Smiles — Bewitching, Enticing


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

12 Jan 2021 – A smile is a common human facial expression. It can be welcoming; it can be wicked or threatening without any words being spoken. Words depend on the language of the speaker or the listener but a smile needs no words and yet conveys a lot of meaning in whatever situation one is.

Many of us will agree that the world’s most famous smile is that of Mono Lisa — a painting by the Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci and is on display in the famous Louvre Museum in Paris. Perhaps it is one of the world’s most well known painting and millions or perhaps billions of words have been written about it, since it was painted in early sixteenth century —who is Mona Lisa, what does her enigmatic smile convey and what inspired the painter to create this masterpiece. da Vinci himself was captivated by his painting and worked on it for several years before he felt satisfied — or perhaps in understanding the depth of the bewitching smile of Mona Lisa.

Without writing anything more about Mona Lisa — in any case I would not have anything original to write about it, let me turn to the subject of my essay — smiles. This expression perhaps looks most beautiful on a baby or a young child. It conveys the feeling that the child is well fed, dry and happy.

As the child grows in age, the smile also develops and on a young woman, it can again demonstrate several meanings — of being happy and in love with a young man her age.

Most of us are troubled by various problems — social, economic, professional and whatever   else. But when we overcome a difficult situation, we may smile in relief or perhaps even dance a tango and sing…

Smile, smile, smile away
Don’t let the problems sway
On you
Keep them a distance away
And smile all the way

Since the expressions of anger, love, smiles, etc. are universal, there are different ways of expressing these emotions all over the world. In India, Lord Ram is a well known deity of Hindus and there are countless number of stories about him and his faithful wife Sita. Many temples depict his story from birth to his long exile away from his kingdom. The epic Ramayan also is popular in India on the life of Ram, his wife Sita and his faithful brother Lakshman. The woman who was responsible for his exile was Manthra who worked for one of the wives of Ram’s father Kekai.    She gave the idea of exile  to Kekai and when she succeeded, she gave a wicked smile.

But a most beautiful smile is that of love and beauty. We generally refer to young women as being the epitome of beauty and often give loving names to women that express smiles and satisfaction. Two names of women that occur to me are  Muskaan  and Tabassum  that are common in Hindi and Urdu languages. These are names also of popular Hindi films.

World’s Literature has stories of romance, love as well as of broken heart, love. In several cases, the romance started casually with a beautiful smile.

In English language, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Withering Heights are popular novels in this genre. In the French language, Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is quite popular. Anna Karenina, a Russian novel by Leo Tolstoy, is also well known.

Let me not be carried away by these emotions. Let me just smile and acknowledge the affection shown by the TMS Editor Antonio C S Rosa who is gracious enough to accept my essays even if they are not of very good quality.

Hare Krishna


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Jan 2021.

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