Updated: Jul 30


Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Rasa → Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं): Compassion, mercy. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour: grey, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow





“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said Maya Angelou. Emotions are the first language. They are our most natural bridge to connect with another. Our understanding of other people is very much connected to our ability to observe, analyze and mirror others’ emotions—a very natural process for us humans who are inherently social creatures. Reaching consensus, communicating needs and sharing ideas, and experiences through empathy is our natural habitat.

Scientists now know that this capacity for empathy requires an exquisite interplay of neural networks enabling us to perceive the emotions of others, resonate with them emotionally and cognitively, to take in their perspectives, and to distinguish it with our own. In the eastern artistic theory of Rasa, compassion (karunā rasa) is an emotional state that often leads to creating empathy. Wrongs that right injustice, worldly sorrows weighing down a young person, longing for life’s dreams are compassion evoking themes that we used in this monthly story to induce empathy towards a morally compromising act. The main character of this story, Kusum, was built using the shadow side of the character archetype magician—the manipulator.

In this reading list, you’ll find stories, books, films, and research that connects to compassion, finding emotional empathy in moments that conflict with the cognitive and the magician archetype from Jungian psychology.

  • 1994, I.A. Richards and Indian Theory of Rasa, Gupteshwar Prasad. Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, India. Page 24: This book details the rasa theory with parallels to other theories connecting to the arts and their enjoyment. Gupteshwar notes how being affected by others’ emotions is the primary condition of aesthetic enjoyment. He points to this impersonal identification of emotions as an extension of the ‘karuna rasa’, which is called ‘samvēdhana’ in the original rasa theory, and says it’s the same as what’s knowns as ‘empathy’ in English and ‘einfuhlung’ in German.

  • 2016, Mind and creativity: Insights from rasa theory with special focus on sahrdaya (the appreciative critic). Louise Sundararajan, Maharaj K. Raina. The Sage Pub: Rasa theory suggests that there are three aspects or stages to art: the first is the creative process of the artist; the second is the artwork; and the third is the viewer’s response—when the artist’s experience is recreated through empathy. It further details Tādātmya—a state of the reader or spectator who loses for a while his or her personal self-consciousness and identifies him or herself with some character in the story or scene.

  • Saradiel is a man who lived in Mawanella, Sri Lanka in the 19th century and was executed for theft and murder. Saradiel’s image is conflicting. Bandit, vigilante, people’s champion, lawbreaker, murderer, hero of the poor….it’s not easy to fit him into one box. Saradiel’s targets were mostly the rich aristocracy and colonial officials; he robbed, killed, and intimidated many. At the same time, he selflessly shared his loot with the poor and fought against injustices that they suffered at the hands of the rich and the powerful. He is sometimes listed among national heroes. But, he is also marked as a dangerous criminal. Despite the sticky image, people still visit his last jail cell, and his tales have been made into many books, films and tele dramas. Saradiel certainly occupies that difficult space between hero and outlaw. In Saradiel’s stories, we see how a criminal by law is capable of evoking empathy even in usually law-abiding people.

  • When Carl Jung first identified the ‘Magician’ archetype, he called it the Philemon. In his Liber Secundus we are introduced to Philemon, the ‘magician’. On the nature of magic Jung derived from Philemon he has written, “there is nothing to understand…Magic happens to be everything that eludes comprehension.” The difficulty with magic is precisely the difficulty of existing without reason. The foundation responsible for bringing Carl Jung’s works to the world is called the Philemon Foundation after this archetype that deeply influenced Jung.

  • The antihero is a character type that blurs the line between good and evil, and achieves a justified cause in their own way, often questioning morality. They are morally ambiguous and lack conventional heroic attributes. Unlike the ‘hero’—who is an idealized, flawless personality—the ‘anti-hero’ is more human and relatable to the average person, evoking their compassion and empathy.

The antihero

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil

Patrick Bateman

The Narrator (Fight Club)

Lestat de Lioncourt (The Vampire Chronicles)

Man with no name (The Dollars trilogy)

Nancy Botwin (Weeds)

  • 2009, Royal, Warrior, Magician, Lover—Archetypal reflectivity and the construction of professional knowledge. Darrell Dobson, Teacher Education Quarterly (Pages 154-157): Dobson identifies the magician archetype as one that actively seeks to put that content and methodological knowledge in service to the fullest possible individual and social development every day, and recognizes that such a practice derives from and will provide encounters with the numinous, whether in mathematics, science or art. He identifies the active shadow magician is the manipulator—who has either not mastered his technologies or himself, or both.

