Women in Sculpture and Poetry
The heaven is described in the Matsya Purana in terms of the sound of tinkling of the waist girdles and anklets of beautiful apsaras. Of the nine kinds of emotions or rasa described in early literature such as the Natya Sastra of Bharatmuni, sringara rasa holds a special mention.
The idea of sringara has well been represented in the temples in India. Here the nayika or surasundari or the apsara applying collyrium in her eyes.
Sringara rasa as portrayed through the sculptures of apsaras in the temple walls has aesthetic as well as philosophical renditions. Sringara rasa is understood as bright, ujjawala, pure, suci and beautiful i.e. darsaniya. It is sacred and at the same time worldly. Classical sanskrit poetry mentions love as an elite phenomenon belonging to the world of humans. By adorning the temples with apsaras the heaven and Earth come together celebrating the beauty of life.
Dr. Shatarupa Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.