Suma Varughese reflects on the power of Beauty and its correlation with Truth and Godliness
From the Indian scriptures comes the aphorism: Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. Truth, God (or Godliness), Beauty. Could this go one better than John Keats’ famous line: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’?
Indeed, yes. These three principles: Truth, Godliness, and Beauty, run through everything in the Universe. Godliness, since Oneness is the core truth of life, uniting the Creator and the created. These three principles are interconnected. Each gives rise to the other two. Godliness kindles Truth and Beauty, Truth gives rise to Beauty and Godliness, and Beauty evokes the other two principles.
Let us take Nature, for instance. Nature is God incarnate. Except for man, nothing else in Nature has been given the freedom of will that is our supreme gift, and often, curse. It is God who operates through all of Nature, which is why His or Her Presence is all-powerful. And what could be more beautiful than Nature? Its grand oceans, mountains, deserts, and grasslands; its intricate designs on a butterfly’s wing or on a flower; its colour compositions on the sky or in flower gardens—all these are breathtakingly beautiful. No one can deny that God is the supreme artist. And what about Truth? Is there a single element of untruth in Nature? Of deceit, manipulation, pretence, or lies? Nature simply is, and that is what makes it so surpassingly beautiful and sacred.
Among human beings, only the baby is sufficiently free of the ego to be an embodiment of this Trinity. Who can resist the beauty, charm, and friendliness of this little being, unafraid and powerful, unhesitatingly kicking up a ruckus to get its needs attended to and looking at you with the clear eyes of Truth? What makes it so beautiful is its utter lack of self-consciousness, contrivance, or pretence. A baby does not strive for effect or for Beauty. It just is. Great sages are an embodiment of the Trinity too, even if they are dressed in nothing but a loincloth and their hair is knotted up in dreadlocks. The utter peace and repose on their countenance, the depth in their eyes, and the radiance of their faces reflect Satyam, Shivam, and Sundaram.
Truth and Godliness are well-trodden paths to Enlightenment, but my contention is that Beauty too is equally powerful.
What happens when we see Beauty? Our mind—our busy, contriving, complaining, judging, and pontificating mind—stops. Wonder, awe, joy, and peace awaken. We are filled with deep gratitude for the sight and for the Creator of the sight. Beauty can often render us speechless, but how eloquent is that silence! And it awakens aspiration in us. A desire to deserve this Beauty and to attain that level of Beauty within us.
Beauty awakens the soul in us and raises us from the level of the mundane and the pointless that traps us all. Even the spotless environs of a five-star can elevate the level of impeccability in us, while the beauty of a star-spangled sky can plunge us into fervent worship.
So surround yourself with Beauty in all things, big or small. Not expensive Beauty. Plants, seeds, flowering plants, handicrafts, coffee mugs, China, furnishings, furniture, cushions, and bedspreads!
Drink deeply of its waters, for it calls out to the highest in us—Satyam and Shivam.
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