From Auspiciousness to Depravity: A Hasty Race to the Bottom

From Auspiciousness to Depravity: A Hasty Race to the Bottom

Commentary on the Left and the Woke brigade's destruction of beauty and its ongoing consequences in the realm of Hindu culture and society.

THE GREATEST HAVOC that the soulless Left has wrought upon societies across the world is the defilement of beauty. Its most pronounced appearance is seen in the rapid disappearance of how Hindu women had dressed and decked themselves in  traditional and time-honoured modes. This destruction has been accomplished by transforming the alankaras of Hindu women into weapons of oppression. Four decades of sustained Leftist-Feminazi propaganda has turned the mangalasutra into a manacle. The bindi has morphed into a bullet. Kumkum has been equated with cancer. Bangles invite the Biblical wrath in Christian schools and colleges.

The spiritual and the divine have been politicised in its most debased expression: in both form and content, in both spirit and substance. 

However, the Sanatana tradition elevates beauty in its profoundest sense to sanctity. Thus, unless Saundarya becomes Mangala, Shringara (in the sense of the physical expression of love) will plummet and stay merely on the animalistic plane of Kama or fornication. It will have no higher purpose as Yayati found out after a millennium of sensual indulgence and proclaimed an eternal maxim from experience: “just as fire cannot be doused by pouring ghee into it, desire will not subside after it is temporarily satisfied.” 

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From Auspiciousness to Depravity: A Hasty Race to the Bottom

AT THE ROOT OF almost every Sanatana tradition and custom and practice and ritual, we detect what can be called the threefold method of work. 

1. Taking up the work with a deliberate and conscious invocation of a Sankalpa. While the term is hard to translate into a non-Indian language, it can be understood as a solemn vow taken by a person to perform a certain observance or task. In a sublime sense, it is a vow the person makes to himself. 

2. Sanctifying the entire process of the work itself — i.e., infusing Samskara into it. Thus, the moment Kumkum or Haldi is mixed with rice grains, it is transformed into Akshata, literally meaning, “that which cannot be destroyed.” This simple change in attribute of a universal, ubiquitous food item elevates its edible nature to divinity. That which should be eaten now becomes fit for performing Puja. 

3. Culminating the work in Adhyatma. The best example for this is temple-building — when the stone finally becomes a deity. Thus, sans the deity, the temple is just another building or an ASI monument. The Sankalpa first occurs in the mind of the builder and once it is realised, the temple itself “belongs” to the deity.    

The same thing pretty much occurs in the realm of physical beauty as well. This is the reason a traditionally adored woman is known as a Sumangali — she who ushers in auspiciousness by her appearance. Embedded in the Mangala or auspiciousness is also an element of restraint. This is beautifully brought out by just one Sanskrit syllable: HrI, meaning “shy,” or “bashful.” It is not coincidental that HrI is mentioned as one of the wives of the Cosmic Purusha in the Purushasuktam. Interestingly, HrI is also a name for one of the sixteen phases of the moon. The moon or Chandra is fittingly named as the brother of Lakshmi, and both siblings emerged during the Amritamanthana. The connections and parallels are endless and endlessly profound. 

Writing about beauty in the context of art, this is what DVG memorably says:

… the vision of beauty… should not pervert the connoisseur’s mind. The painting or play or scene must evoke joy and not inflame crude passions. The enabler of beauty…is a cultivated inward attitude of bashfulness… bashfulness is the protective armour of all art. Sans this, the work of art becomes an exhibition of depravity. 

Indeed, depravity is exactly what passes off today not only as art but life itself. The sublime Sanatana conception and practice especially of feminine beauty has not only been pulverised through ridicule and demonisation but degeneracy has replaced it. The term “fashion” has become almost synonymous with “beauty.” And ”fashion” in turn, has hit the streets assaulting our senses with semi-nude human female forms. The naked has supplanted the auspicious. Adornments that were considered as aids that made a woman a Sumangali are now worn only on special occasions in an exhibitionistic temperament.  

This erosion of beauty as a value signifying sanctity is reflected everywhere including the contemporary sculptures and paintings of Hindu deities, both male and female. It was quite painful to watch the sculptures of Mahadeva and other Hindu deities resembling Greek or Caucasian figures in the new Mahakala corridor at Ujjayini. This is both inexplicable and appalling given the fact that we still have hundreds of artists in the traditional mould. The name of the saintly painter Sri G.L.N. Simha strikes our mind immediately. He holds a unique distinction for his meditative paintings — i.e., he actually undergoes a strict regimen of Sadhana and Tapasya for several months visualising every detail of the painting before putting the brush to the canvas. The outcome is this: 

Painting of Sarvamangala Devi
Painting of Sarvamangala DeviG.L.N. Simha

IN HIS PAINTINGS TOO, we clearly notice the subterranean operation of the aforementioned threefold Sanatana method of work: Sankalpa, Samskara and Adhyatma. For a splendid and masterly exposition on Sri G.L.N. Simha’s paintings, do read Sri S.R. Ramaswamy’s two-part essay series.  

The tragedy of our era is that this used to be the norm for at least three millennia, this used to be our way of life, speaking in an all-encompassing fashion. Now we have reached a point where we need to struggle to be normal if there is such a thing as normal at all because the definition of “normal” keeps shifting with each new addition of alphabets to the infinite series of wokeism. It is precisely this that G.K. Chesterton warned about more than a century ago when he wrote these power-packed words:

The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. 

The post-industrialised West has decayed irreversibly and it is neither our job nor our concern to save it from extinction. But fortunately for us, the Hindu civilisational memory has still retained the best of its productions throughout the ages in the realms of Darshana, Dharma, art, literature and culture. These are our real guides. It is to these that we must turn towards for renewal.  And succour.      

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