Post No. 9961

Date uploaded in London – 10 AUGUST  2021     

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Bharata, author of Natyasastra, gives amazing details about the role of colours in the dance dramas. It is not surprising to see the use of colours because we see colour coding even in Bhagavatha. Krishna wearing yellow clothes is called Peetambaradhari and Balarama wearing blue clothes is called Neelambaradhari.

Bharata even applies colour coding for seats. Please see the link given at the end.

Hindus’ obsession with colours began in Rigvedic period. Indra’s horses are described as tawny coloured. Sometimes they are red. Different colour skins of cows are also mentioned by Vedic Rishis.

Coming to ornaments and hair styles, he gives minute details. Before going into the details of colours and ornaments, let me make my comments

  1. Hindu dramas of ancient India followed their own rules in ornaments and dresses. It has nothing to do with the Greek dramas . The big difference between the Hindu statues and Greek statues is ornaments. Greeks don’t wear ornaments. Hindu statues and paintings of Ajanta, Bharhut,Sanchi, Aamaravati are seen wearing ornaments all over the body. They have names for ornaments from head to toe.
  • Colour coding is also not found in Greece .
  • Another important point is the division of Hindu society. Foreigners who translated Vedas made adjective words into proper nouns. Arya should be translated as ‘educated, cultured ‘ etc. But they put capital A for Arya and made them a race. In the same way Dravidians should be southerners. But they put one capital D for the word and made it a race. We have very good evidence against Maxmuller gang, the advocates of Aryan-Dravidian theory. Here in Natyasastra, we don’t find Aryan or Dravidians. If Dravidians are mentioned we know it is about southerners. But they are mentioned with other peoples. In short, they are not racial.

Now let us look at the colours , from Chapter 23 of Natya sastra

Make- up (Slokas 72-89)

“Now I shall speak about the proper make up of male characters.

First of all their bodies should be painted. White, blue, yellow and red are primary colours. There are derivative colours as well as minor colours.

The derivatives are

White + blue = Pandu (yellowish white)

White +red = Padma (lotus colour )

Yellow +blue =  Harita (Green)

Blue + Red = Kasaya (deep red)

Red + Yellow = Gaura (pale red)

Besides these, there are many colours made up of three or four primary colours.

Once the fans get used to these colours, they can easily understand the story. Dialogues may be inaudible, but the colours of characters will help them to recognise them.

Bharata continues with hair styles and ornaments…

Slokas 49-61

Celestial women should be distinguished by their ornaments and costumes, and females of Vidhyadhara, Yaska, Naga and Apsara groups as well as daughters of sages and gods to be distinguished by their costumes. The same rule applies to Siddha, Gandharva, Raksasa  and human females.

(Here we must note that there is no Arya or Dravidian classification. Through out devotional Tamil literature Lord shiva is addressed as Arya. It has no racial connotation.)

The vidhyadhara women should have their hair tied in a top knot, must have many pearls, but wear white costume.

The Yaska and apsara women should wear many jewels, costume to be the same but the yaksa women’s hair must be worn in a Sikha. The naga women should wear ornaments like goddesses, should wear ornaments of pearls and jewels, but the latter must be in the form of wild fruits.

Daughters of sages must wear their hair in a single braid and there should not be many ornaments.

The siddha women must wear plenty of ornaments pearls and emeralds and yellow costumes.

The gandhrva women should wear ornaments of rubies, costumes of saffron colour and a Vina in their hands.

The Rakshasa women should wear blue stones, white protruding teeth and black costume; the goddess pearls and Vaidurya and costumes green like a parrot tail, but this only while they are enjoying love;I n other conditions white.


Hair styles for different regions are as follows…..

Avanti women- curled hair

Gauda- a sikha pasa

Abhira women- two braids with head band

North east women- a sikhandaka standing up. They must cover their body up to the hair.

Women of South- wear tattoos on their fore heads

Then he describes make ups for different characters.

Let me summarise,

All these show that our drama and dance have unique features. The oldest portion of Natyasastra goes back to fifth century BCE.

