Click here for all links

Social media links

Relationship between word force and rasa: (Bharatheeya Kavyasastra: Part XI)
- V S Bhaskara Panicker
C/o e-mail:

February 14, 2007

(This is the eleventh part of the research paper that Mr. V S Bhaskara Panicker would like to share with narthaki readers)

Relationship between word force and rasa
In which manner are Sthayibhavas and Rasa connected to Kavya and what are its implications? By hearing Kavya and seeing Natya, the Sahridaya enjoys the taste of Rasa. (A doubt has arisen as to whether this tasting of rasa is the real Vachyartha or Lakshyartha of the Kavya or some other Artha (meaning) different from them).

Dhwanivadins hold the view that the relation between Kavya and Rasa is not Vachya-Vachaka-Bhava connection; Rasa is not Vachya. Kavya (with Vibhavas described in it) is not the Vachaka. Hitherto two forces had been attributed to Sabda, namely Abhidha and Lakshana. Along with them a third, namely Vakyavrithi called Thathparya was also assumed to have been introduced. Vachya-Vachaka-Bhavabandha is the connection brought about between Sabda and Artha through the force of Abhidha. "Gou" sabda is the Vachaka and the cow is the Vachya, The inter-relation between Kavya and Rasa is not of this type. Assuming that the word "Kavya" is the Vachaka for Rasa and through Abhida its conception is created, the words Sringara, Veera should have been used in Kavya, and then alone is Rasa suggested in Vachya form. But this is not the process followed in Kavya. The words Sringara or Rathi are used in the Vachaka sense for Rasa and Sthayibhava. For getting the inference of Vachyartha, the correct Vachaka word should fall on the ears. Occasionally such words (Sringara, Veera) might occur, but that would not act as cause for the generation of Rasa or Bhava. The cause for the generation and development of Rasa is the use of Vibhava, Anubhava and Sanchari aspects. Words would not be the Vachaka for Rasa.

Now the Lakshya -Lakshaka aspect is dealt with. Kavya is not Lakshaka and Rasa the Lakshya. The word force second to Abhidha is Lakshana. The Lakshya-Lakshaka process cannot be applied to Kavya because ordinary word is used with a qualitative twist in Lakshana. If the Lakshya of Kavya is Rasa, the word with Lakshana-Artha should be used as Lakshaka Sabda. This is also not being done and Rasa sense is not created through Lakshaka-Lakshana process (Ajahalakshana). It is therefore established that Abhidha (word) alone has to serve the purpose of Lakshana and Rasa.

Even admitting that Rasa is Vachyartha, and Rasa perception is obtained through the force of Abhidha, knowledge about the really technical meaning of the word is inevitable to taste the Rasa. Rasa is not mere Vachyartha, and there is no Vachya-Vachaka Bhava between Kavya and Rasa.

There is another school of thought that Rasa is an imaginary concept. The poet considers the words in Kavya instrumental for this desired imaginary Rasa concept. He postulates that by using a particular word a particular Rasa is suggested. This is also not correct as Rasa is never an imaginary concept. In this case Rasa can be enjoyed by those who are conversant with the methodology of the particular poet. But actual experience is on the contrary and Rasa is enjoyed by all rasikas evenly.

It is repeated that, Rasa is not suggested through the words used in Kavya alone. It is obtained through the composition of Vibhava Anubhava and Sanchari Bhavas and in no way by the Vachyartha.

Without Vachaka as Sabda, it is impossible to make Vasthu, Alankara and even Rasa to become suggestive, in the Pratheeya-mana way. This Dhwany has two aspects:-1) Vivakshitha Vachya (Abhidhamoolaka Dhwany) 2) Avivakshitha Vachya (Lakshana- moolaka) Dhwany. Avivakshitha Vachya has two divisions, 1) Athyantha thiraskritha Vachya and 2) Samkramitha Vachya Dhwany. Vivakshitha Vachya Dhwany is again sub-divided as 1)Asamlakshya krama and 2) Samlakshya krama. In Kavya, Rasa is suggested in the primary form and it is assumed that there is Asamlakshya Dhwany. When Rasa is suggested in Angaroopa (subsidiary) manner, it is assumed that there is no Dhwany at all, and it is only Rasavath Alankara. This is in short the thesis of the Dhwanivadins. This is being questioned.

