From "A Dancer on Dance"
written by V.P. Dhananjayan, published by Bharata Kalanjali

The Rasas are nothing but human feelings and emotions. These are of course universal, known to Man and Art perhaps since culture began, but in the Indian cultural tradition that they have been analysed, codified and commented upon, threadbare. The chapter on Rasa in Bharata's Natyasastra, has been the mainstay of all traditional literature, dance and theatre arts in India.

There is no actual counterpart to Rasa in the English language. The nearest in meaning, in this context, is human feelings or emotions. There are nine classified by Bharata, who says that Brahma enunciated only eight, and the ninth, Shantha was his contribution. Today, Navarasa is a common terminology and it has been so for quite some time, though some eminent scholars and famous authors like Kalidasa (in Malavikagnimitram) mention only eight. Their contention is that Santham does not evoke any Rasa or enjoyment and consequently is a static, motionless state of mind.

The Definition of Rasa:
There has always been controversies about its definition. Even today, there are people who confuse Rasa with Bhava and mistake one for he other. On a literal level, Rasa means that which is being tasted or enjoyed. Hence the word Rsika is employed to denote connoisseurs. Now, the question might be asked whether Rasa comes from Bhava or Bhava from Rasa. Bhava means, that which becomes (bh00, bhav, i.e., to become), so Bhava becomes Rasa. But Rasa does not become Bhava. There is also this complementary effect on the dancer or actor.

It is said that Sringara, Rowdra, Veera and Bibhatsa are the main Rasas and the others Hasya, Karuna, Adbhuta and Bhaya are derived from the former four. That means that from Sringara comes Hasya; from Rowdra comes Karuna; from Veera comes Adbhuta and from Bibhatsa comes Bhaya. Certain colours have been specified for the artistic representation of these Rasas, codified so to speak, for use in the performing arts. Green is used for Sringara, red for Rowdra, golden yellow for Veera, blue for Bibhatsa, white for Hasya, grey for Karuna, black for Bhaya, yellow for Adbhuta.

For every one of these Rasas, there is a Sthayi Bhava, (the permanent state of mind), Lakshana (the definition), and Vibhava (the fundamental determinant) and Uddeepana Vibhava (the excitant determinant). Then follow Anubhava (the consequences), Sattvika Bhava (the involuntary) that is, that which springs from the involvement of the mind, and Vyabhichari Bhava or sanchari Bhava (tranitory or passing state of mind)

Elaboration of the Rasas