii. Text Critique in which an attempt is made to render the present edition uptodate, more comprehensive and inclusive of the earlier Calcutta edition.

The present edition of Nartananirnaya is based on adequate critical apparatus. It provides detailed and exegetical Text-Critical Comments; a readable English translation rendered self-contained in a new way, a comprehensive Bibliography and numerous indexes for both Text and Commentary, Self-sufficient for each volume. The work is supported by a detailed and probing commentary with fluent extrapolations from cognate, art interdisciplines.

Professor R. Sathyanarayana is widely reputed in India and abroad as an authority on Indian music and Indian dancing. He is broadbased in several physical sciences, humanistic and indological disciplines. He has published numerous books including critical editions, translations, commentaries, annotations, monographs, original creative books, and research papers on Indian music, dance and other cognate subjects. He has received numerous academic distinctions (including doctoral degrees, fellowships honorific titles), awards and honours. He is intimately associated with many learned bodies in India and abroad. He is a familiar figure in national and international learned conclaves. His major areas of interest and activity in music and dance include systematic textual criticism, textual interpretation with contemporary relevance, interdisciplinal extra-polations, and performance oriented reconstruction and revival of ancient and medieval compositions in music and dance. He is a guide and examiner for doctoral examinations.

Prof. Sathyanarayana belongs to the sisyaparampara of the Saint Composer Sri Tyagaraja. He is a music composer, teacher, public speaker, broadcaster, etc. he travels frequently to interprete traditional Indian culture in several countries on cultural missions. He is closely associated with several learned bodies. He is acclaimed for his systematic contributions to the intradisciplinal and inter-disciplinal based on modern Indian musicology and danceology.


The publication of this third and final volume of Nartananirnaya gives me immense satisfaction and pleasure.

Nartananirnaya is perhaps the most significant and influential treatise to be written (in the late sixteenth cent. A.D.) after the Samgitaratnakara, in quality and quantity, in theory and practice, in range and depth, in firm foundation of tradition and epoch making, effervescent new trends. This is noticeable in each of its four chapters: I. Taladhartr Prakaranam II, Mrdangi Prakaranam (Vol. I), III. Gayaka Prakaranam (1. Ragadhikaranam 2. Prabandhadhikaranam, Vol. II) and IV. Nartaka Prakaranam (1. Nartanadhikaranam 2. Nrttadhikaranam, Vol. III). Flashes of primary originality as well as a deep concern for the preservation and perpetuation of the contemporary usages in both arts are clearly visible throughout the work.

Pandarika Vitthala, the author has also composed Sadragacandrodaya, Ragamala, Ragamanjari, Dutikarmaprakasa and Sighrabodhininamamala. He is versatile and expert in multiple disciplines, with an eye for intradisciplinal detail and a vision for interdisciplinal perspective. He is a notable symbol of integration of the age in the field of art and culture.

The main subject matter of Nartananirnaya is nartaka (dancer). This is reached by a staircase (sopana) method from the orchestral ensemble, viz tala (cymbal), mrdanga (drum) and gayana; flute is described en passant in the chapter on singing; for vina the reader is referred to the author’s Ragacandrodaya. The subject of dancing (ch. IV) is divided into two sections: aesthetic representation of affect; presentation of the nonreferential, authonomous meaning of dance through kinetic, figurative etc. dispositions of the major (anga), minor (upanga) and subordinate (pratyanga) divisions of the human body. The author has made athetisations from and additions to the textual lore he has inherited from his predecessors to suit his unique classification of dance. This classification, viz, into bandha and anibandha is a major departure from earlier textual convention. Bandha is viewed as dance strictly structured with prescribed items while anibandha dance leaves some scope for individual innovation or creativity but in a given frame. The classification thus embrances both the conventional (or inherited or traditional) as well as the individualistic elements of art presentation. Besides techniques of expression (inherited for the most part) such as kinesic, mimesic and semiotic, (which is analogous to the elements of linguistic expression, viz. alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, etc.), the Nartananirnaya also describes for the first time a great deal of unitary or segmentary forms which served as building material of extant dance compositions belonging to both the bandha and anibandha classes of dance. Such material is garnered from a pan-South Indian granary. This is a major contribution of the treatise, which incidentally also reveals the occurrence of a parallel, professional parlance of terminology. A second significant contribution has a special value because the treatise was composed during a cultural watershed when a distinct polarization was emerging I the art forms on a South-North axis in India. This contribution consisted of refocusing them on a national canvas. This situation served as a crucible in which internal and external socio-cultural tensions had been developing in art needing resolution. This took the form of forging new identities. Nartananirnaya contains thus, much that may be interpreted as partial genrminations in our dancescape what came to be called Bharatanatya, Kathak, Odissi, etc. in course of time.

