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Natya Darpana – Ancient Text On Theater And Drama

Natya darpana is a theoretical text on theater and drama. It is the work of Ramacandra; one Gunacandra is also said to be the joint author. It is said that Ramacandra lived during the rule of Siddharaja and Kumarapala (12th century CE) in Gujarat.

Ramacandra was the disciple of Hemacandra (the author of Kavyanusasana) who was the disciple of Mammata, the author of Kavyaprakasha.

Natya Darpana has some novel ideas, such as the recognition of twelve varieties of rupakas (plays) and many varieties of uparupakas (minor plays). It presents a novel view on rasa. Out of the eight rasas recognized by Ramacandra, four are said to be painful and four pleasurable; and rasa in general is a blend of both happiness and misery (sukha – duhkhatmaka).

Sringara, hasya, adbhuta, and shanta are considered pleasurable and bhayanaka, karuna, bibhatsa and raudra are considered painful. As against the general view that all rasas are pleasurable. Ramacandra held that it was not so because human experience belied it. In the case of karuna (compassion), for instance, its primary cause, namely, grief, is without doubt painful. When it is dominant in a poem or drama, it creates a sense of unhappiness. This is the reason why spectators feel some discomfort when karuna is projected.