Bharata’s Natyaśastra, the Poetics of India: Postcolonial Readings of Bharata’s Natyaśastra in the Light of Aristotle’s Poetics


This essay will present the reception of Aristotle’s Poetics by Indian scholars in the light of its comparison with Bharata’s Natyaśastra, by pla­cing the issue within the broader framework of post-colonial studies. I will start by providing a short introduction on the reception of classical antiquity in colonial and post-colonial India and then I shall attempt to demonstrate the difficulties inherent in the comparison between the two works, in order to argue that in gen­eral terms the interpretation of Bharata’s text is subordinated to and influenced by the signification of ‘national identity’. Equally importantly, this interpreta­tion produced a discourse that, while questioning Aristotle’s domination, it also took for granted the intellectual structures on which this domination was based.