Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Representation of Human Beauty & Physique from Sanskrit Texts: Part- II

Welcome back guest writer* Gyanendra Narayan, whose previous article on Representation of Human Beauty & Physique from Sanskrit Texts drew record audiences! Today he continues the series.

We finished our descriptions of Tall, Dark and Handsome (TDH) in last article. Now it’s time to take a look at fairer sex & beautiful minds. In this lengthy article, still not deep and in-complete, we are going to talk beauty of women with small deviation of description about high pedestal for women , then ,sringaar, description of entry of heroines and their eyes. 

In this article we talk about Menakaa, Rambhaa, Kaalindi, Kaikeyi , Shoorpanakhaa and Sitaa. We also talk about beauty being described with words like “Thunder-strike” , “Kookoo-voice”, “eyes like Lotus”, “Big eyes”, “Eyes like infant Deer”. Read on.

If you think fairer sex is just about beauty then think twice. Our scriptures are full of praise of their every activity. Contrary to popular perception, our scriptures are full of praise of women and our feminist friends can take courage from this.

A very popular shloka from Manu Smriti , Chapter-3, Shloka-56

Yatraa naaryastu poojyante, ramante tatra devataah|
Yatraaitastu naa poojyante; sarvaastatra-afalaah kriyaah ||

It says: Gods roam at the place where women are worshipped. Where women are not worshipped all efforts in that place will be futile, without result.

Yatra naaryastu poojyante : where women are worshipped
Ramante tatra devtah : There roam-around (moves ) Gods
Yatraitastu na poojayante : where (they are ) not worshipped
Sarvastatraafalaah kriyaah : Every activity (kriyah) (there) is without result ( afalaah )

The above shloka is just to show and remove any illusion of objectification of beauty. There are many shlokas in Ramayana & Mahaabhaarta too, but focus of article being on beauty I will reserve those for future references. 

Let me quickly delve with topic/mention of sringaar. Girls take too much time in makeup & justifiably so. Our great greatest grandfather of Hindu race (Manu) wrote (in fact indirectly admonished male fraternity) very positively about this.

Manu Smriti, Chapter -3 , Shloka -62

Striyaam tu rochamaanaayaam sarvam tadra-ochate kulam|
Tasya twarochmaanaayaam sarvameva na rochate||

It says: Where women do makeup (are happy) everything in that family is good. Where women are devoid of this everything will be dull and uninteresting.

Now let’s focus on central point of our article: on the description of beauty in out scriptures and literature.  Let us start with entry of beautiful women on the panorama. Context:  After finishing his education in forest, when Raama is returning. He is being narrated about many Rishis. Here is the context of Rishi Vishwaamatira

Valmiki Raamaayan, Baalkand, Sarg : 63, Shloka : 5

Taam dadarsha Mahaatejaa Menakaam Kushikaatmajah|
Roopenaapratimaam tatra vidyutah jalade yatha||

It says: Son of Kushika, Vishwaamitra saw highly illustrious Menakaa. Her beauty was unparalleled. She was (looking like) thunder strike in the pond.

Taam dadarsha “mahaaatejaa Menakaam” Kushikaatmajah : Saw her “Highly illustrious” Menakaa , (Rishi Vishwaamitra) Son of Kushikaa
Roopenaapratinaam : Unparalleled in beauty
tatra vidyutah jalade yatha :  Like thunder strike in pond , (there it was)

Now you know the original copy of many Hindi songs with reference to Bijli.

Let us see another entry:

Context:  Rishi Vishwaamitra is continuing his ‘tapasyaa’ and Rambhaa has been sent (by; who else then perennially insecure God Indra) to disturb him.
 Valmiki Raamaayan, Baalkand, Sarg : 64, Shloka : 9

Kokilasya tu shushraav valgu vyaaharatah swanam |
Samprahristena manasaa sa chainamanvavaikshata||

It says: (After hearing) Melodious speaking tune of Kookoo Son of Kushika, Rishi Vishwaamitra, with highly gladdened heart stared at her (Rambhaa). Here voice of Rambhaa has been compared as voice of Kookoo.

