Mrinalini Sarabhai’s autobiography ‘The Voice of the Heart,’ published by Harper Collins India in the year 2004, is now available for free download

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Nine Rasas

A group of seventeen students are here in Darpana from Sanved, Kolkata (, an NGO which uses dance movement as an alternative approach to recovery, healing and for the psychosocial rehabilitation of victims of various forms of violence.

They have been attending and participating in various dance lessons with the Darpana teachers and I had my session with them on 23rd July for the first time.  

On July 27, we had another session on ‘Nava Rasa (nine expressions)’ in dance as they wanted to learn facial expressions in dance.

Bharata Muni, author of Natyashastra, defined eight rasas Sringara (love), Hasya (Laughter), Raudra (Fury), Karuna (Compassion), Bibhatsa (Aversion), Bhayanaka (Horror), Vira (Heroic mood) and Adbhuta (Wonder) and  Abhinavagupta later added Shanta (Peace), making the rasas nine.

In dance, the expressions have to be almost exaggerated and very clear.  The use of facial expression is important in almost all classical dance forms. The body follows the expression according to the context of the theme.  

The students found it difficult at first, but explaining to them to think of incidents in their own lives when they were ‘happy’ or ‘frightened’ or ‘sorrowful,’ they soon realized that it was important to ‘feel’ the emotion ‘bodily.’

These students had come up to my office one day and seen my photograph with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and said it was the first ‘relaxed’ photo of Tagore they had seen.  So at the end of our session, I gave them all copies of the photo which pleased them very much.

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