Saturday, March 24, 2007

‘Tis Separation that stands witness to Love

True love is not measured just by how happy you are when together, but how gracefully you bear separation and how true you remain through it.

Separation, Berahah, Judai, by whatever name you call it, has from early times been the stuff of soulful love ballads, geets and ghazals. Was it not Shelley who had so rightly said that “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”? Truly the pangs of separation are perhaps that hardest to bear and often hurt more than physical discomfort.

Srimati Radharani’s love for Sri Krishna stands head and shoulders above that of His wives, as not only did she refuse to confine herself to the boundaries of social relationships but she bore the pain of separation from her beloved with tremendous fortitude and dignity. Srimati Radha's unique form of love is vraja-bhava-dasya rasa, which means that Radha's love for Krishna is in separation. And that is exactly why she is the foremost among Bhaktas. A true Vaishnav knows the Lord can be attained only through Srimati Radha’s loving Grace, which she lovingly showers on all her children that ask for it. Indeed being Sri Krishna’s Hladini-Shakti, she is non-different from the Lord himself. Of course, one doesn’t presume to undermine the true devotion Rukmini, Sri Krishna’s wife at all. For wasn't it Rukmini who showed through her offering of Tusli during Tulabharam, how a humble offering to God is greater than any material wealth.

Separation, typically in its wake, brings insecurity. This insecurity then forms the breeding ground of anger, depression, and resentment which eats away at the foundation of faith upon which love rests. Perhaps it is our failing that we always associate love with attachment. As a respected senior of mine remarked a few days back, we humans are products of both our nature and spirit. It is this nature that gives in to attachments, possessiveness and jealousy. But the spirit is ever free, ever detached and indeed capable of a much higher level of love.

We see this spiritual love personified in the lives of Mirabai and Soordas. Mirabai willed herself to devotion and love of Krishna without pre-conditions and at exclusion of all else in face of hostilities. Mere Toh Giridhari Gopal, Dusra Na Koi resonates through our hearts still and demonstrates just how exalted and divine true bhakti can be. Soordas was denied eye sight at birth, but through his longing for the Lord and true devotion he realized in his own heart the divine presence of Sri Krishna and beheld Him in all his Glory.

As individual souls in a transcendental journey across time, space and lifetimes toward our eventual and hopefully inevitable union with our Lord, it is this pain of separation that acts as the fair wind that blows our sails and propels us our destination-wards. This pain is good for it burns away the bonds of Maya and illumines our heart with pure love and Bhakti.

And we know all too well – it is only pure gold, which can really withstand the rage of the fire…