Interpretation of Rasas in Rasa Theory of Classical Indian Poetics

Zameerpal Kaur


Poetics is one of the three main branches of knowledge including grammar andphilosophy in which Indian scholarship has presented valuable and relevant findingsduring ancient and medieval periods. Indian Poetics especially classical Sanskrit poeticsholds an old and rich tradition starting from Bharta‟s Natyashatra (almost 2nd centuryC.E.) and extended up to Panditraja Jagan Natha‟s Rasgangadhara (17th century C.E.).It continued about thousands of years, presenting various logical, philosophical,linguistic and semantic approaches to study the literary texts. As a result, a number ofgreat works have been produced in the concerned field and six main schools of Sanskritpoetics namely Rasa School, Alamkara School, Dhvani School, Riti School,VakrokatiSchool and Auchitya School came into existence.

The main issues discussed in these schools are; themes of literature, forms ofliterature, purpose of literature, basic elements of literature, its characteristics, types andthe creative process as a whole. Rasa theory occupies the pride of place among all theseschools of Indian Poetics. Bharata Muni is acknowledged to be the first exponent of thedoctrine, which he has systematically set forth in his celebrated treatise on dramaturgy,called Natyashastra. In Natyashastra Bharata has interpreted every aspect of literaturein terms of „Rasa‟, a mental state or pleasure aesthetically enjoyed or capable of beingtested or relished. Further he has described eight Rasas linked with unique SthayiBhawas or permanent moods of human mind. Even though, his main concern was forthe dramatic art form, but now Rasa theory has been applied to study all forms ofliterature including other forms of art and aesthetic creations also.

This paper is based on a discussion of Rasa theory and specially focusing oninterpretation of eight Rasas. Overall contribution and relevance of Rasa theory willalso be discussed in this paper.

Key Words: Indian Poetics, Rasa theory, Bharata Muni

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