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Sanskrit Humor

  • By: Samuel Grimes
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Humor was defined and established as a literary sentiment (rasa) by Indian aestheticians two millennia ago. The comic sentiment (hasya rasa) was codified along with eight other sentiments, including love, heroism, and tragedy. Literature transformed universal emotions into refined aesthetic sentiments.

The comic sentiment mocks the serious ones and arises out of their failure. So, for example, when a beautiful woman, the heroine of a love story, rejects the affections not of a handsome hero, but of an obese drunkard, a parody of love creates a humorous response. As the amorous sentiment falls apart, the comic manifests. In one farce from the 11th century, a general leaves his command in the middle of battle, fleeing on the horse of the king himself, in order to rendezvous ...

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