The origin of “Natyasastra” has its place way back thousands of years from now. The story of origin goes like this….
Being thorough with all the four vedas, the Gods like Indra approached Brahma deva requesting him to create a fifth veda for kridaniyaka(entertainment). Brahma deva conceded to their request and took “patya” (speech) from Rig veda, “Gana”(song) from Sama veda, “Abhinaya” from the Yajur veda and “Rasa”(Rasam) from Atharva veda and created the fifth veda called “Natyaveda” and told Bharata muni to spread this across the world. Bharata muni took the materials from ancient guru’s like Tumburu, Narada and Nandi. It was said that Bharata muni taught the Natyaveda to his 100 sons and he realized that the graceful expression sringara (called kaisiki vritti) could not be expressed by men and that’s how Bhrama created the 24 Apsaras.After the creation of the “Natyasastra”, Lord Brahma told to the Lord of Gods, Indra that “Semi historical tales (Itihasas) have been composed by me , you have to get it dramatized by skilled gods. Pass this Natyaveda to those gods who are skillful, learned, free from stage fright and inured to hard work”.
Written in Sanskrit, the Natyasastra consist of 6000Sutras(36000 slokas) which is described into 36 chapters that covers every single aspects of art and drama. The main topics depicted are acting, dance, music and rasa. The first three are the means of presentation of the last one. Its is a classical manual on the theory and practice of art forms like theatre, music, dance, poetics, gestures and many other art forms.It is also believed that there is a shorter version which comprises of 12,000 granthas which is in the form of conversation between Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi. This is considered by few as the SadasivaBharata.
The known commentators of the Natyasastra are
# Lolata being the earliest
# Acharya Bhatanayaka
# Abhinava Gupta
# Matanga’s Brihaddesi
# Sharngadeva’s Sangita Ratnakara
When we say the author of Natysastra is Lord Brahma, we can not exactly pen down the exact period when it was formed. We just believe that a highly systemized oral text form of natyasastra had been transmitted from generations to generations until finally in the second century BCE it got the form of a written text. The only commentaries left about Natyasastra is the “Abhinavabarata” by Abhinava gupta. Abhinavagupta was born in Kashmir, India probably around 950A.D. After the age of 70, it is believed that he entered the Bhairava cave near village Bhiruva with his 1200 desciples and was never seen again.