RASA THEORY For English Literature Students

RASA THEORY For English Literature Students

Introduction To RASA:

Bharata’s Natyashastra is the oldest treatise on Rasa theory. The idea of Rasa in drama or poetry is a unique creation of Indian Dramaturgy and rhetoric. The translation of this word ‘Rasa’ is also very difficult as it is an enjoyment or experience in the mind of the sympathetic audience or reader. It is an individual experience brought through the expression of Bhava. The Rasa is created or promoted in the mind of a spectator by the Bhava being expressed. These two the Rasa and Bhava are interdependent as Rasa is not created without Bhava and Bhava has no existence if Rasa is not promoted. Bhava can be considered as the physical body and Rasa being its soul. Bhavas, the emotions has no meaning in the absence of Rasa. Bhavas, the emotions represented in the performance gets translated into emotional state of experience in the minds of spectator, so called Rasika and makes the presentation thoroughly enjoyable.

Elements of RASA:

■ The eleven elements that are described as the essence of Natyashastra by Bharata, but Rasa and Bhava are the main aesthetic performances in provoking a desired emotion that leads to open the heart and mind of spectator to understand the message and idea of the poet. Rasa and Bhava occupy a significant treatment by Bharata. They are followed by other nine Abhinaya, Dharmi, Vritti, Pravritti, Siddhi, Svara, Aatodya, Gana and Ranga that embellish a dramatic presentation. Answering the inquiries made by the sages about Rasa and Bhava, Bharata puts in his Natyashastra as the combination of Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabhichari Bhavas creates the Rasa. Rasa is produce in the minds of Sympathetic audience as a result of configuration of the determinants, the consequents and the transitory moods. (Vibha vanubhava Vyabhichari samyogat Rasanishpattih – N.S.VI) They are known as causes, effects and auxiliaries in the spoken language. The latent emotion that comes to be manifested by all the above things is called as Rasa like the food becomes relished with the mixture of different spices, Rasa accompanied by these Bhavas become the source of Ananda. (Yathhi Nan Vyanjanaushadhidravya Samyogat Rasanishpattih, talah Nanabhavopagramatrasanishpattih….Sthayinah bhavah rasatramapnuvanti – NS VI, Prose passage). Then what are these Vibhavas, Anubhavas and Vyabhicharam Bhavas? Bharata explains in detail. Vibhavas – the determinants are the causes. As many things are Vibhavyate (determined) by this through words, Gestures and the representation of the Temperament,is named Vibhava. (Determinants)1 (1. N.S.VII-4 (translation Monmohan Gosh) P.119.) They create an illusionary reality when the character is being presented in a particular environment. When a spectator or a reader watches or reads a drama or poem, the basic emotion, (that is already exists) are excited by these Vibhavas – the determinants or the causes and leads to Anubhava – the consequent or the effect. Because they Anubhavyate (made to feel) things by means of words, gestures it is called Anubhava and it is related to words as well as to gestures and movements of major and minor limbs.2(2. N.S.VII-5 Translation M.M.Gosh). This will be a voluntary expression like smile, shedding tears, laughter, scary looks, angry looks etc.

 Types of RASA :

Thus Vibhavas and Anubhavas create a State (Sattva). The Vibhavas are two types Alambana Vibhavas and Uddipana Vibhavas. Hero and Heroines are Alambana and seasons, flowers etc are the Uddipana. The emotions, the cause of excitation retained in the mind of a sympathetic spectator/reader till the Rasa is experienced,these inherent emotions are called Sthayibhava or Static emotion such as love etc is of eight types.The physical involuntary expression follow the identification of the emotion of sympathetic mind are called Satvika Bhavas or responsive emotions like the glances, sweating, horripulation etc. It can be said that Satvika Bhavas are Anubhavas the consequents, but Satavika bhavas are involuntary actions in an exalted state and Anubhavas are voluntary expressions. These are again eight types. The emotions those do not have stability like Vibhavas, Sthayibhavas, but rise, exist and vanish quickly are called Sanchari bhava- the transitory emotions. These are passing emotions that are compared to the waves of the ocean, promotes the creation of Rasa in the sympathetic mind and submerge into the same. They contribute to the creation of Rasa and retains till the realization of Rasa. These are 33 in number.

