What are the Navarasas?

- October 10, 2020


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ccording to India’s performing arts traditions, the navarasas are the nine emotions evoked in an audience during their experience of a dance, music or drama performance. The Natyashastra, a Sanskrit text on performing arts by Bharata Muni, mentions only eight – Shringara, Hasya, Karuna, Raudra, Veera, Beebhatsa, Bhayanaka and Adbhuta. The ninth rasa, Shanta, was later taken from the Abhinaya Darpana by Nandikeshwara.   Shringara – Romantic Love Title: Malavika | Illustration: P.B. Kavadi Malavika, the princess of Vidarbha, had won the heart of King Agnimitra, disguised as the queen’s maid in his kingdom. During a dance performance in the court, Malavika reciprocates his feelings through her performance, a performance that very clearly vocalises her romantic intentions to the reader as well. Hasya – Humour Title: Raman of Tenali | Illustration: Ram Waeerkar Raman of Tenali used to be quite the lazy young man. Once, when a sadhu told him to find some work, he lied saying that his ill health forbid him from working. The sadhu then taught him a mantra to invoke Kali and seek her blessings. Raman reached the temple and began to pray. When the goddess appeared before him, she was amused by his witty charm and granted him the title ‘Vikatakavi’, a palindrome in Telugu for ‘clown-jester-poet’. Tenali’s exploits are the very definition of hasya. Karuna – Compassion Title: Savitri | Illustration: Ram Waeerkar Princess Savitri married Satyavan who was destined to die within a year of their marriage. On a fateful day, when they were in the woods collecting firewood, a sharp pain pierced through Satyavan’s limbs and he fell down unconscious, invoking in the reader a sense of compassion for the now-widowed Savitri. Raudra – Rage ...

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