Tag Archives: Tantra

Navarasa – the 9 Rasas or Emotional Essences

In Sanskrit Nava means nine and Rasa has many translations in English, and the main ones are: essence, juice, nectar, taste, or sap, but Rasa is commonly used to denote the sense of an “emotional state.” The nine Rasas were (and are) the backbone of Indian aesthetics ever since they were codified in the Natyasastra (written sometime between 200 BC-300 AD) and they formed the foundation from which the traditions of dance, music, theatre, art and literature evolved. Performances and artwork were created solely with the aim of evoking the Rasas in the audience.

Rasa is in everything, or better yet, everything “has” Rasa. Though some things have a higher vibrational essence, others are lower and some even appear as dead, Rasa remains the invisible substance that gives life its meaning.

The 9 Rasas as described in ancient Indian aesthetic philosophy can be seen as being indicative of prime human emotions. Each Rasa is a repository of energy drawn from our Prana (life force). By unlocking this powerful energy and then mastering it, we can effectively achieve emotional balance, and also use this energy to realize our true potential.

In both Yoga and Tantra the 9 Rasas are seen as the essence of all of our emotions.

Navarasa – the 9 Rasas or Emotional Essences

The 9 Rasas or Emotional Essences

They are listed here Sanskrit (with English translation), briefly describing each one’s properties…

1. Sringara (Love) – This is the ultimate Rasa; the crown emotion that heals anything. This Rasa frees the ego and connects us to devotional love. When we appreciate beauty it connects us to the source of love. It’s the creative play between Shiva and Shakti, sun and moon, yin and yang. The purpose of the universe is to experience this divine love. This love is inherent in everything. It is within each and every one of us and radiates throughout the cosmos.

2. Hasya (Joy) – This Rasa connects us to our sense of humor through laughter, happiness and contentment. When we laugh, it is the easier to slip into a no-mind state, because the mind has been freed from its usual workload of thoughts, and we can simply be open, free and happy in that moment.

3. Adhuta (Wonder) – The curiosity, mystery and awe which occur when we become fascinated with the very idea of life. This Rasa is our playfulness and innocence. We enter into complete appreciation and become an explorer or adventurer. It seems like magic!

4. Vira (Courage) – Also bravery, confidence, determination, self-assurance and valor. Vira asserts itself when you call upon the warrior that lives inside you. It is strong and vibrant.

5. Shanta (Peace) – This Rasa is reflected in deep calmness and relaxation. When we become still, quiet and at peace, we are so full that we are empty of all else but peace. We can only find peace within.

6. Karuna (Compassion) – When we can experience another’s sadness and reflect it back to the cosmos, we then experience compassion. Compassion is what connects us all. Through compassion we can relate deeply and honestly with each other, it is the bridge between us and others and helps us understand and empathize with them.

7. Raudra (Anger) – When angry we go into the fire. One moment of anger can destroy a lifetime of good merit, so have respect for anger. When anger isn’t honored it can bring up irritation, violence and hatred. Allow yourself to feel the anger, without taking any action; letting it move through you rather than getting stuck.

8. Bhayanaka (Fear) – Also doubt, worry, insecurity etc. When we live our lives in fear, we shut down completely. Overcome Bhayanaka with inner strength, love and truth.

9. Vibhasta (Disgust) – Self pity, loathing, self hatred. This Rasa characterizes the judgmental mind; only by cultivating loving-kindness can we heal and appease Vibhasta.

The Main Traditional Indian Yogas

Yoga is viewed in the Vedanta tradition as the path which seeks to unite one’s own soul with Atman (the “True Self,” which is equated with the essential, ultimate, eternal, unchanging, nature of the universe).

Most of the Yogas other than Hatha are mostly meditative and more directly aimed at Yoga as end-goal and “union.”

An Overview:

Jnana Yoga: Union acquired through knowledge. Jnana Yoga is the path of spiritual wisdom and knowledge, in which the intellect penetrates the veils of ignorance that prevent man from seeing his True Self (Atman). The disciplines of this path are those of study and meditation.  Jnana Yoga may be considered the practical application of Advaita Vedanta.

Bhakti Yoga: Union acquired through love and devotion. The most popular Yoga of Indian masses is Bhakti. This is the Yoga of strongly-focused love, devotion and worship, at its finest in love of the One. Its disciplines are those of rites and the singing of songs of praise (called Bhajan or Kirtan).

Karma Yoga: Union acquired through action and service. Karma Yoga is the path dedicated work, selfless action and service, without any concern for the “fruits” of action.

Mantra Yoga: Union acquired through voice and sound. The practice of Mantra Yoga influences consciousness through repeating (or chanting) certain syllables, words or phrases. A form of Mantra Yoga is the Transcendental Meditation, which is widely practiced in the West. Rhytmic repetition of mantras is called japa. The most common, highly-regarded mantras are ‘OM’ and ‘OM MANE PADME HUM’.

Yantra Yoga: Union acquired through vision and form. Yantra Yoga employs sight and form. The visualization may be with the inner eye. A yantra is a design with power to influence consciousness; it is generally a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition, but it can be an objective picture, an inner visualization, or even the design of a temple.

The Main Traditional Indian Yogas Laya and Kundalini Yoga: Union acquired through arousal of latent psychic nerve-force. These combine many of the techniques of Hatha Yoga, especially prolonged breath suspension and a stable posture, with intense meditative concentration, so as to awaken the psychic nerve-force latent in the body, symbolized as serpent power (Kundalini), which is coiled below the base of the spine. The force is taken up the spine, passing through several power centers (chakras), until it reaches a chakra in the crown of the head, when intuitive enlightenment (Samadhi) is triggered. The disciplines are severe, best practiced under the guidance of a master teacher or guru.

Tantric Yoga: Union acquired through the harnessing of sexual energy. Tantric techniques are applied to distinguish psycho/physiological systems. The control of the sexual energies has a prominent part and the union of male and female plays a ritualistic role. Tantric Yoga closely guards its teachings and techniques, being the most secret of all the yogas.

Hatha Yoga: Union acquired through bodily mastery (particularly the breath); central to all Hatha Yoga disciplines is the regulation of breath, the harmonizing of its positive (sun) and negative (moon) or male and female currents. Hatha Yoga is the most widely practiced yoga in the West, and its best-known feature is asana (poses). Hatha yoga has practical benefits to the health of the nervous system, glands, and vital organs. It’s often a predecessor to (and purifying preparation for) Raja Yoga, which is work upon consciousness itself. Hatha Yoga is the most practical of yogas, working upon the physical body, purifying it, and through the body upon the mind. It’s the Yoga of physical health and well-being.

Raja Yoga: Union acquired through mastery over the mind. Its principal text is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Raja Yoga is considered royal because the Yogi who practices this yoga regularly becomes ruler over his mind. Raja Yoga works upon the mind, refining and perfecting it, and then through the mind upon the body. It’s the Yoga of consciousness, considered by most, the highest form of Yoga.

The Main Traditional Indian Yogas