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Natyasastra: A Study on Continuity and Progress of Indian Communication Theorising and Praxis

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Item Code: HAK444
Author: Kapil Kumar Bhattacharyya, Biplab Loha Choudhury, Ramesh N Rao
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9789359039886
Pages: 543
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 610 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description
About The Book

The book forays into the little-explored territory of ancient Indian communication wisdom available to us from various ancient Indian texts. Though the book primarily focuses on the Natyaśästra which is envisaged and interpreted as a practical guide to the human communication phenomenon in its entirety, it also explores and expounds on the communication concepts found in the Vedas, the Upanisads, the Dharmasūtras, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and other ancient Indian texts. Thus, a conscious effort has been made in the holistic approach of taking the whole into consideration rather than just the parts towards comprehensively untangling the intricacies of human communication in sync with its modern avatar in this book. In the process, the context and contour of human communication mapping has been marked following in the footsteps of the ancient Bharatiya sages and concentrating upon their subtle but far-sighted thoughts.


The Natyaśāstra, an ancient Indian treatise on performing arts, stands midway in the long timeline of recorded studies and research on the human communication phenomenon in Bharatavarsha, i.e., South Asia, the earliest traces of which may be dated back to the Vedic period. The paintings on rocks and rock art in the Bhimbetka caves from the hunter-gatherer stage to the neolithic artefacts of Mehrgarh offered definitive insights for laying firm foundations of the rich tapestry of communication which activated, informed and stimulated development of sixty-four areas of human knowledge and progress (catuḥşaştikalā). For the present (2022), the writings in Harappan script to discover pre-Vedic insights could not be taken up, as further research that may enable us to decipher the writings for arriving at conclusive meaning, is yet to come to completion.

The four Vedas present communication wisdom that evolved in a civilizational continuity of thousands of years while Natyaśāstra represents a marvellous instance of perfecting such wisdom-based praxis to continue the civilizational culture with all its vibrations. The Natyaśāstra offers a vivid description of this complex communication wisdom that was perfected by the Vedic sages for practical purposes, both divine and mundane. The author of the Natyaśāstra duly acknowledges that the necessary elements for composing the same (pathya, gita, abhinaya and rasa) were taken from the four Vedas (Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva) only (N.S., Chapter 1, Verse 17-18) which culminated in the de- velopment and documentation of the art and science of natya to be practiced for and in social communication through nrtya (dance), gita (song), vadya (instrumental music) and abhinaya (palpable expressions). Natyaśästra offered a full experience of the natya in the post-Vedic age, somewhere between the third century BCE and the first century CE. In moderate estimation, this was a development of around two thousand years before Bharata Muni, the "Father of Indian Performing Art Forms" and the author of the Natyaśästra could write down the knowledge of their praxis and the theories behind the praxis in the Sanskrit language. Whether this thirty-six-chapter treasure trove was written by one Bharata Muni or by many is not important from the perspective of the Indian subcontinental knowledge tradition which does not believe in authorship claims for worldly gains. But the tradition takes enough caution in the praxis of flawless oral and aural trans-generational communication towards ensuring uninterrupted, undiluted, and uncorrupted flow of the cumulative knowledge gained through generations.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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