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The Rasa lila (IAST rāsa-līlā) (Hindi: रास लीला) or Rasa dance is part of the traditional story of Krishna described in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana and literature such as the Gita Govinda, where he dances with Radha and her sakhis. The Indian classical dance of Kathak evolved from the ‘Raslila of Braj and Manipuri Classical Dance’ (Vrindavana) also known as Natwari Nritya, which was revived in 1960s by Kathak dancer, Uma Sharma.

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The term, rasa meaning “aesthetics” and lila meaning “act,” “play” or “dance” is a concept from Hinduism, which roughly translates to “play (lila) of aesthetics (rasa),” or more broadly as “Dance of Divine Love”.

The rasa lila takes place one night when the Gopis of Vrindavana, upon hearing the sound of Krishna’s flute, sneak away from their households and families to the forest to dance with Krishna throughout the night, which Krishna supernaturally stretches to the length of one Night of Brahma, a Hindu unit of time lasting approximately 4.32 billion years. In the Krishna Bhakti traditions, the rasa-lila is considered to be one of the highest and most esoteric of Krishna’s pastimes. In these traditions, romantic love between human beings in the material world is seen as merely a diminished, illusionary reflection of the soul’s original, ecstatic spiritual love for Krishna, God, in the spiritual world.

In the Bhagavata Purana it is stated that whoever faithfully hears or describes the Rasa lila attains Krishna’s pure loving devotion (Suddha-bhakti).

Just as a child plays at its own will with its reflection in a mirror, even so with the help of His Yogamāyā Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa sported with the Gopīs, who were like many shadows of His own form.

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