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Navarasa- The Nine Moods

Learning Navarasa is an important session for a student of dance. Here the teacher explains about different facial expressions, how and when it is used. It is the most exciting session for the students to make funny faces. Imagine a mother busy in the kitchen and her child spills a bottle of oil on the floor. Guess what will be the feeling like. In my case it is surely going to be Raudra. And then followed by a Tandava. 🙂

Coming back to my point, so What is Navarasa ?

Rasa is about human state of mind. Its about what the mind feels and the expression of the feeling thereafter. In the Bharata’s Natyashastra, Rasa is an emotion experienced by the audience created by the facial expression or the Bhava of the actor. In indian classical dance it is referred to as Rasa-abhinaya.

Mr V.P Dhananjayan in his book called “A Dancer on Dance” says Rasa means that which is being tasted or enjoyed. Hence the word Rasika 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.

Every Rasa corresponds to a particular Bhava. The Natyshastra has carefully described the Bhavas used to create Rasa. The following table states the nine moods (Navarasa) and the corresponding Bhava. Every Rasa is identified with a specific colour for the use in performing arts.









Pale Light Green

Hasya (Humorous)




Karuna (Pathetic)




Raudra (Terrible)




Veera (Heroic)



Pale Orange

Bhayanaka (Fearful)




Bibhatsa (Odious)




Adbhuta (Wonderous)




Shanta (Peaceful)




I would like to share a beautiful video on Navarasa by kalamandalam Shailaja. Note how every muscle of the face is moved to express the emotion.

In the article, Navarasa in Indian classical Dance Forms, Shubhasini Padmanathan has explained every Rasa. She says Sringara Rasa originates from the love or romance. This love emotion involves, two types one is Samyoga, and other is viyoga. Samyoga means the union of two lovers. Viyoga means the emotion which arises out of separation.

In another article written by V.P Dhananjayan he says Sringara is Beauty or Saundarya. Beauty is that which attracts the mind or appeals to a particular penchant of the mind. That is love; love is not just Rati the amorous attitude. There can be love between a child and its mother, between friends, between a teacher and disciples and of course love towards God.


  1. madhurani

    hello!!! i am so glad because i found your website and its helping me so much. thanks thanks thanks… i feel very attracted to this type of dance. my friends and i are common known as hare krishna, and in some festival in the temples we make some devotional dances but we feel that we need so much help.
    i am now traying to arrange a new dance for the little girls of our comunity for nrsimhadev festival coming soon. your webpage is helping me so much. with this dance i am very worry if we make any mistake using the wrong mudras.
    well i am following you, thanks again

    madhurani didi
    sri chaitanya saraswat math
    venezuela, south america

  2. madhurani

    i have a question by the way… when the girls dance the people say that their faces look very serious and inexpressive, they dont show emotions actually their faces look frozen, how can we get better?
    and another think can we smile? or show slightly our teeth?

    madhurani didi

  3. Anjali

    Thanks Madhurani Didi for your kind words.
    One thing you can do is explain to the dancers the meaning of the lyrics so that they know what they are dancing on. Also show them some basics of facial expressions like Anger, sorrow, wonder etc. Kids will really enjoy this session. Secondly a simile can do great wonders to a simple dance. Let them smile as they are comfortable. I wish you good luck. Hare Krishna.

  4. Deepthi


    This is a very good website. I love bharatanatyam and am about to learn it at the age of 27 :).

    your website is very informative. Thank you so much for your efforts.

  5. varsha

    hello… Ur attempt of giving detail is appreciated… If ur interested in giving a detail for a documentary pls mail me… I like to make documentary and i dont do it for a business… Its my passion…

  6. Anjali

    @varsha, thanks. Interesting to know about your passion. Any documentaries you can share to have a look at. Also let me know what I can do for this.

  7. vaishali

    Dear Sir,

    I want know all the nine expressions in navarasa for the “NO” expression.

    Thank you,

  8. rupasree

    Hi Madam,

    I am bharathanatyam learning student. I have learned navarasas from this website,

    Please I want know about chetuvedha abhinayas. Please helpme


  9. Shawoni Fernanado

    I’m a bharathanatya student who lives in Sri Lanka.It was fantastic.My best wishes for the improvement of this website.

  10. susan

    thxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx online bharatnatyam . we had a holiday homework to write about a dance and u helped me.

    P.S. Do you function in america 2 ?

    Susan Richards
    Las Vegas , United States Of America

  11. Kyle Fernandes

    Hi,it was amazing to learn as im a contemporary dancer but i loved the idea of helping dancers learn about its bases so well it was really nice reading the prescribed formulation on Navarasa.
    Thank you,
    – Kyle Fernandes

  12. Bineesha

    Could you please let me know if there are different eye brow movements in Bharathnatyam? If so what are they and could you give some photographs or illustrations of the same

  13. aruna

    hi anjali ,

    You are doing an extrodinary work . I would really love to hear the sloka.
    Could you please help me to find the sloka for Navarasa with the music?


  14. shreyashi shome

    its really very good to see a site with cultural flavours. i love dancing and i am a patron of bharatnatyam. thank you very much, the site managers to start such a unique site which would be helpful to everyone. i can have a broader knowledge about bharatnatyam which are really very interesting to read.

  15. suryadev

    this helps me to finish my dance project or i will get scoldings from my miss . thanks a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Colonel Kuldip Kochhar

    Beautiful & gorgeous display of all the Rasas. Thoroughly enjoyed the intricate display of emotions through bringing about facial changes.

  17. Angela

    Thank you very much it is really helpful my daughter enjoyed it actually she had been learning bharatnatyam from the age of 13.
    Thank You!!!!
    Hare Krishna!!!!!

  18. Yesmin Sultana

    Thanks , a lot …….With the help of this website I can write for my exam .I am a Bharatanatyam dancer .??

  19. spiky

    plzz help me i hv a question for our presentation give some images of facial expressions with informations

  20. Abhipriya

    Are there any separate shlokas for every rasa in the navarasa. ?? Please reply
    Thanks in advance

  21. P Rajak

    Thank you….I get very helpful….I’m very fond of Sanskrit literature..but I’ve to take English honours..but God sent a very nice person to me….for whose I get chance to study with Sasnkrit literature..❤

  22. achuthankutty

    when it is smile do not reveal the teeth and do very thing muscles on the face . then when it is a laughter also do not reveal the teath but the whole body has to vibrate

  23. Ankana

    Thank You. It saved me today. I have my exam tomorrow and I was so lost. This website helped me very much. The meanings and expressions too, helped very much. I love it! Thanks, thanks, thanks 😁😁👍

  24. Aswathi

    You said Rasa is what the audience feel by the Bhava of the dancer. But Navarasa is what the dancer shows . Shouldn’t it be Navabhava and not rasa?

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