Rasa

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By Swami Harshananda

Rasa literally means ‘that which is tasted’.

General Meaning

One of the most extensively used words is Rasa. It has 24 different meanings and senses. In general, it means the essence or core-part of anything.

As per Darśanas

In the darśanas[1] it stands for the subtle element water.[2]

As per Ayurveda

In the Ayurveda and allied health sciences, it stands for mercury.

As per Culinary Arts

In the culinary arts, it represents six different kinds of tastes:

  1. Sweet
  2. Sour
  3. Salty
  4. Hot[3]
  5. Bitter
  6. Astringent

As per Poetics

In poetics, it stands for the navarasas or nine kinds of sentiments or emotions. They are:

  1. The amorous
  2. The heroic
  3. The wondrous
  4. The ridiculous
  5. The sentiments of compassion
  6. Humor
  7. Fear
  8. Horror
  9. Loathsomeness

As per Taittirīyopaniṣad

The Taittirīyopaniṣad[4] calls Brahman as rasa.


References

  1. Darśanas are the philosophical systems.
  2. It is called as ‘rasātan mātra’.
  3. It refers to pepper or chilies.
  4. Taittirīyopaniṣad 2.7
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore