hair's colour in Sanskrit

zydenbos at zydenbos at
Sat May 10 02:00:14 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 07 May 97: indology at (vidya at

 vce> From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at>

 vce> On Wed, 7 May 1997, Aditya, the Hindu Skeptic wrote:

> The real discrimination in
> India is based on caste and not color although Varna is also a synonym
> for color. When they refer to color they instinctively mean Varna.

 vce> Ohh, come on! Indians can be extremely obsessed with skin
 vce> color, and will
 vce> prefer lighter skin, especially in the person they want to
 vce> marry. Look at
 vce> any matrimonial ad in any national newspaper. 

If the newspapers are insufficient evidence, I may refer to my recently
published study of Kannada fiction, particularly the two chapters on themes
about women and about caste. I have given a summary of a popular novel in which
part of the heroine's problem is that her elder sister is dark, hence
unmarriable, while the heroine is fair and hence beautiful and desirable. In
another novel, the fair (i.e. beautiful) widowed heroine is driven to
prostitution and curses her skin colour, for she thinks men would have left her
alone if she had been dark. These are only two examples among many.

Robert Zydenbos
Internet: zydenbos at

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