So East and West will not agree on the same woman being beautiful. And if you consider other countries and other continents, like China, then different things will come into it, or Japan – then some other different things…the grace of the woman. Now a woman who parades almost naked before thousands of people is not graceful. She is almost selling her body. And all these competitions are pornographic, and the people have come there to see different naked women. They are not interested in the contest.
But in India you cannot have that kind of contest, in Japan you cannot have that kind of contest. You will need a totally different perspective. The grace of the woman will be the basic thing, which is not considered at all in the Western concept of beauty.
When Westerners reached China for the first time, they wrote home in letters: “These people are not human: they don’t look like human beings, they are a very strange type. It must be some other animal that looks a little bit like man” – because they had never thought that a beard with six hairs is possible! And cheekbones protruding so much cannot be accepted.
But the Chinese also wrote about the Westerners who visited, and the records are still available: “They look like monkeys. Perhaps Charles Darwin was right, but he was right only about these Western people, that they have evolved out of monkeys. Their behavior is so uncentered; their individuality is so without grace.”
Now both are judging. Both are judgmental; neither is open. Neither is looking at the other without an opinion that he has accumulated from childhood, from living in a certain society with a certain kind of people.
In India there is a section of Hindu society: Marwaris. They live in Rajasthan, but they have only their houses in Rajasthan; their businesses are all over India. Once in a while they will come home; otherwise they are working everywhere. And they are very clever businessmen.
I used to be very familiar with a family, and their daughter was going to be married. The family who was going to take this daughter as their daughter-in-law was inquiring about them in the town: what kind of people are they? And somebody said they should ask me because I was very intimate with those people. So they asked me. I was puzzled, because they asked me one question: “How many times have they been bankrupt?”
I said, “This is a strange question!”
They said, “No, it is not strange. In our society this is the way we count the richness of a person. We don’t go bankrupt because we have lost the business or have had losses; no, we go bankrupt when we are at the peak. And each bankruptcy means at least one million rupees. So that is a simple way to count how much money this family has. If they have been bankrupt three times, that is good. If they have never been bankrupt then this marriage cannot happen, because if they have not been bankrupt at any time, then they will not have enough money to give in dowry to the daughter. We cannot ask directly – that is thought to be ugly – so we have to inquire indirectly.”