People want to be beautiful. People like others who are beautiful. People like beautiful things and places… But is it all the same? Spiritual people will call “ugly” whatever the rest of the modern world consider beautiful (fashions and everything under the slogan “sex sells”). The rest of the modern world does not understand spirituality and looks down to the people who value their inner beauty the most. But is there really such a gap between these two worlds? They seem to be so different from each other… But the word “beauty “is the same for both! So there must be some universal meaning, universal truth…
The attitude to the feminine beauty, to the womanhood itself has a long Christian history in the West. The woman has never been that much seen as the beautiful creation of God. The more so, it has been since millennia deeply programmed by the priests that a woman is an evil herself, a torn on the glorious path of a man.
This disrespectful attitude to the womanhood had brought its fruits as a feministic movement in the 20th century, with all these millions of western women desperately crying for love and adoration… If we track down anything written about beauty in two thousand years of theology we can summarize the tradition into two statements: First, beauty is trivial. To most pastors and teachers, physical appearance has not seemed an important enough spiritual issue even to address. Second, should the matter come up at all, beauty is dangerous.
Today with the West slowly turning its ego-oriented head to the Orient we suddenly discover that the position of women there has never been that bad as we used to learn.In order to understand how deep and beautiful the respect for women in the Asian and Arabian world is, we can just look the source of their cultures. Koran quotes Mohammed with ”Paradise lies under the feet of mothers”.
Zarathustra, the founder of the Zoroastrianism (Iran) says in his “Avesta”, “Woman is the miracle of the creation. Matchless und incompatible in her image and beauty she reigns in the seven worlds. She is the blossoming flower full of fragrance in the garden of life”.
And though in the earlier ages of the human history Woman (as Mother) has been worshiped everywhere in the world, nowadays is it only in India that people worship the Goddess in her various aspects; “All the women of the world are your aspects, oh Devi!” – says Devi Mahatmiam, one of the important Hindu scripts.
Japan is famous for cladding its women in the most sophisticated and decorative dresses. In Russia one can find a deeply rooted tradition of adoring the feminine beauty. The most popular quotation of a Russian writer F.Dostoevsky says, “Beauty will save the world”.
Adoration lays in decoration
It seems that the respect towards a woman goes hand in hand with the respect and enjoyment of the feminine beauty. Ambrose Bierce (1958) once wrote, “To men a man is but a mind. Who cares what face he carries or what he wears? But woman’s body is a woman.” The simplification of the woman’s beautiful image in the West leads to the vast tendency of today in actual undressing her. At the same time the main idea of underlining a feminine beauty in Orient is in decorating and dressing her up!
The people of India have expended limitless energy and creativity in the invention of ornaments that celebrate the human body. Adorning the visible, material body, they feel, satisfies a universal longing for the embellishment of its intangible counterpart, namely the human spirit. Complementary to such thought is the conventional view where the graceful form of a woman is said to epitomize the ideal beauty and mystery inherent in nature.
The Indian idea being that only things covered with ornaments are beautiful. Poetry must overflow with rhetorical ornaments (alamkara), metaphors, alliterations, and other musical effects. The verb alam-kara – “to adorn, to decorate,”- means literally “to make enough”: for the simple appearance without ornament is “not enough”; it is poor, disgraceful, shocking, except in the case of an ascetic. Hence the stress on adornment of the women, who are but the poetry of nature. It is believed that just as a woman beautifies her home so should she her body. Such a combination supposed to invite blessings and prosperity from the gods.
Auspiciousness and protection
Let us dwell a bit on the Indian tradition that unfolds the meaningful decoration of a woman. The natural beauties are still rare among us as but the possibility “to create” the own beauty/to add some of it to the natural form can be used by everyone! In the living Indian tradition things are done with auspiciousness (special good meaning, benevolence). Even ornamentation not only serves to please the eyes of the beholder but also fulfils an auspicious purpose. Another important role of the ornaments is the protective one. If you wear a beautiful necklace or earrings it will not only distract the (possibly negative) attention from your face thus protecting you, but also distract the attention from any problematic parts like wrinkles.
Bindi: The bindi is a small ornamental dot placed at the center of the forehead. This place regarded as the channel of supreme wisdom and sublime intuition, and is said to confer divine knowledge. So it is decorated to strengthen this principal!
Kajal (black powder kohl) Applying kajal cleanses the eyes and gives them a large, almond shape, delightful to look at. Often a poet would address a heroine’s eyes ‘as deep as the sea’. Outlining with kajal establishes two discernable banks to these fathomless oceanic streams.
Necklace The neck is an important subtle center. Because necklaces are often worn near the heart, they can be used to work on emotions, or to strengthen love. By wearing a necklace of stones for example, it is believed that we are binding ourselves with their powers. From earliest times protective pendants, necklaces and strings of beads, as well as elaborate ornamental collars, were worn around the neck to bring good luck and avert the evil eye.
Earrings From earliest times long ear lobes have been regarded as a sign of spiritual development and superior status. Early sculptures demonstrate that ear ornaments were an important constituent of Indian female attire. To the married woman, the ear ornament was (and is) auspicious.
Bangles (Wrist Ornament) From simple plain circlets of metal, to ones decorated with etched and repose designs, to fabulous examples with bird and animal-head terminals and studded with gems, these circlets symbolize the potent energy of the sun.
