In Persian poetry a certain characteristic, called Shukhi,
is given to the beloved woman. The charm, which the Persian
poet describes by Shukhi, is more usually found in woman than
in man; although it is possible that many women would consider
it a characteristic of the men they love. This character of
the beloved can scarcely be called beautiful, although it is
alluring. Its chief property is heedlessness, or a kind of careless
independence that is touched with insolence.
Changeable, she shows and yet she does not show herself;
quick to laugh, she is quick to seize upon the amusing or ridiculous
side of things. And yet she herself is sensitive to ridicule
and to attentions; trying very daintily to test just how deep
her lover's feeling for her has gone.
Selfish and amiable, she responds and yet refuses to respond.
Light hearted and talkative, mocking and perpetually amused,
though ready to take offense, she is a constant source of surprise
to her lover. He feels he must ever be on the alert if he would
really hold her. And too, that he must move gently, lest he
should injure a being that seems to him so much gayer and lighter,
so much weaker and slighter, so much more delicate and airy
and graceful than he knows himself to be.
This beloved is life to her lover. Thereby, in truth, lies
the secret of her attraction for him. She is always fluttering
outside the reach of his comprehension. Her sunshine and laughter
invigorate. Her mockery and ridicule, her thousand demands are
incentives. Even her lighthearted insolence is a spur to prompt
him to efforts in all kinds of directions, where otherwise he
would never have ventured.
But what reason does he give to himself for his love? He
will give a hundred reasons, and yet be puzzled to give even
one that is sufficient. He despairs of making her understand
the depth of his feeling. He imagines himself ill and dying,
and her answer when the news is brought to her:
She lightly laughed, 'And so is Mazhar dead?
'Alas, poor helpless one! I knew not, I,
What was his trouble.' Then again she said:
'I did not think him ill enough to die.'
Or the lover imagines himself dead and in his grave; and
he pictures her, as she lightly steps over the grass that covers
him, drawing her draperies closely round her lest perchance,
he should stretch up his hand and touch them. And yet love,
like the fire, dies out unless it is fed with fuel. And the
lover in his despair recognizes this too, and blames her for
giving the encouragement that he desires. She represents in
herself the effervescence of joy, the swift passing of laughter,
the difficulty of holding the moment of beauty.
The heart's unending malady is she,
And she herself is the only remedy.
According to Hindu ideas there are four different types of
women who influence the lives of men.
Padmani, the ideal of the poet, fine and delicate and
graceful in bearing, is made to be loved and is herself full
of love. Her voice is low and soft, her words are gracious,
her expression is sweet and gentle. She is admired by women
and her friendship and presence brings heaven on earth to men.
When she makes a friend of a man, it is something of a venture
or a step, taken as it were out of her own circle; for women
are her natural friends, and to them she turns, both out of
interest and for protection. In her heart is kept one beloved
alone, whom nothing can remove. Her smile for him is as the
unveiling of heaven, her kind glance is a lasting impression,
her sweet words ring forever in his heart. And it is clear to
all that she looks on him as her king.
She is intelligent and simple, courageous and shy, patient
and enduring, constant and firm in thought. And she is moved
by all things that are tender and appealing. There is fittingness
in her behavior. She has a love of order, a respect for the
aged, patience and constancy in face of difficulty. And she
is self-denying and unassuming throughout all. Her affections
are deep, and she finds them inexpressible. But her face, her
features, her glance, every word and every movement show a picture
of beauty and devotion to the ideal. Rarely does one see a Padmani
in life. And the man who wins her heart gains the kingdom of
Indra Loka, the heaven of the Hindus.
Chitrani is beautiful and brilliant. She is happy amongst
women, but prefers the friendship of the opposite sex. She is
affectionate by nature, and desires affection. Her voice is
music, a song. And there is poetry in her words. She is not
so idealistic as Padmani, but she is refined and skilled in
manner, and delightful and amusing in expressing her likes and
dislikes. She herself loves but one man, though her manner may
show another that he might perhaps be able to win her love too.
She is vain and she is modest. She is bold and she is exclusive.
She plays at hide-and-seek with her lover. Her swift glance,
the lift of her eyebrows, her slightest gesture, a movement
of a hand or shoulder, will convey her thought or mood as no
words can. She expresses her love and wins her lover's heart
a thousand times over. And one straight look of her eyes draws
his soul to the surface. She is controlled by him and yet controls.
She is with him and yet apart. She is Maya, the elusive one.
She is the pearl of his heart.
Shankani is strong, rough, and determined. She is desperate
in her likes and dislikes. Her heart is gained in a moment if
her passion is touched. And she changes easily from one lover
to another. Men are her preoccupation; but the love of any one
man does not impress her deeply, nor could she, for her part,
hold any man forever. She is forward in expressing herself,
and she is emotional. She is little inclined to friendship with
women, and they find her inconsiderate towards them. She is
ungainly in figure. She is unbalanced in mind. One day she will
esteem a person highly. The next day her devotion is thrown
to the ground like a stone and broken.
Hastani is greedy and impulsive. Voice, movement, and
words, all show that self-indulgence and passion predominate
in her. She does not form any deep or serious attachment in
life. And she will suddenly break a thread, which unites, with
a word of anger, or a hasty feeling of displeasure or disagreement.
Her actions are untimely. There is an abruptness in her ways
that jars peace or friendship. She does not appeal to women,
who are on their guard against her and fear her. Nor does she
prove a pleasant and lasting comrade even to her own mate.
From the ideal of Padmani to the idea of Hastani, there is
seen to be increasing force in the power of expressing emotion,
but also a lessening of the capability of holding any lasting
attachment. In Chitrani there is perhaps an equal balance between
depth of feeling and beauty in expression of feeling. While
in Padmani there is an absorption in the ideal, which means
selflessness. And this is actually more fruitful in producing
the beauty that gives solace and calm and the glow of happiness,
than anything else in life.