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Maharasa In Hinduism – The Most Intense State Of Being

Maharasa in Hinduism stands for the aesthetic configuration of spiritual love for and absolute devotion to God, which is termed bhakti. Bharata (5th century BC), the primary redactor of rasa, identifies in his Natyashastra, eight worldly artistic emotions, namely Sringara (erotic), hasya (humor), karuna (pathos), rudra (wrath), vira (heroism), bhayanaka (terror), jugupsa (disgust) and adbhuta (wonder).

Bharata has also specified the conditions that produce the rasas. Its vibhavas are noted as the bodily expressions by which emotions are exhibited, the anubhavas are the different factors by which the rasa is expressed, and the vyabhicharibhavas are the series of different expressions that feed the dominant feeling.

The dominant psychological substrata which lie deep in the sthayi bhavas (subconscious or unconscious mind) of these rasas have been distinguished as the subconscious or unconscious mind – rati (love), hasya (laughter), karuna (pathos), krodha (anger), vira (heroism), bhaya (fear), jugupsa (disgust),and vismaya (wonder).

Abhinavagupta suggests that the above mentioned emotions are related to the first three objects of human life, namely, artha (wealth), kama (attachment), and dharma (duty). He also claims that quietude, or a calm mental condition which characterize, a sage, is related to the fourth objective of life, moksha.

Later Indian rhetoricians have identified another rasa called bhakti rasa which involves complete identification of oneself with God through prayer and intense contemplation of God, which leads to moksha, or liberation from worldly life. As such, this rasa is designated as Maharasa.

Like the other rasas, the different aspects that are conducive to the realization of the maharasa have also been analyzed. The dominant emotion of bhakti rasa is termed as intense devotion for God, bhagavad bhakti, by the Vedantin Rupa Gosvamin.

Madhusudhana Saraswati describes it as Bhagavad Akara Chitta Vritti, “the modification of the mind, taking the form of the Lord himself.” The object that evokes love in the devotee could be the devotee’s ishtadevata (favorite deity). What inflames his vibhava (devotion) could be the company of other devotees, a visit to temples of the favorite deity, and holy places; and the love could be expressed (shedding tears) by vyabhicaribhavas, anjali (lifting one’s hands or folding one’s arms) and prostrating before the deity. It has been stressed that bhakti combined with jnana, knowledge of the self, is the right path to moksha. But pure bhakti (unselfish love) needs no help as this itself takes a devotee on the path of self realization.

The lower level of bhakti (apana bhakti) is generally restricted to prayers and performance of worship with a view of obtaining personal gains.

Source – 
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VI page 414 – IHRF
The Number of Rasas (1940) V Raghavan  - The Adyar Library and Research Center Chennai.