Bharatha’s Natyasasthra: Part 2 - A Wisdom for All Days

Dr. C.P. Unnikrishnan

This is Part 2 of Bharatha’s Natyasasthra - A Wisdom for All Days. Read Part 1 here.

Analyse now. As the giant wheel of time runs in its own pace, history has seen the downfall of values several times. During such periods there have been some great souls who sought solutions for the social good. The Dikpaalakas represent such well-wishers. In terms of symbolism, Indra is the intellect, Kubera is wealth, Varuna is the all-purifying water and Yama is universal law and order. Any medium that is intended for the common man must be audio-visual and enjoyable. There should be no reservations of any sort. Multiple methods of expressions must be thought about while delivering any lesson to an assorted audience. One can function at one’s best only if one is on the track apt to his innate and acquired abilities. Present is the most important, but future cannot be ignored. When people seek advice, it must be given. All sciences are needed, as science is a logical array of facts. Mechanics and arts satisfy the technological as well as the aesthetic needs of humanity. Are these not relevant to the world of today or tomorrow?

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Only a man with a well thought about way of life can have positive qualities and would work without selfish motives. A man with a profound sense of logic and curiosity alone can design different modes to handle a subject and combine it as per the situational demands. An artist alone can be sufficiently imaginative to wonder at the nature’s play and interpret the same with beauty and appreciation. Man alone does not make the world. Woman is the natural complement, is an eternal truth. Do we not find Bharatha agreeing to all these?

Theory can be made only from practice. Practice must be based on objectives. Natya as a Veda could set the objectives. Only when trials are made and the practice put into order Veda becomes a Sasthra. This too we saw, being processed meticulously, between Bhramah & Bharatha.

Whenever Bharatha speaks of a particular aspect of a technique, he reminds the student to modulate the same, depending on the time and space. He even suggests in the 9th chapter (Hasthaabhinaya) that opposite gestures can be employed, if that works out better. Gestures may be avoided if a facial or body movement can convey the message better. More than once he specifies that even if men make mistakes, women must not. This is not in support of the feminists. He is reminding us, of the high pedestal on which ‘womanhood’ is placed according to the Indian concepts. All who stand below will follow a mistake made by the one from a higher level.

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Chapters 2 (Mandapavikalpam), 3 (Rangapooja) and 5 (Poorvarangam) speak about Bharatha’s knowledge in architecture, acoustics, theatre formalities, rituals, social customs and Taanthric symbolism. Chapter 4 (Thaandavalakshanam) describing the 108 Karanas bear ample testimony to the depth of vision the sage had about the kinetics of the human body. This when extended to chapters 11 & 12 i.e. Chaareevidhaanam and Mandalavikalpanamfurther explains the master’s knowledge about the martial arts, tuning the body and mind and utilizing the same for dramatization processes. Isn’t there an increased demand among the present generation and in the tensed world, to learn martial arts, practice yoga and meditation? (Let us not worry about the sense of immediate values and goals).