Vibhavas (the determinants):

Vibhavas (the determinants) can be called as Sthayibhava(the static emotion) as they are cause of excitation. It is a clear manifestation of the determinant (alambana vibhava,uddipanavibhava)on the mind of the sympathetic spectator considered as the ocean,it becomes root cause of the creation of Rasa. Dormant emotions like love etc get excited when they come into contact with hero ,heroine. Similar to the seed sprouts when watered. These emotions which are not transient and sustained are eight types. They are 1 Rati-love 2. Haasa-mirth 3. Shoka- grief 4. Krodha – anger 5.Utsaha-enthusiasm 6.Bhaya-fear 7.Jugupsa-digust and 8 Vismaya-surprise. 

Anubhavas (the consequents):

Anubhavas (the consequents) are the physical expressions following the emotion caused by the determinant may be called as satvika bhavas(the responsive emotions)like love or seed germination is experienced by the glances or by words and gestures in case of love, sprouting in case of seed. The dormant emotions originated in the mind get accomplished by the responsive emotional expressions. The actor with concentrated mind can produce whatever the effect the situation demands. Anubhavas may be imitated simply by the practice of acting, but the responsiveness (Satva) is a mental state of an actor (inner feelings) expressed with the bodily actions (external movements).They are eight in number. (1) Sveda – Perspiration (2) Stambha -Stupefaction (3) Romancha – horripilation (4) Svarabhanga – change in tone (5) Vepathu -trembling (6) Vaivarnya – discoloration (7) Asru – tears (8) Pralaya – Swoon.

Vyahicharibhavanas – (the transitory emotions)

Vyahicharibhavanas – (the transitory emotions) are also called Sancharibhavas only flash momentarily and do not stay for a long time. The mind and body when subjected to an emotional impact, the mind experiences a series of emotions. They traverse between the actor and spectator, make the static emotion (Sthayi bhava) more stronger, make the mind respond favorably to the experience of Rasa. They are 33 in number

(1) Nirveda – aversion, 

(2) glani -depression 

(3) Sankaa – doubt, 

(4) Asuyaa – envy 

(5) Mada – intoxication 

(6) Srama – weariness 

(7) Aalasya – indolence 

(8) Dainya – piteousness 

(9) Chintaa – sorrow 

(10) Moha – passion 

(11) Smriti – recollection 

(12) Dhriti – courage 

(13) Vrida – shame, 

(14) Chapalatha – waywardness 

(15) Harsha – Joy 

(16) Avega – agitation

(17) Jadata – stupor 

(18) Garva – arrogance 

(19) Vishada – despair 

(20) Anautsukya – inquisitiveness 

(21) Nidra – sleep 

(22) Apsmara – epilepsy 

(23) Supta – dream 

(24) Viboodha – awakening 

(25) Amarsha – indignation 

(26) Avahitta – concealment 

(27) Ugrata – ferocity 

(28) Mati – Knowledge 

(29) Vyadhi – Sickness 

(30) Unmada – insanity 

(31) Marana – death 

(32) Traasa – fright and 

(33) Vitanka -deliberation.

■ All these Bhavas are subordinates to the principal Rasa. The sentiment is caused by the Vibhavas, expressed by the Anubhavas and nourished by Sanchari bhavas becomes Rasa. In an ordinary world, due to woman, moon etc Rati is produced. It is expressed with glances etc and enriched by Glani, Niveda etc. When the Sthayibhava, the permanent mood is experienced due to Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabhichari then it becomes Rasa. According to Bharata the Rasa, Rasa is only Loukika Rasa. He explains it on the analogy of Paka Rasa. When we mix food made of rice wheat etc with some Vyanjanas (spices) a peculiar taste like Shadabha is produced which gives pleasure to the eater. Similarly with the help of Verbal, physical and mental gesticulation Rasa gives pleasure, Joy to the Sahridaya (sympathetic Spectator). Hence they are called Natya Rasa which is very important in any kind of art presentation☆ Bharata has classified Rasas into 8 –

1. Srinagaara-amorous, 

2. Haasya- humorous, 

3. Karuna-pathetic, 

4. Raudra-furious 

5. Viira-valorous, 

6. Bhayaanaka-horrifi, 

7. Biibhatsa-repugnant, and 

8. Adbhuta- wondrous.

The eight static emotions that are responsible for these eight rasa-s, in order are – 1. Love , 2. Mirth, 3. Grief , 4.Anger, 5. Enthusiasm, 6.Fear, 7. Disgust, and 8. Surprise .

Bharata has indicated the corresponding colours and presiding deities for all the eight Rasas.

