Rasas are the essential aspects or energies that define a set of emotions and moods that thus belong to the same "family" or Rasa. Rasa Sadhana is an ancient Tantric tradition of emotional fasting. We promise ourself that for a day or a week or longer we will not get involved with one of the less desirable Rasas or will fully focus on one of the more agreeable Rasas. Through such regular exercise, we learn that we really can master our emotions, which rapidly will happen quite effortlessly. In order to perform this Rasa yoga, we need to understand what Rasas are and how each Rasa functions.
The Tantric tradition recognizes nine principal Rasas that relate to quite clearly defined moods or emotions (click the individual Rasas for more details) :
All desires for ownership, security, enjoyment, recognition, love, knowledge, enlightenment, etc. are all desires for the happiness that we hope to feel by fulfilling them. We desire the happy feeling to own, to be secure, to be recognized as somebody valuable, to enjoy, to love, to know. Feeling happy is all that we ever really desire. Should happiness then not be pursued more directly and durably ? That is the essential objective of Rasa Sadhana.
Rasa Sadhana is a powerful yoga of our emotions that anybody can learn and teach. It may not bring enlightenment, but gets us quite a bit closer to happiness. It is a wonderfully simple kind of magic. It can be easily integrated with other yoga paths and spiritual rituals to the benefit of both. Art and drama also have an important role to play in the communication of Rasas on a feeling level.
Rasa Sadhana originated in the time before Hindu yogis started organizing themselves into more institutionalized akaras (schools) and ashrams (communities). Before that time, spiritual teaching happened in the gurukula, the family home of the teacher. These teachers were usually married and had children, so the teaching that took place connected directly to normal life.
Rasa Sadhana offers the householder an alternative spiritual path, which includes the Peace Rasa, but also teaches us how to find happiness and spiritual growth in the other Rasas. It does not require stepping outside of social life, nor does it require any extra time investment. If we can remain free from disturbing emotions during the day, then the meditation that we are able to do will be much more fruitful. Prolonged Rasa Sadhana also brings certain special powers called siddhi's.
Rasa Sadhana is not about suppressing emotions! Negative thoughts and emotions must be allowed sufficient expression for their origin to be properly analyzed. It is most of all this very analysis, which emphasizes the witnessing factor, that will dissolve them.