Book 10: Thirty-three Chapter (First Half)
Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 10: Chapter 33: Verses 1-9
A Description of the Rasa Play
Sri Suka began again : Hearing thus the bewitching words of the Lord, the cowherd women cast off the agony caused by their separation (from Him), their desire having been fulfilled through the (thrilling) touch of His divine personality (the embodiment of Bliss). Accompanied by those jewels among women (so) devoted and affectionate towards Him, who stood (in a circle) with their arms interlocked, Lord Sri Krsna (the Protector of cows) inaugurated His (celebrated) Rasa-Play on the aforesaid spot (the sandy bank of the Yamuna). (Now) commenced duly the festive dance of Rasa adorned with the circle of the aforesaid Gopis standing with their necks encircled by (the arms of) Sri Krsna, the Master of Yoga (inconceivable powers), who (appeared to have) introduced Himself (in so many identical forms) between every two Gopis, and whom those (cowherd) women imagined to be by their own side. Presently the firmament was thronged with hundreds of aerial cars of heavenly beings, who were accompanied by their consorts and whose mind had been carried away by curiosity (in the form of a longing to behold Sri Krsna). Then sounded kettle-drums (beaten by heavenly beings), showers of flowers fell, and the chiefs of Gandharvas sang His immaculate glory in chorus with their spouses. There arose a confused din produced by (the jingling of) bangles and anklets and (the tinkling of) tiny bells attached to the girdle of the cowherd women joined with their beloved Lord in that ring of Rasa dancers. There in the company of those girls Lord Sri Krsna (the Son of Devaki) shone exceedingly bright like a large emerald' strung in the midst of (every two) gold beads. With their (measured) treads, the motions of their hands, the playful movements of their eye-brows, accompanied with (graceful) smiles, bending waists, shaking breasts and fluttering skirts of their garments, ear-rings rocking against their cheeks, perspiring faces, and their braids and girdles loosened (on account of their swift movement) and celebrating the Lord in song, the aforesaid darlings of Sri Krsna shone brightly like flashes of lightning in a mass of clouds. Engaged in dancing and delighted with the touch of Sri Krsna, the Gopis-whose voice was sweetened with love, (nay,) whose (sole) delight was loving devotion (to Sri Krsna) and whose music filled (the whole of) this universe-sang at the pitch of their voice.
- In the Natya-Sastra (the well-known manual on histrionics attributed to the sage Bharata) we come across the following definition of Rasa:-
नटैर्गृहीतकण्ठानामन्योन्यात्तक्रश्रियाम्। नर्तकीनां भवेद् रासो मण्डलीयभूय नतनम्॥