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Learn the lingo



Moods of love Radha seen here with Krishna in a miniature painting goes through all the stages of Ashta Nayika.

Dance

Ashta Nayika: One way of classifying the various kinds of n ayika (defined in Learn the Lingo of September 7), the ‘eight heroines’ or Ashta Nayika are character types that signify eight moods or states of a woman in love.

Although the emotion of love between a man and a woman may engender a myriad moods, these Ashta Nayikas represent a broad spectrum.

The concept is entwined in the traditional arts, including sculpture, poetry, music, dance, painting, etc.

Each of the Ashta Nayikas is named according to her relationship with her beloved. In each case, while the underlying emotion is love, the current mood is different. For instance, there is the heroine who is all dressed up and waiting expectantly for her lover to arrive.Or there is the woman who suspects her beloved of infidelity, and is upset over it. One of the Ashta Nayikas is angry with him, not willing to listen to any excuses.

Another has had a quarrel and regrets having spoken out, since the confrontation has led to his departure.

Yet another is confident that he loves her and rejoices in the knowledge.There is even the heroine who is separated from her beloved simply because he is away on business.

All these nayikas, with minute and highly poetic descriptions, can be found in miniature paintings as well as musical compositions that are sung and danced throughout India and used extensively in all the classical dance forms.

In literature, a ready example that comes to mind is Jayadeva’s epic poem Gita Govindam, in which Radha, though Krishna’s chosen one, goes through a number of emotions, taking on the hues of each of the Ashta Nayikas by turn, until she is secure in the knowledge that he loves her.

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