Natyashastra and Rasa Theory

Natyashastra and Rasa Theory | Type Of Rasa | Rasa Theory | Natyashastra Critical Analysis

Natyashastra and Rasa Theory
Natyashastra and Rasa Theory


                          “The Natyashastra” is the world’s oldest treatise on performing art. It is more than 2500 years old. Many scholars believe that the author of Natyashastra is “Bharatmuni”. It has been given the status of 5th Veda. It contains ancient Indian treaties on performing arts that is theatre, music, and dance.

This book was written in the form of dialogues between sage Bharata and other sages. It was compiled between 200 BC and 200 AD. It contains 36000 shlokas in verse style. There are a total of 36 chapters in it. There is a general misconception that drama, theatre, and music are western gifts to India. Manmohan Ghosh and Rangachara translated Natyasastra into English. In Indian aesthetics, a rasa (Sanskrit: रस) literally means “nectar, essence or taste”.

About Author:

                             There is not much information about the author of ‘Natyashastra’. Many scholars believe that the author of Natyashastra is ‘Rishi Bharata’ also known as Bharatmuni. Still, it is a matter of discussion for scholars whether Bharat Muni is the writer or compiler of the Natyashastra.

About Natyashastra:

                                                            Natyashastra is based on the much older Gandharva Veda.
It is believed that Rishi Bharata collected different knowledge, wisdom, and experience from the four Veda and compiled it into one book named Natyashastra. The Natyashastra consists of four elements of text taken from ‘Rig- Veda’ songs from the Sama-Veda acting from the ‘Yajur-Veda’ and rasa or aesthetic experience from the ‘Atharva-Veda’.

                        In the first chapter of Natyashastra talk about the response and involvement of the spectators in the drama. The second chapter describes the method of building different types of stages. The third chapter talks about the religious ceremony to be performed in the auditorium. The fourth chapter tells the story of Amritmanthana. Various aspects related to dance and music have been discussed in fourth and the fifth chapters. The only two dance styles that have their origin in Bharata’s Natyashastra are Bharatanatyam and Odissi.

Type Of Rasa

                        In the sixth chapter, Bharat Muni has given special emphasis on Rasas and discusses the nature of rasas. In this chapter, he talked about the process by which different types of rasas are generated. According to Bharata Muni, there are nine types of rasas and he identified specific colours, emotions, and deities for the Rasas as shown in the table.

Sr. No.RasaEmotionColoursDeities
1.ShringarDelight / LovePale Light greenLord Vishnu
5.VeeraHeroismPale OrangeShiva-mahakala
Natyashastra and Rasa Theory Structure

(1) Shringara Rasa (Erotic Sentiments):

                                                                        The Shringara Rasa proceeds from the dominant state of love and is associated with the Lord Vishnu. Love is found not only between man and woman but also between man and woman but also birds, animals, and other creatures. It should be represented on the stage by the consequents of eyes, eyebrows, soft, and delicate movements of the body, sweetness, words, and similar other things. Kalidasa in the scene of the union of Shakuntala and Dushyant at that time write the best example of Shringara Rasa.

(2) Hasya Rasa (Comic Sentiments):

                                                                        The Hasya Rasa means laughter tension and worries. It is broadly classified into two types – Atmastha is the self-laughter where one is laughing at oneself while Parastha is making others laugh. The best example  of Hasya Rasa is “Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasma”. It creates big laughter among the audience. It shows both types of laughter.

(3) Karuna Rasa (Pathetic Sentiments):

                                                                        The Karuna Rasa arises from the dominant state of sorrow. It is usually presented through separation from dear ones, loss of wealth, death, accident, or any type of misfortune. The best example of karuna Rasa is – ‘Abhigyan Shakuntalam’ the separation of Shakuntala and Dushyant due to a curse, it generates paths.

(4) Rudra Rasa (Furious Sentiments):

                                                                        Rudra Rasa refers to the “furious sentiment” or the “Sentiment of Anger” used in dramatic performance. To portray this rasa, the actor keeps his eyes wide open, his eyelids flatter and his eyebrows lifted up. Red eyes, Knitting of eyebrows, biting of lips, restlessness, and trembling are the best expressions for Rudra Rasa. An example of Rudra Rasa is – ‘Amba and her Anger’.

(5) Veera Rasa (Heroic Sentiments):

                                                                        The Veera Rasa reflects the superior type of person and has the energy or enthusiasm has its basic. In the Character of Mahabharata, such as – Karana, Yudhishthira, and Arjuna, we can find ‘Veera Rasa’.

(6) Bhayankar Rasa (Terrible Sentiments):

                                                                                   The Bhayankara Rasa has its dominant state of fear. It is usually created by fearful atmospheres like hideous, noise, side of ghost panic, and anxiety. In many horror movies, we found Bhayanka Rasa. When Rama was in the forest and fighting with “Rakshasa” at that time we fell “Bhaya”.

(7) Bibhastya Rasa (Odious Sentiments):

                                                                         The Bibhastya Rasa has its basic dominant state of disguise. It is created by determinants like hearing unpleasant, offensive, impure, and harmful things or singing them or discussing them. For example – When Prince Siddhartha was a young man and for the first time he saw sickness, old age, and death, he was moved to disgust which later translate into sorrow, deep introspection and peace as he transformed into Gautama, “The Buddha”.

(8) Adhbuta Rasa (Marvellous Sentiments):

                                                                              Adbhuta Rasa deals with wonder. It is the sentiments of mystery astonishment and curiosity. It should be recognized through special features such as – marvelous statements, conduct, actuary, etc. For example – the glory of a king returning from a successful battle, and the magical feats of a god are both Adbhuta for a common man.


                         Thus the combination called Natyashastra is a mixture of races, bhavas, abhinayas, dharmas, vrittis, pravrttis, svaras, etc. There are many topics described in Natyashastra and their finer details are given. It shows how well-developed art was right from the ancient period.

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