Ochre was chosen as the color of the robe of priests/monks after a great deal of experimentation, research and investigation. As we all know that each and every color has its own qualities, advantages and disadvantages. Colors have got their own unique nature, tendency and attribute. Black is used for signalling gloom and doom. White is used to show peace and surrender. Green exhibits vegetation and nature. Similarly, red has its own qualities. It shows danger, anger, hot-temper, hotness, fire and sexuality. Pure red color is always taken as the mark of something harsh, harmful and roughness.

Red, like anger, has many negative adjectives attached to it. Even the people of great taste and refined aesthetic sense never prefer to go for dark-red color clothes as they make them look awkward and unpleasant.

Why sexuality can be seen more aroused in black people who live in tropical areas or near to the Equator like African countries etc? The answer lies in the very fact that I mentioned above i.e the immense presence of red rays or red color in their bodies as their bodies absorb more red rays from the sun.

So, keeping the above mentioned bad qualities of red color in view, ochre (off-red and not pure red,) was selected as the color of sannyas. Ochre, being the shade of red, is not so much offensive and disturbing. It doesn’t have any negative influence over its users. You must be little confused how ochre, being somehow close to red, is less offensive and harmful. Isn’t it? Let us understand this concept in detail. I have a question for you. I have a red bottle in my hands. Why is it so that we are able to see the bottle red? Answering myself, I can say that it is due to the scientific fact that the red bottle instead of absorbing the red color from the sun, has reflected it back to the environment. So, it is the turning back of red rays towards the environment, reflected back by the red color of the bottle, that we see the bottle red. Am I right in my explanation of the question asked to you?

So taking strength from the above mentioned scientific fact, the wise and intelligent people who were working on sannyas from many directions, thought that the only way in which monks and priests could minimise or mitigate the harmful influence of the red color , falling over our bodies through sun, is by wearing or using off-red or ochre-color robes and clothes. Now the question pops up, why ochre and not the pure red was chosen as ochre (keeping the example of red bottle given above in view) will not completely stop the entry of red color, rather, it will still allow some amount of red color from sun to get in? If we have chosen red robe, it would have entirely stopped the flow of red color into the body? Pure red when compared to ochre, would also have been more effective in calming sexuality and other dark sides of red?

But there was a great hindrance in selecting pure red, it would have totally prevented red from entering the body. But the body needs some amount of red rays to keep fit and healthy; so it would have been bad for one’s health. Moreover, the out-and-out red color seems harsh, rough and irritating to one’s eyes. You put a piece of red cloth in front of a bull and see how furious he become. The red hits the bull’s eyes hard. It can’t take it for a long time and so it starts running after it.

Ochre is also the color of sunrise and sunset. Sunrise for birth and sunset for death. So, it also binds us to two great truths of life and reminds us over and over again to be aware of the grand purpose of life- after birth and after death. It, thus, reminds us that whosoever takes birth, has also to die sometime.

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