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Posted on : Nov 08, 2011
Radio Sai Study Circle – 6
Understanding Love in All Its Dimensions
Anuraga – The Manifestation of Love as Fondness Between a Couple
GSS: So now, having understood moha, which is the grossest form of love, let's move on. The next manifestation of love Bhagawan says is anuraga, which is the love present typically between consorts, that is between a husband and wife.
Now, is this the true form of love or is there a flaw in it? It could be both, again, depending upon our understanding.
A very humorous anecdote narrated by Bhagawan is about a newly married couple. Swami says they were taking a stroll in a garden. As the wife walks, a thorn pricks her leg and she cries out. The husband with tears in his eyes holds the leg and lovingly pulls the thorn out. Then, he endearingly asks her to be careful while walking.
Six months later, once again they are going for a walk and unfortunately a thorn pricks her feet again. The husband now is a little irritated. He waits until she pulls out the thorn herself and then giving her a frown, continues moving forward.
Another six months pass by. The husband and wife still had not given up the habit of taking a stroll. Again, the wife is hurt in the same manner. This time, the husband is furious. He shouts, “You blind lady, can't you see? Don't you have eyes? Get rid of the thorn and come fast.”
Swami asks, “Well, what happened to all that love and affection which existed just a year and a half ago?” He says, “This is the nature of anuraga, which is the Karma aspect of Prema, that is, the binding aspect of love. While true love liberates, anuraga binds. True love is pure, whereas anuraga is impure. True love is all-pervasive, whereas anuraga is limited and confined.”
And very beautifully, Swami says, “True love is like the rose flower, whereas anuraga is like the thorn, comparable to lust.” He adds, “The real challenge in life is how you pluck the flower of love without getting pricked by the thorn of lust.”
GSS: So this is a very nice beginning. Now, let's move on further. Ganesh, what are your views on this?
Can Anuraga be Elevated and Transformed Into True Love?
KMG: One of the main limitations of anuraga is that it has a quality of possessiveness, where one tries to possess the other and assume ownership only because he or she is scared of losing the other person. This obviously is suffocating for the other person, as it takes away the most important gift of life - freedom. Freedom is dear to everyone and the moment anyone comes in its way, that person starts withdrawing immediately, which leads to a lot of heartburn and unnecessary pain.
Just to give an example: If one holds sand on his two open palms, he can very well retain the grains. But the moment his open palms start clenching to possess the sand, he sees the dust particles slipping out.
The same applies in our lives. The moment you invade the freedom of the other person and try to control them, they go away from you. But the moment you give them the space, so that they can be what they want to be, they come back to you. Just like the butterfly that flies away if you try to catch it, but comes back and sits right on your shoulder if you remain in one place. We need to stop this mad chase of possession.
BP: You mentioned ‘mad chase of possession’ and that immediately took me to an anecdote from the life of Saint Tulsidas. We all know this famous saint who gifted this world the famous composition of Ramcharitmanas, the elevating story of Lord Rama. He belonged to the 16th Century.
Right from his early age, thanks to his association with holy men, he had developed great love for Lord Rama. This only grew, and slowly, he became one of the very learned and respected youth in his land because of his knowledge as well as his devotion to the Lord. It was at this time that he was married to Ratnavali.
|Tulsidas' anuraga was sublimated into bhakthi and he was transformed into Sant Tulsidas|
Tulsidas becomes so enamoured with his wife's beauty that he is unable to think of anything else. Earlier during his meditation, his mind used to be focussed on Lord Rama. But now, it was resting on Ratnavali's form.
And this disturbed Ratnavali tremendously as she herself was a great devotee of Lord Rama. That she had become a distraction in her husband's spiritual path bothered her immensely. So one day, she thought, “What would be good for me is to actually go away from this house for some time.”
So, she left a note at home and left to her brother's place. When Tulsidas returned and saw Ratnavali's note, he just collapsed in despair. He could not imagine living without her. Immediately, he rushed out of the house. The storm raging outside didn't bother him. He just went into the river which he had to cross, and in sheer desperation caught hold of a log and somehow managed to reach his wife's brother's house.
AD: What infatuation!
BP: Yes. And then he caught hold of a rope and jumped into the balcony of the house. When Ratnavali saw him in that almost crazy state, she was shocked. She said, “What is this madness after a bag of flesh and bones? In your infatuation, you didn't even see that you actually held on to a python; it was not a rope.”
