(Last Updated on : 02/12/2010)
Role of Rasa Sastra in Indian music has been quite significant. The Indian Rasa Sastra, which evolved through the contemplation of the literary art, gives greater relevance to poetry and drama. But at the same time it also tries to be as comprehensive as possible. It tries to probe into the psychology of the rasika or the knowledgeable. It is interesting to note that this kind of probing and analysis has not been done separately for the art of pure music or raaga
music. Dramaturgy never used music in association with words and had no necessity to treat only the musical aspects of a recitation or a song. No separate Rasa-Sastra evolved only for music or keeping music in the centre. All the alathkarins have kept poetry or drama as their point of reference.
The importance of the Rasa Sastra lies in that the Rasa-Sastra was valued as explaining everything concerned with all the arts. Arts were thought of as interdependent and complementary to each other and were enjoyed in their integrated totality, in their family closeness. This has indirectly influenced the understanding of the raaga: the effects of music and raaga had to be admitted in the Rasa-Sastra tenets. Ascribing of different rasas to different notes led to the ascribing of different rasas to different raagas; it was the logical next step. There can be found only some casual references made solely to the effects of rhythm. The most important question that music had to answer here was in relating to effects in the terminology of rasa. This apparently shows the effects of Rasa-Sastra not merely in connecting raaga with rasa but later on extended to such expectations and projections by the theoreticians from performing artists as well.
Till this day, questions are often asked about the effect of a particular raaga in terms of rasa, and the answers are also given in terms of rasa. This has also led to the belief that the Khayal
expressed the Sringara rasa (the erotic sentiment) and the Dhrupad
the bhakti rasa and this is demonstrated by an illustration of cija, that is a literary composition having such a sentiment. Our ideas about nayaka
are projected on the fabric of raaga through suitable poetry declamation, programmatic vocal rhetorics and dynamics, even dramatic gestures. All this shows the influence of the Rasa-Sastra on Indian classical music. The continued relevance given to raga music with rasa-formula-framed-precepts is still evident from the works of quite a few writers on this subject though there have been efforts to understand expressive form and characteristic and significant meaning.