The Divine Message of Love
BY PROF. NIMANANDA DASADHICARY SEVATIRTHA, B.Ag.,B.T., ]
IN our vocabulary we come across two words Prem and Kam. The English equivalents for these two words are ‘transcendental love’ and ‘mundane-lust’ respectively. There is a general tendency to confuse Prem with Kam. And considering the sameness in their outward character, such confusion is inevitable. But a little reflection will disclose a heaven and hell difference between them. Prem is divine and Kam is hellish. In a beautiful passage in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita the distinction between them has been shown in a most happy and felicitous way. The passage runs thus—
Kam is desire to pleases the senses of one’s
And desire to please those of Krishna by Prem
is ever known.
So wherever there is the desire to gratify our senses there is lust, and wherever there is the desire to gratify the senses of Krishna there is love.
Preachers of divine love have made their appearance on this earth at different times. The comparative study of their messages of Divine Love discloses differences among them. This difference is of course due to the difference in the spiritual evolution of different peoples. As such, the followers of one need not quarrel with those of another. But at the same time when spiritual fitness is taken into consideration there is always the possibility of an individual or a race to be converted to the faith of another. A careful comparative study of all these Messages of Love will establish the superiority of Chaitanya’s above all others. Chaitanya’s gift in this respect will be found the highest.
Love, for its purity, depends upon the purity of one that loves and one that receives it much in the same way as fire, for its pure flame, depends upon the quality of the fuel. It is plain that we are to love God. But we should know what God is and what we are. We note differences of opinion on these problems. From what has been discussed before in these columns it seems that Mahomedan and Christian conceptions of God are rather hazy. They require us to believe in a personal God and that is all. But a mere belief in the personality of Godhead is not enough to strike the love chord of our heart.
The God of the Bible and of the Koran always appears before His servants in His Divine majesty. He is an almighty judge ever seated on high, always ready to punish their wrong deeds and reward their good ones. His attendants stand in awe with a feeling of great humility at a respectable distance ready to obey His behests. The Christian conception of the fatherhood of God does, by no means, remove this awe from the heart of His son. Subject to such a relation love for the Lord is prompted more by the feeling of gratitude than by the spontaneity of the heart. Such Love is then sure to be characterised by a high degree of indifference on the part of the servant.
With regard to what we are the Christian and Mahomedan conceptions as has been shown before are equally imperfect. The Mahomedan rhoo or the Christian soul, in his highest spiritual evolution, is not able to get rid of the material hold on him. For such adulterated self it is not at all possible to culture love in the transcendental plane of consciousness. Culture of love with reference to the experience of our mundane existence cannot claim for it the altitude of transcendental love.
In all religious scriptures it is found that our clinging to things of this earth incapacitates our soul to culture Divine Love. In the Bible we read “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
‘For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof. But he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me : and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
These unmistakably show that love for the things of the world is not Divine Love ; and so long as a heart is vitiated by such kind of love it cannot conceive Divine Love.
Is love for things of this world then a most vicious thing ? – Certainly not. Christ does not mean to say this. What he, along with other teachers, condemns most is our attachment to them for their sake or for our own enjoyment. For he says in another place “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father Which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” While love bestowed on our father as father is unholy, love bestowed on him as His servant is not so. In the same way while hankering for gold for its own sake is abominable, hankering for it as an object of offering to Him is holy. In Divine Love all are accommodated. Our every action, our every occupation with their reference to our service for God, however low they may be, are divine. The greater the affinity felt for God the less the affinity to things of the world.
Now this perception of things in their reference to Divinity. or, in other words, the perception of spirit without reference to matter that veils it is impossible if the perceiver has not already freed himself from the hold of matter. Adulterated self like the rhoo or the soul is sure to bring down the Divine Love into his own plane of consciousness for culture in consequence where of the Divine Love cannot show herself in her full beauty and grandeur.
But the Vedic conception of our self as jivatma carries no such imperfection. He is all spirit and hence he can culture transcendental love.
