Bhayānaka (Horror and the Horrific) in Indian Aesthetics

  • Dhananjay Singh


Bhayānaka (the horror and the Horrific)—the rasa (aesthetic tasting) of the psychological state of bhaya (the fear)—is evoked by the verbal and thematic structures of a literary/performative text, but its experience due to the self’s liberation from structures of language and thought is that of the absolute consciousness. With examples from the Rigveda, the Upanīṣads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Mahābhārata, and drawing upon the philosophical hermeneutics of Abhinavagupta (eleventh century CE), the chapter argues that bhayānaka is not substantially apart from bībhatsa (the Odious), the seventh rasa formulated by Bharata. Both rasa-s (aesthetic experiences) terminate into śānta (the Tranquil), resulting into a transmutation of the Horrific, from the phenomenal to the aesthetic experience.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Dhananjay Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture StudiesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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