Lectures on Natyashastra by Prof. Bharat Gupt


Panel of a Portable Shrine with a Dancer and Musicians, 8th Century, Jammu and Kashmir
Image Courtesy: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (www.metmuseum.org)

Last year, Kalakshetra [1] had organized a five day workshop, where the scholar Bharat Gupt [2] discussed about and on Natyashastra. The entire lecture duration was for 25 hours! For those who don’t know him, he retired as the Associate professor from University of Delhi. He is described as Indian classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist [2].

In his own words [3]

The lectures-interactions provided a detailed exposition  of all the principles of performance in each of the 36 chapters of the  NS and related them to the present genres of performance  such as plays, cinema and sculpture.  The text and the ensuing discussion on it is made a  spring board to analyse and contrast many classical ideas with  Indian modernity not only in the area of performing arts but in the  approach to life as a whole.

Related paradigms of Hindu performance such as leelaa, avataara, charitra of gods as human, concepts of saguna and nirguna worship  were closely related to the ethos of NS performace. Limitations of religious cultures that do not allow mimesis of incarnation or depiction of holy lives were also discussed. Puritanic, secular or propagandist  approaches to art, and drama in particular, were contrasted with the Vaishnava ethos that allows full scope of depiction of the divine as human and the human as divine.

You can read the blog of dancer Nandita Prabhu, where she had penned her thoughts about the workshop (Day 1, Day 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

After the workshop he had reported that [4]

[He] spent some ‘glorious days’ there. Thrilled with the entire ambience of the campus and the way activities were being conducted amidst the throb of a ‘happening’ place, he was delighted with his interactions with the informed and very eager students asking him intelligent questions.

Recently, the videos of the lectures have been uploaded to YouTube.

Video 1: Introduction

Video 2: Natya and Shastra

Video 3: Natya to be seen and heard

Video 4: Body universe

Video 5: Brahma Math

Video 6: Is Natyashastra a compilation?

Video 7: Natyaveda vs Natyashastra

BN and WWW hopes that more videos would be uploaded to enlighten dancers around the world who missed this workshop in 2012. Enjoy listening to them!


  1. http://www.kalakshetra.net/Natyashastra_2012.html
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Gupt
  3. YouTube video
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/case-of-missing-the-wood/article3380171.ece
  5. http://www.metmuseum.org

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