The Vedic Perspective on Beauty

By David Frawley - 25.11 2021

किम् अपि अस्ति स्वभावेन सुन्दरं वा असुन्दरं ।
यद् एव रोचते यस्मै भवेत यस्मै तद् तस्य सुन्दरं ॥
What is by nature beautiful or what is by nature unattractive? What is pleasing to someone will be that which is beautiful for them, not otherwise.

Shanti Parva, Vyasa’s Mahabharat

Beauty (Sundaram) resides not just in the seen but in the seer. The seer will find beautiful what is pleasing or appealing to them, following after their own desires and aspirations. Our emotions color what we see for good or ill. If we are in a good mood, it is much easier for us to find something to appreciate than if we are in a bad mood. This means that beauty is not simply inherent in the object but we must be receptive to it as a subject in order to discover it.

For example, Nature is full of beauty as a manifestation of Ananda. But few of usually see that natural beauty because we are preoccupied with the challenges and conflicts in our personal and human affairs as most important. If we do see the beauty of Nature, it is but a passing moment between our own preoccupations, not a sustained state of awareness.

If we wish to have beauty and creativity in our lives, if we wish our lives to an art, rather than drudgery, we must first cultivate a beautiful and appreciative state of mind and heart.

This is not always easy to do as society tends to respond more to fear, outrage or anger, rather than to a simple appreciation of life and all its diversity.

Our own inner awareness and true Self is rooted in Ananda or bliss and brings the light of beauty to all. But if we stay only in our outer minds and do not go to the core of our being, we will miss it and get lost in one form of worldly turbulence or another, which has no end.

If Ananda is your priority, you will find beauty or Sundaram all around us. If your vision is not full of light than what you see will remain dark.