Monday, February 20


Why am I writing about this?

Well, one of my friends would answer that… “Coz I can”.

But no, that’s not the only reason. I read about the navarasas in Amrita Nair’s book “Mistress”. The story is presented in chapters that talk about the different rasas in Kathakali (or even Bharatnatyam, for that matter). For the layman, what “rasa” means is an emotion that we experience and express facially and through gestures in these dance forms.

So, I got a little curious about the 9 rasas (just like I did in the 7 cardinal sins, 10 commandments, 7 wedding oaths, etc). And then, as usual, Wikipedia and some other websites satiated my hunger for information. Happy reading !!

Rasa is about human state of mind. It’s about what the mind feels and the expression of the feeling thereafter. In the Bharata’s Natyashastra, Rasa is an emotion experienced by the audience created by the facial expression or the Bhava of the actor. In Indian classical dance it is referred to as Rasa-abhinaya. Thus, every Rasa (mood) corresponds to a particular Bhava (expression).

Bharata Muni enunciated the eight Rasas (yes 8, not 9) in the Nātyasāstra, an ancient work of dramatic theory. Each rasa, according to Nātyasāstra, has a presiding deity and a specific colour. Let’s take a look!

Structure: Rasa – Bhava – Meaning – Colour - Presiding deity

Shringar – Rati – Delight, Love, Attractiveness - Light Green - Vishnu

Hasya – Hasa – Humor, Laughter – White - Pramata

Karuna – Shoka – Sorrow, Compassion, Mercy – Grey - Yama

Raudra – Krodh – Anger, Terrible – Red - Rudra

Veera – Utsaha – Heroism – Pale Orange/Yellowish - Indra

Bhayanaka – Bhaya – Fear, Horror – Black - Kala

Bibhatsa – Jugupsa – Disgust, Aversion – Blue - Shiva

Adbhuta – Vismaya – Wonder – Yellow – Brahma

The ninth rasa was added later:

Shanta – Calm – Peace – Blue - Vishnu

In addition to the above nine, two more appeared, especially in literature: Vatsalya (Parental Love) and Bhakti (Spiritual Devotion). However, the presiding deities, the colours and other details have not been specified.

Cool, eh?

I’ve not watched any Indian classical dance performance in a long time now. So, I don’t completely recall my experience. I must have been bored, though, coz I probably dint understand anything, and anyway, back then, it was cool to detest everything serious.

Now, I would like to go for some such show. Watch the unfolding of the plot, the revelation of the characters, their dedication, grace and expertise. Am I getting old? Well, technically yes. But its more about being mature than just age.

Count me in if you fit the bill…


Hasta La Vista.

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