Tantric Advaita

The Karuna Rasa

Karuna Rasa - Sadness


The Karuna Rasa is the Rasa of Sadness, of which the highest form is Compassion. Pity and sadness are born of ignorance and attachments. When we feel sad for all who do not see through this illusion of suffering, for the ignorance created by maya, then we experience the highest form of Karuna, which is Compassion.

While the highest Karuna is Compassion, the original Sanskrit word karuna means "Sadness". This more popular meaning of the Karuna Rasa finds expression in many kinds of art, literature, and theatre in India. Sadness is a feeling that comes when we have to let go of attachments. In pity, we forget that other people's problems are essentially the same as our own.

While Sadness is an ingredient of Compassion, true Compassion goes beyond Sadness to an unending kindness that doesn't taste like Sadness at all, in which the Sadness of Sadness evaporates in Love and truth.

True Compassion involves the recognition that the suffering of others (as well as their joy) is also our own. Nobody has any problem that is not related to ignorance and ignorance is the fate of all who are not enlightened. If we can feel sorry for others without feeling any better than them, we may experience the highest Karuna.

True Compassion is without discrimination and can be felt for humans as well as for animals, plants, or enemies. It makes us a kind person, extending loving kindness to every being we meet. This depth of Compassion is beautifully expressed in the story of the saint that lifted a scorpion out of the water to carry it to safety, even though it was stinging him. Both the saint and the scorpion were doing nothing but following their dharma.

Buddha did not feel pity for the suffering of others but for the ignorance that causes suffering and that is why he set himself on the path of self-realization. When becoming enlightened, the one who vows to continue to reincarnate until all beings are enlightened as well is called a Bodhisattva. The Dalai Lama is a good example of this Compassion discipline. Compassion plays a very central role in Buddhism, where the term "Karuna" is much more directly translated as Compassion, rather than Sadness.

Real Compassion is a divine quality that makes a person a real human being. This Karuna polishes our consciousness of the Divine, making it stand out more clearly and beautifully. It is the cause of many spiritual thoughts and ideas and promotes religion very well. The Christian cross is a powerful symbol of Karuna, of suffering out of Compassion for others.

However, the true saint will not forget that the feeling of Compassion is just another illusion and not in itself desirable for one who sees through the illusion of maya. He will always remember that true suffering is caused by ignorance and that true help consists of bringing enlightenment.

Mastering Sadness

The Joy of
Mastering Karuna means to convert our more self-centered Sadness into genuine Compassion for our ignorance and the ignorance of others.

To directly counter any Sadness, one must first understand that Sadness may come but goes just as well. In adolescents, periods of Sadness may come when one feels neglected and tries to produce pity in others. Loneliness in general is a main cause of Karuna.

When one gets older, a Sadness may come because of waning strength and beauty, of achievements becoming meaningless. If one accepts whatever goes and finds meaning in all that is still left, then there is no problem.

The same goes for the Karuna or Sadness that may come when nearing death. If one believes that the end is near, then obviously Sadness will come. If one believes in eternity, then one can still enjoy everything around as a beautiful life in progress.

Karuna Rasa Chart

Basic Rasa : Sadness

Sub-Rasas : Pity, Compassion

Dominant Element : Water

Dominant Dosha : Kapha

Dominant Guna : Rajas

Dominant Kosha : Ego

Friendly Rasas : Peace

Enemy Rasas : Joy, Love

Neutral Rasas : Disgust, Wonder, Anger, Fear, Courage

Rasa Produced : Sadness

Key for Mastering : Kindly embrace both truth and ignorance (see also Rasa Sadhana & The Yoga of Nine Emotions)

Siddhi : Mahima (mightiness)

Deity : Varuna


Leela is the ancient vedic name for the theater of life. Life in all its forms is an illusion behind which we can find the ultimate truth of pure Being. Yet life is also a divine theater, a spiritual game played by us, the actors. Yoga allows us to hold on to the bliss of truth while playing the game. And also this yoga is a game, which we can only take seriously if we do not take ourselves and this game too seriously. That is the meaning of Leela Yoga, nothing more, nothing less. So, Leela Yoga is a vision on yoga and also a name for a simple organisation that allows me to bring this vision into practice... more about Leela Yoga & Peter Marchand

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New book : www.tantricadvaita.org

Harish Johari students sangha : www.sanatansociety.org

  in sweet memory
of Harish Johari


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The attachment that happens in the pursuit of happiness is the main source of unhappiness.

Don't think of going somewhere, because this somewhere will come along with you wherever you go, as you are already there.

Yoga requires unity between enjoyment and suffering, between bhoga and yoga, even between attachment and detachment.

How can anyone be "good" without a choice between good and bad?

While the mind creates the illusion of the universe through the senses, the intellect creates the illusion of understanding it.

When our day has been entirely ego-centered, then our meditation will probably have similar poor quality.

When the focus on the self is held strongly enough, the flow of kundalini energy happens on its own, naturally.

Tiptoe inside, don't make a sound, don't scare away that which cannot be found.

Enlightenment is nothing more or less than the final level of the game of life.