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Chapter 2: Relation of Rasa and Music

  1. What is Rasa?
  2. Importance of Ras
  3. Bhava
  4. Classification of Rasas .


Ras - The aim of raga is to elicit emotional and psychological responses from the listener. The production of these specific responses can be understood by exploring the concept of rasa.. Rasa has been referred to as "aesthetic delight". It is, however, a delight distinguished from sensual enjoyment. It is free from the limitations of personal feelings. It is the delight in which the higher consciousness is involoved in the experience of universal affection.

There are nine rasas:
1) Love (Shringar),
2) Humor (Hasya),
3) Pathos (Karuna),
4) Anger (Rudra),
5) Heroism (Vir),
6) Terror (Bhayanaka),
7) Disgust (Veebhatsa),
8) Wonder (Adbhuta),
9) Calm (Shanta)

Raga - Indicates a scale type or melody matrix. This matrix is a basis for composing melodies governed by a set of rules which determine the selection of notes (swaras) in a raga. These rules include the ascending and descending order of pitches used in the raga (aroha/avroha), the note of utmost importance (vadi), the note of secondary importance (sumvadi), and characteristic melodies (packard, chellan).

Each raga produces a particular ras and is played at a specific time of day or year. Some ragas produce the rasa of Pathos (Karuna) and are performed at dawn, inspiring a feeling of peace and devotion. Others are performed only during the monsoon season and produce a feeling of lonliness

Creating Rasa means to give aesthetic delight or to give an experience of ultimate bliss and happiness. The term Ras unfortunately has no equivalent in the English language. But it can be translated as flavour, to relish, sentiment (emotion) , as explained by scholars. Thus it could be best translated as the aesthetic feeling that is created in the spectator when he witnesses an effective presentation of the art.

It is the mood or the emotion created in the audience by the dancer, who in order to create that emotion, herself undertakes to perform Angika movements.

  Importance of Ras :-

Any art without a Ras is incomplete. Dance without Ras will be purely a mechanical exercise of body motions and physical movements. It is only when dance results in the evocation of Ras that it rises above the level of a mere physical endeavour, and becomes a meaningful creative enterprise. Thus Ras is the quality that makes for the understanding between the artists and the spectator. When the dancer successfully conveys the message in the poem to the spectator, and in the process spectator reciprocates, ras is said to be created.

Ras is simply explained as “that which is being tasted or enjoyed”.
Bharata in the "Natya Shastra" gives the analogy of enjoyment of food in explaining the experience of the aesthetic delight ('Rasa').


The literal meaning of Bhava is becoming or being or that which becomes ('bhoo', bhav, i.e., to become).

In dance, it would indicate the emotional and the existing conditions or the emotional state of the character portrayed. So when the bhavas are perceived and the true appreciation of the beauty of art happens , then the Rasa is born. So Bhavas become Rasa. But Rasa cannot become Bhava.

Sthayi Bhava

Sthayi Bhava is the permanent or the established state of mind. It is the emotive state of mind which persists through all the stages of action in dance/drama. It is inborn in man's heart and exists permanently in th mind of every man.


Vibhava is the determinant or the physical cause of the basic emotinal/mental state. Vibhava is represented through two aspects –

a) Alambana (fundamental determinant) : The object or the character which is primarily responsible for the arousal of emotions. Eg, Shakuntala becomes the object of love for Dushyanta and hence is the the Alambana Vibhava.

b) Uddipana (excitant determinant) : The environment or the entire surrounding which enhances the emotive effect of the object which primarily stimulates emotion. Eg, the entire forest scene with beautiful hermitage garden at its centre and pleasant , gentle breeze , sunshine and sweet companions of Shakuntala which enhance her beauty are the Uddipana Vibhav.


Anubhava are the indications or consequents. They are the physical changes and movements which are inspired by the aroused basic mental state and communicate the emotion portrayed. There are Voluntary physical changes ;eg, movement of eyes, eyebrows and Involuntary physical changes (Satvikabhavas) which spring from the involvement of mind; eg, romanch, vepathu (trembling/shivering), vaivarnya (change of colour) etc.


Vyabhicharibhavas are the transient moods or fleeting emotions in contrast and leading to and strengthening the established state , that is, the Sthayibhava. Eg, weakness, nirveda, envy, etc. According to Bharata there are 33 Vyabhicharibhavas.

These trasitory states are: Nirveda (detachment), Glani (weakness), Shanka (Apprehension), Asuya (envy), Mada (intoxication), Shrama (fatigue), Alasya (indolence), Dainya (depression), Chinta (anxiety), Moha (delusion), Smriti (recollection), Dhriti (contentment), Vrida (shame), Chapalata (agility), Harsha (joy), Avega (agitation), Jadata (stupor), Garva (arrogance), Vishada (despair), Autsukya (longing/yearning), Nidra (sleep/slumber), Apasmara (epilepsy), Supta (dream), Vibodh (awakening), Amarsha (indignation), Avahittha (dissimulation), Ugrata (violence), Mati (intellect), Vyadhi (disease), Unmada (insanity), Marana (death), Trasa (terror) and Vitarka (deliberation).

Classification of Rasas









Dark Blue (shyam)

Hasya (Humorous)




Karuna (Pathetic)




Raudra (Terrible)




Veera (Heroic)



Pale Orange

Bhayanaka (Fearful)

Bhaya )



Bibhatsa (Odious)




Adbhuta (Wonderous)




Shanta (Peaceful)