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Dancing (nacca) is movements of the body, particularly the feet, meant to express happiness and usually done to the accompaniment of music. At the time of the Buddha dance had not yet developed into an art and was most often associated with drunkenness, sexual license or war. One of the eight Precepts that devout Buddhists will try to observe at least twice a month is abstain from dancing (Anguttara Nikaya 4. 250). In Tibet and Bhutan during religious festivals, Jàtaka stories and events from Buddhist history are re-enacted by masked dancers. Cultural and traditional dancing can be seen as a skilful means for displaying various Buddhist teachings or events in the life of Buddha.

Of all the arts, singing and dancing appear to be the least accepted by the Buddha. The Buddha stated, "Bhikkhus, in the Vinaya of the noble ones, singing is wailing, dancing is madness . . . . therefore, bhikkhus, demolish the bridge that leads to singing, demolish the bridge that leads to dancing, and when rejoicing in the Dhamma you may simply show a smile." (AN 3.107 Ruṇṇa Sutta) It may have something to do with poetry being used to describe some Dhammic principles, statues and other artwork used to show some scenes in the Buddha's life or for inspiration to practice. And other arts including painting and gardening are done silently and can be a meditation, whereas singing and dancing are more associated with lots of noise, distraction and lower emotions.


  • Buddhism A to Z. Ven. Dhammika, 2007.