Harikatha (lit. "stories of the Lord"), otherwise called Katha Kalakshepa is a form of Hindu religious discourse, also known as Katha story telling format, in which the story teller explores a religious theme, usually the life of a saint or a story from an Indian epic.
Harikatha is a composite art form composed of story telling, poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Any Hindu religious theme may be the subject for the Harikatha. During its peak Harikatha was a popular medium of entertainment, which helped transmit cultural, educational and religious values to the masses.
In Hindu mythology, the first Harikatha singer was sage Narada who sang for Vishnu, other prominent singers were Lava and Kushatwin sons of Rama, who sang the Ramayana in his court at Ayodhya.
Harikatha was originated in Andhra. Harikatha Kalakshepam is most prevalent in Andhra Pradesh even now along with Burra katha. Haridasus going round villages singing devotional songs is an age-old tradition during Dhanurmaasam preceding Sankranti festival. Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu with his Kavyas and Prabandhas has made Harikatha a special art form.
Harikatha involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to the story. Usually the narration involves numerous sub-plots and anecdotes, which are used to emphasise various aspects of the main story. The main story teller is usually assisted by one or more co-singers, who elaborate the songs and a Mridangam accompanist. The storyteller uses a pair of cymbals to keep beat.

Following Krishna Bhagavatar, other great exponents of this art form such as Pandit Lakshmanachar, Tirupazhanam Panchapakesa Bhagavatar, Mangudi Chidambara Bhagavatar,Muthiah Bhagavatar, Tiruvaiyyar Annasami Bhagavatar, Embar Srirangachariyar, Konnoor Sitarama Shastry, Sulamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Sulamangalam Soundararaja Bhagavatar, Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu, Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, Saraswati Bai and Padmasini Bai popularied the Harikatha tradition.
Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri started out as a Harikatha exponent and then changed to Pravachan style. Recent practitioners of Harikatha include Veeragandham Venkata Subbarao, Kota Sachchidananda Sastri, Mannargudi Sambasiva Bhagavatar, Banni Bai, Mysore Sreekantha Shastry, Kamala Murthy, Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, Kalyanapuram Aravamudachariar, Dushyanth Sridhar, Gururajulu Naidu, and T S Balakrishna Sastry.