Story time, family! Though I may not be that good with storytelling but I know my family will bear with the blabbering of this silly girl as always (Loads of love and an antique chest full of gratitude!).
There was a woman called Kubja who lived in the holy Mathura. She was a maidservant of the King Kamsa. With a huge hunchback, Kubja was the subject of mockery in the entire kingdom. Her physical deformity was the reason behind her ‘ugliness’. While she was walking the streets of Mathura with a plate of ointment, she met the gracious Lord Krishna. The ever compassionate Lord understood how her heart might be suffering due to all the mockery and sarcasm that she had to face for years because of being a Trivarka, a human bent from three sides. The Supreme Yogi that He was, He pressed Kubja’s feet with His toes, placed two of his fingers under her chin and just in one gentle stretch, He straightened her body up. The physical deformity was gone. The curse of ugliness was lifted.
The ash-smeared Lord Shiva arrives at the door of Maa Parvati with his attendants from the cremation grounds. Rani Mainadevi, her mother, swooned at the very sight of the Maha-Aghor Shiva. Why, why can’t Ma choose someone beautiful and gracious as Narayan! Of all men in the three kingdoms, why do Ma had to choose someone who looks like a Chandaal from the Shamshan! She, the Rajrajeshwari, one who is known as Tripur Sundari (most beautiful in the entire three kingdoms), She was expected to have a bit better taste in men.
Shiva appears in Ma’s room and asks the reason of the commotion. Ma, the sweetest of all, shared the reason with Him, the Knower of all.
Shiva : What is the measurement of physical beauty, Parvati? A little baby who is judged to be ugly according to the standards of the society might be the most beautiful human for its mother. Who’s perspective is right then, the society or that of the mother’s? Moreover, didn’t you love me as I am, the “ugliest” according to the civilised perception? This body is ephemeral. It deteriorates with time. Every passing second the body, the physical beauty, is moving towards its end. The only eternal thing is the beauty of the heart, the soul.
Ma: I love you in your essence, Lord. I have accepted you in your every form. But they are humans. They don’t even understand their own hearts. How can they ever understand the beauty of someone else’s heart! May be that is why their beliefs about beauty are conditioned. They judge the inner beauty of a person based on how they look. My mother is also a human. The most beautiful form ever is your real form. Will you please change your form into that, into someone appealing?
Shiva grants her wish and changes into Lord Chandrashekhar, the most handsome man in the entire world.
I don’t know if things happened the way they are told or not. But assuming that they did happen that way as they are told, I wonder why did Narayan “make” Kubja “beautiful” just so that she might fit into the societal definition of beauty? We can argue here that being a hunchback is one of the most uncomfortable physical deformity and to pull her out of her suffering, the sweet Lord did that. In that case, it’s lovely, so like Him. But is this really how this incident is presented? “Narayan made Kubja beautiful”.
“To deliver proof of the benefit of meeting Him, the satisfied Supreme Lord decided to straighten the crooked back of Trivakrâ who had such an attractive face. With both His feet pressing down on her toes, Acyuta with both His hands took hold of her chin and raised her up with two fingers pointing upwards. Thereupon all of a sudden straight by Mukunda’s touch, she had become a most perfect woman with evenly proportioned limbs, large hips and breasts.”
– Shrimad Bhagvatam, Canto 10, Chapter 42
In the second story, why do Shiva had to comply with the standards of the civilisation when He knew that the physical beauty is ephemeral, शरीर नश्वर है, आत्मा की सुंदरता ही शाश्वत है | Since when the Lord of the Universe, Shri Vishwanath, went into people-pleasing? Again, if it was done out of His love for Ma, it’s lovely, so like Him. But is this really how this incident is presented?
“On hearing your words Śiva joyously assumed a wonderfully excellent and divine form and showed His mercifulness. O sage, on seeing the comely form of Śiva, the receptacle of exquisite beauty, far better than that of the cupid, you were greatly delighted… It was as refulgent as that of a thousand suns. Every part of the body was exquisite. The garments were of variegated colours. He was embellished with different ornaments. He was smiling with great delight. His comeliness was highly pleasing. He was fair-complexioned and lustrous. The crescent moon added to his beauty. Viṣṇu and other gods lovingly served Him. The sun acted as His royal umbrella. The moon embellished Him. In every way He was extremely handsome bedecked in ornaments. It was impossible to describe adequately the great beauty of His vehicle.”
