What is the real beauty?


1. Beauty

According to the common man, that which appears pleasing to the eyes and which attracts the mind is beautiful. Any object or person whom we consider dear to us also appears beautiful. Hence every mother feels that her child is beautiful. A future bride did not like the groom selected by her parents as he was not good looking. However after contemplating about his qualities, she willingly agreed to marry him. Thereafter whenever they met, the boy appeared more and more handsome to her. Thus, beauty is not the quality of an object or a person, rather it is the reflection of our acceptance of that object or person. A girl is neither beautiful nor ugly. She appears beautiful due to the sexual desire in our mind.

The Indian poet Kalidas states that, that which appears fresher, newer and more lustrous each moment is beautiful.

क्षणे क्षणे यन्‍नवतां उपैति तदेव रूपं रमणीयताया: ।
नव नवोन्‍मेषशालिनी रमणीयता । – कालीदास

The Upanishads state, ‘That which is pure and eternally Blissful is beautiful (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌)’. True beauty never withers away. The soul principle which is the same as Brahma, God (Îshvar) or the individual soul is the only principle which has eternal existence, bliss and beauty.

To appreciate the beauty of God, a seeker must raise himself to the highest level of consciousness. It is said, ‘One can truly worship Lord Shiva only when one becomes Lord Shiva Himself (शिवो भूत्वा शिवं यज्ञेत्‌ ।)’. One has to tune oneself to the frequency of one’s deity before one can love and appreciate its beauty. For most people, the idol of Lord Viòhòhal is merely an idol. But Saint Tukaram considered the same idol as the most beautiful, manifest God Himself.

Every object or an individual has an aura i.e. it radiates energy of a particular frequency. When the frequency of the observer matches that of the object or the individual, that particular object or individual appears beautiful to the observer.

As God is beautiful, an individual with divine qualities such as serenity, compassion, kindness, goodwill, contentment appears beautiful. On the other hand, an individual with bad qualities such as anger, vengeance, hostility, violent nature, etc. appears ugly and ferocious.

Beauty appears where there is harmony and harmony exists when there is perfect co-ordination between all the elements in a situation. The food that one prepares may be highly nourishing and may contain all the essential nutrients in an adequate quantity. However, the food will be beautiful only when a sense of cleanliness, neatness and order is maintained while preparing and serving it. The one who cooks and serves it should have love and affection for his master. This is the manner of presenting and serving food beautifully. Such food is digested easily and is more nourishing to the body as well as the mind. This food is termed as ‘beautiful food’.

Beauty does not exist in the sunrise or a rose. If one is merely looking at the sunrise or a rose but one’s mind is elsewhere, then they will not appear beautiful. One can appreciate beauty only when one is engrossed in viewing the object.

A dance looks beautiful when one is so engrossed that the dancer disappears and only the dance remains. Similarly, music becomes beautiful when the musician disappears and only the music remains.

The Upanishads do not believe in perfection. They believe in totality i.e. living in harmony with the universe. When one lives every moment in totality by being fully engrossed in whatever one is doing, the entire life becomes beautiful and it takes one closer to God.

It is only in the Sanatan Religion (Dharma) that beauty is equated to God. The Upanishads state, ‘God is the Absolute Truth, Absolute Purity and Absolute Beauty (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌)’. The word shiva refers to purity or one who is benevolent to all. Shiva is the Name of Lord Shiva. Another Name of Lord Shiva is ‘सुंदरेश्‍वर’ i.e. ‘The Lord of beauty’ or the ‘most beautiful God’.

Lord Krushna says in the holy text, the Gita (10-41) –

यत्‌ यत्‌ विभूतिमत्‌, श्रीमत्‌ ऊर्जितं एव वा ।
तत्‌ तत्‌ एव अवगच्‍छ त्‍वं मम तेजोंश संभवम्‌ ।। – गीता १०-४१

Meaning: I represent the divinity in all living beings and objects, e.g. I am the spring season among the various seasons; I am the energy in energetic individuals and the strength in the powerful; I am the knowledge in the learned and the beauty in the beautiful.

