There are innumerable books on the 'Natya Sastra', erudite treatises that would gladden the heart of the connoisseur and the serious student and quite expensive to boot. There are also versions which are much simpler. But students of classical dance, who wished to be initiated into various aspects of 'Natya Sastra' without being overwhelmed by scholastic bombast had no book to refer to.

Such a student or a lay person with more that a passing interest in dance can now find what they are looking for in the 'Natya Sastra Mala', a compilation of lectures on the basics of 'Natya Sastra' in English by Guru Smt. Rajee Narayan published by Jaishree Rao.

An erudite natyacharya of Bombay, who had some years ago published the well acclaimed 'Nritya Geeta Mala' - a book of dance songs composed by her, Guru Rajee Narayan has delved into various sources to bring out the essence of the 'Natya Sastra' and present it in a simple and interesting manner.

Tracing the origin of dance with brief references to the literary works which give relevant information, she goes on to abhinaya the different bhedas like sirobheda, dhristibheda, nayikabheda. Listing the 108 karanas, she goes on to explain the various rasas including a separate chapter on Bhakti, the nava vidha bhakti and concludes with the margam of Bharat Natyam.

Apart from illustrations of the hasta mudras, the guru has also given the relevant slokas in Devanagari. Simple but elegant, the printing is of good quality. This handy guide to a dance student is priced at Rs 150 and is available with the author at Nritya Geethanjali Dance Academy, Bombay-22.

K. Subadra Murthy
April 08, 1993. The Times of India, Bombay.