Sanskrit dance and drama

Mandakranta Bose mbose at INTERCHANGE.UBC.CA
Sun May 9 05:41:03 UTC 1999

        I am reading with much interest the informative discussion on
Sanskrit drama and dance traditions for the last few days on the Indology
list.  I thought I would share with you some information.  The major work
in this field was of course carried out by Dr. V. Raghavan.  His
discussion on Sangita literature appeared in the Journal of the Madras
Music Academy in the 1930s, providing detailed information on sources for
the study of dance and drama.  His discussion on the minor dramatic arts
appears in his work on Bhoja's Srngaraprakasa in which he often compares
 the Tamil dance and drama tradition with the Sanskritic tradition.
Another early scholar was D. R. Mankad, whose very important work
appeared in 1936.  Sometime later appeared works by Indu Shekhar and
Balwant Gargi, who dealt mainly with major dramatic forms, and by
A.K.Warder, who discussed both major and minor dramas,taking dance as a
component of minor dramatic art.  An important contribution to the
investigation into drama was by S.S.Janaki (who passed away recently), who
focussed on  Bhana.  Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan's work, Classical Indian Dance
in Art and Literature, is another important work in this field, in which
she has discussed some of the major Sanskrit texts on the dramatic arts.
K.M.Varma's Natya, Nrtta and Nrtya is also a must read.  My own work
attempts to understand, analyze and reconstruct the dance tradition of
classical India on the basis of 30 Sanskrit texts (from the 2nd through
the 18th century).  My 1991 book, Movement and Mimesis,refers to many
other scholars in this field.  One of my articles on the uparupaka, a
minor dramatic art form, is forthcoming in the Journal of Hindu Studies
(special issue, edited by Bruce Sullivan) this year.
        As for the question of the inclusion of the southern tradition in
the critical discourse on the performing arts, researchers will find a
great deal of interest in the early seventeenth century treatise, the
Nartananirnaya, of which I brought out a critical edition in 1991.  This
work is particularly valuable in providing information on regional
styles, forms and techniques.

Mandakranta Bose
Department of Religious Studies/
Director, Programme in Inter-cultural Studies in Asia
Institute of Asian Research
University of British Columbia
Vancouver B.C. V6T 1Z2
mbose at

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