Karuna Rasa or Karunya Rasa


“Natyaśāstra (the encyclopedia of dance) describes the representation of emotions in classical dance as Vibhānubhāva vyabhicāri samyogada rasanispattih. Emotions/sentiments (rasas) are produced by the combination of Consequents (anubhāva), Determinants (vibhāva) and Complementary Psychological States (vyabhicāri bhāva),” said this week’s expert Kuchipudi dancer Vidya SV.

She added, “As discussed in our earlier edition on Raudra Rasa, rasas are the emotional tone or sentiments that are subtly cultivated in the audience through words gestures and feelings (bhavas) showcased by a performer. Hence in classical dance, Karuna Rasa is an expression of sorrow with a bhava of shoka or sadness. It is represented by the performer as a discharge of tears, lamentation, the eyes looking up with a dejected look, faded pallor of the face, drooping of the limbs, gasping for breath, loss of memory and other similar things.”

The (Vibhavas) determinants of this rasa are curse, distress, downfall, the death of near or dear ones, misfortunes, etc. It can also be due to misfortune happening to oneself or sorrow for others. Psychological states (Vyabhicari Bhavas) are dejectedness, indifference, languor, anxiety, yearning, loss of sense, sadness, ailments, lethargy, sluggishness, fear, death, paralysis, tremor, faded pallor in the face, shedding of tears, loss of speech and the kindred feelings. Thus, Karuna Rasa in its highest form depicts compassion or sympathy.

Examples are a mother’s reaction while seeing her son’s body returning home after being killed in a war, Sri Krishna’s reaction to Abhimanyu’s death during the Kurukshetra War and most of the Shakespearean tragedies.

Making Karuna Interesting: Although the audience, today, are exposed to many ways of entertainment and customized content that can be digitally fed on a daily basis. Live shows still evoke a certain level of personal connection and emotional relief in the audience. Human nature is to be curious and explore new things. Thus, when this curiosity is satisfied, there is a sense of happiness.

Live dance shows most often give the audience a story, a concept or even sequence that are presented uniquely. Many times, even if the audience members are aware of the beginning and the end of a story, either the way in which the dancer has enacted a character or presented the introduction to the story or even the personal inputs she has given to a scene will captivate the audience.

Thus, dancers who are continuously creating and passionately exploring newer concepts will always have the audience attend their performance. These dancers go on to create their own unique style in the art field.

Bollywood and Karuna Rasa: Several music composers have experimented with Karuna Rasa for their compositions. Some of them are:

Kabira… – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)

Give me some sunshine – 3 idiots (2009)

Khudaya ve… – Luck (2009)

Lukka chupi… – Rang De Basanti (2006)

Taare zameen par… (Title song) – Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Ankh hai bhari bhari – Tum Se Achcha Kaun Hai (2002)

Vidya’s Take: Mastering Karuna means to convert our personal sadness or distress into compassion for our ignorance of the others’ condition or the ignorance by others for our condition. Karuna is also very empathetic and makes one relate to the others’ state of unhappiness.

Astrology and Gemology: We found an astrology expert in Shweta Bhardwaj, founder of Predictions for Success, who told us the astrological and gemological connection of Karuna Rasa.

She said, “Ketu (South node of the moon) is a shadow planet though it gives a flood of emotions, too. It makes the people sad while even looking at the slightest pitiable state of himself or near and dear ones. Ketu is said to be a headless body (that can’t think) that is only overwhelmed with emotions. Ketu is Karuna. During the Ketu Dasha, the native is very anxious and emotionally weak. His thinking power is overcome by the emotions he carries and hence good decisions are very hard to make. Ketu is said to be the next step after success and people must be careful to hold the emotions in control during this period otherwise the gained success will be ruined in no time.”

According to Shweta, the gem that controls sadness is Cat’s Eye or Lehsuniya.


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