Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dressing up like the Gods

Dressing up

Does dressing up really change the perception ? How often we have seen movies wherein the characters living in poverty themselves, just dress up nicely for an occasion and impress their affluence on others and take everyone a ride ! In 'Wedding crashers' Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson play such characters with hilarious consequences.

Dressing up really seems to have benefits. People do notice that and form opinions based on that. Here is a beautiful verse from the "ocean" of Samskrita that emphasises that.

किं वाससा तत्र विचारणीयं वास: प्रधानं खलु योग्यताया: ।
पीताम्बरं वीक्ष्य ददौ स्वकन्यां चर्माम्बरं वीक्ष्य विषं समुद्र: ॥

The root vAs (10th gana) means to scent, to make fragrant.

What is there to enquire/discuss about pleasant appearances? Isn't making oneself pleasant only appropriate! The Ocean gave his daughter Lakshmi to Vishnu, but gave poison to Shiva.

This refers to the fact of churning the ocean by Devas and Asuras. The Ocean King (samudra:) had two extreme things with him to give away during churning - Lakshmi and halAhala poison.

He gave his daughter (svakanyAm dadau), ie Lakshmi to pItAmbara (dressed in yellow attire - Vishnu). Have you ever seen any pictures of Vishnu dressed up badly? And when the hAlahala visha had to be given, he gave it to charmAmbara (one dressed with deer skin)

Its a known fact that Shiva himself came to accept poison and Vishnu accepted Lakshmi. But the poet turns the story completely inside out and still manages to make sense of it. It appears now as if Ocean gave these two away and weaves the mentality of a father on how he would select his son-in-law.

What an imagination!

Source: subhAShitaratnabandAgara # 180.


Sathya Srinivasan said...

This is beautiful! An excellent poetic interpretation and a great perspective. Wow!

PS: Put a good title to the post, say "Dressing up with sanskrit" or something like that - helps search.

lipi said...

"he gave it to charmAmbara (one dressed with skin - ie no dress)."

Illustration of why translations can be misleading, and may not do full justice to the poet:

charmAmbara - Siva is dressed in Deer / Leapord / Tiger skin. That is what is referred to here. "Siva wearing no dress" is just fodder for mischief makers.

Vasu Srinivasan said...


Thanks for clarification, I will make the correction.