Part 13: True love is selfless
All our life we have not learnt to love, because we follow the principle of take, take and take. But if we wish to enter the realm of God we will have to reverse our principle to give, give and give.
In life we are born with many relations like our parents, brothers, sisters etc and there are other relations that we form as time passes. No matter how closely we feel related to these people, the truth is that all these relations will cease to exist one day. Our scriptures inform us that we have had countless such material relations in our past lives as well, and every time it has been the same story; we spend some time together and then we all part ways to form relations in our subsequent lives.
Yet, apart from all these transitory relations, there is one relation which alone is eternal. And that is our relation with the Supreme Lord of the Universe who is seated in our hearts and accompanies us in every life form. When we realize the truth that God alone is our relative and he is the soul of our soul, we discover the uniquely intimate and divine bond we share with him.
Merciful God has given us the freedom to develop any relation with him as we like, we can look upon him as our child, as our friend, king or beloved. Shree Kripaluji Maharaj in his keertan ‘jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē’ tells us to worship God in madhur bhav or in other words as our soul-beloved. There is however one correction required even in this bhav, and so Maharajji states:
jo nija sukha ura nahiṁ rākhē
He says; don’t love God for the sake of your own happiness. Love Him for the sake of His happiness!
In the world we all say we love, but the truth is that we love the whole world only for our sake. This is the philosophy of the material world, where everybody only cares and fends for themselves. Once during the French revolution, the noblemen were being beheaded. When this news reached a hats seller that the royalty was being beheaded, he was grieved. He said, “Oh no! What will happen to my hat business?” Typical of the material world, he was only concerned with the loss in his business and not the loss of others lives.
The fact is, before God-realization, all of us are only concerned about our own happiness. And even when we go to the Divine Realm, we love God and Guru for our own happiness. This however needs to be corrected, if we wish to relish the Bliss of Divine Love. The definition of love is given as:
āvirbhāva-dinē na yena ganito hetus taniyān api
kshiyetāpi na chāparādha-vidhinā natya na yo vardhatē
(Shree Padyavali 345)
This means love is where there is no hetu (cause). If we say, “I love Him because …” be assured that it is not love. Because the moment there is a cause, it is no longer love, it becomes business.
All our life we have learnt to do business, but when we step into the realm of divine love, there should be no cause. The thought of ‘what will I get?’ should not exist. We should only think, ‘What can I give, and give, and give?’ Mystics of different religious traditions have understood this secret of the Universe. Saint Francis of Assisi said,
let me seek not so much to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying to the little self, that we are born to Eternal Life”.
So in our practice of spirituality, we have to repeatedly pay heed to this principle. If we desire this selfishness to go away, we will have to repeatedly practice and bring this principle to our mind: “The goal of my love is not my happiness, but the happiness of my Beloved.” And when we will repeatedly practice this, it will develop the ‘Seva Bhav’ – the desire to serve.
The ‘Seva Bhav’ is the manifestation of devotion. In other words, the love in the heart manifests in the desire to serve, the desire to do something for the Beloved. At least one can mentally hope for the happiness of the Beloved. The consequence of such love is that it can never be destroyed and this is the final test of Selfless Love.
yad bhāva-bandhanam yunoh
sa prema parikirtitah
Dhvansa is a powerful Hindi word, meaning complete destruction. This verse says, “Let’s say there is a legitimate reason for our love to be destroyed (that is, our Beloved has done something terrible to us). If our love does not get destroyed even in that situation, then that is True Love!” This should always be our ‘acid test’, and we should keep increasing our love so that we reach this point one day.
An interesting thing to understand is why does true love not get destroyed? Remember, it is not destroyed because it is not engaged in for selfish reasons. The reason for destruction of worldly love is that we are always looking at fulfilling our self interest and not the beloved’s. But the moment that love becomes selfless, the Beloved is free to do whatever He likes.
So, even in Madhur Bhav or Madhurya Bhav, there are categories. There is Samarthā-rati, Samanjasā-rati and Sādharani-rati. Kubja looked upon Krishna as her Beloved, but her devotion was characterized by her desire for self-happiness. The Queens of Dwarika looked upon Krishna as their Divine husband. However, the nature of their devotion was that they desired their own happiness along with Krishna’s happiness. However, the Gopis of Vrindavan actually manifested such Selfless Love:
svasukha vāsana gandha lēsha shunya
shri krishna sukhaika tātparyamayi sēvā
The devotion of the Gopis is such that even the slightest aroma of the trace of the desire for self-happiness does not exist. Their only goal is the pleasure of Shree Krishna.
This then becomes one of the most important things in the path of Divine Love: “Are you totally selfless?” Currently we are not, but we have to practice and slowly bring ourselves to this point.