After hearing or reading the Vakya, we comprehend the Kriya as the Vakyartha of the words used with the help of the Karaka employed in the Vakya, after getting fully conversant with the Prakarana, Vaktha, Srotha, Desa and Kala. At times, the exact Vachaka Sabda of the kriya might not have been used. But superimpose a suitable and intelligible Kriya. Thus the verb, no matter, it is expressed or understood, would be the Vakyartha of the Vakya. On the same analogy Sthayibhava is suggested through the Vibhavanubhava process. Just as in the case of Kriya, Sthayibhava would also remain comprehensible without being a Vachya.

In Vakya two kinds of words are used, Karaka and verb. These are otherwise called Siddhapada and Saddhyapada. Saddhya is that word the meaning of which is yet to be obtained. The intention of the Vakya is therefore embedded in Kriya. It is necessary that in all Vakyas this verb-bound Vakyartha is present, even if the Vachaka-word for the Kriya is not used. The Vakyartha or the intention behind the Vakya would be Kriya developed with Karaka. In Kavya also analogously the same process is followed to suggest Sthayibhava. The Vibhavas, which are expressed as Vachya would have positive (avinabhava) connection with Sthayibhava and it would sprout in the Sahridaya's mind. In Kavya, the creation of Vibhava etc is done really through Sabda. It is also expressed really as Vachya. Based on the previous experiences with Vibhava, this process helps in the development of Sthayibhava like Rathi etc. Thus Sthayibhava is suggested in Kavya, through the Vibhavas expressed as Vachya, or as understood through the Prakara. It is not a supposition as Vyanjana. It is the real Vakyartha of Kavya.

It may be argued that the Prathiyamana Artha, like Rasa etc is not the Vachyartha of the words used. How is it possible that the meaning of unheard (pratheeyamana) words would become the Vachyartha. Vakyartha is the wholesome effect of the Vachyartha or the words. In the absence of words with negative aspects, a negative concept cannot be termed as Vakyartha, with the Padartha bhava. This is also applicable in the case of Rasa.

This argument is not tenable. The contention that a non-material object (rasa) cannot be considered as Vakyartha is fallacious, because the consummation of the force of signification (Thathparya) continues with the purpose (prayojana) of the speaker. The purpose of Abhidhasakthi is Vachyartha and that of Lakshana is Lakshyartha. The force of signification (thathparyasakthi) deals with Kraya (effect) of the speaker. The limit within which this Karya of the speaker spreads is the field (kshethra) of the force of signification. If the Karya of the speaker is negative, that he intends for the negative, the force of signification would extend up to it. On the completion of its suggestion, the force of signification would become debilitated. In Loka all the Vakyas, whether worldly or unworldly, emanate for a Karya (effect). The achievement of that purpose is the aim of that Vakya. In the absence of Karya or purpose (prayojana) Vakya would be useless, like a mad man's cry. It would be a collection of meaningless sounds. Therefore, Vakya, worldly or unworldly should be purposeful.

In Kavya, through the words the inference on the meanings of the vibhava etc is achieved. Vibhavas create the inference of Rasa and Sthayibhava. The words used in Kavya (in the vakyas) have got Annuaya-Vyathireka Bandha (when it is there, it is Annuaya, when it is not there, it is not Vyathireka) with the Artha and Vibhavas. Vibhavas would become perceivable when appropriate Abhidha are used, and when otherwise ineffective, the words used in Kavya alone would express the Vibhavas. This wonderful enjoyability is there not only in the words and vibhavas, but it permeates the whole Kavya as Rasa. Thus the words and Vibhavas, Prathipadaka (elements of discussion of the Rasa and bhava, which constitute the Prathipadya (subject discussed - the Sahridaya derives pleasure only by discussing the interconnection of the elements of Kavya (words, vibhavas, sthayibhava and rasa). The force of expression (signification) gained by the Vakyas with Rasa make them attractive, that the Karyaroopa (subject matter) Rasa make the force attractive. The extraneous objects like Vibhavas are inevitable for expressing the force of signification, as these create an impression of the meaning i.e. Rasa. It is only through the discussion on vibhavas the said force would consummate in the Rasa impression. On this path of expression of Rasa, the meaning of the words used (padartha) in Kavya are the vibhavas. The Vakyartha of the Kavya are these sthayibhavas generated by vibhavas. (It has been made clear that sthayibhava and rasa-impression are not Vyangya, the Vakyartha of Kavya and its impressions are not the outcome of the force of supposition (Vyangana).

We know that we get enjoyment on hearing music. But the Geetha is not the Vachaka of that enjoyment, nor that enjoyment the Vachya of the Geetha. The analogy can be applied in the case of Sukha (Anandaroopa Rasa) derived from Kavya. Thus in the case of Kavya and Rasa the Vachya-vachaka sense cannot be applied (Poorva Paksha).

