Raga and Rasa

In examining the Rasa and the music it is important to visit the Rasa theory of Bharat Muni elaborated in context of the drama.

“By the combination of the Vibhâva, Anubhãva and the Vyabhichãri Bhãva the Rasa is created”, is the well-known statement of Bharat.

The cause of the rasa is the Sthãyî Bhãva (Sanskãras – accumulated experience) which are brought to life due to the appropriate favorable or unfavorable stimuli.

The stimuli includes:


There are two types of Vibhâva – Ãlamban and Ûdhîpan.

Ãlamban Vibhâva are the characters like the Nayak (hero), Nayika (heroine) etc which give rise to the Sthãyî Bhãva.

Ûdhîpan Vibhâva are the circumstances like nature, props that give further assistance and propagate (Udhipan) the Sthãyî Bhãva.


Under the effect of the Sthãyî Bhãva, Ãlamban and Ûdhîpan Vibhâva the human reacts in different ways. These reactions or feelings are called Anubhãva.

Sacchãri or Vyabhichãri Bhãva

The temporary effects or feelings which are not stable (Sthãyi) are called Sacchãri or Vyabhichãri Bhãva. These emanate during the creation of the Sthãyi Bhãva’s and are thus called Vyabhichãri Bhãva.

Up to thirty-three have been mentioned in Sanskrit literature. Some of these are Nîrvêd (desireless), Glãnî (guilt), Shankã (doubt), Mad (intoxication), Shram (effort), Ãlasya (Morbidity, laziness), Chaplatâ  (naughtiness, craftiness, cleverness, alert, Harsh (excitement),Autsûkya (eager, inquisitive) Ûnmãd (happiness) etc

In music the stimuli or the Vibhâva would be the following:


Svara and Laya

Svaras (tones) including Vâdi (prominent), Samvâdi (consonant of Vâdi) and the Anuvâdi (other supporting svaras).

The duration the svaras are held, visited and the tempo of music would also be part of Ãlamban Vibhâva.

Karuna – Vilambit

Hasya, Shringar – Madya

Veer, Raudra, Bibhatsa – Drut



This would include factors outside the svaras (tones) and could be the timbre of instrument, voice timbre, lyrics, gestures, acoustics. effects etc.


It is clear that the ancient references to the above word imply it’s meaning as a combination of tones with the impact of creating Rasa. It did not include words or text but talks about the Venu Gita, Veena Gita. The field of music is concerned about this science of tones with their inherent bhava (inherent personality) acting as the Sthayi Svara (amsa, tonic)  or the supporting svaras including Samvâdi, Anuvâdi and Sanchâri svaras.

These are compared to the kingdom – The Vadi is like the King, Samvadi the Prime Minister, Anuvadi the servants serving the Vadi and Samvadi and the Sanchari svaras like the generals or officer.

It is important to understand that the Swaras have their own Bhava (individuality personality) and also when they are the Sthayi Svaras (amsa) they generate a specific Rasa. They will have a dual role either as a Sthayi Svara or a contributor of its Bhava when it is not Sthayi Svara.

The following Chart will illustrate this:

Svara Bhãva Rasa
Shadaj Utsãh – energetic, uplifting

Vismaya – surprising

Krõdh – angry

Virya – heroism

Adbhuta – amazment

Raudra – excited fury

Rishab Utsãh, Vismaya, Krodh Virya, Adbhuta, Raudra
Gandhãr Shoka  – sad Karunã – longing
Madyam Hãs – happy, joyful

Rati – delightful

Hãsya – happiness joy

Shringãr – romance

Pancham Hãs, Rati Hãsya, Shringãr
Dhaivat Bhaya – fearful

Jugupsã – uneasy

Bhayãnak – scary

Vibhatsva – disgusting

Nishãd Shoka  – sad Karunã – longing

The main Rasa are four and from these the others are created.

Shringãr – also creates Hãsya

Raudra- also creates Karûn

Vîrya – also creates Adbhûta

Bîbhatsa – also creates Bhayãnak

Nirvêd/Shãnta (neutral, Love, Shanta, Peaceful)) got added later.

Shringãr represents the universal creative force and embodies romantic and erotic feelings, of love between man and woman, the longing for the absent lover and sensitivity to the beauty of nature

Hãsya – is humorous and comic, happy and joyful and producing laughter.

Raudra – depicts anger or excited fury

Karuna – is sad, pathetic, tragic and expresses loneliness, longing and yearning for the absent lover or God.

Vîrya – is expressive of divinity, majesty and glory, courage and heroism.

Adbhuta is expressive of wonderment, amazement, surprise, exhilaration and also mixed feelings of anticipation.

Bîbhatsa – conveys the sentiment of hate, hostility, and disgust which is usually made explicit in dramas.

Bhayãnak – represents the sensation of fear, fright and awe. However it is difficult to express this in music or a solo instrument.

Nirvêd/Shãnta (neutral, Love, Shanta, Peaceful)) got added later.


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