ऋतूंता कुसुमाकर: । – गीता १०-३५
अंह तेजस्‍विनां तेज: । -गीता १०-३६
ज्ञानवतां ज्ञानमहं । -गीता १०-३८

2. Beautiful life

Ayurveda, the science of life defines life as a constant and continuous amalgamation and union of the body, the sense and motor organs, mind and the soul acting as one functional unit. The concept of beauty is not limited to the skin alone. Life itself has to be beautiful. For a beautiful life, the four essential components are – a. A healthy life, b. A healthy mind, c. A happy life and d. A useful life. The characteristics of each are described below.

2.1 A healthy life

A healthy individual has a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. He has a well balanced constitution and all his tissues and organs function at an optimal level. He is well built, healthy, strong and has a proportionate and shapely physique. His skin is lustrous and complexion is pink. He has a swift, rhythmic gait and a deep, voluminous, melodious and resonant voice. While enjoying sex and having good libido, he has total control over his sexual urge. He has a good appetite and digestive power and regular bowel habits. He enjoys all seasons equally well. He enjoys sound sleep. He is energetic and undertakes physical and mental chores with enthusiasm and skill. He rarely falls ill. Though capable of enjoying all the worldly pleasures, he does not crave for them. He looks younger than his age and enjoys a full, healthy life of a 100 years.

2.2 A healthy mind

The characteristics of a healthy mind are –

  • A happy and contented state of mind, cheerful disposition and pleasing manner

  • A feeling of security

  • Self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Absence of tension and frustration

  • Ability to accept and give love, affection and happiness

  • Insight or knowledge of the self

  • Ability to use one’s capability in the task at hand

  • Maximum ability of getting along with people and being friendly to all

  • Ability to adapt easily in every respect

  • Stability of the mind which does not fluctuate or waver

  • Fortitude and courage

  • Intelligence and a good memory

  • Creative ability

  • Follower of the dictates of one’s conscience

  • Having perfect control over one’s own desires, instincts, emotions, behaviour, actions and speech

  • Having respect for teachers and learned people

  • Truthful speech, clarity of thought and right action

  • Humility and gratitude

  • A well wisher of people and working for the upliftment of the society.

2.3 A happy life

The characteristics of a happy life are as follows –

  • Life which is free from physical or psychological illness.

  • Strong, energetic, courageous and confident life which is full of the vigour of youth.

  • Powerful sense and motor organs, intellect and memory.

  • Life with all the means and freedom to enjoy whatever one likes and travel wherever one wishes.

  • Every desire in the life of such a person is fulfilled, all his activities are successful and he gains fame. His children too fulfill his desires and expectations

2.4 A useful life

The following are the characteristics of an individual leading a useful life.

  • One who is intelligent, has a good control over his desires and instincts, speaks the truth, loves peace, thinks before he acts and follows the rules of righteous conduct even while earning money or fulfilling his desires.

  • One who always aims for that which is good for his present life as well as for his future lives and who is engrossed in acquiring spiritual knowledge and meditation.

  • One who respects the elderly and respected people, one who does not expect any help from others but himself wishes to help and donate wealth to others and one who desires and works for the welfare of others.

Primary instincts: The basic instincts of all the living beings are –

  • Instinct for survival (pranaishana) : This is the most primitive but a very important instinct as all the aims of life can be fulfilled only if one is alive and healthy.

  • Instinct for the propagation of the species (putraishana) : It is important to have progeny as through it our unfulfilled desires and activities can be fulfilled.

Pursuits of human life (purusharthas) The aim of human life is four-fold namely –

  • Righteousness (Dharma) : A desire to lead a good, righteous and respectable life on earth and in heaven after death. By following the rules of Righteousness, the society and government, one commands respect from people as well as ensures happiness for oneself in one’s next birth.

  • Desire to acquire wealth (artha or dhanaishana) : By acquisition of wealth through righteous means, not only can we enjoy it but we can help others too.

  • Fulfillment of desire (kama) : Desire to lead a happy life through fulfillment of our desires. Our motto should be fulfillment of not only our desires but also those of each one in this world.

