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Art and Craft

Indian Art and Craft – Bharathanatyam

Indian Art and Craft – Bharathanatyam

Bharathanatyam is one of the most famous Art Form of India. It is a major form of Indian Classical Dance which has its origin in Tamil Nadu. I am not writing here about the performance element. As a popular dance form, it does not need much introduction but the history may not be widely known. Let us see its root, origin and how it got popularity.


The root of various Art Forms is the Natyashastra. Natyashastra is an ancient treatise on theatre art, written by one of the Mythic Saints named Bharatha. Bharatha’s Natyashastra contains 6000 Slokas in 36 Chapters and considered to have originated during 300 BC written in Sanskrit.

It is believed that Saint Bharatha learned the art of Dance from Nandikeshwara who wrote Abhinaya Darpana – the Mirror of Gesture. According to legends, Nandikeshwara is none other than Nandi, the Escort and Gate-Guardian or Lord Shiva in the Kailasa. Nandi learned various art and craft forms from Lord Shiva.

Natyashastra can be considered as the Fifth Veda which compiles Geetham (Song), Instrumental Music (Vadya), Dance (Abhinaya) and Rasa (Emotions). The Art of Theatre “Bharatha” is a combination of three Sanskrit words Bhava, Raga and Thala (Tal or Rhythm).

Origin and Transformation

Bharathanatyam, as an Indian Classical Dance form got originated in Tamil Nadu. It has been nurtured in Temples and Courts of Southern Indian Kings. Bharathanatyam is described in the ancient Tamil Epic “Silappatikaram”. It remained exclusive to Hindu Temples through the 19th Century and was banned by the colonial British Government in 1910. Due to the protest against ban by the Indian Community, the ban was lifted and brought it outside the temples in 20th Century.

“Sadiraattam” or “Thevaraattam” is considered as the first form of Bharathanatyam. Sri E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale were instrumental in the modifications. The presentation of Bharathanatyam performance follows a seven-part order of presentation such as…

  • Alarippu
  • Jathiswaram
  • Shabdam
  • Varnam
  • Padam
  • Thillana
  • Shlokam or Mangalam

Source of Information – Various Sources

Read more about Bharathanatyam at…

Picture used for illustration only – Credit: Prasad Pillai

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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