Prabhupada first published this essay in India, in the
old tabloid version of his then-fortnightly magazine Back
to Godhead (November 20, 1958). It contains the unforgettable
story of "liquid beauty,"
in which Srila Prabhupada dramatically exposes the underlying
principle of human sexuality. This illuminating exposition
on the nature of truth and beauty is timeless and startlingly
relevant for those in search of the "inner self."
There may sometimes be arguments about whether "truth"
and "beauty" are compatible terms. One would
willingly agree to express the truth, one might say,
but since truth is not always beautiful--indeed, it
is frequently rather startling and unpleasant--how is
one to express truth and beauty at the same time?
reply, we may inform all concerned that "truth"
and "beauty" are compatible terms. Indeed,
we may emphatically assert that the actual truth, which
is absolute, is always beautiful. The truth is so beautiful
that it attracts everyone, including the truth itself.
Truth is so beautiful that
many sages, saints, and devotees have left everything
for the sake of truth.
Gandhi, an idol of the modern world, dedicated his life to
experimenting with truth, and all his activities were aimed
toward truth only. Why only Mahatma Gandhi? Every one of us
has the urge to search for truth alone, for the truth is not
only beautiful but also all-powerful, all-resourceful, all-famous,
all-renounced, and all-knowledgeable.
Unfortunately, people have no information of the actual truth.
Indeed, 99.9 percent of men in all walks of life are pursuing
untruth only, in the name of truth. We are actually attracted
by the beauty of truth, but since time immemorial we have
been habituated to love of untruth appearing like truth. Therefore,
to the mundaner "truth" and "beauty" are
mundane truth and beauty may be explained as follows.
Once a man who was very powerful and strongly built but whose
character was very doubtful fell in love with a beautiful
girl. The girl was not only beautiful in appearance but also
saintly in character, and as such she did not like the man's
advances. The man, however, was insistent because of his lustful
desires, and therefore the girl requested him to wait only
seven days, and she set a time after that when he could meet
her. The man agreed, and with high expectations he began waiting
for the appointed time.
saintly girl, however, in order to manifest the real beauty
of absolute truth, adopted a method very instructive. She
took very strong doses of laxatives and purgatives, and for
seven days she continually passed loose stool and vomited
all that she ate. Moreover, she stored all the loose stool
and vomit in suitable pots. As a result of the purgatives,
the so-called beautiful girl became lean and thin like a skeleton,
her complexion turned blackish, and her beautiful eyes sank
into the sockets of her skull. Thus at the appointed hour
she waited anxiously to receive the eager man.
The man appeared on the scene well dressed and well behaved
and asked the ugly girl he found waiting there about the beautiful
girl he was to meet. The man could not recognize the girl
he saw as the same beautiful girl for whom he was asking;
indeed, although she repeatedly asserted her identity, because
of her pitiable condition he was unable to recognize her.
last the girl told the powerful man that she had separated
the ingredients of her beauty and stored them in pots. She
also told him that he could enjoy those juices of beauty.
When the mundane poetic man asked to see these juices of beauty,
he was directed to the store of loose stool and liquid vomit,
which were emanating an unbearably bad smell. Thus the whole
story of the beauty-liquid was disclosed to him. Finally,
by the grace of the saintly girl, this man of low character
was able to distinguish between the shadow and the substance,
and thus he came to his senses.
man's position was similar to the position of every one of
us who is attracted by false, material beauty. The girl mentioned
above had a beautifully developed material body in accordance
with the desires of her mind, but in fact she was apart from
that temporary material body and mind. She was in fact a spiritual
spark, and so also was the lover who was attracted by her
intellectuals and aesthetics, however, are deluded by the
outward beauty and attraction of the relative truth and are
unaware of the spiritual spark, which is both truth and beauty
at the same time. The spiritual spark is so beautiful that
when it leaves the so-called beautiful body, which in fact
is full of stool and vomit, no one wants to touch that body,
even if it is decorated with a costly costume.
are all pursuing a false, relative truth, which is incompatible
with real beauty. The actual truth, however, is permanently
beautiful, retaining the same standard of beauty for innumerable
years. That spiritual spark is indestructible. The beauty
of the outer skin can be destroyed in only a few hours merely
by a dose of a strong purgative, but the beauty of truth is
indestructible and always the same. Unfortunately, mundane
artists and intellectuals are ignorant of this beautiful spark
of spirit. They are also ignorant of the whole fire which
is the source of these spiritual sparks, and they are ignorant
of the relationships between the sparks and the fire, which
take the form of transcendental pastimes. When those pastimes
are displayed here by the grace of the Almighty, foolish people
who cannot see beyond their senses confuse those pastimes
of truth and beauty with the manifestations of loose stool
and vomit described above. Thus in despair they ask how truth
and beauty can be accommodated at the same time.
do not know that the whole spiritual entity is the beautiful
person who attracts everything. They are unaware that He is
the prime substance, the prime source and fountainhead of
everything that be. The infinitesimal spiritual sparks, being
parts and parcels of that whole spirit, are qualitatively
the same in beauty and eternity. The only difference is that
the whole is eternally the whole and the parts are eternally
the parts. Both of them, however, are the ultimate truth,
ultimate beauty, ultimate knowledge, ultimate energy, ultimate
renunciation, and ultimate opulence.
written by the greatest mundane poet or intellectual, any
literature which does not describe the ultimate truth and
beauty is but a store of loose stool and vomit of the relative
truth. Real literature is that which describes the ultimate
truth and beauty of the Absolute.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
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