The Eight Rasas (aesthetic essences)
According to Indian Aesthetics , as outlined in Bharat Muni’s Natyashatra, there are eight Rasas or impacts that an aesthetic piece of work like dance form/ literary piece, tries to achieve/invoke in the beholder/reader. These can be loosely thought of as eight different kinds of aesthetic experiences.
As is evident I like all things eight, as I believe they have an underlying eight fold evo-devo stage structure behind them. In this case in visual art from each of the rasa is associated with a predominant color that signifies that rasa. For eg Shringar or Love/beauty/erotic rasa has as its color, color green.
Now, I have also blogged previously about color terms and how they may have evolved in an eight step model. In brief, I believe that Black came first , white next, then Red followed; after which followed yellow, blue and green and then other terms like orange, brown and grey followed. This I believe is also tied to the way our color vision and sensitivity would have grown/evolved.
Taking cue from that color term evolution model , I belive the eight rasas evolved in the same order as the color used to denote them, and that nicely fits with other aspects of the eight stage theory too, like the eight stage emotion development.
So, in essence, please find listed below the eight Rasaas in the correct eight stage order:
1. Bahyanak Rasa: color Black : emotion fear.
2. Hasya Rasa: color white: emotion joy/laughter
3. Rudra Rasa: color red : emotion anger
4. Adbhuta Rasa: color yellow , emotion wonder
5. Bibhitsa Rasa: color blue, emotion disgust
6. Shringar rasa: color green; emotion erotic/love
7. Veera rasa : color orange; emotion heroism
8. Karuna rasa: color grey; emotion compassion/ sadness.
Contrast this with the basic emotions list I have come up earlier viz.
1. Fear – Bahyanak
2. Joy/happiness – Hasya
3. Anger – Raudra
4. Sadness – Karuna
5. Disgust – Bibhitsa
6. Surprise – shringar
7. Contempt – Veera
8. Interest (anticipation) – Adbhuta
With just one switch between the Adbhuta (wonder/interest) and Karuna (sadness/ compassion), the eight rasas fit both the color term evolution and basic emotions evolution. That surely means we are at something and moving in the right direction as different routes are leading to the same destination. .
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