We go through life living out a sea of emotions. Arising spontaneously, they leave behind a trail of thoughts. These various states of mind sometimes lend us to learn more about our selves and where we’re coming from. As Arupa Lahiry, a young Bharatnatyam danseuse prepares for her upcoming workshop called Navarasa (nine emotions), that she will be translating through Bharatnatyam, her movements will depict what a woman goes through during different phases of her life.
In the sessions, students learn the art of emotions through not just facial expressions but movement of the body. “How our body reacts during different situations is what our workshop will try to explore,” says Lahiry, adding, “These are shringar, the emotion of love and beauty. The aspect of creation is what shringar depicts. Yin and Yan, Shiva and Shakti, man and woman... the opposites come together by the virtue of this rasa, adbhuta, emotion of surprise or awe. However, adbhuta arises only under unprecedented circumstances. Another one is hasya or laughter emotion which as the name suggests is the happiest of all emotions. But, hasya can be sarcastic too.”
The others she demonstrates through her workshop are veera which is the emotion of valour or victory, bibhatsya or disgust, karuna or pity, bhayam or fear, raudra or anger, and shantam which is beyond all rasas. “When the mind is in control, shantam is the rasa pervading. It’s not a state of being emotionless but it is a state of being beyond emotion. Like the white light hides within itself a spectrum of seven colours, similarly shantam is the calm ocean after the storm of emotions has passed by,” she says with a brief smile. When asked what the reason is, she gets up, thinks a little and sits right back. Of all the nine emotions, Lahiry relates most to shringar rasa. That’s not surprising since this is an emotion symbolic of love and creativity, and for an artists like her, it stands superior than all. “Falling in love is a beautiful emotion as it fuels your creative energy. We create to make life beautiful and hence, shringar nayika is considered to the quintessential jeevatma pining for union with paramatma.
It’s not just love for the lord that she expresses through this rasa. She plays another important role—that of a teacher—which she fulfils with sincerity and honesty. She’s incomplete with her students. “Like Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, a teacher never grows old as she creates and shapes the next generation forever. I, personally have learnt the art of sharing from my students. Through it, we all evolve. It,” she says. It’s the greatest perk for her and the greatest gift for her them. Wednesday, April 13-22, at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, 5 pm to 7 pm.