The word सुषमा suṣamā in Sanskrit usually means beauty or splendour. This is not the only word for beauty in Sanskrit. There are words like सुषमा suṣamā सौन्दर्य saundarya, चारुता cārutā, शोभा śobhā, कान्ति kānti, श्री śrī, लावण्य lāvaṇya etc. expressing the sense of beauty. But सुषमा suṣamā is perhaps the only word which really defines what true beauty is.  सुषमा suṣamā, in fact, is the feminine form of the word सुषमा suṣamā which is constituted of two components: सु su and सम  sama. The first component  सु su is a prefix in Sanskrit and is attached to a word in the sense of good, excellent, right, virtuous, beautiful, easy, well, rightly, superbly, perfectly, much, greatly, easily, willingly and quickly. The second component sama means even, smooth, flat, plain, same, equal, similar, like, equivalent, identical or homogeneous with, constant, unchanged, fair, having the right measure, regular, normal, right, straight etc. The verbal phrase समं करोति samaṁ karoti means ‘puts in right order’. So, सु su and सम  sama together means that which is perfectly or superbly equal and harmonious. Grammatically the element उ u at the end of सु su transforms स sa into ष ṣa, so we get the word सुषमा suṣamā and in feminine it is सुषमा suṣamā. Beauty and harmony always go hand in hand. Where there is no harmony there is no beauty. Harmony, indeed, is the soul of beauty. In a true sense सुषमा suṣamā means the exquisite beauty referring to a perfect harmony, measure, symmetry, order, equality and rhythm. To express this beauty in every aspect of life means to live a life of Yoga.

In the present condition we have adopted a way of life that has cut it off from beauty. When we observe ourselves and the world around us we find that life has ceased to be beautiful. We all have been living a mechanical life with no sense of beauty in its true sense. The joy in every aspect of life has ceased to be because we have forgotten the rich heritage of looking at beauty; we have stopped participating in the nature. We have forgotten who God is. We have forgotten to worship him as beauty, as delight and Shyamasundara. Our scriptures say all this universe is born out of Bliss or Delight, by Bliss all live and to bliss all return. But then the question comes why there is so much of suffering. Why do we not see so much of joy and bliss and delight in the world? The simple reason is that we have forgotten the very art of life. We have forgotten the purpose of life. We have forgotten why we are here. We have become so self-centered and have kept us so busy inside the four wall of a room that we have no time to see the beauty in any aspect of life.

Beauty is perfect coordination, a perfect proportion of everything that is involved. It is in the hand of everyone of us to build ourselves in a picture of beauty. Beauty is not just what is pleasant and attractive. Beauty is where harmony is. And harmony is a perfect coordination between all the elements in a situation. So, beauty is not just in our appearance. There is a beauty of form, beauty of movement, rhythm, a beauty of thought, a beauty of heart that loves. Impulsions like heroism, courage, sacrifice express the beauty of life-form. A perfect coordination, proportion and pattern is the beauty of physical life. As mentioned above, the soul of beauty is harmony, harmony between the mind, heart and the physical body. It involves the right use of everything that god has given us.   To see the hand of God everywhere is to worship beauty. To utilize things in the best possible way, not to waste, not to throw pell-mell, but to respect things, to be aware that each form has a consciousness, to treat things as we treat guests is to worship beauty. There is beauty and joy hidden in life. Further, beauty never gets stale. Beauty is that wafts the breath of ever –new at every moment: क्षणे क्षणे यन्नवताम् उपैति तदेव रूपं रमणीयतायाः kṣaṇe kṣa ṇe yannavatām upaiti tadeva rūpaṁ ramaṇīyatāyāḥ.  This is how the ancient Indian poeticians have defined beauty.

One cannot see this beauty unless one has the essentials elements of that beauty in oneself. “The soul will recognize beauty only when it has become itself beautiful”, thus says Plotinus (one of the prominent western philosophers in whose name the Neo-Platonism is invented by the Modern historian). It needs culturing for the soul to become beautiful. One needs to have a discipline of brining harmony and right movements or rhythm in every aspect of life. Ultimately this culturing leads the soul to have the effortless vision and experience of beautiful in Nature and in life as well. It is important that all our education, culture, religion must make necessary efforts to awaken this sense of beauty, joy and happiness in each one of us.

Picture credit: Kshitij Charania
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Renaissance, the monthly e-journal of Sri Aurobindo Foundation of Indian Culture (SAFIC), features inspiring articles, essays, book reviews, interviews, and reflections that speak of how the eternal spirit and creative genius of India are being reborn and renewed in various domains – spiritual, artistic, literary, philosophic, scientific, aesthetic.

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