In Srimad Bhagavatam 10.14.35, Pūtanā is described as having “disguising herself as a devotee.” The Sanskrit is “sad-vesād.In the context of the discussion on dress in Krishna Consciousness, how are we to understand this statement? How else can “sad-vesād” be translated? The Bhagavatam mentions nothing about the residents of Vrindavan dressing themselves differently from other, non-devotees. So how did Pūtanā disguise herself as a devotee?
In an article from 2017, the Harmonist says, “Putana dressed herself like a devotee—a devotee of Vraja..” http://harmonist.us/2017/07/on-vaishnava-culture-and-customs/
1. ‘Sad’ does not literally mean “as/of a devotee.” Such a meaning is not in the dictionary. In this context, ’sad,’ a form of ’sat,’ indicates “a good or respectable person,” meanings found in Monier-Williams.
2. ‘Veṣa’ often means “an assumed appearence” or “disguise.” Monier-Williams includes these meanings for veṣa:
“assumed appearance (often also = look, exterior, appearance in general) Mn. ; MBh.&c. (acc. with √ कृ or आ– √स्था, “to assume a dress”, with √ गम्or वि-√धा, “to assume an appearance” ;
The verse does not at all say “a respectable lady of Vraja.”
10.6.4 states that Putana disguised herself as a “beautiful women,” not as a Vraja-vāsinī.”
That is the context. When she appears, no one thinks she is a local woman. In fact, they think she is a Goddess (10.6.6).
Conclusion: sad-veṣa literally means that Pūtanā ‘assumed the appearance of, a respectable lady.’