– Shiv Purana, Rudra Samhita, Parvati Khanda, Chapter 45
“Look at your face! Why can’t you be a little prettier?” “Why don’t you grow your hair a bit longer?” “Why don’t you put a little makeup to hide those marks on your face?” “Why can’t you lose some weight?” “Oh poor girl! Such dark complexion. I wonder who will ever marry you!” “Such small eyes you have got!” “Those specs…you must be so nerdy.”
Growing up with such remarks constantly buzzing near your ear is exhausting. Especially during childhood and teenage which are the formative years for the entire psyche. At an age where I should have been focussed about what games I would be playing with my friends in the evening, I was conditioned to focus on my physical imperfections, so much so that in spite of being an academic topper throughout, my self-image and self-worth were scarred beyond repair.
This lack of self-worth and distorted self-image pushed me into mental victimisation. I began affirming my so-called ‘ugliness’ again and again in mind as a part of my defence mechanism so that the next time somebody called me ‘ugly’ I would be mentally prepared. This constant affirmation messed me up emotionally and psychologically. The severity of the condition was such that I spend all of my teenage and my early twenties staying either unhealthily aloof from people or landed myself deliberately into abusive relationships so that my lack of self-worth would be nurtured even more.
Yes. That’s the vicious cycle. When you don’t know what you have to do with the hurt, it leads to formation of several defence mechanisms and the mind forms a set of self-destructive affirmations. These affirmations go deep inside the scarred psyche and turns into strong conditioning and self-limitations in due course of time. To validate these beliefs, the mind deliberately attracts and puts us (literally, it creates) into such situations in which we are abused fatally. When we suffer again, it will finally have the chance to say, “See, I told you. You deserve pain. And you got it!” And thus you are hurt again and the cycle continues.
Although I was into devotion since the age of 12 but there are some karmas we got to serve. I consider these years as a part of my own Praarabdh, destiny. My life took a 180 degree turn when Swamiji happened. Yes, for those who have felt His powerful presence in their lives, they will vouch for this that He isn’t really a mere person who can just come into your life. He isn’t a person. He doesn’t just ‘come’ come. Swamiji is an entire experience in Himself. He happens to you, in you and around you. It is when He came into my life in 2017 that I started coming out of all these mental mess created inside me since the time I can remember.
To all those people who are constantly judged not just on looks but on anything and everything, on being labelled as a “loser”, “fatso”, “kaalu”, “ugly”, “berozgaar”, “ganjaa” and what not, here are some nuggets of Wisdom that my Master, Om Swamiji, taught me in these 3 years.
1) Nobody is ugly. We are just born in a judgemental society.
2) Everybody looks at us through the glasses of their desires and perception. Nobody’s vision is clean and clear.
3) People don’t even know their own self. They are in no position to tell you about Your Self.
4) Everything that you perceive through your sense organs around you and everything that you don’t, every single atom is Devi Herself. She didn’t really ‘create’ anything. She manifested Her ownself into every single thing. From a virus to a galaxy, the trees, the animals, living and non-living alike, are all Devi. When you judge someone based on their looks alone, you are denying the living presence of Devi inside him/her.