GSS: Oh my God! That's why they say love is blind.
BP: In fact, even while crossing the river Tulsidas actually didn't hold onto a log, it was a dead body. That is how delirious he was! Ratnavali could not take this. She just blurted out: “If only you had pined for Lord Rama with such intensity, by now, you would have definitely attained Him.” She said it so powerfully that it struck Tulsidas like a lightning, and changed his life forever. A short while after that, what came out of him is the holy epic Ramcharitmanas.
So, here is one instance where deep anuraga was so powerfully transmuted into deep devotion.
KMG: In a way, you can make anuraga a gift by channelizing it towards God.
AD: Absolutely! And I think we need those moments to help us take that quantum leap, so to say. I'm reminded of one very beautiful e-mail forward. I'm sure most of us would have read it.
It's about this little boy whose sister was to be operated upon, and she requires blood immediately. The doctors find out that this little boy is the only one who can give blood.
So his parents ask the little child, “Are you ready to give blood?” This boy is lost in thought and takes a few moments. After some time, he says, “Okay, I am ready.”
What this boy thought was, “If I give my blood, I won't have any more blood left in me and so, I have to sacrifice my life.” As he was giving blood, he found that nothing much is happening to him. So, he asked his mother, “How come nothing is happening to me, though my blood is going out of my body?” His mother said, “Nothing will happen to you. Why did you feel that way?”
And it was then that the boy revealed, “I thought I am going to die.” This child was ready to sacrifice his life and that is why he took a few moments to actually say yes.
I felt very touched with this moment, where the little child was ready to even give his life for the sake of his sister. I think at that moment love got sublimated into something greater.
GSS: So, you mean this is the type of love that should be there between any two individuals?
AD: Yes, any two individuals, between husband and wife, or brother and sister.
GSS: The love which makes one sacrifice for the other.
AD: Exactly! I'm reminded of one more personal example which happened in my home.
It so happened that one evening, my grandmother went from her room to my grandfather's room and put a blanket over him. My grandfather took off the blanket and said, “Why are you doing this?” My grandmother casually told him, “I thought you were not well and therefore knew that you needed this blanket.”
But grandfather was fine. However guess what? Next morning, my grandfather did have fever. When we were told of my grandmother's act, at that moment it struck me that maybe this is possible when you are in complete union with each other.
GSS: Like the cosmic glue.
AD: Yes, two become just one soul.
KMG: Correct. In fact, the Gopikas epitomise this concept of cosmic glue and their oneness with Krishna. And the Lord wanted to prove this to the entire world, so He enacted a small play.
One day, Krishna was seated in Mathura in his kingdom, and suddenly He acted as if he had a headache.
Narada then comes by and seeing his Lord in that pitiable condition, immediately wants to relieve Him of the pain. So he asks, “Lord, what should we do? Have they not provided you with some kind of ointment?” The Lord says, “See, this kind of headache will not go away by such medicines; what I need is the dust of the feet of My devotees.”
|.||"The medicine I need is the dust of the feet of my devotees."|
Narada says he isn't willing to give the dust from his own feet to be put on the Lord's head because he's sure he'll be sent to hell if he does that. So he thinks of a plan and advises Krishna that He should seek the dust of His consorts, Rukmini and Sathyabhama.
Accordingly Narada approaches them and the obvious question they ask is, “Why are you not giving the dust of your feet?” And Narada expresses his fears. Immediately, they resound the same anxiety and say, “Even we will be condemned to hell if we do that. We cannot do this. It's impossible.”
Disappointed, Narada returns to the Lord and says, “Krishna, I don't think this headache of Yours is ever going to be relieved.” Then Krishna says, “No, no! You go to Brindavan. My true devotees are there. You ask them, they will give you.”
Narada is quite perplexed because he thinks, “The most intelligent and intellectual of them are right here in Mathura, and they are not ready to give the dust of their feet. What will those cowherds know? Anyway, I'll give it a try because my Lord has commanded me to.”
He therefore goes to Brindavan, calls the Gopikas and says, “Krishna is suffering from a headache and he wants the dust of your feet to cure it.” Immediately, the Gopikas bring a huge cloth and all of them jump on top of it, bundle it up, and give it to Narada without asking any more questions. Narada is perplexed. He asks them, “Are you not scared that you'll be shunned to hell for doing this blasphemous act?”