  • 2012, “Rasa Yatra” — Using film to teach cross-cultural empathy, Martin Haigh, Planet, 26:1, 51-58: Empathy is a key skill for intercultural understanding. This paper evaluates the results of a pilot study for an exercise designed to introduce undergraduate geographers to the problems of interpreting emotional messages from an unfamiliar culture and worldview. Learners are set the task of interpreting the emotional content of this film and of trying to share the feelings of another.

>> Read the previous reading list


Image → A.Savin

Rasa → Raudram (रौद्रं): Fury. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: red, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow

Archetype → Creator



Nicole watched the homeless man by the Colombo rail from under her long bangs and lowered eyelids. This man’s hair seemed to have somehow been dried, blown and sprayed to perfection from nothing but the Colombo heat, salinity of June air and the monsoon winds. Thinking about how she failed to create the same beach waves at her hairstyling course exam that morning, Nicole felt something searing painfully in her gut; It shaped a toxic orange feeling.

When the world hands out what you’ve bled for, to someone who doesn’t even care, what the hell does that even mean?

A familiar voice inside Nicole’s head started a monologue of everyday injustices, stinging against her threshold. It was a chili-red coloured voice that always triggered the memory of sour mangoes in her taste nerves.

Seeing the homeless man’s beach waves had also scratched Nicole’s faith in the world. Things like the heatwave that passed through the city this morning (altering the very dynamics between keratin and water particles) and the model’s hair appearing surely vitamin-deficient no longer seemed like coincidences, but pitfalls set up by a conniving world. A few hours later, by the time it was her stop, something in Nicole was screeching in unison with the train coming to a halt.

Nicole hated coming back to her parents’ village where everyone knew her as ‘Nimali’—the given-name that she no longer identified with. Head lowered, but eyes scrutinizing from behind her long fringe, Nicole found offence in how the villagers on the street had the same hair—oiled and tied back or combed to a side.

Can a homogenous bubble be called life? Isn’t sameness a state of death than of being alive?

Nicole's chili-red voice muttered all the way home, prickling the sides of her tongue with a pleasurable sting. Her mother was standing by the gate, waiting. She showered Nicole with questions about lunch, breakfast, the house keys, laundry, reducing the length of the fringe, the exact temperature in Colombo... Nicole answered everything and nothing with ohs, hms, nuhs, and mh-huhs.

Is it still home if your instinct is to escape it?

Nicole walked in with her mother following two steps behind questioning what she’d like to eat. Sitting on a kitchen chair with hands quietly clasped on the table, zoning out from her mother’s string of questions, Nicole seemed almost composed. But, she had a scream welling up inside. Nicole knew this scream; It always came in a voice of deep burgundy and brought on a metallic taste on her tongue.

When her mother started asking about the hairstyling course exams, Nicole could no longer take it. She covered her mouth and ran into the bathroom. The trail of her surprised mother’s voice shouting in the background—about getting a bladder infection from holding it in for so long—came to an abrupt end when Nicole locked the door behind herself.

Between aspirations and expectations was a hellish place.

Hands clasped tightly over the mouth, Nicole watched her reflection in the bathroom mirror as the silent scream unraveled inside. It felt as if the burgundy-coloured loathing was being spewed all over her interiors. From the burgundy-bathed inside, came another voice—a new one Nicole had never heard before. It was an ugly shade between purple and wine red and induced a tinge of bitterness at the back of her tongue. The new voice spoke heavy and monotonous. It dropped words like a shaman’s drum beats inducing an altered state of consciousness; Words that Nicole couldn’t bear to hear; Mediocre. Dull. Forgettable...

In a moment of noxious revulsion, Nicole grabbed the little trimming scissor inside the jar with tweezers, combs and clippers. With shaking hands and short scissor blades inadequate for the task, she cut off her long, thick fringe in careless, irregular strokes. Nicole felt the weight of the entire year that she spent devotedly growing and shaping her fringe dissipate into air as the cut hairs fell at her feet.

Maybe it’s best to get nothing free from the world, and owe nothing free in return.

Nicole swallowed the last of the bitterness as the wine-purple receded, and a jagged hairline hung like a torn curtain above her face.

