February 14th has come to be considered as the day of ‘love’ across the world.
What is the highest form of love in this world? Love of God? Perhaps. But mahatmas say that more than our love of God, it is God who loves us a million times more! So then the highest form of love would be that of God towards us. However, the fact is that these are just words to most of us. Only very few people in this world are capable of truly perceiving even a bit of that immense love that God is said to have for us.
What then is the highest form of love that we, mere humans, can perceive?
It can only be the love of the mahatmas themselves; the love of an uttama Guru (a great spiritual Master) for us – which is nothing but God’s divine love being showered in a manner that is perceptible to us.
A Guru’s love cannot be compared to any other form of earthly love, because it is totally unconditional and completely accepting. A mother’s love for her child is said to be quite unconditional. But even the most loving mother, when neglected and uncared for by her son, may feel, “I showered so much love on him and sacrificed so much for him… now he doesn’t even care about me.”
But never a Guru! When we go to such a saint, he (or she) can see right through us; he can see our innumerable faults and shortcomings; our meanness, pretences, our huge egos. Yet he chooses to overlook all that out of compassion and still showers his genuine love and affection on us. We may slight him, disrespect or insult him, disobey him, forget him, disregard his advice/upadesa, continue to be hopelessly immersed in sense gratification… but he still continues to shower his love on us. He still speaks to us lovingly when we visit him; he still patiently hears out our worldly problems and gives us his advice; he still praises our smallest act as if it were the greatest and most perfect work in the world.
In fact, it is this love that he showers on us that is truly his weapon in turning our minds towards him. There is a namavali in our Guru ashtottram – premAyudha dharAya (One who carries the weapon of Love). This is the perfect epithet for a Guru. The Guru brings about a transformation in his disciple, not by mere threats or fear, but through love, the most potent weapon.
How can mahatmas be like this? How can they shower this unconditional love, not just on one or two people, but on all who go to them? It is simply because they are filled to the brim with divine love for God, and they actually see only that same divinity in every person and every thing, and cannot but love “it”.
If we read the life stories of all the great spiritual Masters in the world, the one thing that all their disciples speak of is their Master’s love.
Swami Vivekananda said of his master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, “Ever since our first meeting, it was the Master alone who always had faith in me – no one else, not even my own mother and brothers. That faith and that love of his have bound me to him forever. The Master was the only one who knew how to love and who really loved.”
Every single one of Sri Kanchi Mahaperiyava’s disciples regards him as an epitome of love and compassion. Mahaperiyava himself said, “The very purpose of human birth is to show love. The happiness that love gives is not to be found in anything else.” What then to speak of his own love towards those who came to him?
In her book Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the Divine Beggar, Ma Devaki writes of her master, “His compassion and care lured people into a love-net – a love-net that was no stifling prison but a means to greater freedom – a love-net that would extricate them from the ensnares of the illusive world!”
Yogi Sri Krishnaprem, a mahatma who lived near Almora in north India in the mid-twentieth century, says of his guru Yasoda Ma, “…my Guru will never leave me whatever I do… I may fall from the Path, return to the flesh-pots and wallow in their filthy slops for five lives or fifty lives; I may blaspheme the Sacred Stone within my heart and die cursing God and man—all this and more I may do but She will never leave my side… Never, never will she leave my side nor cease to guide my steps until I stand in that eternal Braja where She stands now. God-forsaken and man-forsaken I may be, but Guru-forsaken, never.”
A Guru’s love – like the nature of the Infinite Being – cannot be described in words. It can only be experienced and enjoyed. And to know that one is the recipient of such a love indeed brings a feeling of joy, happiness, contentment and satisfaction.
It is said that to have never loved, is to have never lived. But the truth is, to have never experienced a Guru’s love is to have never lived. Or to put it the other way, only when we become the fortunate recipients of a Guru’s love do we truly live.