Natyalalitakalasangraha is an Anthology of theories of performing and fine arts prepared from the Sastras or original Sanskrit texts dealing with these arts. A reference work of encyclopedic nature, it presents exposition of technical terms from original Sanskrit texts related to arts and aesthetics. The editor, Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi, is a well-known expert of Natyas astr a, traditional Indian theatre and aesthetics. Natyalalitakalasangraha edited by him with a detailed introduction, presents a comprehensive exposition of fundamental concepts from more than one hundred basic Sanskrit texts. It establishes the relationships as well as the uniqueness if the disciplines underperforming and plastic artsnatya (Performing Arts), sangita (Music) nrtta and nrtya (Dance) and citra (Painting and Sculpture). Relevant excerpts from Agama texts and texts of Saiva philosophy have also been incorporated.
Radhavallabh Tripathi is one of the senior- most professors of Sanskrit in the country. At present he is working as Vice- Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan (Deemed University) at Delhi. Widely acclaimed for his original contributions to the study of aryashastra and Sahityashastra, he has published 129 books, 187 research papers and critical essays as well as translations of more than 30 Sanskrit plays and some classics from Sanskrit into Hindi. He has received more than 25 national and international awards and honours for his literary contributions. He has been referred in various research journals on Indology. Research for Ph.D. has been completed as well as is being carried on his creative writings in Sanskrit in a number of Universities. Some literary journals have published a special numbers devoted to his life and writings.
Natyalalitakalasangraha is an Anthology of theories of performing and fine arts prepared from the Sastras or original Sanskrit texts dealing with these arts. It can also be consulted as an encyclopaedia of concepts and theories of arts in Sanskrit. The arrangement of terms has been made with a view to establish the relationships as well as the uniqueness of the concerned discipline.
This Anthology comprises terms belonging to diverse categories. There are key terms forming fundamental concepts that percolate in various disciplines. There are terms adopted from one discipline into another retaining the original sense. Also, there are terms specifically related to a particular discipline, but then they are appropriated in various allied disciplines too. There are terms adopted from one discipline in another with slight change in connotations.
It has been a difficult task for me to arrange the material relating to the diverse arts i.e. natya (Performing Arts), sangita (music) nrtta and nrtya (dance) and citra (painting and sculpture) systematically, as various concepts and the technical terms belonging to them always have cross references and interrelation- ships. Visnudarmottarapurana rightly adjusts these arts, viz. - Pratima, Citra, Nrtta, Atodya, Gita, Natya-in their inter-dependence and interrelationships. If one wants to be adept in iconography and sculpture, then he should learn painting first, but to be an expert of the art of painting one needs to know dance and for becoming adept in dance, one should know instrumental music and before one practices instrumental music, he should know gita (see 1.5.7 in this Anthology). I have therefore kept the order of the four sections (II to V) in this Anthology in accordance with the order established by Visnudharmottara by the way of interdependence of these arts.
Considering that there are certain core concepts and key terms that form the fundamentals of the aesthetics for all these arts, the first section has been devoted to the basic terms. These terms also bring out the aesthetic concepts and philosophical foundations. Relevant excerpts from Agama texts and texts of Saiva philosophy have also been incorporated in this section.
The first section devoted to fundamental concepts contains the following Key terms-anukrti, itihasa, purana, kavya, silpe (art and literature), kala, gandharva (music), tala,1aya (rythm), kavi, kama, kala (time), dik (space), chandas (metre, prosody), rasa, prayoga (performance), samudaya, sempradeya, ranga (theatre), nepathya, desi marga, nada, sama, alankara, rupa, lavanya, rekha, yeti, gati, vanmaya, nayaka and nayika. These terms reflect the world view and aesthetic theories characteristic of Indian tradition. They are also employed in the context of diverse arts. Take the term alarikara for example. Alankara is not only a vital concept in literary theory, it is equally important in music and dance. The combinations of particular notes (svaras) which enhances the rakti or raga involving peculiar use of Varnas is alankara. The use of alankara generates various layers in svaras. Alankara is also employed in instrumental music, particularly in avanaddha type of instruments. There Alankara leads to harmony amongst various instruments.