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The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

Updated: Jul 30


Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Rasa → Raudram (रौद्रं): Fury. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: red, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow





Carl Jung described the creative human best; “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” The defining superpower of the creator is to absorb the world and reproduce it new, made more interesting and beautiful inside their mind. We have all the art, music, books, films and objects thanks to minds that decided to play with this world. The creator can also make the world more tedious and render it a terrible place. This shadow aspect of the creator archetype is what we explored this month.

The mood we wanted to create in this story is that of raudra, or anger, identified in the eastern aesthetic theory of rasa. The anger in this story is latent but peripheral—at the intensity of frustration. We used the mood adbūtha, or wonder, as an undertone.

In this reading list, you’ll find stories, books, films, and events that reveal the shadow of the creator archetype, and raudra rasa evoking varying degrees of anger.

  • 1976, death of Vladimir Komarov: Komarov died during the crash of the failed spacecraft Soyuz 1 which he was piloting solo. Soyuz 1 was launched on the orders of Leonid Brezhnev—leader of the Soviet Union, who wanted to stage a spectacular space rendezvous on the 50th anniversary of the Communist revolution—despite the spacecraft not being ready. Although Komarov and his close colleagues’ tried to postpone the operation, their concerns were not taken seriously. Komarov died screaming in rage and cursing the authorities as the spacecraft failed. Knowing that he was doomed with the faulty craft, Komarov requested an open-casket funeral before he boarded. Making the power-hungry leaders look at his remains charred from the impact of hitting the earth at meteoric speed was Komarov’s punishment to them. This recording of the last words from the transmission of Vladimir Komarov inside the crashing spacecraft brings on the raudra rasa in anyone who listens to it.

  • 2006, The Yoga of the Nine Emotions: The Tantric Practice of Rasa Sadhana. Peter Marchand, Harish Johari. Destiny Books: This book details the raudra rasa from tantric and ayurvedic perspectives, delving into colours, tastes and foods linked to this rasa, emotional fasting exercises, and how it can be used for healing. Pages 78-88.

  • The shadow of the creator archetype is very much personified in the stereotype of the tortured artist: angered or anguished by the world, deep in self-doubt or with the toxic fuel of anxiety and pain feeding their creativity, this stereotype has probably grown beyond its truth and reached levels of myth. The two links below give an introduction to the stereotype and an analysis of its truth and myth.

2022 retrieved, Wikipedia: Tortured artist.

2019, The Art Assignment; the truth of the tortured artist.

  • 1996, Touched With Fire. Kay Redfield Jamison. Simon and Schuster Publishers: This book written by a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reveals links between manic-depression and creativity, and encourages us to question the relationship that exists between art and madness. Based on studies and research on mood disorders, the book reveals the biological foundations of illnesses, lives and works of some of the world's greatest artists including Lord Byron, Vincent Van Gogh, and Virginia Woolf. As Lord Byron puts it, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”

  • When Carl Jung identified the creator archetype first, it was coined as ‘the artist’. We prefer to use the term ‘creator’ for this very same archetype as it includes the whole spectrum of creative minds that this idea applies to. This list includes excerpts from Carl Jung’s writing that touches on the archetype of the creator :

  • 2022, Sri Lankan protestors retaliate against government-induced violence: On May 9th 2022, a mob consisting of the then Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters attacked the peaceful, unarmed protestors on the public beach at Colombo’s Galle Face Greens. The protest, which has been a nationwide movement with its most popular site being at the Galle Face beach, is demanding the resignation of a regime accused of corruption, blatant nepotism and theft of public funds that has led to Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis. Angered by this attack on civil rights and what was seen as the sacred ground of people’s power, Sri Lankans around the country started attacking vehicles and private properties of pro-Rajapaksa politicians. Many Sri Lankans supported the retaliations even as the violence escalated. Surrounded by angry protestors, Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign from his role as prime minister that evening. May 9th violence in Sri Lanka is an example of collective fury, and where a majority of people enjoyed and encouraged and savoured the emotion of rage because they felt it was justifiable.

World in one news, WION

Primetime News, News First Sri Lanka

Democracy Now

Unedited footage of May 9th violence, News First Sri Lanka

  • 2018, A brief history of female rage in art. Ariela Gittlen, Artsy.net: This article talks about how, when justice seems elusive, images of angry women can be cathartic, even inspiring. It includes seven works from western art history that show the beauty and power of female rage.

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