The example quoted, say Geetha and pleasure is not applicable in the case of Kavya and Rasa. It is seen that Rasa is not universally derived by all from Kavya. From Kavya the Rasa agreeing to it is enjoyed by those who are conversant with the ingredients, namely, the vibhavas and who are imaginative enough to imbibe the Bhavas. When the Rasa concept is established in the Vakyartha form, it is a confirmed fact that the impression about all Sruyamana and Asruyamana (audible and inaudible) objects is obtained through the force of signification like Abhidha, as accepted by the scholars and Alankarikas. It is futile to conceive another force like Vyanjana.

It is established that Kavya has no Vyangya-Vyanjaka connection with Rasa. Kavya is not Vyanjaka, nor Rasa Vyangya. The exact connection between the two is Bhavya-Bhavaka. Kavya is Bhavaka and Rasa is Bhavya. The mastication of Sthayibhava or Rasa takes place in the Sahridaya mind. This is Bhavana. Thus Kavya is Bhavaka and Rasa the Bhavya. Rasa is derived on its own, through the selected Vibhava favorable for the concerned Rasa. Kavya causes this mastication (Bhavana).

An argument may be raised that in ordinary words such Bhavya-Bhavaka, connection does not exist. Kavya uses ordinary words; then what is the scope for such a connection? This is not correct. Meemamsakas have accepted Bhavya-Bhavaka connection in the verb Bhavana. (In Swarge Kamo Yajaathe, Swarga is conceived in "Bhavana," Yagakriya is Bhavaka and Swarga is Bhavya). But in common usage such Bhavya-Bhavaka, connection is not implied. This is applicable in the case of Rasa and Kavya. The Annuayavyathireka connection between Kavya and Rasa confirms it. In the absence of Bhavaka words for Rasa in Kavya, the Bhavana (mastication) of Rasa would take place. In its process Rasa would definitely become Bhavitha in the heart. This is a mutually dependent factor. The Bhavana of Rasa is done through the Abhinaya of Bhava. In Natya it is therefore called Bhava. Rasa is therefore, Bhavya. The relation between Kavya and Rasa is Bhavya-Bhavaka.

(Poorvapaksha) The words used in Kavya have no connection with Bhava. In common usage the meaning is the technical meaning according to Abhidha. Sthayibhavas are not technical meanings of the words used in Kavya. Then how can such words suggest the Sthayibhava or Rasa?

We see the love play of a man and a girl. Through Bhavana we observe the Rathi etc, and visualise the love between them. Kavyas also describe the actions pertaining to such Sthayibhava. By hearing those words representing such action, those actions are visualised by the mind, which lead to the formation of the Sthayibhava. This impression is Lakshanic.

The enjoyer and enjoyment of rasa
Sthayibhavas are actually self-enjoyed ones. Rasa dwells in the Sahridaya who is Rasika, and not in auxiliaries like characters. The sthayibhava unfolded through the Vachyartha of the Kavya is actually situated in the heart of the Rasika. His Chethana, inner spirit, the essential Ananda gets enlarged. That is Rasa. It situates in the Samajika who is Rasika, and in no one else.

In Kavya the description of the imitated Ramas is done as if he lived during the present times. Even if it is done otherwise in Kavyas, in Nataka the impression is created as if he lives today. This impression is liked both by the poet and Samajika. Thus the imitated form has no bearing in the matter of enjoyment (rasa). Their description in the present-day shape and form is done in the Vibhava. Their present day projection is the cause (vibhava) for the sensation of Rasa. The poet does not make Kavya for the sake of Rasa impression in Rama. His intention is the benefit of the Samajika as also his enjoyment. Thus, enjoyment of Rasa is the natural principle as far as the Sahridaya is concerned.

If the spectator assumes that the Rasa is enjoyed by the imitated Rama, it would only be a perception of love in a general sense between two lovers, quite extraneous, with no subjective effect as far as he is concerned. He is not enjoying the Sringara aspect in the true sense. Leaving apart the Rasa aspect, such scenes may create only a sense of shyness in him. Thus the Rasa aspect of the imitated character cannot be accepted.

When Sahridaya is accepted as the basis for Rasa, what are the Vibhavas? Is it proper to take the revered Sitha as Vibhava for Sringara? The imitated Ramas are the representatives of high qualities and they do the Vibhavana of Rasa in the spectators, and they are enjoying these Vibhavitha Sthayibhavas. (The argument that Rasa is vyangya is refuted here). It is created in Samajika through the process of Vibhavana.

