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Bibhatsa – Expression Of Aversion In Classical Dance

Bibhatsa is the expression of aversion in Hindu classical dance. Bibhatsa, the sentiment of disgust, is one of the eight sthayibhavas (emotions) in the rasa theory. Rasa is the emotive expression of the actors and dancers transmitted to the spectators witnessing a play or dance drama. The number of rasas is reckoned as nine when shanta rasa (peace) is added. Bibhatsa is rooted in the sthyaibhava (permanent psychological state) of jugupsa (disgust). It arises from experiencing sights, tastes, smell, touch and sounds which cause discomfort or nausea. The lakshanas (distinguishing markers) of this emotion are created by vibhavas (the causal factors) like the sight of garbage  or a mutilated animal lying around.

The multiplication of the undesirable elements into a greater quantity is uddipana vibhava (a determinant that enhances the sentiment). Resultant anubhavas (manifest responses to experience) comprising body actions like narrowing of mouth and spitting, are used to represent this emotion on stage. Vyabhichari bhavas (auxiliary or supporting emotions) that are complementary to bibhatsa are agitation, sickness, etc. The person who is disgusted also passes through certain sattvika bhavas (invariant and involuntary responses to experience) such as immobility, horrification, sweating and fainting. This emotion is enacted by various kinds of eye movements and facial expressions.

The presiding deity of bibhatsa (odious sentiment) is Shiva and the color that symbolizes this emotion is blue. The odious sentiment is of three kinds –

  1. Nausea (evoked by the sight of cockroaches or worms
  2. Simple (hearing about unpleasant events)
  3. Exciting (caused by sight of blood or accidents).

This sentiment is said to stand in opposition to the emotion of love.