Bharata Natyam, Dance


An observation.


The thing about theatre, is that it involves three entities: The artist, the performance and most importantly, the audience-the observing entity…that changes the performance as it unfolds. Based on Indian metaphysics, Reality is ONE. This Reality is not only, the same as the inner self within each of us, but also the stuff from which everything in the universe is made. Then, there is the Self, or Consciousness, that is constantly witnessing this phenomenal universe. There are 4 levels of consciousness : waking, sleep, deep sleep and transcendental.

Sage Bharata in his thesis, Natya Shastra, a meticulously detailed research on all aspects of theatre and performance, amplifies the relationship between the audience and the artist. The focal point of this study is the creation of a term called RASA. This is defined as a palpable dual connection that exists between audience and artist that ultimately transforms the mind of both entities. The purpose of Indian theatre of Rasa, is to bring an understanding about this undifferentiated Reality. It is formulated, so that common man can experience the highest Reality. A reflection of this highest Reality is in Rasa. Rasa is that aesthetic rapture that is experienced beyond emotion and intellect. It is that magical space that leaves u speechless, thoughtless, a ‘wow’ moment, a silent explosion within the consciousness- (in Sanskrit-Spandanam) This Rasa is felt in performance. It brings pleasure and joy. It lingers in your memory for a very long time.

Crucial elements to achieve rasa

A Ripple effect:

1.Central, is the bhava or the emotion of the artist.

2. Aesthetic response thru intellectual and emotional empathy.

3. Aesthetic rapture of audience is achieved

4. This rapture echoes back to artist

5. That point of rapture in both is the point of transformation as they both feel transcendence of consciousness. Consciousness has 4 levels: waking, sleep, deep sleep and transcendental.


Sight: understanding involves active interpretation and making judgments and conclusions

Sound: impinges upon our consciousness in 4 levels:

1.Gross level sound travels thru air- Vaikari

2.Sound that is created thru vocal chords-Madhyama

3.Sound that is seen or a visualized form within the mind-Pashyanti

4.The silence…the canvas that enables this interaction- Para (Swami Shantanand)

Thus the theatre of rasa with the right ingredients of music, dance gesture, expression and rhythm, transforms the consciousness and transports the audience and artist together to transcendence.


Sarasa Krishnan