Shringar Vs Shrungar

 

It can be a matter of symantics.  But it's not. 

Shringar is an art. 
Shrungar are the objects used in Shringar. 

Anyone can buy Shrungar, but not everyone has the know-how of Shringar !
As an art form, shringar is something that can only be mastered by practice.  But, like all art forms, it needs some intuitive instinct too. 

An expert can drape a bin liner on a person and make it look like a designer dress.  And by the same token, someone who doesn’t know how to carry it off, can make a wonderful assemblage of designer clothes and jewels look gaudy and cheap.  Similarly, many people buy a lot of shrungar, without knowing how to use it affectively, and make it look like a heap of beads and baubles.  

In our sect, shringar is one of the central importance.   It is important for us to be proficient in this art, as it helps us understand how Shri Gusaiji would have done the seva of our beloved Thankorji.  It is our responsibility to understand how to do seva properly.  Instead of asking the same inane questions of Goswamis that we meet, we should learn how to do seva from them. 

Seva consists of three components.
Raag, Bhog, Shringar. 

Raag, has two meanings. 1) Music.   2) Love / attachment

Bhog also has two meanings.  1) Food.  2) How to enjoy with grace.

Shringar, the art of applying shrungar in an effective and attractive way.

 

Shringar does not mean having a treasure trove of necklesses, jewels, clothes and the like to make Thakorji look wonderful.  Remember, Thankorji is so handsome, he makes the jewels and clothes look good, not the other way around.  For that reason, the Lord is called Bhuvana-Bhuva-Bhushana.  He is the one that makes everything look good – whether it is jewels or Nanda-bhuvan, Vraj, or the universe.  All these look wonderful because of the Lord, not the other way around.   But, this is no reason for us to be complacent and not learn how to do Shringar properly.

Shringar should be done in such a way as to be “comfortable” for the Lord.  This should depend on the season.  In the hot weather, it is impossible to remain comfortable if covered in a heap of jewels.  Similarly, in the cold weather, it is not possible to remain comfortable in a simple sarong.  The Shringar should be offered in a way that it looks “natural”.  Something that is contrived, looks uncomfortable.  In Pushti Marg, the Lord is forever comfortable.

Taking into account these factors, Shri Gusaiji used ancient precepts and instructed his followers to perform seva in a way that would make the Lord comfortable.  He asks us to treat the Lord as a living person and to treat him as you would treat yourself !

He instructed vaishnavs to dress the Lord as they would dress themselves.  As a result, an entire new wardrobe came into existence and the latest and most fashionable clothes and jewels became available during seva. 

Gherdar, Chakadar vagha, Paradhani, Pichod, Adabandha, etc were used to cloth the Lord.  These were the styles of clothes people wore on a daily basis.  In a bold move, Shri Gausaiji also borrowed from the latest fashions at the Imperial court at Agra.  Many favourite dresses that we consider to be typically Pushti Margiya, for example, chakadar and gherdhar vagha, are what the courtiers wore at that time.  Even the Vrajvasi bandi is what was worn at the court.  Remember, prior to the arrival of muslim invaders, Hindus generally wore unstiched clothes – dhoti, uparana, sari etc. 

The “vrajvasi bandi” is more Mongol than Indian.   The Mongol dress, with tie strings, has been spread all the way from China, Japan, India and beyond.  Just have a look at the dress of the Chinese emperors, and you will see what I mean.  The main difference between what the Mongol / Chinese dress and the Hindu vrajvasi bandi is which side you tie the dress !  The Japanese / Chinese and Mughals tied it on the right hand side, Hindus were told to tie it on the left hand side.   The easiest way to tell the difference between Hindus and Muslims at the Imperial court was, the place you tied your bandi.  ( Visible forms of religious segregation was invented Centuries before sociologists gave a name to it, or the Nazi misused it ! )

Jewels introduced by the new court contacts were equally new and wonderful.  New styles and settings were popularised by the fledgling sect at Gokul.  Various new styles of arm bands, turban ornaments and kundan style jewellery have found a permanent place in the seva of the Lord. 

As the Thankorji we have (in our own house shrines and in the Havelis) are fairly small, a new way of offering Shringars was developed to display the growing number of jewels offered to them.  For example, long necklaces are draped over the gadi and bolsters in such a way as to best display them.  Usually, a garland of flowers surrounded the entire assemblage of this "gadiji's shringar"

Steps are often placed in front of the gadi, allowing the Lord to safely climb down from his throne to come down and play with his friends.   These steps are conveniently used to display numerous jewelled toys of the Lord.   Animals, birds, figurines - they are usually made from gold or silver and studded with pearls and gems - they are the sort of things rajput princes used to play with.

On occasions, a jewelled chopat (fore-runner to various modern board games including ludo) or shatranj (forerunner to chess) are laid out for the Lord and Swaminiji to play with.  Mirrors, backed by chased silver, gold filigree, and enamel work are also offered to the Lord.   Pots, cups and dishes of every size and description, are made from precious metals.   Even spittoons are made from gold and silver for the Lord to use in the inner sanctum.

Swings, cradles, miniature pavilions, beds and even doors were covered with sheets of silver.  Rare, fragrant woods were also used in a variety of furniture used in the haveli.  Another innovation was to use jewelled pattas (ribbons / lace) to decorate the bolsters and gadi of the Lord.  The bolster are usually covered with a plain white cover and the pattas add a dash of colour and sparkle to the scene.  Sometimes, jewels are mounted on a board or a silver plaque and placed in the front of the gadi.  Apart from keeping the gadi from “slipping”, this helps to transform a simple gadi into a regal throne.  Using pattas and jewelled paques, allowed jewels to be used in a manner that best displayed them without being ostentatious. 

These are the various ways havelies incorporate precious metals and jewels it receives as gifts from vaishnavs in daily seva.  However, all of this is of no use if its not done in a graceful manner.  This is the difference between Shringar and Shrungar. 

Next time you visit a haveli, observe the difference and if possible, bring this new learning into your own seva at home !

 

Here is an article on how to do Shringar seva
Click here to see some shringar in the havelis galleries of the lord

 

Bhagwat Shah

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