The Mother Divine
Change Font Size 
By Ojaswita Krishnaa Chaturvedi

Rasa literally means essence and it is no different in the case of Indian classical arts. Rasa is the essence of an art form and if the art is not able to eventually provoke rasa, its purpose will be considered incomplete. Rasa emerges in the minds of the viewers in the form of emotions which were initially classified into eight categories by Bharata Muni in his Natya Shastra. This combination of eight emotions excluded the shanta rasa.

Later on, many knowledgeable preceptors, scholars, gurus, poets and artists added on the shanta rasa. The major mention of this rasa and its inclusion with the eight above rasas to form navarasas together is found in the Abhinaya Bharati of Abhinava Gupta. Even the great poet Udbhata of Kashmir has mentioned shanta rasa but its inclusion into navarasas was strongly mentioned by Abhinava and eventually established itself after about two centuries.

In this article, we shall explore the various types of situations under which Shanta rasa arises. According to philosophy, every rasa eventually converges into shanta as rasa is synonymous with bliss which is ultimately obtained through peace which is shanta rasa. Nonetheless, we shall still hover over certain specific episodes which principally represent the shanta state.

Swaroopa Shanti

Swaroopa shanti refers to an example whereby the rasa emanates from the form itself. No activity either preceding or proceeding is required to either generate or propagate the rasa. Shanta rasa naturally is established in the form of Lord Shiva. Although he is usually more connected with the raudra rasa, it will not be wrong to say that portraying Lord Shiva only to be associated with raudra is an exaggeration. He is the destructer but this work of his happens only during the time of pralaya, which is a very minute portion of his entire existence. At all other times, Lord Shiva is situated in absolute peacefulness.

Goswami Tulasidas describes:
baithhe soha kaam ripu kaise, dhare shareera shanta rasa jaise
“The enemy of cupid or Kama is seated so peacefully that it appears as if shanta rasa has personified itself!”

His form of minimal attire, snakes as ornaments and his unkempt hair all indicate towards his natural peacefulness or swaroopa shanta. Nothing is able to falter his peace – neither the various types of creatures that have taken shelter on his form nor his residence in the cold Himalayas without any garbs. Thus, many forms of Lord Shiva can be categorized into the shanta rasa.

Nirmoha Shanti

This type of peace occurs when one gives up all material bondages. As he frees himself from all obligations of the world, his soul experiences peace at par. He realizes the nature of his true self and gradually diminishes all his emotions making his way to ultimate shanti.
This type of peace has been described in the Bhagavad Gita:
śreyo hi jñānam abhyāsāj jñānād dhyāna viśiyate dhyānāt karma-phala-tyāgas tyāgāc chāntir anantaram (12:12)

“It is better to engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.”
(Translation taken from

Once one attains divine knowledge, he moves his mind towards meditation which helps him to give up all desires and eventually attain peace. The most common example of this type of shanta rasa is Gautam Buddha.

Being born in a royal family, he worked towards gaining knowledge, moved into meditation and overcame all material bondages thus attaining and showing the pathway to ultimate peace. His life directly depicts the verse above and clearly exhibits peace that can be obtained by giving up all material bondages.

Santosha Shanti

When one has completed prescribed tasks and feels successful, he experiences santosh shanti or peace of satisfaction. He is content with his sedulity and knows in his mind that he has accomplished the best. This is an amazing experience of peace which one experiences when he has honestly worked for his duties. His maturity has reached a level whereby instead of overwhelming himself with pride or happiness, his mind rather seeks peace.

Seated under a banyan tree in the lands of Prabhasa, ready to leave for his supreme world, Lord Krishna depicts santosha shanti in a very beautiful way.

bhagavān pitāmaha
vīkya vibhūtīr ātmano vibhu sayojyātmani cātmāna padma-netre nyamīlayat (Srimad Bhagavtam 11:31:5)

“When the supreme Lord saw Brahma and the other devatas who are part and parcel of his own attributes, he drew his personality into himself and slowly closed his beautiful lotus like eyes.”
The Lord experiences ultimate peace as he had relished the devotion of myriads of devotees, given pleasure to the entire world and punished the sinful during his time on this planet. He is ready to leave for his eternal abode, in the very relaxed mood of shanta rasa.

Thus, explained above are just a few instances of shanta rasa. Rasa, in essence is so vast that numerous examples can be drawn out even from our day to day lives. These are just a few drops from the scriptural perspectives to show the spark of the rasa in a blissful manner.