16.10: When style violates sense, style deserves to be violated
Few things obsess the contemporary mind as much as the latest styles. Most people today are possessed by the craze to parade themselves with the trendiest dresses, hairstyles, gadgets and trinkets. As they are exposed relentlessly to hi-tech, high-octane ads, billboards and commercials, they become victims of the methodical and sometimes diabolical media propaganda by the peddlers of these products. This propaganda beguiles them into believing that stylishness is a pre-requisite for prestige, which in turn is a pre-condition for happiness. People being social creatures feel a strong need to be validated by their social circle. The media propaganda exploits their need for validation and manipulates them into aping the fashions glamorized in the social mirror.
Gita wisdom equips us to counter this sinister manipulation. The Bhagavad-gita (16.10) indicates that the ungodly embrace the temporary (mohad grhitvasad grahan) because they are bewitched by the craving for prestige (dambhamana madanvitah). When we understand that we are not our physical bodies, but are spiritual beings, then we seek our self-worth in our loving relationship with Krishna. This inner connection and fulfillment enables us to evaluate styles rationally based on their functionality – and not just their fashionability. If a style doesn’t serve a useful function, then investing our time, thought and emotion to acquire it doesn’t make sense. When style violates sense, then our inner security empowers us to choose sensibleness over stylishness. No doubt, our violating a senseless style may raise a few eyebrows in the social circle that has sold itself to that style. But those raised eyebrows are a small price to pay for being bold models and living spokesperson of basic sanity and authentic spirituality.
Why should we be timid when we can be bold?