  • The Final Liberation (Moksha) : Desire to attain eternal and supreme Bliss. By attaining the state of highest evolution of the mind and acquiring true knowledge about the self and the universe, one can achieve a state of supreme and eternal Bliss i.e. the Final Liberation.

It is but natural that even if a person has a beautiful skin, he will not appear beautiful and attractive if –

  • He is suffering from an ailment.

  • He has mental tension.

  • He is not happy.

  • He is not living a useful life.

In our country, we worship God as beauty (Shyamasundar). We do not fear Him. We love Him. God or divinity manifests as knowledge in our mind, love in our heart, energy in our life and as beauty in our physical form. Beauty lies not only in one’s appearance but in the way one walks, moves about, organises one’s life and in the way one thinks i.e. the beauty of thoughts. The beauty of the heart is to love. Such a person feels good and makes others feel good too. He is always a well wisher of others. Frequencies of good qualities radiate from him and reach everyone. A perfect form, proportion, pattern and co-ordination of the different parts of the body and a lustrous skin with a good complexion constitute the beauty of the physical body.

In ancient India, beauty was valued and respected. About 2500 years ago, when Gautam Buddha and Mahavir made a tremendous impact on the minds of the masses, the values of beauty and joy started dwindling. People underwent renunciation (sannyas), shaved off their heads, wore saffron robes as ascetics and discarded beautiful clothes condemning them to be a sign of materialism.

The Sanatan Religion (Dharma) states that the body is the temple of God. We have to treat our body as sacred and keep it clean, pure, well decorated and beautiful. Indian philosophers say that the world is the divine play (lila) of God. One should accept life and imbibe the qualities of God. Only then will all His divine or sattvik (sattva predominant) qualities including beauty descend upon oneself.

3. Vedanta theory of origin of components of human life

Man is an epitome of the universe. The soul, mind, sense and motor organs and the body constitute the main components of an individual.

Soul : The soul is eternal, omnipresent and is without a beginning or an end. The soul is the trinity of Absolute Truth, Absolute Knowledge and Bliss (सत्‍यं ज्ञानं आनंदं ब्रह्म). The universal soul is called God. Devotees describe God as the trinity of Absolute Truth, Absolute Purity and Absolute Beauty (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌).

Maya is the basic energy of the universal soul principle from which the entire universe including the animate and inanimate creation is formed. It is the finest form of energy. The subtlemost cosmic elements of absolute ether (akash), absolute air (vayu), absolute fire (agni), absolute water (apa) and absolute earth (pruthvi) are derived from the Great Illusion. Each of these cosmic elements is derived from the preceding cosmic element.

These subtle cosmic elements are composed of the subtle sattva, raja and tama components. The mind as well as the sense and motor organs are derived from the subtle sattva, raja and tama components of all the five cosmic elements. Though the mind and the subtle sense organs are derived from the sattva, raja and tama components, they are dominant in the sattva component. The Sattva component is derived from the five cosmic elements of absolute ether, absolute air, absolute fire, absolute water and absolute earth and gives rise to the subtle sense organs of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell respectively. Similarly, the five vital energies (panchaprans) and the subtle motor organs are predominant in the raja component. The tama component is derived from all the five cosmic elements which get differentiated into the five subtle elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth which still exist in the form of energy and are known as tanmatras. These five tanmatras get further differentiated into the five gross elements which exist in the atomic form of ether, air, fire, water and earth. These are called as the five gross cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas). In this state they cannot be recognised by the sense organs. These atoms combine with one another and form molecules which are termed as the panchabhautik panchamahabhutas which are the pentad gross elements, e.g. pruthvi (earth element) contains 50% of the gross earth element and the remaining 50% is composed of the other four gross elements. All man made objects and the physical bodies of all animals and human beings are derived from these five gross elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth.

God also known as Paramatma is the universal soul principle. He is the creator of the Great Illusion (Maya). After creation of the universe, God permeates the universe and is omnipresent.

Beauty is an integral quality of the soul and God. If God is beautiful, the entire universe has to be beautiful. There can be nothing ugly in the universe.