Rasa: Sweet Nectar

Keep watching your hands! This is something I have repeated endless times in class to make sure students are paying attention to their own arm movements. It is one of the basic tenets of Bharata Natyam dance. Your eyes need to follow your hands.

There is actually a verse from the ancient text, Abhinaya Darpana (Mirror of Gestures), that unfolds why this is the basis for a full artistic expression. Whoah! That is quite a stretch to think that by watching my hands move around my audience will relish that sweet nectar of artistic experience, known as rasa in Indian performance. Well, here’s why…


Yato hastas tatho drishtihi, yato drishtis tatho manaha

Yato manas tatho bhavo, yato bhavo tatho rasaha


Where the hands go the eyes should go, where the eyes go the mind should go

Where the mind goes the heart should go, where the mind is there is rasa


Although I learned and memorized this verse as a young dancer, I have thought more about it lately. Although the process of creating that “aha!” moment or sweet nectar for yourself and for your  audience starts with the eyes, it really has more to do with your entire being and intention focused on every movement. This is rasa.







Anuradha Naimpally