Rasa or the knowledge of the self

Essays on Indian Aesthetics and Selected Sanskrit Studies 

• APRIL 2023 • ISBN: 978-1-887276-41-2 •

René Daumal translated by Louise Landes Levi

René Daumal, best known for his novel Mt. Analogue, unfinished at his death, in 1944 (other works in English A Night of Serious Drinking,  The Power of the Word, You’ve Always Been Wrong et.al.) was an autodidact, ie. a non academic Sanskritist. Following youthful explorations, with poet Gilbert Le Conte (Black Mirror) & initial instruction in Sanskrit with Rene Guernon, he embarked on a solitary study surpassing his teacher & eventually formulating his own Sanskrit dictionary. He translated essential texts on Sanskrit composition fr. the original & the first non-academic translation of the Bharatya Natya Sastra, the world’s first treatise on the Dramatic Arts, ca 4th century. He wrote numerous essays on Sanskrit poetics & their relation to spiritual etymology, the first to recognize the value of these texts for the artists & the cultural ambient of the 20th century.

What people are saying about RASA

translations are uniquely valuable
transcending ordinary literature.
breathing new life, reaching out,
disseminating …
making the obscure comprehensible!

overflowing a full glass!

first sanskrit/ english dictionary
monier- williams 1899

first tibetan/ english dictionary
alex. csoma koros 1834

first tibetan/ sanskit/ english dictionary
sarat chandra das 1889

like birds whispering in our ears,
afford the luxury of clarity
to translators.

make the unknown knowable
the subtle … clear …

that’s why dear Louise Landes Levi and Rene Daumal are so important.

—Paul Leake. Tabla player and poet

Rasa appeared in 1982 and has not left my side for nearly forty years. It remains the only indispensible book in English on the poets of old India, their transformative poetry & their pioneer insights into language. René Daumal was the West’s first heroic student of yoga and the arts, his essays a pinnacle of the 20th century’s avant-garde. We’re lucky to have Louise Landes Levi’s translations back in print.”

—Andrew Schelling, Poet & translator. Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, Old Tale Road

“For all practitioners of the sacred arts of India, René Daumal’s Rasa is required reading. Illuminated with insight and inspiration by translator Louise Landes Levi, Rasa is a portal, a pathway to understanding the aesthetic theory underlying all Indian arts. As a musician, singer, poet, and writer, Levi has the unique affinity and experience to bring this work to light.”

—Barbara Framm, dance-master & exponent Bharata Natya & Odissi. 

“It’s good to see this pioneering paradigmatic classic on Sanskrit and Indian culture in print again. Louise Landes Levi deserves a medal!”

—Peter Lamborn Wilson Temporary Autonomous Zone,
Pirate Utopias, Critique of the Image (editor).