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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part II - Rasa Shastra - The Science of Life's Creative Forces

Chapter VI


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.

checked 18-Oct-2005