The Sanskrit drama is said to have been invented by the sage Bharata, who lived at a very remote period of Indian history and was the author of a system of music. The earliest references to the acted drama are to be found in the Mahabhashya, which mentions representations of the Kansabadha and the Balibadha, episodes in the history of Krishna. Indian tradition describes Bharat as having caused to be acted before the gods a play representing the Svayamvara of Lakshmi.
Tradition further makes Krishna and his cowherdesses the starting point of the Sangita, a representation consisting of a mixture of song, music, and dancing. The Gitagovinda is concerned with Krishna, and the modern Yatras generally represent scenes from the life of that deity.
From all this it seems likely that the Hindu drama was developed in connection with the cult of Vishnu-Krishna; and that the earliest acted representations were, therefore, like the mysteries of the Christian Middle Ages, a kind of religious plays, in which scenes from the legends of the gods were enacted mainly with the aid of songs and dances supplemented with prose dialogues improvised by the performers. These earliest forms of Hindu dramatic literature are represented by those hymns of the Rig-Veda which contain dialogues such as those of Sarama and the Panis, Yama and Yami, Pururava and Urvaci.