Rasa and Bhava


Producing emotions in the audience's mind is the ultimate goal of Abhinaya. On seeing any object, person or substance, or listening to something, the first thought that arises in the heart is said to be the “Bhava”. It is limited to the mind, just as the wave of happiness that arises in our heart after seeing someone dear to you is known as “Bhava”. When the response of this feeling starts to be expressed with the face, then it is called “Haava”.

In dance, emotions have importance. In fact, if seen, expressions and emotions are what govern ourselves and the world. According to the ancient scriptures, expressions reflected in poetry and other literary works are reflections of the emotions present in our society. Thus, there is a feeling of oneness and relatability. 

There are four types of this “Bhava” mentioned in our ancient scriptures: Sthayi, Sanchaari, Vibhava, and Anubhava.

1. Sthayi: The emotion which can not be hidden, the basic essence of “Rasa” is known as Sthayi bhava. This always resides in the heart, and is nourished by the "vibhava", "anubhav", and "sanchari" gestures and takes the form of rasa. For example, anger is a permanent emotion inside us, however it is not always visible. When we look at our enemy, then anger arises; and on seeing their actions, it takes the form of “Raudra” rasa. The total count of these emotions corresponds with the count of “Rasa” - which is 9. The types of Sthayi bhava are as follows:

a. Rati (love)

b. Utsah (excitement)

c. Jugupsa (disgust)

d. Krodh (anger)

e. Haasya (laughter)

f. Vismay (wonder)

g. Bhay (fear)

h. Shok (mourning)

i. Sham (calm)

2. Vibhava: The cause of any emotion arising or being highlighted is known as Vibhav. There are two types of Vibhav: Aalamban and Uddipan. Aalamban is the main character (Nayak, Nayika, etc.) whereas Uddipan is the outside environment that adds to the emotion (moon light, cold wind, etc.) 

3. Anubhava: The smaller nuances of Sthayi bhava that add to it are known as Anubhav. It is made of two words Anu (meaning after) and Bhava. It is Anubhava that evokes emotions in a common man or spectator. These are evoked after Sthayi bhava.  

4. Sanchaari: Just as how water bubbles float and we are lost in its travel, in the same way the carriers of Sthayi bhava are known as Sanchaari/Vyabhichari bhava. Sanchaari comes from the word Sanchaar, meaning to travel. There are 33 types of Sanchaari bhava.


We are all familiar with the word “Rasa''. In common parlance, the word rasa is used multifold, such as "the Rasa in words" "the Rasa in food" "the Rasa in life", "the Rasa in art", etc. Grammatically, the word rasa is formed by adding “ach” suffix to the rasa dhatu, which essentially translates to liquid, taste, and pleasure. 

"Rasa" is the permanent feeling nourished by “Sthayi Bhava” which is perpetrated by “Vibhava”, “Anubhava”, “Sanchari Bhava”. 

Bharata Muni has considered only 8 rasas in theatrical genesis, while in Kavyashastra, this number is considered to be nine and ten, sometimes somewhere 11. The names of the 8 rasas used are: Shringar, Hasya, Veer, Vibhatsa, Raurdra, Bhaya, Adbhut, and Karuna. Bharata Muni has not recognized the ninth Rasa which is Shaant, the tenth Rasa - Vatsalya and the eleventh - Bhakti rasa in Natyashastra.

Brief Introduction to Navrasa

1.Shringar: When Rati (sthayi bhava) develops entirely and is highlighted, then it is known as Shringaar rasa. The word “Shring” means lust or desire. Being consumed in this very lust and desire is known as Shringaar rasa. However, this "Shringar Ras" is bright and vibrant, with a positive connotation. Its Sthayi bhava is Rati. The Aalamban are Nayak and Nayika, whereas the Uddipan is bees flying, nature, moon light, etc. Apart from laziness, disgust, etc. all other Sanchaari bhavas are applicable to this Rasa. There are two types of Shringar: Sanyog (and Viyog. Sanyog Shringar is when there is love and affection between Nayak and Nayika through every day vision, touch, conversation, etc. Viyog Shringar is when the Nayak and Nayika do not meet or see each other but there is still love and affection. There are three types of Viyog Shringar: Poorvanurag, Maan, and Pravaas. 

2. Hasya: Where funny behavior of the character or otherwise is endured by Haas (Sthayi bhav), it is known as Hasya rasa. The different, odd speech types are the Aalamban, whereas the laughing expressions, weird words, bizarre expressions are the Uddipan. The opening and widening of eyes, and crooked mouth expressions are its Anubhava. Swapna, Glaani, Hasya, Chapalta etc. are its Sanchaari bhava. There are two types of humor with the character's distinction: Vanishth and Parnishth. According to the kind of laughter, there are six types: Smit, Hasit, Vihasit, Uphasit, Aphasit, and Atihasit. 

3. Veer: When Utsaah (sthayi bhava) develops entirely and is highlighted, then it is known as Veer rasa. The Sthayi bhava of this rasa is Utsaah (excitement). Its Aalamban is the “enemy”, whereas its Uddipan is divine power, battlefield, etc. The swelling of limbs and redness in their eyes is the Anubhava. Romanch, Garv, Asuya, Ugrata, Dherya, Mati, etc. are its Sanchari bhava. There are four types of Veer rasa: Dharm, Yuddh, Daan, and Daya. 

