Kinds of Bhavas

Rasas are different kinds of emotions which a Bhakta experiences in his devotion to the Lord. God himself is Rasa “Raso Vai Sah.” “Rasam Hyevayaam Labdhva Anandee Bhavati”-“By attaining this essence one becomes blissful.” declare the Upanishads. Bhakti Rasa removes the ignorance of ego and the Atman or the Self is revealed.

Forms of Rasas

According to Bharata, the author of Natyarasa, there are nine different forms of rasas:

Sringara (erotic), Vira (heroic), Karuna (pathetic), Adbhuta (marvellous), Hasya (ludicrous), Bhayankara (terrible), Bibhatsa (disgusting), and Raudra (furious) are the eight kinds of Rasas. To the list of eight, the ninth Rasa, Santa (peaceful), is added by other Rhetoricians. However in the Bhakti Yoga, there are five types of Rasas: Shanti, Preeti, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Priyata or Madhura. It is from these Rasas the different types of bhavas are developed; Shanta-Bhava, Dasya-Bhava, Sakhya-Bhava, Vatsalya-Bhava and Madhurya-Bhava. These bhavas are some of the methods of self realisation and should not be mistaken for play of emotions.

Five Types of Bhavas

Below is given a brief about the five types of bhavas:

a) Shanta Bhava

In shanta bhava, the mind of the devotee is free from mundane thoughts. His mind is calm or Shanta, and is full of knowledge, devoid of any emotions. His mind is like an ocean without waves. The bhakta’s mind is absorbed in god consciousness. He is not affected by external occurrences. This kind of bhakti is practiced only by sanyasis or Jnanis of the highest order. They direct all their emotions or bhavas towards the Lord. Bhishma was a perfect example of shanta bhava. He had all his emotions under control. He was a ruler of his emotions. Shanta Rasa is an attribute of Brahman. Sanyasis who practice Shanta Rasa are known as Atmarama Munis or Tapasvinis. They lead a life of seclusion, study scriptures and associate themselves with men of similar nature.

b) Dasya Bhava

Dasya Bhava arises out of Prema Rasa. Here the devotee loves God either out of respect to the Lord or with a sense of greatness. When the devotee loves God out of respect, it is known as “Sambhrama Preeti” and when it is love out of greatness, it is known as “Gaurav Preeti”. In Dasya Bhava, the devotee considers himself as a servant or slave of the Lord. The devotee considers worshipping and serving his Master as his duty. He serves the world with the attitude of serving the Lord Himself, for he considers the whole world as different manifestations of his Master. He considers everybody and everything as God except himself. The devotee prays to the Lord for his protection as he has no personal power. The devotee’s mind is ever filled with the thought of the Lord.

c) Sakhya Bhava

In Sakhya Bhava, the devotee considers the Lord as his equal in relation, complexion, status etc. The devotee considers Lord as his friend. The devotee cannot bear the separation with his friend- the Lord. The Lord who is the sole companion, protector and a dear friend of the bhakta reciprocates as “I am in My devotee’s heart and the devotee is in My heart”.

d) Vatsalya Bhava

Here the devotee considers the Lord as his child. The Lord appears before the devotee in the same relationship as the devotee desires. Here God is not a master, but a child. The devotee’s love towards the Lord is just as a mother’s love to her child.

e) Madhurya Bhava

Madhurya Bhava is the highest development of bhakti Rasa. Here the devotee feels the love for the Lord, just as a lover would feel for his beloved. In Madhurya Bhava, the devotee attains the highest intensity of joy or bliss. Madhurya Bhava is pure bliss. Madhurya Bhava is pure Sattva in nature. It is aptly said in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, “Even as a husband when in fast embrace with his wife does not know either of the inside or of the outside, so also when the individual is in fast embrace with the Supreme, he knows nothing else, either internal or external.”