In "Natyashastra" by Bharata Muni, what are the main points (or the summaries) of the first, sixth, and seventh chapters?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First Chapter

Basically, the Natyashastra documents the history behind the development of the arts in India; it is a theater and dance treatise of national importance. The Natyashastra describes how the Natyaveda (fifth Veda) was created by the deity Brahma and eventually taught to a mystic scholar named Bharata. Chapter One documents the names of Bharata's one hundred sons, the importance of the graceful Kaiseki style in Indian dance, and how the apsarasas (mythological female goddesses who excelled in the art of sensual dance) were created to demonstrate the Kaiseki style. It also describes the origin of the first playhouse (Indian theater), the characteristics of Indian drama, how different deities are tasked with protecting the actors and the different areas of the theater, and the origin of the Jarjara.

The Jarjara was basically a magical staff used by the the god Indra to beat to death the vighnas (evil spirits) that attacked the actors. Since then, the Jarjara is a revered object in Indian theatrical circles; it is believed that the Jarjara wards off evil spirits. 

Sixth Chapter

This chapter introduces what are called rasas (or sentiments) and bhava (states or emotions). The Sixth Chapter explains that the bhavas are emotions portrayed by actors on stage. The portrayal of emotions (bhava) evokes sentiments or feelings (rasa) in the audience. Each rasa has a presiding deity. The original Natyashastra proclaimed that there were eight rasas

1)The Erotic Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

2)The Comic Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

3)The Pathetic Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

4)The Furious Sentiment.

5)The Heroic Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

6)The Terrible Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

7)The Odious Sentiment (of which there were three kinds).

8)The Marvelous Sentiment (of which there were three kinds). 

Seventh Chapter

This chapter further explains the bhavas (states or emotions). There are three categories of bhava (dominant, transitory, and temperamental). In all, there are 45 bhavas and 8 sthayi bhavas or prevailing/permanent emotions that correspond to the eight rasas described above. In Indian drama, the actors become the emotions they are portraying. To evoke specific feelings and sentiments in the audience, the actors resort to abhinaya. Abhinaya (the means of theatrical or histrionic representation) comprises gestures, words, makeup/costume, and a representation of the temperament.  


Ancient Indian Literature: An Anthology by Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, India).

Approaches to Acting: Past and Present by Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe


maadhav19 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These sections lay out how to understand the role of emotional states in dramatric performance. The key terms here to understand are bhava and rasa.  A bhava is a kind of mood or experience that comes with a scene or action, while a rasa is the inner feeling that the drama is protraying. There are eight rasas: love, humor, anger, compassion, disgust, horror, courage, and wonder. The theory is that it is through the signs and actions of dance and acting that the audience experiences the feelings the actor intends.

Since the first chapter deals with creation, and the suggestion that drama constitutes a "fifth Veda," the implication is that once can experience transcendent or religious states through drama. Many plays enacted scenes taken from lore about the gods, heroes, and other quasi-divine beings from Indian lore. Since the Vedas were barred to the lowest classes, these dramas were a way to experience the stories associated the Vedic hymns. 

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