4. Adbhut: When Vismay (sthayi bhava) develops entirely and is highlighted, then it is known as Adbhut rasa. On seeing something big, grandiose, this rasa is evoked. Its Sthayi bhava is Vismay/Aashcharya. Any grand or different item or thing is Aalamban. Any process that leaves someone awestruck is the Uddipan. The movement and enlargement of eye pupils, getting teary eyed are its Anubhava. Vitark, Aaved, Bharnti, Harsh, Kampan, Utsukta, etc. are its Sanchaari bhava. 

5. Vibhatsa: The development and highlighting of Jugupsa (sthayi bhav) is known as Vibhatsa. Any word, sight, food, etc. that disgusts a person is what causes this emotion. Its sthayi bhav is Jugupsa. Any bad smell, rotten item, etc. are the Aalamban, whereas discussing it is its Uddipan. To spit on the ground, or turn the head away, squirming of nose and eyebrows, etc. is its Anubhava. Apasmaar, Moh, Aaved, etc. are its Sanchaari bhava.

6. Bhayanak: On full evocation of Bhay (sthayi bhava) in an individual is the development of Bhayanak rasa. Its sthayi bhava is Bhay. Its Aalamban is the existence of scary words or sights, feeling constrained, etc. Its Uddipan is to look at anything that is frightening. Its Anubhava is trembling, perspiration, palpitation, eyes widening, etc. Vepathu, Moh, Glani, Apasmaar, etc. are its Sanchaari bhava.

7. Raudra: When Krodh (sthayi bhav) is fully visible, then Raudra rasa is evoked. Therefore, the sthayi bhav of this rasa is Krodh. Its Aalamban is any enemy, antagonist, etc. Its Uddipan is to show anger or say ill-meaning words and phrases. Scolding, reprimanding, and fuming are its Anubhava. Garv, Chapalta, Moh, Veptahu, etc. are its Sanchari bhava.

8. Karuna: The full evocation and development of Shok (sthayi bhav) results in Karuna rasa. Therefore, the sthayi bhav is Shok. This arises from the destruction of good and attainment of evil. Death of people close to us, bad state of society or country, etc. are its Aalamban. The sad state of people, remembering people who we lost, etc. is its Uddipan. Crying, falling on the ground, cursing people and fate, etc. are its Anubhava. Vairaagya, Glani, Chinta, Moh, Smriti, etc. are its Sanchari bhava.

9. Shant: Growing out of desires and greed and attaining peace and stillness is “Shant” rasa. Its sthayi bhava is Sham/Nirved. Attaining worldly knowledge, being one with God, etc. are its Aalamban; whereas its Uddipan attending a religious gathering, pilgrimage, etc. Peace, stillness, calmness, happy tears, etc. are its Anubhava. The Sanchari bhava of this rasa are - Dhriti, Mati, Harsh, Smriti, etc. 

Kathak is the most mesmerizing dance form woven around the concept of storytelling. 

Click here to know more about the different concepts related to charming dance mudras, and footwork such as Laya And Taal & Ang Sanchalan.


Q. What are the types of Bhava?
Ans. According to our ancient scriptures, there are four main types of Bhava. They are - Sthaai, Sanchaari, Vibhava, and Anubhava. Sthaai Bhava is an emotion that can not be hidden. It is omnipresent in humans. Example - happiness, anger, sadness, etc. Sthaai bhava is the first emotion to appear in any and every situation. Sanchaari Bhava are those emotions that travel from one situation to another, just as how water bubbles travel and eventually burst and become one with the air around us. Vibhava is the cause of any emotion. There are two aspects to Vibhava - Aalamban and Uddipan. Aalamban is the character, whereas Uddipan is the surrounding and external environment. Anubhava are the smaller, finer emotions people experience after Sthaai bhava.
Q. What is Bhava?
Ans. Bhava is an emotion that is expressed using our face, hands, etc. Bhava is the medium through which artists are able to express their emotions, thoughts, and ideas. Example: an Indian classical dancer is showing a Lotus, they will express the beauty upon seeing the flower through their eyes, and a subtle smile. The lotus does not exist in reality, but it is through the expressions of a dancer that allows the audience to imagine.
Q. What are the types of Rasa?
Ans. According to Bharat Muni, there are eight main types of Rasa. The names are as follows - Shringaar, Hasya, Karuna, Raudra, Veer, Bhayanak, Adbhut, and Vibhatsa Rasa. On studying Bharat Muni’s theory of rasa, other well-known scholars added three more Rasas to the list, which are - Vatsalaya (a mother’s love for her child), Bhakti (devotion), and Shaant (peace).
Q. What is Rasa?
Ans. In common Hindi language, Rasa is to taste. We use the word ‘Rasa’ in day-to-day speech to talk of Similarly, in Indian Classical dance, Rasa is the absolute “essence” of any art form - be it poetry, music, dance, painting, etc. It is the complete experience and manifestation of any Bhava. For example - when a dancer shows a Lotus, the audience is able to imagine not just the flower, but also the colour, shape, size, the delicacy of the petals, its fragrance, etc. The ultimate goal of Rasa is “anand”, meaning bliss.

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