The conception of Rama by a particular poet may not be in agreement with the true Rama of Ithihasa. The poet's Rama is his own making; his own conception of the ideal king that he has formed from his contacts with the kings of his times, or what he has conceived from other sources. He presents such a Rama to his listeners through his Kavya. The poet's Rama has given up the special qualities (Ramathua) and assumed a general form (hero). He becomes the cause (vibhava) to generate the Rasa sense in the Sahridaya.

The counter argument here is that, when the revered characters are degraded and generalised, to the state of ordinary woman, nothing is gained by the characterization. The reverence to them is lost.

The explanation is as follows: Children play with elephants and horses made of clay. They play and enjoy on the belief that these are real elephants and horses. In the same manner, the Sahridayas seeing the Utsaha in the characters, themselves enjoy the uthsaha.

Further the Sringara in Kavya is not like the Sringara in ordinary life. In ordinary life the woman is presented as a Vibhava. In Kavya this is not being done in the same manner. What actually takes place here? The Rasa in Kavya is totally different from the Rasa in ordinary life. Natya rasas are eight in all.

The Nata can also enjoy Rasa in the Natya way and not in the Loka way.

Rasanubhoothi from Kavya
How is Ananda derived from Kavya? What exactly is Ananda?
Rasa is a particular form of the state of Ananda generated in the heart of Sahridaya, through the knowledge of Kavyartha. This enjoyment is of four types: 1) Unfoldment of the heart 2) Its enlargement 3) Its agitation and 4) Vibration. These four types of emotional transformation are found in Sringara, Veera, Beebhathsa, and Roudra in the respective order. These changes are also seen in the same order in Hasya, Athbudha, Bhaya, and Karuna. It has to be assumed therefore, that the four Rasas of Hasya, etc. are generated from four Rasas of Sringara etc in the respective order. It is therefore affirmed by Alamkarikas that Rasa are only eight in number.

The true meaning of Kavya is Sthayibhava with Vibhavas. Kavyartha is the Vibhava combined Sthayibhava. Through this Kavyartha a state similar to the imitated Rama is added. After experiencing this Sthayibhava-roopa, Kavyartha the Sahridaya forgets the Vibhava "swa" (mine) and "para" (other). His heart is generalised (sadharanee- kritha) Rasa is the profound Ananda sensed in this stage. This enjoyment is present in a general way in all Rasas. But it should be remembered that there are separate Vibhava for all Rasa.

In the Rasa state Sahridaya actually enjoys the unworldly Ananda. A doubt may arise as to whether this is applicable in the case of Karuna, Beebhathsa, Roudra and Bhayanaka. Imbibing these Rasas, the Sahridaya becomes sorrowful or fearful. But there is a subtle difference between the worldly sorrow and the sorrow generated by Kavya. Intrinsically it is Ananda, nonetheless the pricks, the pain etc endured, the course of Rathi is joyous. It has to be remembered that Karuna Rasa dominated Kavya are repeatedly read by people, and such Kavyas are considered superior. The shining example is Ramayana, the dominant Rasa of which is Karuna. The ultimate residue of Karuna is Ananda.

Rasa Sworoopa
Vibhava is like moonlight. Sancharibhava is like Nirveda, Anubhavas like raising of hairs. Rasa is the Sthayi made bhavitha through these. These are Kavyartha or objects in one sense, but are presented before the mind in different shape or aspect, that is Bhava.(the knowing aspect is transformed into feeling aspect). The Vakyartha is transformed into Sthayi by the Vibhavas and are made enjoyable. Sthaibhavas assume the enjoyable aspect called Rasa. The bhavas described in Kavya are made Sthayi (sthitha) in the heart of the Sahridaya, which too assume the quality Bhavagamya (Perceptibility). He gets the enjoyable Ananda, otherwise called Rasa.

The definition taking into account all aspects would be as follows:-
Rasa and its Bhava (Sthayi) Vibhava of the Sthayi (Alambana and Uddeepana) are one and the same. There is no difference (Bheda) and also have Abheda (identity) because Rasa is the consummation of Bhava.

In Kavya, Sringara attains full consummation by the appropriate interlacing of the eight Sathuaja (sathwika), eight Sthayi-bhavas, thirty three Vyabhicharibhavas - on the whole forty nine Bhavas. Care should be taken to avoid the careless construction of mixing Sancharis of Alasya (inertia), Roudra, Jugupsa, and death in the sama Alamba.

V S Bhaskara Panicker has been writing mainly in Malayalam language. He has offered his research paper on Bharatheeya Kavyasastra to

Click here for all links
Articles | Home | About | Address Bank | News | Info Centre | Featured Columns