Almost everyone you see, seems to be listening to his or her personal media player. This small piece of electronic equipment is claiming to be your personal identity, your signature, your way of expressing yourself. Sociologists are too quick to call it the 'iPod Generation'. Apart from the superior technology involved in this product someone discovered that the dimensions of an iPod are based on an ancient principle of sacred geometry. Can it be really true? What actually makes something beautiful?
We live in a world of duality. Good exists with bad, beauty exists with ugliness, truth exists with falsehood and so on. But, can something be so beautiful that it is never threatened by ugliness?
Srila Prabhupada tackled this difficult topic in one of his early essays published in the Back to Godhead magazine –
There may sometimes be arguments about whether "truth" and "beauty" are compatible terms. One would willingly agree to express the truth, one might say, but since truth is not always beautiful-indeed, it is frequently rather startling and unpleasant-how is one to express truth and beauty at the same time?
In reply, we may inform all concerned that "truth" and "beauty" are compatible terms. Indeed, we may emphatically assert that the actual truth, which is absolute, is always beautiful. The truth is so beautiful that it attracts everyone, including the truth itself. Truth is so beautiful that many sages, saints, and devotees have left everything for the sake of truth. Mahatma Gandhi, an idol of the modern world, dedicated his life to experimenting with truth, and all his activities were aimed toward truth only .
Why only Mahatma Gandhi? Every one of us has the urge to search for truth alone, for the truth is not only beautiful but also all-powerful, all-resourceful, all-famous, all-renounced, and all-knowledgeable.
Once a man who was very powerful and strongly built but whose character was very doubtful fell in love with a beautiful girl. The girl was not only beautiful in appearance but also saintly in character, and as such she did not like the man's advances. The man, however, was insistent because of his lustful desires, and therefore the girl requested him to wait only seven days, and she set a time after that when he could meet her. The man agreed, and with high expectations he began waiting for the appointed time.
The saintly girl, however, in order to manifest the real beauty of absolute truth, adopted a method very instructive. She took very strong doses of laxatives and purgatives, and for seven days she continually passed loose stool and vomited all that she ate. Moreover, she stored all the loose stool and vomit in suitable pots. As a result of the purgatives, the so-called beautiful girl became lean and thin like a skeleton, her complexion turned blackish, and her beautiful eyes sank into the sockets of her skull. Thus at the appointed hour she waited anxiously to receive the eager man.
The man appeared on the scene well dressed and well behaved and asked the ugly girl he found waiting there about the beautiful girl he was to meet. The man could not recognize the girl he saw as the same beautiful girl for whom he was asking; indeed, although she repeatedly asserted her identity, because of her pitiable condition he was unable to recognize her.
At last the girl told the powerful man that she had separated the ingredients of her beauty and stored them in pots. She also told him that he could enjoy those juices of beauty. When the mundane poetic man asked to see these juices of beauty, he was directed to the store of loose stool and liquid vomit, which were emanating an unbearably bad smell. Thus the whole story of the beauty-liquid was disclosed to him. Finally, by the grace of the saintly girl, this man of low character was able to distinguish between the shadow and the substance, and thus he came to his senses.
This man's position was similar to the position of every one of us who is attracted by false , material beauty. The girl mentioned above had a beautifully developed material body in accordance with the desires of her mind, but in fact she was apart from that temporary material body and mind. She was in fact a spiritual spark, and so also was the lover who was attracted by her false skin.
Mundane intellectuals and aesthetics, however, are deluded by the outward beauty and attraction of the relative truth and are unaware of the spiritual spark, which is both truth and beauty at the same time. The spiritual spark is so beautiful that when it leaves the socalled beautiful body, which in fact is full of stool and vomit, no one wants to touch that body, even if it is decorated with a costly costume.
We are all pursuing a false, relative truth, which is incompatible with real beauty. The actual truth, however, is permanently beautiful, retaining the same standard of beauty for innumerable years. That spiritual spark is indestructible. The beauty of the outer skin can be destroyed in only a few hours merely by a dose of a strong purgative, but the beauty of truth is indestructible and always the same. Unfortunately, mundane artists and intellectuals are ignorant of this beautiful spark of spirit. They are also ignorant of the whole fire which is the source of these spiritual sparks, and they are ignorant of the relationships between the sparks and the fire, which take the form of transcendental pastimes. When those pastimes are displayed here by the grace of the Almighty, foolish people who cannot see beyond their senses confuse those pastimes of truth and beauty with the manifestations of loose stool and vomit described above. Thus in despair they ask how truth and beauty can be accommodated at the same time.
Mundaners do not know that the whole spiritual entity is the beautiful person who attracts everything. They are unaware that He is the prime substance, the prime source and fountainhead of everything that be. The infinitesimal spiritual sparks, being parts and parcels of that whole spirit, are qualitatively the same in beauty and eternity. The only difference is that the whole is eternally the whole and the parts are eternally the parts. Both of them, however, are the ultimate truth, ultimate beauty, ultimate knowledge, ultimate energy, ultimate renunciation, and ultimate opulence.
Although written by the greatest mundane poet or intellectual, any literature which does not describe the ultimate truth and beauty is but a store of loose stool and vomit of the relative truth. Real literature is that which describes the ultimate truth and beauty of the Absolute.
Krsna is introduced as someone whose beauty excels that of Kamadeva or Cupid. Infact, this Kamadeva, who has the entire material creation maddened with lust, once tried to captivate Krsnla by his flower-arrows. But when Krsna glanced upon him Kamadeva fainted. Therefore Krsna is also known as Madan-mohan (one who can enchant Madan). If millions of Cupids assemble in one place, still it can not be compared with the beauty of Krsna, Krsna is so beautiful.
Is it possible that transcendental beauty can overpower mundane beauty? To put it bluntly, we have scriptural references that Krsna can easily defeat Kamadeva, but does it happen in 'real' life?
Yes. It did happen like that.
During the times of the great saint Ramanujacarya there lived a courtesan named Hemamba. One wrestler named Dhanurdas was so much infatuated by her beauty that he used to follow her like a shadow, holding a parasol over her head. One day while the Deity of Lord Visnu was being taken in a ceremonial procession, all the passers-by were watching the procession but Dhanurdas was so much engrossed in holding the parasol and fanning the courtesan that he even neglected the entire procession.
The surprised Ramanujacarya asked him as to what was he doing. To this Dhanurdas answered that he was a connoisseur of exceptional beauty. And as there was no other more beautiful object in the entire city than this courtesan he was entirely devoted to her.
Ramanujacarya then asked him whether he was willing to see something more beautiful than her. Dhanurdas willingly complied. The great acarya took him before the Deity of Lord Ranganatha and begged the Lord to benedict him with His darsana. As soon as Dhanurdas saw the Lord's beauty he realized that he had never seen such beauty. He at once surrendered at the lotus feet of the great acarya and became his disciple.