The accepted milestone of Assamese drama is the play called Cihna Yatra in which Sankaradeva himself acted. The Cihna Yatra is a pantomimic play where only mime was used with the backdrop of painted scenes. It is mentioned in the Carita Puthi that it was a magnificent exposition of a drama where dance, vocal and instrumental music were used in a unique way. The tremendous success of this dance drama led Sankaradeva to use acting as a workable medium of propagating religion. It was not easy to organize such type of drama to new themes every time. So Sankaradeva modified it to full fledged plays with regular dialogue and explanation which is popularly known as ankiya nat or ankiya bhaona. There is only one act in ankiya nat.
(‘The legacy of Sattriya dance, drama and music’ by Bhabananda Barbayan, Nartanam, Apr – June 2016)

Swapnasundari in her book ‘The world of Koochipudi dance’ states, “Although Brahmins were employed as priests or teachers, they had pursued other occupations like performing arts for centuries. Brahmin entertainers were known by the generic term ‘Vipra Vinodulu.’ Such Vipra Vinodulu were found all over the Telugu speaking regions since at least the 16th century and probably earlier. Besides the Kuchipudi Bhagavatas, there are references to other groups of dancing Brahmins all across the Telugu speaking regions.”
(‘The Bhagavata traditions and Kuchipudi: The Telangana Connection’ by Anupama Kylash, Nartanam, Oct– Dec 2016)

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