by Çréla Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font
The sweetness of the word “love”
Love is a very sweet word. When it is spoken, a very sweet mood arises in the hearts of both the speaker and the listeners. Though few are able to understand its true meaning, everyone still likes to hear the word. All beings are controlled by love. Many will even give up their lives for it.
All beings are controlled by love
To love is the sole purpose of human life. Many think that the fulfilment of their selfish desires is the primary purpose of their existence, but that is wrong. For love, man can sacrifice all of his own interests.
Selfishness causes man to strive only for his own happiness and autonomy, but love causes him to sacrifice all of his own interests for the sake of that thing or person that is dear to him. Whenever there is a clash between selfishness and love, love is victorious. In particular, even when selfishness is very intense it still remains subordinate to love. What is selfishness? Selfishness is to endeavour for that which is dear to oneself. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to say that human life is directed by love. Love becomes the primary purpose of man’s life, even when he strives to fulfil his selfish desires.
Materialists and liberationists strive for
enjoyment and liberation, out of love for them
Love is pre-eminent on the path of transcendentalism also. Those who seek spiritual pleasure, considering worldly pleasure to be temporary, are of two kinds: those overcome by an urge to enjoy and those driven by a desire to be liberated. Those overcome by an urge to enjoy are presently either preoccupied with their search for wealth, kingdom, wife or children, or encumbered with a desire for the position of Indra or any other demigod in Svarga or for happiness in the higher planets such as Brahmaloka. Because they have a love for those things, they constantly endeavour to have them.
Those who crave liberation have no love for such worldly enjoyments, but cherish instead the desire to be liberated from worldly affairs. Hence, because they have a love for liberation, they strive for it. Love is what the materialist seeks from his enjoyment and the liberationist from liberation. Hence, to attain love is the final object for both kinds of people. Love is the single aim of all spiritual endeavour.
What Caëòé däsa says about love
In regard to love, the Vaiñëava poet Caëòé däsa says:
piréti baliyä, e tina äkhara,
e tina bhuvana-sära
ei mora mane, haya räti-dine,
ihä vai nähi ära (1)
vidhi eka cite, bhävite bhävite,
niramäëa kaila “pi”
rasera sägara, manthana karite,
tähe upajila “ré” (2)
punaù je mathiyä, amiyä haila,
tähe bhiyäila “ti”
sakala sukhera, e tina äkhara,
tulanä diba se ki (3)
jähära marame, paçila yatane,
e tina äkhara sära
dharama karama, sarama bharama,
kivä jäti kula tära (4)
e hena piréti, nä jäni ki réti,
pariëäme kivä haya
piréti-bandhana, baòa-i viñama,
dvija caëòédäse kaya (5)
The three syllables pi-ré-ti (love) are the essence of
the three planetary systems. They remain in my mind
day and night. I think of nothing but them. (1)
Concentrating deeply, Brahmä created the syllable
pi. Then when the ocean of rasa was churned, the
syllable ré emerged. (2)
the ocean was churned a second time, nectar
emerged, which was prepared into the syllable ti.
How can I compare anything to these three syllables,
which are the abode of all happiness? (3)
That person in whose heart the essence of these
three syllables has forcibly entered finds dharma,
karma, shyness, commonsense, caste and family tradition
I do not know what the nature of that love is or what
its result will be. The twice-born Caëòé däsa says,
“The bondage of love is truly terrible.” (5)
Insentient objects are shadows of sentient objects
Objects are of two kinds: sentient objects and insentient objects. Sentient objects are original, whereas insentient objects are perversions of sentient ones. They can be called the shadows or reflections of sentient objects. Whatever is present in an object is also present in some way in its shadows. Hence, whatever is present within the original, sentient objects must also be present in their insentient counterparts.
To love is the nature of sentient objects, and
love’s perversion is found in insentient objects
If we examine the nature of sentient objects, we find that to love is their sole nature. This nature must also exist in some way as a reflection within insentient objects. Just as insentient objects are perversions of sentient ones, attraction and motion are perversions of love. They make up the nature of insentient objects and are present in every insentient atom. Let us now examine the nature of love.