Owing to their inter-contexual references, a number of terms have been repeated in the different sections, and some- times within one section, they are taken up in different sub- sections. Laya, Rasa, bhava, gandharva are such terms. Rasa being a core concept has been taken up in the first section, but as natyarasa and citrarasa it recurrs in the sections devoted to natya and citra. The term nada is loaded with philosophical connotation that is significant for all arts. Therefore its conceptual framework has been taken up in the first section (see. 1.15 and 1.15.1 in this Anthology). However, the Nadaprakaranam is rightly adjusted in the third section devoted to Music (see 3.2 in this Anthology). In the same way, the terms Nayaka and Nayika are taken up in the first section (see l.19.1; l.19.3; l.19.4 and l.19.5), but the categories under Nayakanayikabheda are also relevant to the section second devoted to drama, as well as the other sections devoted to music, dance and painting. Similarly, the term Vrnda is taken up in the first section (see-1.13.3 in this Anthology); while it’s detailed formulation from the point of view of music is explained in the third section (see Vrndah-3.16.17 in this Anthology). The terms like Anga, Upanga, and Pratyanga recur in the second and the fourth sections as per the context. Many of the Uparupakas or minor forms of drama, like Bhanaka, Presthanaka. Lasika, Rasika, Durmallika etc are also dance forms but they are seperately treated in second and fourth sections owing to the difference in their definitions as forms of drama and as dance forms.
Not only the key terms like Rasa, bhava etc., even the allied terms had to be scattered in different sections. Hasta for example, is taken up in II section on natya (Theatre), and even nrtta hastas have been covered in this very section as they are as much essential for the performance of a play as for dance. However, the additional hastas have been kept in the section on dance as the authors who have described these additional hastas are treating them in the context of dance. Angaharas and keranas are as much essential for natya and nrtya. However, considering that Bharatamuni himself described them in the chapter devoted to dance in his Natyasastra, I have included them in the fourth section.
The last section (no. 6th) of this Anthology is the most important one from the point of view of references. All the terms used in all the five sections have been arranged here alphabetically and each term is given a number so that interested readers can search it quickly in the Anthology.
This Anthology comprises of selections from original Sanskrit texts on natya (Theatre), sangita (music and musicology), nrtta and nrtya (dance) and citra (painting and sculpture). Material from other relevant texts-Brahmanas, Kamasutra, Puranas and works on literary theory has also been drawn.
Natyasastra (NS) of Bharatamuni is a voluminous compendium on aesthetics, drama and theatre, dance, music and performing arts. It is in fact the most comprehensive work on performing arts in ancient Indian tradition. It was compiled approximately in second century BC, i.e. the same time, when Vatsyayana wrote his Kamasutra. Bharatamuni or the author of Natyasastra is very well aware of the tradition of Kamasastra.
The word 'Natya' in Sanskrit stands for the art of drama and practice of theatre. Natyasastra, literally meaning a discourse on the discipline of Natya, is composed in verse-form and comprises around 6000 stanzas in 36 chapters. Bharata is said to be the author of this monumental work. He is also known as Bharatamuni.
Natyasastra was compiled to set models and standards for the actors or the artisans connected with theatre, including the dramatist. Abhinavagupta, a very authentic commentator of Natyasastra has aptly defined the purpose of this text-Natyasya naravrttasya sastram sasanopayam grantham. (Abh. Vol. I p.3) i.e. it is a text for disciplining the conducts of an actor.
Kalidasa is the first Sanskrit dramatist who specifically referred to Bharata as a director of theatre performance in his play Vikramorvaslyam. Kalidasa is also aware of NS as a text.
Shri Ramakrishna Kavi, whose name has assumed legedary proportions for having brought out the first critical edition of Natyasastra with Abhinavabharati of Abhinavagupta, places Bharatamuni sometimes around 500 BCE. On the basis of linguistic and Anthropological evidences, Harprasad Shastri establishes that NS was composed around second century BC, Scholars like P.V. Kane and S.K. De tried to fix different periods for different portions of NS accepting it ash text which grew through ages.
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