Kokilasya tu shushraav:  Hearing Kookoo
Valgu vyaaharat swanam : Sounding very melodious(enjoying)
Samprahristena manasaa : With gladdened heart/mind
Sa chainamanvavaikshata : stared at (her/Rambhaa)
After entry, let me move further with eyes:

Context:  Here lineage of Lord Raama is being described and his ancestors are being mentioned. Amongst ancestors,  there happened a King named Asit  having 2 wives. One wife gave poisonous food to co-wife (Kaalindi) to kill the unborn son.  Here, eyes of Kaalindi have been described by both Valmiki and Rishi chyawan as Lotus-eyed.

 Valmiki Raamaayan, Baalkand, Sarg : 70, Shloka : 33

Vavande Padmapatraakshi kaamkshanti sutamuttamam|
Tamarshim saabhyupaagamya kaalindi chaabhyavaadayat||

It says:  Kaalindi , “ Eyes like lotus, desirous of good son , approached and addresses with reverence to that Rishi (Chyawan)

Vavande Padmapatraakshi kaamkshanti sutamuttam : Said (lady with) eyes like lotus, desirous of good son.
Tamarshim saabhyupaagamya kaalindi cha-abhyavaadayat : Kaalindi approached /addressed that Rishi with reverence.

After Kaalindi, its turn of eyes of Kaikeyi

Context:  Kaikeyi has been instigated by Mantharaa & is now furious with the news of Lord Raam being anointed King of Ayodhyaa. Here size of eyes, big, has been treated as beautiful. In next shloka we will see more subtlety towards eyes. So Kaikeyi first;

Valmiki Raamaayan, AyodhyaaKaand, Sarg :9, Shloka :55

Tathaa protshaahitaa devi gatwaa Mantharayaa saha|
Krdohaagaram vishaalaakshi soubhagyamadagarvita||

It says: Thus instigated, she, with big eyes and mad with luxury and good fortune, went along with Mantharaa to the Palace of Anger (special designated hall to express anger in that) (see here, bad emotions are not allowed in day to day living place)

Tathaa protshaahitaa devi : Thus instigated “she”
gatwaa Mantharyaa saha : Went (to) along with Mantharaaa
Krodhaagaram vishaalaakshi : (to) the palace of anger (went that ) big eyed (lady)
soubhagyamadagarvita : Maddeded, too proud, with her good fortune

Small deviation: Big sized eyes have also been used by Lakshaman while dealing with Shoorpanakhaa, in Aranyaa kaand , Sarg 18,shloka 10. To avoid repetition, I’m not producing the shloka.We will see another reference to Shoorpanakhaa’s eye’s in next shloka.

Now, the turn of Sitaa- The goddess and the most dignified, composed and beautiful character of Raamaayana

Context: RaamSitaa and Laxman are living in forest. There comes Shoorpanakhaa with intent to marry Raama and in doing so she tries to kill Sitaa

Valmiki Ramaayan, Aranyaa kaand , Sarg : 18, shloka: 17

Iti uktwa mrigashaavakshim alat sdrish eekshnaa|
Abhyadhaawat susankrudhaa mahaa ulkaa rohinim evam ||

It says: After saying it, she with eyes like burning fire (Shoorpanakhaa) attacked on she with eyes like deer ( Sitaa). Furious she, attacked like big asteroid has fallen on Star “Rohini”.

Iti uktwa mirgashaavakshim: After saying this (on) (lady ) with eyes like Deer
Alat sdrish eekshnaa: Eyes like burning fire
Abhyadhaawat  susankrudhaa: attacked(approached fast) with full of anger
Mahaa ulkaa rohinim evam : Big asteroid has falled on Rohini.

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There are infinite references to each and every body part in Sanskrit with most poetic, enigmatic, sensual yet dignified ways. We have not even scratched the surface. It is rich and delighting to an extent of making you a poet. So be forewarned, you can very well become a poet if you read Sanskrit with Rasaa. 

* I may or may not agree with the opinion of guest writers, but I respect their right to be heard.