Indian Dance, Music and Theatre find their root in the Nãtya Shãstra , an encyclopedia on dance, music and theatre.
Nãtya Shãstra written by the sage Bharata or Bharatamuni is the most elaborate treatise believed to be written during the period between 200 B.C and 200 A.D. However, there are scholars who believe that it may have been written by various authors at different times.
The literal translation of ‘Nãtya’ is Drama or Nãtaka which in todays times doesn’t include dance. But Nãtaka , a sanskrit word, derives from the word meaning “dance” (root=’nat’). Hence in a traditional Indian Drama, music and dancing as well as as acting are all importants parts for any presentation.
Nãtya Shãstra is incredibly wide in its scope. It details the aspects of the script and the enacting of a play from the point of view of both; the author (playwright) and the actor.It describes ten classifications of drama ranging from one to ten acts. Besides, Bharat Muni has elaborately laid down the principles of stage-design, makeup, costume, dance (various movements & gestures), theory of aesthetics (Rasa-Bhava), acting, directing and music, each in individual chapters.
It is written in Sanskrit language, composed mainly in 6000 Sutras or Verses or Stanzas , incorporated in 36 Chapters. There are some passages, that are composed in a prose form.