The arts of Drama, Dance and Music are closely allied although each has a self -contained individuality origin and development. There are two broad divisions of all arts and particularly in this art, namely folk art and classical art. Modern historians make it a point to trace the growth of art from barbarism. There can be no objection to this procedure in the case of Folk Art. But Classical Art that has been developed in every country has been either directly guided by inspired persons or developed by their texts and tradition. Most of these inspired persons are Seers and some are semi-Divine according to traditional accounts. We should tacitly agree to call this traditional account 'mythology ' or 'legend' and dismiss them summarily but for the unique ancient texts on arts and sciences that have happily survived in our country. Orpheus and Eusculapius can conveniently be labelled as mythological fingures since we have no trace of their sayings or writings. But it is not easy to dismiss Bharata. Nandikeswara and Narada in Drama. Dance and Music. Viswakarma and Maya in the realm of Architecture and Sculpture. Atreya and Dhanvantri in the world of medicine or Patanjali, in the sphere of higher psychology all for the simple reason that we have their texts quite intact bespeaking their extraordinary and in many instances super-human perception in their several subjects. This preservation of ancient treasures of culture has been possible only in India in spite of convulsion of political power and disappearance of dynasties, because of the institution of a separate class of society in our country, whose sole business was to study and teach and hand down knowledge from generation to generation. This unique survivat in India of the original texts of classical art which are as authoritative today as when they ware written must make us pause before dismissing as mythology the semi-divine and super-human personages of other countries like Greece who according to tradition are the originators of arts and sciences in those countries.
In fact civilization is not a mere evolution from barbarism, but the product of teachers super- human and semi-divine who have been sent by the All Merciful Providence from time to time to all countries. The religious scriptures are believed to consist of revelations and prophecies by inspired personages in every country. If the existence of Prophets and incarnations are accepted in the case of religious texts, it is not difficult to believe in their existence in the case of texts secular where such texts are still extant.
, Happily in our country agnosticism is only a mental epidemic of fashion that invades our country every now and then and spends itself away like other epidemics that affect our bodily health. Our normal mental condition is one of faith which, in other words is an intelligent recognition of powers above human as we have those that are sub-human.
We have thus two views regarding our attitude towards Our traditional account of our ancient texts. One is the modern historian's which says 'Do not believe any tradition unless it is corroborated by other testimony'. The other is Follow the intelligent tradition handed down by our great intellectual giants like Shree Shankaracharya, till it is conclusively proved to be false'. It is Cl. mere question of burden of proof. We need not be ashamed in this parting of ways to follow Shree Shankara rather than the Western orientalists.
In Dance, Drama and Music we still follow the texts of Bharata and Nandik eswara to their very letter. The Mudras of Bharata have excited the wonder of all the artistic world by their expressiveness and grace and the rhythmic movements of all the limbs of the body in Nritta, along with the movements of the feet with perfect grace and variety are being witnesed with mute admiration by all students of Dance.
When did these texts containing such ideal rules for grace, expressiveness and rhythm come into being? It is very difficult for the modern historian to think of such perfect pieces of artistic expression at a time when the civilizations of Greece and Rome, Egypt and Chaldea. Nineveh and Minos had not come into being. Unless one can conceive of a high civilization prior in date to these it is not possible to accept the, dates of these texts as given in the texts themselves. For Natya sastra says that the art of Natya or Drama was created by Brahma at the request of Indra, the king of the celestials as an innocent source of pleasure at the beginning of Tretayuga, when passions got the upper hand and people could not think of any source of enjoyment that did not involve injury to one another. The beginning of Tretayuga will take us to a time before Rama's Avatara The question is whether Natyasastra is old as that. Fortunately there is evidence both positive and negative to show that Natyasastra is prior in date to Shri mad Ramayana of Valmiki which was composed during Rama's life time i. e., the latter portion of Treta Yuga. We have in the Ramayana & reference to the seven jatis or Mother Ragas that are described in full in the Natyasastra. There is also reference to Angaharas or finished pieces of Dance which are described in the Natyasastra. This is on the 'positive side. On the negative side, we have hundreds of verses quoted by way of illustration in the Naytasastra in which there is not a single reference to Shri Rama or any other character or incident in the Ramayana. Ramayana abounds in references to Natya Nrtta, Natas and Naratakas both in description and similies. It can thus be taken that the art of Natya and Nartana had been elaborated long before the Ramayana.
There are many references to Gandharvas and Apsaras, the heavenly musicians and dancers in the Vedas and these personalities are referred to in a metaphorical sense in the well-known verses of 'Jayadi Honia', Nartana is prescribed as a part of sacrificial rites in the Yajur Veda. (See Yajur Veda Samhita Kanda VII Anuvaka 5). There is therefore, ample support for acting upon the date of the origin of Natyasastra as stated in the text itself.
Natyasastra of Bharata deals completely with. the theory and practice of Dramatics in all its branches of (I) Abhinaya or visual representation 2) Pathya or language (3) Chandas or prosody (4) Alankara or rhetoric (5) Geya or music vocal, instrumental and (6) Rasa Nishpatti or aesthetics. It is in fact the earliest available authority for the arts known as Nataka, Alankara and Saugita which last consists of Gita, Vadya Nrtya and Nrtta.
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