(Last Updated on : 22/11/2011)
The literal meaning of the word Rasa is sap, juice or the essence. However in reference to the arts especially music it has obviously a different meaning. The central idea is to examine the concept of aesthetics and the definition of beauty in reference to Hindustani music. In any such performance, there exist two major and essential ingredients. They are creative experience of the artist i.e. musician and the aesthetic response of the connoisseurs i.e. listeners. Thus in terms of Hindustani classical music, Rasa is a term that designates both process, that of artistic and aesthetic. In any given Hindustani musical performance the musician creates and the listener recreates. The musician transmits his or her experience into a musical pattern of sensuous and dynamic images and the listener in turn translates this pattern into a relishing and enjoyable experience.
The creative experience of the musician is not possible unless the musician himself in suffused in Raga and is capable of infusing that in his work. The creative experience of the musician that makes the essential quality of Hindustani vocal music is produced by its three main components namely Raga, Tala
. These components are of paramount importance. The other sense of Rasa is the aesthetic experience of a listener. Unless the recreation by the listener is done and unless the musician's creation is thoroughly enjoyed by the connoisseurs, the concept of Rasa remains unfulfilled. Together they create the total concept of Rasa. As such Rasa is called the soul of Hindustani vocal music. It is a dominant feature of any given Hindustani vocal music performance and therefore, is considered as its fundamental music.
Rasa in Indian Concept
Rasa is pre-existent and gradually arises with musical clues. It is savoured and not dispersed. The word 'Rasa' has three main aspects to it: physical, psychological and metaphysical. The first aspect is directly related to the actual meaning of the word i.e. juice or essence. With the second aspect, the psyche participates in the experience i.e. the sweetness of the Rasa of any fruit like mango or orange is tasted by the tongue to be felt by the mind. The experience is psychological based directly on the physical object. The third and the important aspect is the metaphysical aspect. Here the word Rasa is used to connote an experience which is neither merely physical nor psychological but outside the sphere of all such mundane activities. Some call it spiritual. This experience is attained only through the pursuit of artistic excellence and at the same time also has subconsciously a separate identity as a listener. When such a state is achieved only then the true Rasa can be experienced.
Rasa experience is one's response to good music. It is direct intuition of a felt quality. When a singer presents raga with its Bandish is a specific Tala and if the listeners only feel the Swar Tala matrix, no Rasa can be said to be felt but the moment the next character of the entire Raga is evident and the listeners actually see the Raga as an embodiment of some feelings or emotions, Rasa seems to be flowing from such musical performance.