Whenever we see beautiful things (i.e., a beautiful person, a beautiful place, a beautiful object, etc.), we admire them. We become obsessed with their beauty. We fall in love with them. In that moment of enrapture, we think they and their beauty are ever-lasting, and that there is nothing like it.
Physical or external beauty of things in this world is only skin deep – fleeting, temporary, or time-bound.
- Physical beauty too has no importance, for a rosy face is made pale by the scratch of a single thorn (Rumi).
So the Gurbani indicates that nothing is more Beautiful then the heart in which Supreme Consciousness abides -“the most beautiful place”.
- ਜਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਉ ॥: That Heart, in which Paarbrahm abides, is the most Beautiful Place. (sggs 218).
In other words, the “Beauty” mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the constant abidance in Joti-Svaroopa, Truth, Perfection (“Jeevan Padvee”), Pure Consciousness, Light of Self-knowledge or Pure Intelligence, Nowness, Natural State of Being (Sahaj), Gurmukhtaa (Divine Lifestyle), Jeevanmukti (the state of living liberated), Naam- or Shabad-Surti, and so on. It is through the mirror of these qualities that one is able to behold his own true Beauty. This “Beauty” alone is.
- ਊਚਉ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਣਾ ਊਪਰਿ ਮਹਲੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥: Upon that Highest Plane of Sublime Beauty, stands the Divine Realm (sggs18).
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਨ ਕਾ ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗੁ ॥: Hari Naam is the Beauty and Delight of Jan (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat…) (sggs 264).
- “We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every particle is equally related; the eternal One.” (Emerson).
Whatever one perceives in the state of Pure Consciousness is Beautiful. To the contrary, whatever is perceived through tarnished or conditioned consciousness is “filth”.
Thus, it is the Spiritual or Inner “Beauty” referred here in the Gurbani, not external or physical looks (Maya). In other words, the Gurbani’s Beauty is not in the beauty salons. As time and again stressed in the Gurbani, the physical beauty (Maya) is fading, vanishing, changeful, deceptive, temporary or fleeting. Accordingly, the bodily beauty in the Gurbani is called “thief”, “useless”, “false”, “enemy”, or simply “fraudulent”. To put it otherwise, any beauty other than the “Beauty” of the Truth or Pure Self is like decoration on a dead body; for one day it must finish. Therefore, identification with it is like living in a grave of the dead body. The Gurbani labors to make us understand the difference between the real “Beauty” and the fading beauty as follows.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹੁ ॥: O Nanak! Without the Divine Naam, the beauty of Maya’s illusion — world-appearance — is fake (sggs 707).
The majority of us are unable to see the Wholesome “Beauty” of our True Nature (Joti-Svaroopa) for It has become covered with “filth” of ego or Haume. In other words, when the connecting link between Aatmaa and Parmaatam (the Source) is corroded, the inner “Beauty” becomes dimmed or obscured.