The nature of love
Attraction and motion are present in their pure form within sentient objects as love. The soul is a sentient object. Here, “soul” refers to both the supreme sentient being, the Supersoul, and the minute sentient being, the soul. Their nature is to love. Pure love is found only within the soul. Only a perversion of that pure nature, not the pure nature itself, is to be found within the soul’s reflection - that is, within insentient objects. Hence, pure love is not to be found in any material object of this world. Rather, its perversion, which is mere attraction and motion, is to be found in them.
By the forces of attraction and motion, atoms assemble to form objects. Through attraction, objects are drawn towards each other. Also, on account of their independent motion, the planets revolve around the sun. Anything that is present in a perverted object or perverted nature is also present in the original object in its untainted form.
The independence, attraction and repulsion
of the soul
In this material world, every object draws other objects towards it; and these other objects in turn, by virtue of their independent motion, try to remain separate from that object. Big objects draw small objects towards them. The sun is big, attracting the planets and their satellites towards it. But owing to their own independent motion, those planets and satellites remain at a distance from the sun and, attracted by its gravitational force, orbit it. Moreover, the planets’ attraction and motion also assist them in their orbit. What we see in this world is also found in the spiritual world in its unadulterated form.
The difference between the material sun
and the transcendental sun
The Chändogya Upaniñad (8.1.13) states:
sa brüyäd yävän vä ayam äkäças tävän eño
’ntar hådaya äkäça ubhe asmin dyäväpåthivé
antar eva samähite ubhäv agniç ca väyuç ca
sürya-candramasäv ubhau vidyut nakñaträëi
yac cäsyehästi yac ca nästi sarvaà tasmin
In the reflected creation, there are five elements, as well as the moon, the sun, lightning and the stars. All of these are present in their original form in Brahmapura, the spiritual world. The difference between the two worlds is that in the spiritual world all the variegated affairs are pure, blissful and perfect, whereas in the material world everything is flawed, incomplete and the cause of happiness and distress.
To love is the fundamental nature of all beings in the spiritual world. Therefore, the poet Caëòé däsa says:
brahmäëòa vy äpiyä, ächaye je jana,
keha na dekhaye täre
premera piréti, je jana jänaye,
sei se päite pare
piréti piréti ténaöé äkhara
pi ré ti trividha mata
bhajite bhajite nigüòha haile
haibe eka-i mata
No one has seen that person who pervades the universe.
Only one who knows what love is can attain
Him. Piréti (love) has three letters and is of three
kinds, but when it becomes condensed as a result of
continuous bhajana, it will be of only one kind.
The transcendental sun, Çré Kåñëa, attracts the
jévas to orbit Him, and this is eternal räsa
The transcendental enjoyer of Våndävana, Çré Kåñëa, is the sun of the spiritual world. The souls there are His associates in His pastimes. Through the force of the attraction of His love, Kåñëa draws them towards Him. But, on account of their own independent motion, they try to remain distinct from Him. Hence, while the strong force of attraction drawing those souls near to that sun-like Kåñëa defeats their motion, that force nonetheless makes them orbit Him. This is Kåñëa’s eternal räsa.
In that räsa, His girlfriends who are part of His internal potency are very near to Him, and those who have attained perfection through their spiritual practice are somewhat further away. Kåñëa’s transcendental pastimes reveal the true nature of love.
Liberated souls are greatly attracted to Kåñëa
Does Kåñëa attract all souls? If so, why are all souls not favourably inclined towards Him?
Kåñëa does attract all souls. However, souls are of two kinds: the bound and the liberated. Because liberated souls experience their love clearly and keep it alive. Krsna’s force of attraction naturally acts more effectively upon them.
The reason why bound souls are not attracted to Krsna.
