Explanation of Select Terminologies of Chapter 6 of Natyashastra

Posted On: Wednesday, March 29th, 2023
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Author: Magadi Harish Mahima, Bengaluru

Published as a part of Śāstra Raṅga-2023 Internship ; offered by NoopuraBhramari-  IKS Centre.  Article series No – 10


  1. Rasa-

Rasa is one among the most important terms used in Indian visual and performing arts. Bharatamuni in the 6th chapter of Natyashastra has given the Rasasutra which explains how rasa originates and various commentators have extensively written their views on the same.

The term Rasa comes from the root रस आस्वादनस्नेहनयोः

In the very literal sense, the term rasa would mean ‘juice’. Under different circumstances, it could also mean drink, elixir, nectar, soup etc. For artists, the same term is broadly translated as ‘sentiment’. Bharata, in the 36th verse says ’उच्यते आस्वाद्यत्वात्’. That which can be relished. Who relishes? What is relished? All these questions are deeply dealt by Bharata and the commentators.

Amarasimha mentions the term Rasa multiple times in his Amarakoṣa. However, in the third Kaanda, in the Nagārthavarga, he mentions ‘शृङ्गारादौ विषे वीर्ये गुणे रागे द्रवे रसः’.

Thus, Rasa, being one of the most frequently used terms in Art, is multi-faceted and has several interpretations and commentaries.


  1. Bhāva-

Bhāva is another important term which is closely related to Rasa. The combination of Bhāvas is what leads to the Rasotpatti.

The term Bhāva comes from the root ‘भु सत्तयाम्’ ‘to be’.

Bharata in the 7th  chapter explains Bhāva as ‘वागङ्गसत्वोपेतान् काव्यार्थान् भावयन्तीति भावाः’ That which convey the meaning of the poem through speech, action and feelings are called Bhāvās.  Again, the term Bhāva is translated by many scholars as emotions.

Amarasimha mentions Bhāva in the Nāṭyavarga.  He mentions ‘विकारो मानसो भावोSनुभावो भावबोधकः’ मानसः, मनः सम्बन्धित विकारो भाव उच्यते.


  1. Abhinaya-

Abhinaya is yet another important, popular and frequently used term in Indian classical arts.

The term Abhinaya can be split into अभि (उपसर्गः) and नय.

नय comes from the root – णीञ् प्रापणे. This means to lead.

Along with the prefix Abhi, the term would mean to lead towards. Here, the question of leading whom or leading what arises.  Lead the intention of the actor towards the sahṛdaya.

Bharata in the eight chapter of Nāṭyaśastra also mentions that Abhinaya means ‘being carried out in a direction’. And he infers that the representation happens through gestures using an͂gas, pratyan͂gas etc.

Amarakosa in the Nāṭyavarga seconds Bharata by mentioning-  ‘अङ्गहारोsङ्गविक्षेपो व्यञ्जकाभिनयौ समौ’

अभिनयः इति हस्तादिभिः मनोगतार्थप्रकाशनस्य. Using hastas and others to show the intentions of the mind.

Bharata a

Scholars also translate Abhinaya into ‘dramatic representation or exhibition’


  1. Vṛtti-

Vṛtti is translated by various scholars as the style of composition.

The root of this term is वृत् भाषार्थः.


  1. Pravṛtti-

The term pravṛtti arrives when the prefix ‘Pra’ is added to Vṛtti.

In the 14th chapter Bharata says ‘पृथिव्यां नानादेशवेषभाषाचारा वार्ताः ख्यापयतीति वृत्तिः. प्रवृत्तिश्च निवेदने’

It is called so as it gives details of different regions, customs, languages and costumes of parts of the world. They are used to know.

Amarasimha also provides a similar explanation by mentioning ‘वार्ता प्रवृत्तिर्वृत्तान्ता उदन्तः स्यादथाह्वयः’ ’स्थितलोकवृत्तकथनस्य’. Pertaining to stories of the world.


  1. Siddhi-

The root of the term siddhi is षिधुँ संराद्धौ, to effect completely.

The term siddhi is often translated to प्रयोगसाफल्यम्. Obtaining the results from the efforts put.

Abhinavagupta explains Siddhi in a similar fashion – ’सिद्धिर्नाम् साध्य प्रयोजन सम्पतत्तिः’ attainment of the purpose.

Amarasimha mentions in Viśeṣyanighnavarga about siddhi ‘ सद्धे विवृत्तिनिष्पन्नः’ and gives the synonyms siddhi, nivṛtta, niṣpanna’

He also mentions the aṣtasiddhis-


  • Aṇima
  • Lagima
  • Garima
  • Mahima
  • Prāpti
  • Prakāmya
  • Iśitva
  • Viśitva



Bharata however mentions two kinds-

Daivī siddhi and Mānuśi siddhi.


  1. Svara

The root of the term Svara is स्वृ शब्दोपतापयोः

To sound.

In Sanskrit, the term Svara is often used for letters which identify as nouns.  अ, आ इ etc.

In terms of art, svara is defined as musical notes.

In the Nātyavarga, Amarasimha mentions- निषादर्षभगान्धारषड्जमध्यमधैवताः पञ्चमश्चेत्यमी सप्त तन्त्रीकण्ठोत्थिताःस्वराः


  1. Ātodya-

The term Ātodya in derived from तुद् व्यथने dhātu.

When आङ् is added ‘तुद्’ dhātu along with ‘ण्यत्’ pratyaya, we arrive at Ātodya.

आतुद्यते भिहन्यत इत्यर्थः That which is struck by force.


All these give us understanding that Ātodya means musical instruments


  1. Saṁgraha

This term comes from the root गृह् ग्रहणे

Bharata in the 6th chapter gives a detailed explanation of this term-

विस्तरेणोपदिष्टानामर्थानां सूत्रभाष्ययोः

निबन्धो यः समासेन संग्रहं तं विदुर्बुधाः

He explains how Saṁgraha is the summary of ideas explained in detail.


  1. Kārikā

Kārikā derives from the root डुकृञ् करणे to do.

Bharata explains Kārikā as

‘अल्पाभिधानेनार्थो यः समासेनोच्यते बुधैः

सूत्रतः सा तु विज्ञेया करिकार्थप्रदर्शिनी ॥


When scholars condense a whole idea or philosophy in the form of Sūtras, it becomes a Kārika


क्रियते अनेन ज्ञाप्तिरिति करिका. लक्षणमिति यावत् तदर्थप्रकाशत्वात् श्लोकोप्युपचारात्

Karika is that which explains the lakṣanas and their arthas .



Unni N.P , Nāṭyaśastra






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