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Natasabha – Natyagraha In Hinduism – Theater

 Natasabha or Natyagraha is the term used to describe theater in Hinduism. The structure of theater is described vividly in the Natyashastra, the ancient treatise on dramaturgy. In the Natyashastra of Bharata, the term used for theater is natyagraha.

Plays were presented in the open air. According to a legend, as there were performances which were disturbed by asuras (demons0, buildings for the presentation of plays became necessary. Dramas were also presented in temples and palaces.

Natyashastra lays down rules for the structure of a theater. The theater may be oblong, square or triangular – large, medium or small. The oblong theater is taken to be the ideal and is described in detail. The theater can be divided into two distinct sections of prekshaka nivesesan (stage and auditorioum).

At the back is the nepathyagraha (backstage or green room). Then come sections of the acting area – the first is rangasirsa (upstage area); the second is ranga pitha (downstage area); a third section on the two sides of an acting area, like wings, is mattvarani.

The main entrance and the stage face east. A wall separates the green room from the acting area of the stage. The green room has two doors, both covered with curtains known as pati or apati. A door on the back wall of the green room is the private entrance for actors. There was no main curtain between the stage and auditorium. A yavanika (hand-held cloth) was used for entries and exits of actors. The characters generally exited at the end of a scene.

The pillars of the stage area and all the walls were decorated with paintings, so that the theater itself was a place of pleasure.