Nine rasas or navarasas, described in Natyashastra contours the structure of Indian drama.
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Human life is a rich fabric which gains colour and feel amidst the series of happenings that shape it. These mundane 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 colours and pattern. Rasas thus define the unedited realities of life amidst their vibrancies of emotion.
(Last Updated on : 06/06/2009)
Rasas are the anchor of performing art, or natya and this fact was recognized in the long gone days by Bharata muni. In his treatise, Natyashastra, Bharata in detail has described the Nine Rasas or Navarasas that are the basis of all human emotion. Each rasa, according to Natyashastra, has a presiding deity and a specific colour. Natyashastra deals with each of the nine rasas which encompasses not just the emotion, but also the various things that cause that emotion. Bharata, codified the emotional responses into nine separately distinguishable categories, hence the term navarasas. Nava means nine, and rasa literally means 'essence', however navarasas in Natyashastra is used to demonstrate the nine categories of the 'emotional state'.
The navarasas or the nine rasas depicted in the Natyashastra are as follows:
Shringara :. Shringara is one of the most important of the navarasas. Bharata muni in his Natyashastra defines shringara as the rasa to emote love and beauty. This is indeed the king of all rasas hence finds a divine portrayal in Indian art. Be it music, dance, or theatre Shringara is used as the emotive icon to demonstrate the love between friends, the love between a mother and her child, the love for god and the love between a teacher and his disciples. The presiding deity of this rasa is Vishnu. The colour that represent this rasa is, green.
Hasyam: Hasyam is the rasa used in depicting joy, merriment or mirth. While describing n the of the Natyashastra Bharata Muni has used Hasyam to depict simple lightheartedness or riotous laughter and everything in between. Teasing and laughing with a friend, being amused and often being naughty all these facets are represented amidst the rasa, Hasyam. The presiding deity is Pramata and the colour white represents this rasa.
Rowdram: Rowdram is anger and all its forms. This rasa is probably the most violent of the navarasas. In every aspect of Indian art the rasa rowdram represents anger in its every form. Rowdram with its sheer vibrancy also encompasses divine fury and the fury of nature which time and time again has been used to explain unexpected calamities and natural disasters. Rowdram is represented by the colour red. The presiding deity of this rasa is Rudra.
Karunyam: The feelings of unspeakable despair, sheer desperation and heartbreak, the sorrow caused by parting with a lover, the anguish caused by the death of a loved one are all the facets of the rasa, Karunyam. Emotions like mercy or compassion are rightly depicted amidst the emotion of Karunyam. The presiding deity of this rasa is Yama and grey colour is associated with this rasa.
Bibhatsam : Bhibatsam is disgust. The emotion evoked by anything that can arouse the feeling of revolt or often nauseates the viewer , is Bibhatsam. In Natyashastra, Bharata muni has represented Bibhatsam quite fleetingly. Bibhatsam therefore acts as the catalyst for higher and more pleasant emotions. Shiva is the presiding deity according to Natyashastra and is represented by the blue colour.
Bhayanakam : Of the navarasas Bhayanakam stands for the feelings of horror or terror. The elusive and unknown anxiety caused by a premonition of evil, the feelings of helplessness evoked by a cruel ruler, and the terror felt while facing certain death are all aspects of bhaya. The black colour signifies this rasa and the presiding deity is, Kala.
Veeram : In the series of navarasas, Veeram is demonstrated in the Natyashastra as the heroic mood. Veeram is heroism and it represents self confidence, courage and bravery. Indra is regarded as the presiding deity of this rasa and is symbolized by the yellowish colour.
Adbhutam : Emotions like wonder and amazement are rightly portrayed through this rasa. The awe that one feels when one comes across something divine and supernatural, something never seen before or unimagined, is Adbhutam. Adbhutam is the curiosity of man regarding the creation of the world and all its wonders. Brahma is the presiding deity and the colour yellow symbolizes this rasa.
Shanta: Among the navarasas, Shanta stands for serenity and peace. It represents the state of unperturbed repose. Shanta presents a state where a complete harmony between the mind, body and the universe is laid and this state is regarded as the key to eternity. According to Bharata, the author of Natyashastra, the other eight rasas are as proposed originally by Brahma, and the ninth, Shanta, is his contribution.