Souls in bondage are of two types. The pure love of those who are completely oblivious to krsna is extremely distored due to their association with matter. They know nothing but love for objects of enjoyment, and therefore engage in sense gratification day and night. Forgetting themselves, they remain engrossed in seeking mundane pleasures.
Moreover, on account of their esteem for mundane science, which promotes mundane enjoyment they remain absorbed in mundane worship. They continuously cheat themselves with statements like “the soul does not exist”, “deliberating upon the soul is illusory “, and “any attempt to develop the self is nothing but mental agony”. Some cheat themselves of the pleasure of the plane of the soul by engaging in various pious activities with the aim of attaining the happiness of Svarga.
When the bound souls develop discrimination, renunciation and faith, they become attracted
to Kåñëa Among the souls in bondage, some develop discrimination and renunciation, and attain faith in the soul. On the strength of this faith, they experience to some degree the pure attractiveness of Çré Kåñëa, the sun of the spiritual world, and are also drawn towards Him. Although they are engaged in various mundane, scientific or pious activities, they enjoy Kåñëa’s association. Çré Caëòé däsa describes their moods:
känu je jévana, jäti präëadhana,
e duöi nayanera tärä
hiyära mäjhäre, paräëa putali,
nimikhe nimikha härä (1)
torä kulavaté, bhaja nija pati,
jära mane jevä laya
bhäviyä dekhinu, çyäma-bandhu bine,
ära keha mora naya (2)
.ki ära bujhäo, dharama-karama,
mana svatantré naya
kulavati haiïä, piréti-ärati,
ära kära jäni haya (3)
je mora karama, kapäle ächilä,
vidhi miläila täya
torä kulavaté, bhaja nija pati,
thäka ghare kula lai (4)
guru durajana, bale kuvacana,
se mora candana-cuyä
çyäma anuräge, e tanu becinu,
tila-tulasé diyä (5)
paòasé durjana, bale kuvacana,
nä jäba se loka päòä
caëòédäse kaya, känura piréti,
jäti-kula çéla chäòä (6)
Känu is my life, my caste, my treasure and the pupils
of my eyes. He is the beloved within my heart who, in
the blink of an eye, is lost to my vision. (1)
You are women of respectable family. Serve your husbands.
Do as you please. After some thought I see that
I have no one but my lover Çyäma. (2)
What more can you tell me about dharma and karma?
My mind is not independent. If I am indeed a virtuous
woman, then who is that person I long to love? (3)
Brahmä has made arrangements according to my
karma and destiny. O virtuous women, serve your
husbands and stay at home with your family. (4)
My wicked elders criticise me, but to me their criticism
is like scented sandalwood paste. Out of my love for
Çyäma, I have sold this body placing sesame seeds and
a tulasé leaf on it. (5)
My wicked neighbours criticise me, but I will not go to
their neighbourhood. Caëòé däsa says, “Love for Känu
rejects caste, family and character.” (6)
The nature of the souls who are unaware of their identity
The soul in this world has forgotten his own identity because he identifies with matter. He forms various relationships with various people and behaves towards them in various ways. He identifies himself with his subtle body, and has imagined a new body consisting of mind, intelligence and ego. Because of that relationship with his subtle body, he values psychology and material science, considering them his wealth, and consequently becomes deluded.
Moreover, on account of identifying himself with his gross body, consisting of the five elements, he thinks “I am a Bhaööäcärya” or “I am a gentleman”, and thus he lives a life of abandon. He is sometimes born and he sometimes dies. Sometimes he is unable to contain his joy, and sometimes he is stricken with grief. Glory to this transformation and glory to Mäyä’s
Sometimes the soul is born as a man and marries a woman, and sometimes he is born as a woman and marries a man and establishes for himself a large cycle of worldly concerns. When he enters that cycle he honours his superiors and takes care of his dependants. He fears the ruler, and he hates his enemies. He fears disgrace and criticism when he is born as a woman in a respectable family. He remains far from his true identity when he establishes these false relationships in this world. What a horrible condition the soul endures in such a self-imposed life! Considering the various established rules of this world as his master, he has completely forgotten his eternal master, Kåñëa.
