Natyashastra written by Sage Bharata (c.200 BCE - 200 CE) is the seminal extant work for almost all classical art forms of India. The two major streams of Indian classical music (Carnatic and Hindustani), a wide range of classical dance forms from different parts of India (Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam to name a few) and classical Indian theaters (Koodiyattam and Kathakali) all trace their foundations to this definitive treatise on arts. Natyashastra is primarily a performer’s (or actor’s) manual.
The book covers an incredibly wide array of topics related to classical art forms like theatre, dance and music. Most importantly it is an actors manual. Natyashastra and its commentaries - especially Dhvanyaloka by Anandavardhana in 9th century CE and Abhinavabharathi by Abhinavaguptha in 10th century, both from Kashmir school- have shaped almost all classical performing arts of India down the line.