Yet another major contribution of this treatise is the descriptions of actual dance compositions from contemporary practice. Some were collected from Karnataka, Andhra and Tamilnad; some such as dhruvapada and jakkadi were of exotic origin; rasa was pan-Indian in prevalence. Mukhacali is choreographed in step by step minute detail; this has now survived as an abbreviated part in most classical dances under the names ranga vandana, dikpala puja, sabha puja etc. A basic conceptual change emerged at this time, viz. formations and reformations of the new identities (which soon came to gain recognition and patronage even in royal courts) were based on materials which were so for regarded as desi.

Two features introduced into this volume deserve special mention. If Text-critical Comment and Commentary on the Text are available for any part of the original text printed on a given page, they are indicated by the respective sloka number and pada (viz. a b c d) at the bottom of the opposite (i.e. Translation) page. This method is continued from the second volume. It is hoped that this will facilitate ready reference.

The second feature relates to Text Critique. In order to render the present edition uptodate, more useful and more complete, an attempt is made to relate a prior critical edition of Nartananirnaya by Dr. Mandakranta Bose (and published in 1991 at Calcutta) with the present edition. It comprises the following sections: i. Introduction (Text-Critical observations and perceptions on the findings of the learned editor of the Calcutta edition), ii. An additional prefatory passage called Stuti of 33 verses which is reedited, translated and provided with commentary on the (Stuti) Text by me, iii. A table of comparison showing the more important variae in the corresponding texts in the two editions with abbreviated observations of the present editor. This feature is the outcome of a suggestion to me by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan-ji that every attempt should be made to fix the original text. This is a humble effort to this end and I thank her for the suggestions.

I am very thankful to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and their great Academic Director Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan for asking me to prepare this work for inclusion in the Kalamulasastra Series. I am beholden to Prof. Dr. Satkari Mukhopadhyaya, Coordinator, Kalakosa, for his constant support, courtesy and friendship. Many institutions and individuals have helped me in securing collative sources for this edition. Their help is acknowledged in the Introduction to the Nartananirnaya in the first volume. I am very grateful to my very dear friend Mr. Roland Mann, formerly of McKnsey and Co. for his excellent editorial suggestions. I acknowledge with pleasure the considerable help I have received from the noted Sanskrit Grammarian, Vidwan H.V. Nagaraja Rao of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore for his valuable suggestions in respect of Sanskrit grammatical usage and in particular for his help in restoring and translating the ‘Stuti’ text. My sincere thanks are due to Vidwan S. Jagannatha, M.A. and my wife, Smt. Gowri Sathyanarayana, M.A., RBV for collation and proof-reading. I also sincerely thank my son Vidwan R.S. Nandakumar for preparing the Indexes and Bibliography. I am again very thankful to him and to Vidwan Soundararajan, M.A. for collecting date for the Text-Critique.

I thank Sri Ramashis and M/s Neographics, New Delhi for their patience with me and for the skilful and difficult art of typesetting and get up of this work.




  Foreword by Kapila Vatsyayan vii
  Preface xi
I Prelude 1
II Author 2
III Chronology 15
IV Treatises of Pandarika Vitthala: Content Analysis 25
V Special Contributions of Pandarika Vitthala 40
VI Special Features of Nartananirnaya 62
VII Higher Textual Criticism: Influences from the Past 66  
VIII Higher Textual Criticism: Influences on The Future 72
IX Lower Textual Criticism 82
Chapter I : Cymbal Bearer 98
Chapter II : Mrdanga Player 166
Chapter I Tala-dhartr-prakaranam 191
Chapter II Mrdangi-prakaranam 199
Chapter I Cymbal Bearer 205
Chapter II Mrdanga Player 272
  INDEXES 309-357
  Slokardhanukramani 309
  Visesapadanukramani 323
  Index to Authors, Composers 333
  Index to Works 336
  Index to Place-Names 339
  Index to Institutions 340
  Index to Technical Terms 341
  Preface vii
  Chapter III : Gayaka Prakaranam  
  A. Ragadhikaranam 2
  B. Prabandhadhikaranam 62
  A. Ragadhikaranam 132
  B. Prabandhadhikaranam 141
  A. Ragadhikaranam 151
  B. Prabandhadhikaranam 280
  INDEXS 399-492
  Slokardhanukramani 399
  Akaranukramani 420
  Visesapadanukramani 421
  Index to Authors, Composers 435
  Index to Works 441
  Index to Technical Terms 447
  Preface vii
  I. Nartanadhikaranam 2
  II. Nrttadhikaranam 48
  I. Nartanadhikaranam 207
  II. Nrttadhikaranam 229
  Introduction 365
  Text and Translation 371
  Commentary on the Text 383
  Comparison of Readings Notes 397
  Comparison of Textual Variants 399
  INDEXES 455-557
  Slokardhanukramani 455
  Visesapadanukramani 485
  Index to Names, Composers 515
  Index to Works Cited 519
  Index to Place Names 523
  Manuscript Copies Consulted 524
  Index to Words 525

Sample Pages

Volume I

Volume II

Volume III

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