Prior attraction, tryst and union with Kåñëa
At this point a particular mood may arise in relation
to Kåñëa, expressed by Çréman Mahäprabhu in the
para-vyasaniné näré vyagräpi gåha-karmañu
tam eväsvädayaty antar nava-saìga-rasäyanam
Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya-lélä 1.211)
An unchaste wife internally relishes newer and newer
meetings with her lover even while engaged in her
This kind of prior attraction (pürva-räga) develops in a soul bound to the rules of this world before pure love for Kåñëa awakens in him. Eventually this soul will go for a rendezvous and meet Kåñëa. Prior attraction appears by hearing about Kåñëa’s nature and qualities, seeing a picture of His transcendental form, remembering His attractiveness and hearing the sound of His flute. One in whom this prior attraction has appeared meets Kåñëa by the help of likeminded girlfriends. Gradually the mutual love between this soul and the supreme enjoyer Çré Kåñëa, who is the embodiment of eternity, knowledge and bliss, becomes deep.
Pure and impure love
Kåñëa’s transcendental pastimes in the spiritual world, Vraja, are eternal. The soul is a minute sentient particle, and is therefore eligible to participate in those pastimes. When the soul is in bondage, his transcendental identity appears in an illusory form as his subtle and gross bodies. Similarly, the pure love for Kåñëa that is found within that transcendental identity appears in an illusory form as love for mundane science or mundane objects. Therefore, bodily love or
mental love are simply distortions of pure love for Bhagavän. They are not true love. But because the soul has mistaken his own identity he considers them to be real love. Actual love, however, is the love that exists between two souls.
The Båhad-äraëyaka Upaniñad (4.5.6) states:
na vä are patyuù kämäya patiù priyo bhavati
ätmanastu kämäya patiù priyo bhavati. (ityupakramya)
na vä are sarvasya kämäya sarvaà
priyaà bhavati ätmänastu kämäya sarvaà
priyaà bhavati. ätmä vä are drañöavyaù çrotavyo
mantavyo nididhyäsitavyo maitraiyyätmani
khalu are dåñöe çrute mate vijïäta idaà sarvaà
When Yäjïavalkya’s wife Maitreyé became detached from both the gross and the subtle planes,
she approached her husband and requested him to give her some instruction.
Yäjïavalkya replied: “O Maitreyé, a wife does not in fact love her husband for his sake. Rather, in every instance she does so for her own sake. Similarly, a husband loves his wife only for his own interests. This so-called love for husband, son, wealth and so on, is simply deceit. By completely rejecting this dishonesty you should worship Bhagavän, the eternal object of
love and the soul of all souls, and love Him solely for love’s own sake. Therefore, one who has become detached from the material world and the subtle body should look at, think of and inquire about that Soul who is the most beloved of the jévas. By that he will come to know everything.”
The import of this highly authoritative statement of the Vedas is that there is no love on the gross and subtle planes. Whatever semblance of love is found here is experienced only in relation to the soul. The pure soul is transcendental, and the love that exists between souls is pure love. Only that love is worthy of being searched after. Worldly love, or the love that
exists between humans, is but a distortion of the soul’s love. The love that exists between souls is the only true love.
“Love Kåñëa” is the ultimate instruction
In Çrémad-Bhägavatam (10.14.55) it is stated:
kåñëam enam avehi tvam
Çré Kåñëa, who possesses sixty-four excellent attributes, is the soul of all souls. The love that all souls have for Kåñëa is free from mundane designations and is superlative. Those who have written about psychology and the intricacies of love without knowing love’s true nature have simply wasted their time, despite all their reasoning, as if mixing ghee into ashes. Out of pride, such persons have simply endeavoured for fame. Rather than benefit the world, they have brought it great misfortune. Brothers! Stop listening to those people’s grandiloquent talk and develop pure attachment for the soul, thus making your soul’s nature shine by experiencing that love which is free from designations.
* The original word used is préti, translated as “love”.