“यच्चापि सर्वभूतानां बीजं तदहमर्जुन ।
न तदस्ति विना यत्स्यान्मया भूतं चराचरम् ॥
अथवा बहुनैतेन किं ज्ञातेन तवार्जुन ।
विष्टभ्याहमिदं कृत्स्नमेकांशेन स्थितो जगत् ॥”
और हे अर्जुन! जो सब भूतों की उत्पत्ति का कारण है, वह भी मैं ही हूँ, क्योंकि ऐसा चर और अचर कोई भी भूत नहीं है, जो मुझसे रहित हो॥
अथवा हे अर्जुन! इस बहुत जानने से तेरा क्या प्रायोजन है। मैं इस संपूर्ण जगत् को अपनी योगशक्ति के एक अंश मात्र से धारण करके स्थित हूँ॥
– Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, Chapter 10, Verse 39 and 42
प्रकृतिस्त्वं च सर्वस्य गुणत्रयविभाविनी । (You manifested Yourself into the three gunas (modes of nature) and from Your ownself gave rise to the entire Prakriti) – Tantrokta Ratri Suktam, Verse 7
मूलप्रकृतिर् अव्यक्ता व्यक्ताव्यक्त- स्वरूपिणी | (She is the primary cause. She is the unmanifested state of the universe. She who is visible and not visible). – Lalita Sahasranama, Verse 86
सर्वाश्रय अखिलमिदं जगत-अंशभूतम् ।
अव्याकृता हि परमा प्रकृतिस्त्वं आद्या ।।
(यह समस्त जगत आपके अंश मात्र से उत्पन्न हुआ है;क्योंकि आप ही सबकी आदिभूत अव्याकृता परा प्रकृति हैं।” This entire universe has manifested out of a mere fragment of your energy. Because you alone are the primeval, primordial and unmanifested Highest Nature…the origin, sustenance and dissolution of all that exists…and all that don’t).
5) How can anything that is the very manifestation of the Divine be ugly? She is Tripur Sundari, the most enchantingly beautiful of all in the three worlds. How can She manifest into something ‘ugly’? If She is the fair-skinned golden-hued Rajrajeshwari MahaTripur Sundari then She Herself is the dark-skinned blue-hued Digambari MahaKalika.
6) Anything that has an opposite is a creation of the mind. Good-Bad, Like-Dislike, Pure-Impure, Pretty-Ugly. This Dwait, the existence of two is the cause of all misinterpretation and misery. Anything with an opposite is not the real thing.
7) Whose validation do you seek? The ones who doesn’t even know their real identity, how can they validate your existence! The Lord/Ma/Guru knows His own self and only He has the authority to validate. He never denied us based on our social tags. We eternally belong to Him. That itself is the highest validation ever.
These are not mere words for me anymore. I live every single of them. There are people who love me beyond any give and take and naturally they are worried about my mental health. I wish they could see inside me someday. There is nothing but love and understanding. I still get those remarks based on my looks. I still get rejected by people citing the reason as their particular preference about physical appearance. However, their judgement doesn’t pain me. My eyes are busy witnessing Mahamaya in and around me.
What pains me now is to see how humans are shackled in their conditioning so strongly that they even fail to witness their Lord behind the layers of this ephemeral epidermis. They are missing such a sublime opportunity to witness their Beloved (Isht/Guru) in every single life that is unfolding but alas! They are so severely caught in their own perception.
To all the beautiful souls who care about me and love me, I assure you. My mental health lies at the rakt-charan (red-hued feet) of Devi. I might get disturbed for an hour or two. But never beyond that. This is my word to you all. Your love is my greatest blessing.
Devi is dancing around us every single moment but we do we have the ‘eyes’ to see that dance of bliss?
Next time, you feel the urge to judge someone based on their looks or unemployment or status, know that your isht inside you and your Guru is listening. Remind yourself that beyond the outer skin and appearance, Shri Hari and Ma resides in the heart of the person in front of you. Next time somebody reminds you that you are ‘ugly’, know that they are speaking through the tinted lens of conditioning. Honour the Devi that resides in your heart and never forget Her who dwells in your very veins. Be compassionate and loving towards yourself and others to the extent that your critics realise that beauty is not just skin deep. Kindness and love are the real standards of beauty. And don’t forget to laugh often. No point in being serious. All our seriousness will burn away in the pyre anyway. Live, Laugh, Love, Give. And FORGIVE.
Here’s what Swamiji says about it from 7:13 to 7:34.
There was a beautiful dialogue in one of the movies, “Krishna didn’t ‘make’ Kubja beautiful. He just made her realise that she already is.”
Love and Peace, family!
Om Shree Matre Namah ❤️️