I will give the list of ornaments separately

Links to old articles:-

Natya sastra | Tamil and Vedas › tag › natya-sastra


27 Feb 2021 — The ”Natya Shastra” is the oldest extant literature in the field of dramatic arts. The black-coloured sculpture, conceptualised by classical …

Colour Coding of Seats in Ancient Theatres! | Tamil and Vedas › 2014/05/13 › colour-codin…


13 May 2014 — In the Natya sastras we have references to 18 different types of stages. … The Natyasastra of Bharata is a compendious treatise on …

You visited this page on 03/08/21.


tags- natya sastra, colours, costumes, ornaments, Bharata



Post No. 9317

Date uploaded in London – –27 FEBRUARY  2021     

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Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge.

this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.,

Agreement between Tolkappiam and Sanskrit works on Grammar

BY S N Sri Rama Desikan


The first two chapters of Tolkappiam deal with grammar while the third deals with literature/ rhetoric. These are analogous to three divisions in Sanskrit-


Vyakarana and

Alankara sastra

It may be observed that the portion’s of Tolkappiam dealing with the form of letters, their origin, their four -fold manner of compounds and seven Vyakrthis agree with the Sanskrit grammatical works of Panini, Yaska’s Nirukta, Patanjali’s Mahabhasya etc.

In Tolkappiam, we find 50 Sanskrit words, 25 Prakrit words and some technical terms.

In regard to the explanations for the

eight sentiments/Rasas,

ten states/Avastas and

32 Accessory feelings/Vyabhichari bhavas, there is full agreement between the Bharata Natyasastra and Tolkappiam.

As Tolkappiar himself says in several places,

I am giving here explanation according to Natya sastra; some consider that the source should be Bharatas Natya sastra.

In the matter of

32 Kavya Yuktis/ literary practices,

ten kavya doshas/ literary blemishes and

Sutra lakshanas / characteristic’s of aphoristic compositions also,

Tolkappiam agrees with the Bharata Natyyasastra and Arthasastra.

Tolkappiar has also followed closely the sastras like

Manu Smrti and Dharma sastras in regard to

eight kinds of marriages, their classification according to castes , proper and improper marriages and their characteristics .

There are similarities also regarding

nature of Jivas and

 five Tinais / regional classification

It can be inferred that there should have been a common basic work even if one does not go so far as to state that one language follows the other.

The Sangam poets have referred profusely to the episodes in the epics and Puranas.

Following list of Sanskrit words in Tolkappiam is given by Prof. Vaiyapuri Pillai


tags- Sanskrit words, Tolkappiam, Prakrit words, Bharata, Natya Sastra

Bharata Muni statue unveiled in Delhi (Post No.6643)

Kavita Dwibedi with Bharata Muni


Date: 17 JULY 2019

British Summer Time uploaded in London – 16-5

Post No. 6643

Pictures are taken from various sources including Facebook, google, Wikipedia. This is a non- commercial blog. ((posted by AND

New Delhi, July 16,2019– Joining the pan-India celebrations of Guru Purnima, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) on Tuesday unveiled a statue of sage and theatrologist Bharata Muni who composed the ”Natya Shastra”, an ancient Sanskrit text on performing arts.

The unveiling happened on the Foundation Day of IGNCA”s Kalakosh division, a department dedicated to the rich body of literature surrounding India”s classical arts.

The statue was unveiled by Rajya Sabha MP and classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, IGNCA president and senior journalist Ram Bahadur Rai, and National Gallery of Modern Art director-general and sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak.

The ”Natya Shastra” is the oldest extant literature in the field of dramatic arts.

The black-coloured sculpture, conceptualised by classical dancer Padma Subrahmanyam and sculpted by Bengaluru-based artists T.N. Rathna and S. Venkataramana, represents divine forces and the classical arts tradition of India.

It can now be seen at the IGNCA”s entrance.


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Colour Coding of Seats in Ancient Theatres!

sitabenga cave
Amazing Cave Theatre: Sitabenga near Ambikapur.

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No. 1040; dated 13th May 2014.