It has been hinted above that variations in the conception of Divine Love correspond with variations in the spiritual evolution of man. Divine Love is a thing of self-manifestation and not of acquirement. It descends from high according to our fitness. We receive what we can hold and not what we cannot. Religious teachers are the medium through which these messages of Divine Love are communicated to us.
In the Vedas we find that God first appears to us in the form of the Sun as the giver of light, of Indra as the giver of rain, of Ganesh as the god of success, of Lakshmi as the goddess of fortune and so on. Worship of God as the giver of this and that practically amounts to the worship of those gifts which He makes. In all these cases affinity to god has been actuated more by what He gives than by His own self. This is another shape of non-God or mammon-worship. Love that is offered to Him as a price for the fulfilment of, or for gaining a selfish end, it is not love but a trade. It is lust. Lust hinders the cultivation of Divine Love. Next we notice in it another higher stage in the conception of Divine love in which one God appears to us as the object of our worship. All gods and goddesses, wielding different powers, merge in Him as His agents. Of the Love felt for Him in this stage there are five gradations. Love manifested in each of these gradations has a speciality of its own which distinguishes Love in one gradation from that manifested in other gradations. They are Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Batsalya and Madhura. In two and a half of these ‘Rasas’ God in the form of Narayana is worshipped and in this plus the other two and a half ‘Rasas’ God in the form of Krishna is worshipped. Narayan has a Majestic form having four hands carrying Sankha ( conch serving the purpose of a trumpet ) in one, a Chakra ( a sharp weapon in the form of a disc ) in the second, Gada ( club ) in the Third and Padma ( lotus ) in the fourth and wielding all the attributes of the Divinity such as subtlety, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence etc. To such a form the devotee approaches with great humility and stands at a respectable distance to obey His behests and most gratefully receives what He is pleased to confer on him. And in all these five God reveals Himself to His devotees in His transcendental form of Krishna Who is an ever-smiling, playful pastoral lad of exquisite beauty- a perfect human form- wearing a wreath of wild flowers around His neck and carrying in one hand a flute and in the other a stick. His Divine Majesty now appears fully eclipsed by His juvenile suavity. There is now nothing awe-inspiring in him that impedes spontaneity in the affection of His devotees for Him.
The plane of spiritual consciousness in which cultivation of Love for Narayan is possible is Baikuntha and the other in which that for Krishna is possible in Goloka. Hence these two classes of culture are designated Narayan Pujan and Krishna-Bhajan.
The five stages of love mentioned above are as follows:-
- Shanta Rasa- It is neutral state in which the devotee does neither feel any affection for Narayan nor has any attachment to the world. He offers Him love in the manner sanctioned by the scriptures. The indifference of the servant to the Lord is the chief characteristic of this stage. Sages like Sanak, Sanatan etc. are the prototype of this class of devotees.
- Dasya Rasa- The devotee in this stage approaches God as His servant. He with great humility prostrates himself before Him and is ever ready to carry out His commands with a degree of affection. Affinity to God now shows itself in the form of affection. This beginning of affection marks this stage of love. Garuda and Hanuman’s Bhajan falls within this category.
- Sakhya rasa- In this stage the devotee approaches God as His friend. This is again sub-divided into two stages- Gaurab-Sakhya Rasa and Visrambha-Sakhya Rasa. The former brings Narayan-Pujan to a close. The characteristic of this stage of love is that while approach to God is made as His friend it is made with a feeling of difference. Arjuna represents this class of devotees.
Love in the stage of Visrambha-Sakhya Rasa marks the beginning of the speciality of Krishna Bhajan. The devotee in this stage approaches God as His equal. The feeling of inferiority is now absent. He plays with Him, sleeps with Him and can not remain without Him. While playing they lay a wager such that the winner will have to be carried on his shoulder by the other party. When Krishna loses, He is compelled to carry the winner on His shoulder. Sridam and Sudam represent this type of devotees.
