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Aswada in Hindu Religion – Action of Relishing And The Object Relished


Aswada is the term used in Hindu religion to refer to the action of relishing and the object relished.

The object relished may be either physical or intellectual or mental.

Physical objects have specific qualities referred to as rasa (taste) and they are six in number.
  1. Sweet
  2. Sour
  3. Salty
  4. Hot
  5. Pungent
  6. Bitter

Since all the tastes are needed for health, one should cultivate the habit of enjoying them equally.

For example, in winter season a person should take foods that are heavy and should counter vayu and thereby the digestive fire induced by it.

Thought foodstuffs with all the six tastes are to be consumed, foodstuffs with particular tastes suited for a particular season should be used frequently.

The taste suited for the seasons, as given in Ayurveda are
  • sweet, sour and salt in winter and rainy seasons
  • bitter, hot and pungent in spring season
  • sweet in summer
  • pungent and bitter in autumn.

Sentiments are known as Asvada in Sanskrit aesthetic literature. They, too are known by the term rasa only. In fact, Sage Bharata in the sixth chapter of this Natyashastra, explains the enjoyment of these sentiments in terms of relishing food tastes.

When a particular scene is enacted on the stage or portrayed in a poetic work, it kindles the appropriate dormant emotion (one of the nine sthayaibhavas). Helped by anubhavas and sancaribhavas, the dormant emotion is generalized (sadharanikrata) and is raised to the level of enjoyment or relish or rasa.

This process of delineation and the enjoyment of the sentiment are called rasasvada. It is similar to, if not the same as, brahmananda (Supreme Bliss).

Source - notes taken from Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume II (IHRF) page 2