How is "rasa" defined in Indian Ink?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Rasa, which is a very important term for this play, is defined by the Indian painter Das as being:

...what you must feel when you see a painting, or hear music; it is the emotion which the artist must arouse in you.

The significance of rasa in this play highlights the importance of art as a central theme of Indian Ink. This is a play which discusses the centrality of art as an expression of human life and culture, and in particular, as the conflict between Indian culture and English culture is elaborated, the idea that it is only English culture that has produced good works of literature. As Das himself shows through his own artistic endeavours, this arrogant and colonialist view is just not supported in any sense, and, in many ways, India has far greater numbers of wonderful artists that produce works with rasa. For example note how this is established when Anish corrects the assumption of Mrs Swann that Britain's occupation of India was like the Roman occupation of Britain:

We were the Romans! We were up to date when you were a backward nation. The foreigners who invaded you found a third-world country! Even when you discovered India in the age of Shakespeare, we already had our Shakespeares. And our science—architecture—our literature and art, we had a culture older and more splendid, we were rich!

In Anish's mind, India was already a massively accomplished nation and was not an island full of ignorant savages. Rasa is an Indian term, and, the play argues, something that defines its great works, just as much as it can be used to define the jewels of England's cultural heritage. Rasa is a term that is therefore used to indicate the centrality of art in the play, but also, the cultural arrogance that lay behind the Raj. 

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