Hair Style Hair is one of the most fascinating parts of the body and reflects all the elements: It belongs to the element of earth as it is solid and tangible; to the element of water since it is free and flowing; to the element of fire since it fed from the furnace of the brain; and to the element of air since it is light and can be blown by the wind. Hair is both living, since it grows, and dead since it is without sensibility. It has its own life, grows more rapidly than anything else, and continues to grow after the death of the body. As such it constitutes a link between this world and the next. Arranging the hair in three strands is considered the most auspicious. According to mythology, these three strands of a woman’s plait are intended to symbolize the confluence of India’s three most venerated rivers – the
Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati – or the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Yet another legend states that one strand represents the father’s house, one, the in-laws’, and the third is the woman herself who unites the two.
Anklet and Toe Rings Feet are the support of the entire body and therefore accorded great significance. Indeed the foot is the human pedestal, in direct contact with Mother Earth, absorbing vigor from her powerful emanations. In the Indian tradition, the feet are considered the humblest, most impure, and polluting part of the body, and therefore command respect by those who surrender their ego to the venerable. Humbling oneself by touching the feet of one’s elders or prostrating oneself before them or worshipping the feet or sandals of a deity or a holy man are expressions of respect.It is mentioned in the Ramayana that when Lakshmana was asked if he recognized the jewels recovered in the forest as belonging to his brother’s wife Sita, he replied that he recognized neither the armlets nor the earrings. Only the anklets were familiar to him, since his gaze with reverence appropriate to the times, never strayed above Sita’s feet.
Perfume The legendary reputation of Indian perfumes is upheld if we contemplate the variety of scents manufactured and used throughout the country. All scents are ascribed to divine origin, and it is fairly certain that perfume was prepared in India, as early as the 15th century BC. Through the developing centuries, the use of perfume has been raised to a fine art. There are perfumes for different hours of a day, perfumes to suit each dress, fragrances to reflect the personality of different types of women according to their color, build, character and age.The Indian woman applies her perfume discreetly and cunningly, to her clothes, the lobes of her ears, her eyebrows, the palms of her hands, and other parts of her body with an artful expedience.
These are the highlights of the Indian culture of giving the fragrance to the feminine beauty. Could an ordinary sloppy teenager-girl somewhere in the States comprehend this? And why should she?
Less is more?
In the Western culture, we are told to put on everything we think “goes” with our clothing, and then start taking items off until we have the perfect piece. “Less is more.” The less auspiciousness the better, the less protection the better. Yes, the prominent “good taste” makes the woman in fact rather exposed to the big world. We wear black. We cut off our hair. We wear jeans (“the most comfortable piece of cloth ever!”) and weep in the night when the men we love leave us searching for the true shakti. Why??? Less is more?..
True beauty is spiritual
We are all so different but still we are all human. What makes us human? There are universal values which can be applied to everyone. People express them differently but they do exist in each of us. Like love, wisdom, generosity and many others. All these values have their spiritual meaning and therefore are felt like universal. One of them is beauty.
Did you know that the scientists consider beauty as one of the few basic necessities (it was found the primitive people obviously started decorating themselves and their caves at earliest form of their development)? Did you know that according to recent research image of a beautiful woman stimulates the nerve lumbar plexus (known as “second brain”) of the stomach as same as some good food does? Beauty lays at the core of so many things in our lives andits impact on us is truly amazing!
True beauty emits cool vibrations and is immediately appreciated by children.
Beauty is something no one can describe and yet everyone is able to see it. These are typical characteristics of a spiritual subject: it is impossible to describe what spirit is unless and until you have felt it. But once you have felt the beauty of your spirit, you will see it everywhere…
This is all beautiful theory, one can say. But what about our daily lives? How does it correspond?Some possible suggestions:
- Get to know your spirit, let your heart expand and your mind open for spirituality, for it is fresh and emits joy that gives you an everlasting touch of beauty (just try and you will see the difference!)
- Wear clear colours, not that “muddy” or “worn” materials that are not pleasing the eyes. Don’t believe anybody telling you that you dress up for yourself – in a way yes, but mostly we do it for others! We show our character, beliefs and value system though our clothes, but above all we influence people around. Example: black colour acts suppressive and unfriendly, pink send waves to the heart and reduces aggression.
- Use make-up! – putting make up on your face you not only visually beautify it but also fill it with vibrations flowing from your fingers. And this is what is really seen – when done with love and thought that others see you and enjoy your beauty. Don’t worry, no vain is hidden here, only the pure desire to please the people around you. A form of generosity, very satisfying!
- Dress yourself in a manner that is dignified: what is the reason to “sell” your body if it is not your profession? Exposing you body will only lead to misunderstandings – only if you don’t want to be abused by every man. Today we can see two tendencies: either women look like men or they dress up like sluts. Both have nothing to do with the true feminine nature so poetically depicted by Zarathustra above. So why don’t come in the middle and make ourselves to the fragrant flowers that we are?
Your Shakti-power is within you, by supporting your feminine beauty it will manifest and shine through your being even stronger: like an enigmatic shine of a morning dew in the sunlight, like a brilliant shine of an ocean wave, like a rainbow shine of a crunchy snow mantle… The light of spiritual beauty can be manifested in each of us so differently but still the same.
The reflection of the same UNIVERSAL BEAUTY.