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Navarasa - The Nine Emotions



Every shade,  every intensity of every emotion that a living thing can experience can be summed up by this one word - Navarasa . This word originates from Bharat’s Natya Shastra : India’s Performing Arts. Nava means nine. Rasa means an emotional essence. Navarasa means the nine basic emotions. 

There are a barrage of emotions one feels and experiences deeply and passionately, in response to the events that we perceive.  How does one express these emotions?  Many people can express their thoughts beautifully by writing or by talking or by acting or by maintaining a graceful silence. And, many people cannot express their thoughts or choose not to.  I decided to express these emotions through the eight Indian Classical Dance Forms.

I consider the Indian Classical Dance to be the epitome of expression. Every movement, posture, facial expression, hand expression, the attire has its own significance in expression and a message to convey. 


From the little I read, each rasa is represented by the bhaava - the facial expression, mudraa - the hand expression and rang - the color in some of the classical dances. Here are the navarasa

Karuna – Compassion, Sorrow, Mercy.  Veera – Bravery, Courage, Heroism.  Raudra – Anger, Fury.  Shringaar – Romance, Love, Beauty.  Bhanayaka – Fear, Horror, Terror.  Bibhatsa – Disgust, Aversion.  Adbhuta – Surprise, Wonder, Amazement. Shanta – Peace, Tranquility. Haasya – Laughter, Humor, Comedy.


in Kathakali

Compassion, Sorrow, Mercy


in Kuchipudi

Bravery, Courage, Heroism

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