October 2017 By Jamuna Rangachari The language of the soul begins with love. In a world besieged with violence, discrimination and hate, unconditional love alone can heal and make it a better place, says Jamuna Rangachari Saint Haridas was known for never losing his temper. Once, two young men from his village were talking about this quality of his. As the talks proceeded, one of them took it as a challenge to provoke him and make him lose it. He stood on the river bank where the saint used to go to take bath before offering prayers to his deity. As soon as the saint came out of the river the man spat at him. Haridas simply turned back and went to the river to clean himself. While he was returning the miscreant spat at him again. The saint turned back again and silently went to wash himself in the river. This activity continued for many hours but the saint never once rebuked the young man or lost his cool at him. Finally, the man’s mouth began to ache with too much spitting. He also began to feel ashamed of himself. He gave up and begged the saint for forgiveness, asking him how was it possible for him to not get angry despite being provoked to such an extent. The saint replied, “Son, I offer my pure love to the deity in the temple. How could I contaminate it with anger or hatred for one of his children?” The young man felt deeply ashamed of himself. His heart changed and he fell at Haridas’ feet, asking to be taken as his disciple. Haridas forgave him and accepted him open-heartedly. Had he retaliated or opposed him virulently, it would only have given power to his attacker, and expressed the saint’s sense of helplessness. Only love can redeem this world, but for that to happen humans need to excavate the flow of unconditional love buried deep in their hearts. The love which doesn’t cease to exist or flow when met with cruelty, rejection, betrayal or hurt. Unconditional love not only salvages the victimiser but also the victim. It liberates a person from the sense of victimhood, and hands him immeasurable power to not let the vagaries of life affect his blissful, joyful state. It makes a person rise beyond his circumstances and stubbornly refuses to give anybody the power to affect him adversely. Unconditional love gives us the strength to view life and people correctly; unhindered by the cobwebs of judgement, fear, grudges, dislike and their consequent harmful actions. Unconditional love is deeply linked with our ability to forgive our perpetrators. And at the base of every conditional love lies a part of ourselves which we haven’t healed or brought to the disinfecting light of the Divine vibrating within us. The most natural, unconditional love that we all experience is of a mother for her child. Miracles are created through this love. But the situation changes as we grow up. In most of our relationships we find ourselves bound by expectations, and frustrations of them not being fulfilled by the other. It teaches us that we must earn or deserve love before we can have it, and that others too must deserve our love. This is conditional love which is nothing but a business transaction. This is why our well-meaning but unskilled attempts to love usually end up in separation and alienation. My friend, Anita’s (name changed) son was told endlessly that he should aim to become a doctor as there were successful doctors on both sides of his family. He tried his best but could not succeed. They kept pushing and prodding him. His self-esteem plummeted to the lowest level since he kept trying hard to succeed at a subject he was unable to relate to. Seeing his poor performance when his lecturers threatened him with rustication, he took the dreadful step of committing suicide. Although the above mentioned is an extreme case, depression and stress abound in a world which is craving for true love. But the problem is that we are unaware of what love is. What really is love? There is no phrase as badly interpreted as ‘unconditionallove’. People use it as an excuse to stay in bad relationships or toshamesomeone into staying in one. But the fact is that we cannot know what unconditional love is until we love and accept ourselves totally and unconditionally. On looking deeply, we would find that people in abusive relationships continue to be in them, not out of love for their abusive partners but because of their own fear of walking out and facing the unknown. And same is true of domineering people who curtail the freedom of others on the pretext of loving and caring for them. They too come from the fear of losing control over others. They do not know how to define themselves with no one to tell what they should do with their life. Unconditional love cares, but does not hold love back if the other does not fulfill his promises or chooses to walk a different path. Compassion towards animals resembles the uncomplicated love that we naturally feel towards pets On introspecting, we will find that most of us have deep seated unresolved issues. We are angry, bitter, hurt or guilt-ridden, and somewhere do not like or accept ourselves the way we are. How often we have wished that we looked like someone else, or possessed the qualities displayed by others. We rarely look at ourselves as unique creations of the Divine, meant to fill a certain place and offer to the world our unique talent. We get bogged down by judgements passed on us by others and try hard to fit in the groove to gain approval. And from here begins a life of inner conflict and turmoil. The unhappier we are with ourselves, the more critical our worldview and more conditional our love. Because what we could not get from ourselves or others, we begin to expect from those we have power over. It takes courage and deep self-inquiry to know ourselves and start walking the path unique to us. And from here springs the fount of unconditional love. The king and his son I remember having read a story of a powerful monarch who yearned to have an heir for his kingdom. After many years and prayers his queen conceived. She was essentially a meditator who loved silence and being in nature. In due course, she delivered a healthy baby boy. The king was overjoyed. But it soon turned out that the boy could neither talk nor walk. The king took help of the best doctors and therapists but nothing changed. The queen, however, continued to love her child unconditionally. The king's hopes and dreams crashed. He became bitter and angry. By the time the prince turned 14, the king had developed virulent hatred for him because he was incapable of inheriting the throne. One fine day he ordered his soldiers to take the prince to the forest and bury him alive. As the soldiers were digging his grave, the mute prince spoke for the first time. They were startled and began begging for forgiveness. The prince asked them to convey a message to his father _that he would act normally for the rest of his life if he granted him just one wish. Excited, the soldiers ran to the king to give him the good news. The king was overjoyed and immediately consented to grant the son his wish. He was confident that his son wanted riches, power and luxuries and was too eager to give them all to him. The young prince walked all his way back to the kingdom. Upon seeing him, his father hugged him with joy and asked him what he wanted. The prince paused and then said imperturbably, “I want to become a monk and lead the life of an ascetic.” The king was devastated to hear this. His heart burst with pain. He turned to his wife for solace. She held him with care, looked deep into his eyes and lovingly whispered, “Love is freedom, my lord. Let your son go.” The placidity and calmness with which she spoke entered a deep recess of the King’s mind. He finally understood what loving meant. He let him go. This story clearly depicts the unconditional manner in which the king’s son loved himself. A child prodigy, he deeply knew what he wanted to do in order to be true to himself. He accepted himself unconditionally and stood his ground, without caving into the pressure of becoming someone he didn’t want to be. And with this inner knowing he was able to chalk not only his path but also shine light on the life of others. Not only that, he had no anger against his father for plotting to kill him. His mother too knew that loving meant loving someone for his or her own sake, and not because they could be used to fulfill one’s own needs and desires. She deeply understood her son’s yearning for freedom and would have been pained to see him invest his time in running a kingdom against his soul-call of pursuing monkhood. This is true and unconditional love which can happen only if we are in touch with ourselves and are not viewing others from the prism of our ego-self. Only when we are free of our fixation with our ego, which includes our need to prove a point, our fears, desires, personal stories of victimhood, and can speak our inner truth, we can open our eyes to being present to others and loving them without conditions. When we are able to live upto our own self, love and accept ourselves with all our shadow parts _good, bad and ugly _we are able to extend the same love to others too. If we judge or dislike ourselves, or are obsessed insanely with something, then we would find it hard to accept others who do not think or behave like us, or do not share our worldview. In my own life, the people who showed the power of unconditional love are Promila and Atul Gurtu and later, Atul and his second wife Suhasini Mulay. I was a close friend of Promila. She was my first mentor and guru who taught me all about chakras. She led a complete life without ever mentioning that she was grappling with cancer. In fact, none of us ever thought there was anything seriously wrong with her. Atul, t
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