The Navarasas

Posted by on Jan-9-2010

Human life is a rich fabric which gains color and feel amidst the series of happenings that shape it. These dull actions that characterize every day as well as the extraordinary happenings make life further interesting while evoking feelings in human being. These feelings are the emotions or rasas, which indeed offers life colors and pattern. Rasas thus define the unedited realities of life amidst their vibrancies of emotion.

The theory of Indian art is housed within the rasas as expounded by Bharata Muni in Natyasastra and Nandikeswaran in Abhinayadarpana. A rasa is the essence or a dominant mental state evoked in the audience by the performer.

Rasa is created by bhavas. Bhava is the permanent mood and rasa is an expression of it. So as an example, when bhaya (fear) is the bhava, the rasa created is bhayanaka

Indian masters have identified nine rasas or Navarasas and we see that man lives his life through these nine basic expressions. A study of the Navarasas helps us understand basic human emotions and human psyche.

The Navarasa, in the Indian scriptures refer to the nine expressions that humans often show. These are shringara (love), hasya (laughter ), karuna (kind-heartedness or compassion), roudra (anger), veera (courage), bhayanaka(terror), bheebhatsya (disgust), wonder or adbhutha (surprise) and shantha (peace or tranquility). In addition to the nine Rasas, two more appeared later Vatsalya and Bhakti.

The Nine moods or the rasas are associated with colors. The nine colors of Navarasa speak the emotions that they depict. Shringara (green), hasya (white ), karuna (grey), roudra (red), veera (orange), bhayanaka (black), bheebhatsya (Blue), wonder or adbhutha (yellow) and shantha (white).

Rasa is best described as the interplay of moods expressed by various characters in a work of art. The theory of rasas still forms the aesthetic underpinning of all Indian classical dance and theatre, such as Bharatanatyam,kathak,Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri, Kudiyattam, Kathakali and others.

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