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The concept of beauty

india Updated: Sep 04, 2006 12:44 IST

All cultures and civilisations have their specific concepts of beauty and all poets have celebrated it in their verse.

Keats, the great English poet wrote grandly in his Ode to a Grecian Urn, “Beauty is truth, Truth beauty.” These words go deep beyond the merely sensuous, though Keats was a very sensuous poet indeed. For, though he died young, he was evolving as a great metaphysical poet and exhibited flashes of that potential in this particular poem. Shakespeare too acknowledged the fleeting character of physical beauty and equated real beauty with the dimension of truth .

In Indian culture, though the physical as pect of beauty is compre hensively written about, it is inner beauty that is the most emphasised. All physical beauty is bound to vanish, as the whip hand of Time will smash it to pieces. The emphasis is therefore on eternal beauty. And what can be eternal but divine beauty? It will last forever because it is Sat, that which is. Therefore the attributes of beauty are the attributes of Divinity: Sat Chit Ananda.

The poet who single-handedly transformed the history of the Hindu religion across North India says so, too. Writing about the aura of beauty that radiated from Rama and Sita, Goswami Tulasidas ultimately concedes that it cannot be described or written about. Gira anayan, nayan bin Vaani, he explains. The tongue which formulates the word is sightless, while the organ of sight does not have the capacity of articulation. Further the beauty is not merely physical alone. It is divine and how can a writer, who is not part of the Divine dare describe the Divine?

Those who are privileged to be granted the vision of the Divine can only savour that beauty, but to describe it is impossible. We often speak of the beauty of the soul. It is nothing but a reminder that the actual beauty is inner, and not of this transient fallible world.I f this is recognised and our behaviour modified accordingly, surely there will less egotism, less intolerance and less tension in the world.

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