☆ Each Rasa has again several sub division :

i. Sringaara Rasa has two sub-divisions – Sambhoga-union and Vipralambha-separation, in which anga-the action, neepathya-the costume and vak-the speech vary correspondingly.

ii. Hasya Rasa has six subdivisions -1.Smita-gentle smile, 2. Hasita-smile, 3. Vihasita-laughter, 4. Upahasita-laughter with riducule, 5. Apahasita-uproarious laughter and 6. Atihasita-convulsive laughter. Hasya Rasa is also governed by variations in action, costume and speech as in the case of Sringaara rasa.

iii. Karuna Rasa has three subdivisions 1.Manasika 2.vachika 3. Angika caused due separation from loved ones, damage to virtue, loss of wealth etc.

iv. Raudra Rasa is expressed through action, costume and speech.

v. Vira Rasa has three subdivisons viz., Daanavira-heroism in charity, Dharmavira –heroism in virtue and Yuddhavira -heroism in war.

vi. Bhayaanaka Rasa has three subdivisions 1.Vyaja- fictitious horror, 2.Aparadha- horror due to a grievous mistake 3.Vitrasita- horror due to fear complex. 

vii. Biibhasta Rasa has two subdivisions -1shuddhaja-the exciting and 2.udvegaja-the inflicting. The exciting is created by seeing disgusting insects etc., and the inflicting is created by looking at blood, intestines etc.

viii. Adbhuta Rasa has two subdivisions -1.Divyaja- the exquisite and 2.Anandaja the pleasurable.

Santa Rasa is yet a ninth, not mentioned by Bharata, but has been accepted as one of the Rasa’s during later periods. Sama or the placid static emotion gives rise to Santa Rasa.

■ Bharata has stated that the main independent Rasa-s are four – 

the amorous, 

the valorous, 

the furious, and 

the repugnant; 

         and that the remaining four rasa-s re dependent – the humorous on the amorous, the pathetic on the furious, the wondrous on the valorous, and the horrific on the repugnant (NS-VI-39).

 □  According to Abhinavagupta, Bhattallollata appears to be the first commentator on Bharata’s Rasa Sutra who opined that Rasa is created in the character described in the play. Later, Sri Sankuka, another commentator, contradicted Bhttaloollata’s opinion and stated that rasa is experienced by the actor alone. Still later, Bhattanaayaka, another reputed commentator, condemned these two arguments outright and gave the opinion the Rasa is experienced by the audience only as a result of the histrionic expression of an actor who portrays the emotions pertaining to the character described in the play. This argument is close to Bharata’s explanation of Rasa Sutra. Although Abhinavagupta has agreed with the commentary of Bhattanaayaka he was not convinced by the reasoning the Bhattanaayaka. So, he examined the views of all the three commentators in his commentary Abhinavabharatii (Ch.VI) and established with analytical reasoning that Rasa is experienced only by the sympathetic audience.

□ According to Abhinavagupta in the minds of the spectators a particular emotion (Sthayi Bhava) is already present in the form of Sanskara (Vasana). This inherent permanent mood inferred from its Loukika causes Ex: women, garden remains in the heart of the appreciating audience. This permanent mood depicted in a Kavya or presented in a Natya will have a special power and thereby lose their individuality and some kind of Universalization is affected. Such causes (Karanas etc) were given special names like Vibhava etc. The Vibhavas are generalized or impersonalized in the minds of the reader or the spectator through the suggestive power of clever representation. Then the Sthayi which in the heart of the Sahridaya in the form of Vasana gets aroused and Rasa gets manifested by itself.

□ In the world the love (Rati) of Rama (hero) for Sita (heroine), Sita becomes Alambana, moon etc. are Uddipanas, Asrupata etc. are Karyas, Cinta etc. are Sahakarins. All these things with beautiful situations with meaningful words, gestures enter in to the heart of the Sahridaya. They create a special power Bhava in him. By this power the Vibhavas Sita etc. leave their individuality and appear to him in a generalized form. At this time they are called as Aloukikas. These Vibhavas etc with the power of suggestion evokes the Rati etc. The Sthayi bhavas which are present in the heart of Sahridaya in a subtle form. Thus Rasa is manifested by the removal of enveloping obstacles and reveals something which already exists.

This manifestation becomes the source of transcendent charm and is spoken as Rasa.

Show 4 Comments


  1. Namrata Singh

    Great Article. Thank you

  2. Ameera

    I am a student of AMU, I was looking for Rasa Theory material. It helped me a lot.
    Thank you.

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