Navarasa- The Nine Moods

March 10th, 2008 by Anjali

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.

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48 responses so far ↓

  • 1 madhurani Apr 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    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 Apr 15, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    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 Apr 16, 2008 at 6:01 am

    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 nimashi Dec 16, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    it is really help full i needed this things to write my exam and i thank for this

  • 5 Anjali Dec 17, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you Nimishi. Good luck !!!!

  • 6 Priyanka Jan 24, 2009 at 3:21 am


  • 7 Deepthi Jan 27, 2009 at 1:59 am


    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.

  • 8 NIKKI Dec 14, 2009 at 4:11 am

    I am a student of bharatnatyam…….and i really need it… is very nice….Thank You

  • 9 varsha Dec 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    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…

  • 10 s.navanesan Dec 16, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    nice expressions

  • 11 Anjali Dec 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    @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.

  • 12 vaishali Jun 8, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Dear Sir,

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

    Thank you,

  • 13 rupasree Jun 19, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Hi Madam,

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

    Please I want know about chetuvedha abhinayas. Please helpme


  • 14 Nash Dec 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    its been resource full and worth spending time. thank you very much. i

  • 15 Shawoni Fernanado Jan 18, 2011 at 3:47 am

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

  • 16 susan Jun 19, 2012 at 3:07 am

    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

  • 17 Anjali Jun 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    @Susan, Yes we are based out of Chicago. Good to know the site helped you

  • 18 Kyle Fernandes Jul 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

    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

  • 19 Bineesha Jul 17, 2012 at 3:13 am

    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

  • 20 aruna Sep 1, 2012 at 5:22 am

    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?


  • 21 sukhjeet Dec 19, 2012 at 7:08 am

    too good

  • 22 shreyashi shome Apr 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    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.

  • 23 shreyashi shome Apr 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

    i am glad that i found this site

  • 24 suryadev Jul 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

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

  • 25 amreenstar Jul 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

    thank you anjali

  • 26 Chandni Jul 30, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Plz suggest me sm songs for bhayanaka rasa for annual function

  • 27 Colonel Kuldip Kochhar Aug 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

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

  • 28 vismaad Aug 17, 2013 at 10:03 am

    very explanatory and useful, helped me in my dance projects as well. thanks a lot!!!!

  • 29 P.George Thomas Oct 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Explained very well

  • 30 pooja shri Nov 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    i thank for this because it is useful for my poject

  • 31 Angela Mar 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    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!!!!!

  • 32 Shanika Mar 31, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    First of i must thank for you.because it is verry importan my Visharada part 01 exam

  • 33 sandoshkumar k a Sep 19, 2014 at 4:04 am

    it is an experience, wonderful. congratulations to the artist. very good performance.

  • 34 Supriyaram Oct 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    thanks for making our tradition live long life for ever and ever and ever

  • 35 Niranshi Gomes Dec 7, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Hello! this web site is so helpful to us.

  • 36 Mahi Dec 28, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Oh it’s really helping me out one day before my exam ?? in finding some more informations . Nice website !!!

  • 37 sazal chaudhary Nov 22, 2016 at 6:03 am

    i like to do dance

  • 38 Darshan Feb 21, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Hi these are very nice

  • 39 Yesmin Sultana Jun 6, 2018 at 3:46 am

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

  • 40 spiky Jun 9, 2018 at 9:47 pm

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

  • 41 Abhipriya Jul 14, 2018 at 9:25 pm

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

  • 42 Pragya Jul 22, 2018 at 12:30 am

    This knowledge of baratnatyam is great but i want to know these rasa in paragraph wise and in brief.


  • 43 Anjali Aug 1, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Yes the NS talks about the eight basic sentiments and they are written as sanskrit shlokas

  • 44 P Rajak Aug 20, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    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..❤

  • 45 achuthankutty Feb 12, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    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

  • 46 Ankana Apr 20, 2019 at 11:03 am

    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 😁😁👍