To love one is an enchanting exercise in loving all.
"Ram Decorating Sita's Hair with Flowers"
by Pieter Weltevrede
(Click the picture for a larger image)
Shringara means "Love" and often also "beauty". Narrowly speaking, Shringara means to enjoy the company of the opposite sex, in a very lovely and romantic manner. In a broader sense, Shringara is the mood in which we concentrate on creating a lovely atmosphere, on family and friends, on good manners and romance, on art, culture, and decoration, on dressing attractively and behaving nicely, on beauty and enjoyment. In Shringara the word "Rasa" most literally means "good taste."
Creation only happened for the enjoyment of Shringara, when Shiva and Shakti, the male and female energies, who were one, decided to play a game of hide and seek. Love is the most extreme happiness that two people can create together, living as a god and goddess in a universe of their own. In this way the relationship becomes a rehearsal of surrender to the universe and the Divine.
While everyone has the ability to live in beauty and Love without much effort, most people seem to suffer from a lack of both. Partially this is due to the increased popularity of the Rasas that are "enemies" of Shringara, particularly Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. It is also due to a real lack of understanding and appreciation of Shringara in modern culture.
The mood of Shringara has two aspects: The feeling of Love in union (Sambhoga Shringara) and in separation (Vipralambha Shringara). The problem with enjoying Shringara, as with every enjoyment, is that it has a tendency to become addictive. Love always includes some level of attachment.
To master Shringara one must first of all realize that beauty is everywhere and is always there to be loved. Beauty is there to be enjoyed, not weighed. In India, women see their husbands as Krishna, Rama, or Shiva, while men see their wives as Radha, Sita, or Parvati. When men become gods and women goddesses, then Shringara truly becomes divine leela.
Second, Love and beauty only need a little attention to be enhanced. Increasing Shringara is about small and simple things, a touch here, a flower there, a smile, a little neatness, attention, and harmony.
Third, while Love and beauty can be created without measure or restraint, they should be enjoyed with moderation and in diversity. The nature of our mind requires both to remain happy. Tasting, rather than eating, is the essence of Shringara, the art of romance.
Fourth, if one can remain a mere spectator, not personally involved in whatever is happening, and non-discriminating, then beauty and Love can be enjoyed without measure. The one who loves everyone and everything is always in love.
As Love and beauty are essentially the same Shringara Rasa, Love should be enhanced by decoration and art, and vice versa. Love and love-making should be embedded in other enjoyments to be truly savored. Sex may be a pleasant natural urge, as long as it does not stand out like the salt or sugar in junk foods.