Specimens of ancient theatre stages are available now. They are found in two caves in a series of hillocks named Ramgarh in Chhattisgarh. These two caves are named as Shitabenga and Yogimara caves and they are near Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh. There are two dramatic stages coupled up with green rooms as they were prevalent in the olden days when Sanskrit plays used to be staged. It is said that these caves are at least 2200 years old.

In the Natya sastras we have references to 18 different types of stages. Some of these stages were triangular, some of them were of square size and often the stages were quadrilateral in shape. A quadrilateral stage has some characteristics of its own, its length being twice its breath. If its length could be measured at 64 yards its breadth would be 32 yards.

Square shaped stages were more common, measuring four yards each side. The auditorium was in front of the stage with seats made up of wood and bricks. The seats meant for the Brahmanas had white pillars in the front and the seats meant for Kshatriyas had red coloured pillars in their front. The Brahmanas would sit in the front row and the Kshatriyas would sit behind them. Usually the seats of the Brahmanas used to be at the nearest point of the stage. Then the Vaisyas had their seats in the Vayukona i.e. North West corner of the auditorium and those seats were marked by the yellow colour pillars. Sudras used to sit in the Isana kona i.e. the north east corner and their seats used to be marked with black colour pillars.

cave ramgarh
2300 year old Ramgarh Caves used to stage dramas

Usually the stage used to be a two -storeyed one. Any play centering round the men and matters of the earth would be staged on the groud floor of the stage, while the incidents which were heavenly or celestial used to be enacted on the first floor of the stage.

Screen and Background Wall

Scenes of cities, villages, rooms, houses, rivers, forests etc., figured prominently in the scenic depictions on the wall. On each side of the wall there was a door kept hidden by a thin piece called Yavanika. This had many colours. If it is a comedy play white Yavanika was used, because poets associated white with laughter. Fame, glory and laughter are described as white. (it may be due to the white teeth and white umbrella of the Royals). If it is a warfare Yavanika was in red colour(blood and anger were associated with red in old literature). The actors and actresses used the doors on the wall to enter and exit from the stage. Beautiful girls were employed to lift the screens.
(from’ Sixty Four Arts in Ancient India’ by Anil Baran Ganguly, The English Book Store, New Delhi-1, Year 1962).

ranigumpa near Bhuvaneswar 3rd c,BCE
2300 year old Ranigumpha used as Theatre near Bhavaneswar in Odisha

Sage Bharata knows Acoustics!

The Natyasastra of Bharata is a compendious treatise on practically all the literary aspects of drama and all matters relating to the theatre, from the construction of the play house or ‘natya mandapa’ to audience response.

“ The play house (Natya mandapa) should be designed in the shape of a mountain cave, have two ground levels, small windows and free from gusts of wind, so that the voices of the actors and singers as well as the sound of musical instruments will be resonant (Natyasastra 2-80/82)
The ‘shape of a mountain cave’ is an interesting detail, because not only does it reveal an awareness of the acoustical properties but it also suggests that originally shows and spectacles and even plays might have been presented in cave theatres.
Jewels and precious gems were placed underneath the stage during the building of the play house according to prescriptions based on their auspiciousness.

Sanskrit drama clearly reveals its dance-origins; miming is often indicated by the stage-directions. Dance is very much part of it. Dramatic performances were usually held on special occasions; coronations and other royal events, great weddings, religious festivals and fairs. Open air performances are also known. Bhavabhuti’s play ‘Malati Madhava’ was performed for the festival of Kala priya natha (Siva).

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Languages : Sanskrit and Prakrit

The classical drama of India used Prakrit or regional dialects as well as Sanskrit. Brahmins, kings and high officials spoke Sanskrit. Women, even queens, children and the court jester spoke Prakrit; low characters like the fishermen and policemen in Act 6 of Kalidasa’s ‘Sakuntalam’ also spoke in dialect. This provided Sanskrit plays a rich variety in speech.

( from Kalidasa, The Loom of Time by Chandra Rajan, Penguin Classics, 1990)

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