HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, in his Namadwaar anniversary address, said, “The simple way of religion is universal love. So, love each other. Then love everybody, love everyone.”
In the same message, Sri Swamiji says, “If you want to realize God, what do you need? Unconditional Selfless and Universal Love. If it’s not possible to love your kith and kin, your family, a neighbor, the people around you, and to feel a little concern for them, how it is possible for you to realize God?”
Even the Bible says, “…Love thy neighbor as thyself……”.
We live in a world where everybody is racing towards money and competition. With the rise in competition, suspicion, jealousy, greed and enmity between people has increased. Every act has become a transaction and comes with its own checks and balances. People see everything as ‘Me and Mine’ and ‘You and Yours’ and this in turn has widened the divide among people. Why is the world headed towards a downward spiral? The reason is simple. We — as individuals and as a society — have forgotten to love.
In Sanskrit, there is a term called ‘prema’. It means unconditional love – love in its purest form. ‘Prema’ is extremely rare. It is the love Radha and all the Gopis had for Krishna. They loved Krishna not because He was the Lord or because He was their protector. They loved Krishna for who He was – the dark-hued boy of Vrindavan.
We see glimpses of that love in the love of a mother. There are, and have also been, amongst us, many divine people who shower this unconditional prema on all who cross their path.
Sarada Ma, consort of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was the embodiment of such unconditional love. She accepted all without questions or rebuke. She used to pour her motherly affection towards all the disciples who visited Sri Ramakrishna. She once told them, “I am the mother of the wicked, as I am the mother of the virtuous. Never fear. Whenever you are in distress, just say to yourself ‘I have a mother.’”
Once a woman devotee who had led an impure life in her younger days visited her. She was enthralled by the unconditional motherly affection showered by the Mother. Moved by the affection, she came to visit the Mother again and again. Upon seeing this, even the Master Sri Ramakrishna warned her and asked her to stay away from this devotee. But Sarada Ma was adamant. How could a mother reject her daughter however bad she was? Hearing her reply, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa raised no further objection. Sarada Ma could not hate anyone.
She served Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples lovingly. She would always prepare food for them with a smile on her face. Even if she had to cook food at odd hours, one could always see her smiling. Not only that, she would cook everybody’s favorite dishes. Although Sri Ramakrishna would insist on controlling the diet of his disciples for spiritual purposes, the loving Mother would ensure that no child of hers went hungry. She also took care of Sri Ramakrishna, as a mother would take care of her child. When serving milk, she would condense the milk and reduce the quantity before serving him or if it was rice, she would press the rice to make the amount consumed appear smaller.
Through her life, isn’t the Holy Mother showing us, how to shower love and affection on others and how to look upon them as our own?
A Guru too is an embodiment of this selfless love. He showers his boundless love. He cares like a mother, disciplines like a father, jokes like a friend, advises like a guide, shows us the purpose of human birth, delivers us from this cycle of birth and death and shows us, God. Above all, he reveals our true nature to us – Love and Bliss. And in return, what does he expect? Nothing!
One might argue that it is easy for realized souls to shower selfless love. But for common people who are busy in mundane activities, it is extremely difficult. For that Sri Swamiji says, “First try. But mere trying is not enough. With that do you know what you have to do? You have to chant the Mahamantra.” As we chant Nama incessantly, love will bloom in our hearts. Sarada Ma too practiced spiritual sadhanas rigorously. She would wake up at 3 am in the morning and do meditation and japa. Japa is nothing but repetition of the name of the Lord. Sri Swamiji says, “Nama is bliss and nama is samadhi.” There are incidents in Sarada Ma’s life where she would go into a state of samadhi for hours together. Once when she was in the house of Nilambar Mukherjee along with her disciples Yogin-Ma and Golap-Ma, she went into the state of samadhi. When she came back to the physical plane, she could not feel her hands and limbs. Yogin-Ma had to press hard to make her realize where her limbs were! Such was the intensity of her spiritual sadhana.
Sri Swamiji further explains that, “After practicing the sadhana, when you start to repeatedly chant this Nama – the Mahamantra – you can feel the inner transformation within you. Your sight towards the world will change. How? Because it will not be possible for you to hate someone for any reason.”
We, who have forgotten what this unconditional love is, need not despair. We still have hope. All we have to do is chant the Mahamantra and it will take care of the rest. It will slowly bring about the inner transformation in us.
Let us pray to Sri Swamiji and to the Holy Mother, to bless us with Nama on our lips and love and bliss in our hearts. Universal brotherhood will automatically follow and the world we see will transform into a beautiful place!
Sindhu Balasubramaniam, Chennai, India