- Batsalya Rasa- In this stage God is worshipped as son. The servant now considers himself as the parent of the Lord Who receives from him parental love and care. Indifference on the part of the servant which has hitherto unavoidably associated with the service rendered unto the Lord is now not possible. The Lord, now a restless playful child, demands constant care and vigilance of His parent who must be now all attention to Him ministering to His wants. They should feed Him, dress Him, give Him medicine when ill, lull Him to sleep, and watch over Him while asleep. Such is their love for their Son that their mind is wholly occupied with thought for Him. They think nothing and do nothing that is not for their Child. They apprehend danger for Him where there is none and think Him lost when He goes out of sight even for the twinkling of an eye. They chide Him and threaten Him when found doing wrong and becoming anxious lest their child should be too much frightened take Him in their lap and kiss Him. The service of the servant thus claiming a superior position over his Lord becomes a complete one. The service of Nanda and Yasoda falls within this category.
- Madhura Rasa- This is the highest stage of love. The devotee now approaches God as His Consort. The conjugal love that obtains here is but the perverted reflection of the love manifested is this stage. The distance between the servant and the Lord which is distinctly visible in Shanta and Dasya, indistinctly visible in Sakhya and Batsalya stages now becomes extinct. The servant and the Lord are now one. The servant serves her Lord with everything, and above all, with her body she lives for her Lord and dies for Him. There is nothing which she cannot do to make Him happy. His weal and woe are her own. She does not know how to enjoy a thing if that is not a cause of enjoyment for her Beloved. She enjoys to see Him enjoying. She takes delight in putting on an ornament if this pleases Him. She most delightfully welcomes death if it be a service unto Him. Such is the selfless love displayed at this stage. Sri Radhika and the other Gopis represent this type of votaries. Hence this love is also known after their name as Gopi-Prem. In Chaitanya Charitamrita a most beautiful passage occurs which most felicitously enunciates the principle of love embodied in Gopi-prem.
It runs as follows-
Our pain we mind not,
We desire Him happy-
Our aim is Him to please:
If causing us the pain,
The most He is pleased,
That pain is our highest pleasure.
When Krishna had gone to live at Mathura leaving the Braja-Gopis in Brindaban the latter became greatly overwhelmed with the grief, Sri Radhika is purported to have consoled Her lamenting friends in the above manner. She means to say that if their Lord take delight in deserting them and if this desertion is to cause their death, they should most delightfully welcome it. They prefer His enjoyment to their life.
The stages of love above described cannot be met here on our earth. The love that exists here between a lord and his servant, between two friends, between a mother and her son and between a husband and his wife is but a perverted reflection of this Divine Love. Our love is never free from the element of self-seeking. We love our son not as much for his sake as for the sake of our own. In the same way in our conjugal love the wife does not seek the enjoyment of her husband only. In every such display of love both parties have the reason of their own senses being gratified. It is not selfless and it cannot be so.
In a Purana a story is narrated to demonstrate the highest principle of love embodied in Gopi-Prem. One day Narada came to Krishna and wanted to know as to who loved Him the best- Rukmini ( His married wife ) or Radha. Thereat Krishna most willingly remarked, saying, “Radha-Prem was an ocean and Rukmini-Prem was the water held by a cow’s foot-print.” Narada demanded a proof of it, whereupon Krishna hit on a plan and advised Narada to approach both Rukmini and Radha and to beg of the washings of their feet on the ground that He was ill and that He could be cured only if He drank the washings of their feet. Narada first approached Rukmini who startled to hear it and fled to the corner of her temple in great humiliation. He next approached Sri Radha who, on hearing it, acceded and bade him go to Krishna as fast as he could, lest some ill should befall Him. Krishna told him that Rukmini looked upon the task as hellish, whereas Sri Radha took it as an opportunity to serve Him not minding at all if such services were damned with eternal hell for Her.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu mainly preached this highest love on Gopi-Prem which was hitherto found only in the scriptures. He cultured it Himself and called upon others to do it. It is through His grace that we get a clue to it. Chaitanya’s gift in this respect must be deemed the highest gift to mankind. We do not know if we are yet in a position to appreciate this gift of His.