skin colour

Lynn Foulston foulston at
Wed May 14 19:35:41 UTC 1997

Dear Noel,
As far as I know the red and white stripes on South Indian temples and shrines 
are a sign of purity.  Red has many associations many of them connected in 
some way to purity.  The stripes seem to appear on all temples not just those 
dedicated to the goddess.  The associations with Rajas and Sattva must also be 
there as the temple is a source of purity and power.

Sorry I can't be more specific but I have asked numerous people in India about 
the stripes but the responses that I have had back have seemed vague.

Lynn Foulston
foulston at  

-----Original Message-----
From:	indology-request at  On Behalf Of Noel Salmond
Sent:	14 May 1997 01:53
To:	Members of the list
Subject:	skin colour

Is it relevant that the good guys in the Mahaabhaarata war are the sons of
Paan.d.u and that Paan.d.u means white or pale in Sanskrit?
I mention this because I noticed that the popular guru in the States, Swami
Satchidananda writes (p. xxiii) of his <The Living Gita>:

"...Dhritarashtra was blind, while his brother Pandu is said to be
white-skinned. This isn't a reference to his race. The word pandu means
white, which represents sattva, purity and tranquility. The five sons of
Pandu are the products of tranquility and represent the virtuous human

Does this contribute to, despite the good Swami's disclaimer about any
reference to race, the association of white with the preferred (however
unconsciously) in India?

Another question: P. Claus links the colour white with Brahmins and red
with Ks.atriyas. I would also like to know the source for this. 
When we see red and white vertical stripes painted on the outer walls of
Hindu temples in India what does this symbolize? I assumed the red
represents the goddess, or are we looking at sattva and rajas? Would
someone please educate me on the meaning of these stripes.

Noel Salmond

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