The Gopikas say, “Narada, all we know is that our beloved Krishna is suffering from a headache. It doesn't matter what happens to us. Even if our life has to be put at stake, we do not care. His headache should be cured. That is all.” That was the love the Gopikas had for Lord Krishna.
GSS: Truly, how sublime a level anuraga can reach, provided we have the right understanding. In fact, that's why Swami Vivekananda says that love is not attachment, but cautions that detachment does not mean indifference.
GSS : Rabindranath Tagore says, “Love does not claim position but gives freedom” and Bhagawan says, “Love when directed towards the body ends in vain, as the body has to perish one day. Love when directed towards the mind leads to bondage towards worldly objects. Love when directed towards the intellect results in endless enquiry, while love focused on the inner instruments of the antahkarana leads to ego’.
So, none of this love really gives us that sense of fulfilment. To put it crisply, the body attracts, the intellect admires, but it is only the soul which connects.
Giving a very contemporary example of the server and clients, we know that all the clients are connected to the server, whereas the other workstations are like various terminals. A client can very easily interact with another client, but it is really not linked or related to it, but both of them are definitely related to the server.
In this way, love, though it may be between a husband and wife, or between two individuals, or between an individual and an object, it is ultimately sourced from that one cosmic source of love, which Bhagawan talks of as divine love.
Well, that was a great discussion!
Sakhyam – The Manifestation of Love as Friendship
Now, let's move on to one more manifestation of divine love at the gross level - friendship. Men are social animals, as they say; so, we definitely need friends.
In fact, differentiating between love and attachment, Khalil Gibran beautifully puts it:
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love; let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
BP: Wonderful! That's really profound. But, before we reach that level, I would like to talk about friends and relatives the way it is in the current situation. Actually, I'm reminded of a funny quote. Someone said, “Success is relative, because the more success you have, the more number of relatives you will have.”
It is the same with friends too. If you're famous or rich or powerful, suddenly, you'll see yourself surrounded by friends. Swami says, “As long as your pocket is deep, you'll find any number of friends, but once the wind stops blowing in your direction, everyone disappears.”
In fact, in today's times, the problem has become even more acute and complex. Because of social networking sites, chat groups, and so on, we make friends easily. In fact, youngsters compete with each other to have more number of online friends. I think somewhere in this whole process, the concept of friendship has become so diluted and shallow.
If we ask any of these youngsters, “From your hundreds of online buddies, can you at least pick one or two who are truly genuine and selfless friends?” Probably, he or she will say, “Hmm... I have to think...”
Here, I'm tempted to share a story about friendship that we posted on our website sometime ago. It is the story of eight-year-old Tejaswi who refuses to eat salad. Her mother tries her best and finally gives up. Then she requests her husband to take over. Surendra, the husband, is successful in convincing the daughter to have the salad, but it comes with a condition.
Tejaswi wants a promise from the father that she will get what she wants if she finishes the full bowl of salad. The father says, “Yes, I promise you whatever you ask for. But, don't ask for very expensive gadgets. I don't have that much money.”
She says, “It's a very simple thing, father. You only have to permit me.”
So, the father says yes. She completes the bowl of salad. And then, he asks, “Okay, tell me, what is your wish?”
She says, “Father, I want to shave my head.”
GSS: What a funny request!
BP: Yes. So both the parents are completely perplexed. The father says, “It's such a preposterous idea. You're a girl. Why do you want to lose your hair? We can't do this.”
She says, “Father, you promised me. Do you want to go back on your word?”
Left with no choice, father says, “Okay, we will go to the salon and get your wish fulfilled.”
On Monday morning, the father as usual drops Tejaswi in the school. When she gets down the car, at the same time another boy alights from a vehicle and calls out to Tejaswi. Both are so happy to see each other and they walk into the school, hand in hand.
The only interesting thing is that both have shaven heads. Just then, the mother of that boy Girish comes to Surendra and says, “You have an angel for a daughter. My son has leukaemia and because of the chemotherapy, he lost all his hair. He was feeling so depressed and thought that if he comes to school, everyone will tease him. That's why he stopped classes. But your daughter came to our house and convinced my son to come to school. She even said, ‘I will take care of this teasing problem’ and that is why she took that decision to sacrifice her hair.”
KMG: So touching!
BP: It is said the happiest people in this world are not those who live on their own terms, but those who change their terms for the ones they love. I think that is true selfless friendship.
- Radio Sai team