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A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Is it so?
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever; its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness", so wrote John Keats, the 19th century English romantic poet. How true he was and how pragmatic his philosophy of life was. I have yet to come across a man or a woman who would like to write a note of dissent to the pronouncement of Keats.

We read his poetry time and again and gain always, never lose, not even a night’s sleep. One may see the face of a pretty woman and ponder over her beauty for a long time to come. At the end of the game, the appreciator may lose but he will never regret the beautiful experience.

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Lives there a man so prosaic who would never appreciate the poetic depth of the line: a thing of beauty is a joy forever? I think not. Indeed beauty attracts. In some cases the attraction may last forever. In other cases an appreciation of an object of beauty would be just ephemeral. Of course, it depends on the persons concerned and also on the circumstances.

We may not lose sight of the other side of the coin. Beauty distracts too. Not long ago in a public school of repute an extraordinarily beautiful woman was teaching the higher secondary class English Romantic Poetry. What a coincidence. The lesson was on John Keats and the poem happened to be on Beauty and Joy and their relationship.

As she read with great aplomb “A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness”, a male teenager almost swooned. On being revived he was truthful enough to confess the beautiful English teacher was such a great distraction that he found it hard to concentrate on the lesson and her teaching.

He was frank enough to say so in so many words that the beauty of the English teacher was a great distraction. Indeed the pretty woman felt flattered. The matter was left at that as it tickled everyone present there.

When one goes over the old times in one’s life one finds that the teenage period of life happened to be of both attraction and distraction. The common denominator indeed was Beauty. At the drop of a hat a teenager falls in love with a pretty girl and is prepared to do anything, just anything for the new found love.

In some cases it may be just infatuation that blows away with the passing years. In a case or two it may be just calf love when neither the boy nor the girl understands the meaning of beauty and its relationship with love. Nevertheless a piece of sane advice by a well wisher is not taken in the right spirit. Thus the distraction caused by skin deep beauty may end in a disaster affecting limb or life.

At the same time we should not be oblivious of the fact that beauty may attract an admirer leading to real love that may last a lifetime. A believer in the transmigration of soul may swear by the love born of beauty and long for the continuation of the relationship life after life for seven generations. Indeed the soul is eternal and does not perish with the mundane body. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth goes on and on until a blessed soul attains Moksha or Nirvana.

If the beauty was the foundation of the long lasting love, will the soul be reborn in a body that has an equally beautiful face. It is a question that one may find hard to answer. Going back to the beautiful person with a beautiful face, one finds that many wars were fought for beautiful faces.

Helen of Troy had the reputation of having a face that launched a thousand ships to win her over and possess her forever. Moving from the Greek beauties for whom many battles were fought; some won and some lost, let us come nearer home, to our own Bharat.

The love tales of Prithviraj and Samyukta are told and retold in ballads in the village chaupal year after year. Prithviraj Raso bears a testimony to the epic battles that the great king of Delhi fought against Jai Chand, king of Kannauj to win over princess Samyukta, an epitome of beauty both internal and external.

King Prithviraj Chauhan had his way and Samyukta was his forever but the cost in terms of human lives lost was colossal. A brave and chivalrous warrior like Prithviraj Chauhan eventually lost his kingdom to a foreign invading chieftain, notwithstanding the patriotic fervor of his men who bore arms for him, fought bravely and made the supreme sacrifice for the king and the country. Nevertheless it was the beauty factor that caused the national disaster.

The beauty of Queen Padmini of Chittor was fabulous. Her blue blood that flew in her veins was unmistakable. But the distraction that the beauty of Queen Padmini caused in the administration of fiefdom of Chittor and attracted the attack by the Sultan of Delhi caused loss of innumerable lives on both sides. The Rajputs fought and perished for the honour of their king, country and queen Padmini.

The invading hordes were commanded and driven by the lust of the ruler of Delhi. The honorable queen performed Sati, perished in fire to save her honour and the invaders got nothing but ashes. Let us salute brave Padmini for her commitment to her Dharma that led to her sacrifice at the altar of National Honour.

Turning leaves of books of history of Bharat and other countries, one finds many an episode where Beauty attracted, beauty distracted, beauty led to victory and beauty led to disaster. All said and done, one cannot but agree with the great English Romantic poet, John Keats and sing in rhythm the everlasting line.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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