Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Love, they say, is the greatest feeling on earth; some even go to the extent of saying that Love is God. The fact is that highest attainments of mankind are possible through a feeling of love towards others. The other day I wrote about the case of this woman in Russia who was found alive with her infant under the rubble after several days of an earthquake. In order to keep her baby alive she had fed the baby her own blood; and that the baby could be kept alive only through this way, kept her alive too. She loved her baby so much that she went beyond just giving up her own life to save that of her child.

Here is Lord Collingwood writing about the death of Nelson, "I saw the tears in the eyes of the young sailors on knowing that Lord Nelson had died". Can you shed tears without loving? Leadership at its best is through the feeling of love towards the men one commands. So, when you go into harm's way you are prepared to give your life. Of all the qualities that Nelson had - some good, some bad - the one that set him apart as a great leader was his love for his men.

Go back into history and you have Jesus Christ as son of God loving us to the extent that he even forgave his persecutors.

There is a school of thought that goes on to compare this kind of unconditional and supreme Love as also possible between a woman and man. Indeed, Guru Nanak told us to "approach God with perfect humility. Throw yourself on His mercy. Give up pride, show and egoism. Beg for His kindness and favour. Do not think of your own merits, abilities, faculties and capacities. Be prepared to die in the pursuit of His love and union with Him. Love God as a woman loves her husband. Make absolute unreserved self-surrender. You can get divine favour and love”. Throughout the Guru Granth Sahib there are repeated mentions of loving God as a woman loves her husband. Indeed, Guru Nanak goes about asking the woman (ie, all of us) what kind of Shingar (Ornaments and Make-up) are required to get our Suhag (husband), that is, God. Of course, we know, that such Shingar is not with material things.

The important thing to remember is that Guru Nanak thought of love of a woman towards her husband as the stuff divine love is made of. Contempraneous with Guru Nanak was Meerabai. Born a princess in Rajasthan, she gave herself away as a wife and worshipper to Lord Krishna:

"My beloved dwells in my heart all day, 
I have actually seen that abode of joy. 
Meera's lord is Hari, the indestructible.
 My lord, I have taken refuge with you, your maidservant."

The legend of Heer Ranjha in Jhang (Pakistan) in Punjab has it that Heer became mesmerised by the way Ranjha played flute and fell in love with him. Even though she was forced by her family to marry Saida she continued to love Ranjha. Eventually, when Ranjha again visited her village, she was poisoned to death by her wily uncle. Ranjha heard of this and bit into the same poisoned Laddu to kill himself. Waris Shah, the poet, who documented this legendary story, is reputed to have made the Heer (a tearful singing tradition in her name) as a depiction of parting from the Almighty. So, once again, the theme of purest form of love being that of a woman for a man or vice-versa was manifested.

Cut now to the modern India:

"Dekh Waris aake apni Heer nu,
Sikh gayi hai roz naviyaan lahn di."
(Waris, come now and see the modern Heer,
She has learnt to find a new liaison everyday)

In the epic of Ramaayan, Lord Ram's consort Sita, crossed the Lakshaman Rekha and was abducted by Lanka's king Raavan. Eventually, Ram fought a great war, helped by Banar Sena (an army of monkeys), against Raavan to win her back. But, guess what? She had to have an Agnipreeksha (Trial by Fire) to prove her loyalty and devotion to Ram.

I do not agree that a woman has to go through any Agnipreeksha to prove devotion to her husband or lover. However, the fact is that the Indian woman has taken her emancipation too far; something like the feminist movement of the United States. In her bid to seek parity with the man, the Indian woman, at present has made a mockery of the word Love. There is no love lost is probably the right expression to use for the modern Indian woman.

The modern Indian woman is at a stage now when, if Guru Nanak was to be reborn, he won't think of her love as the prime example of divine love. I know I would be immediately dubbed as being racist and sexist. But, all that I am saying is that the modern Indian woman ceases to be an example epitomised by many before her such as Sati Savitri.

I am one of those who feel that modernity and traditional values can co-exist. Pragmatism and equality of sexes do not permit 'I love you' to become just a catch-phrase, eg, going to Archies and asking for 'I truly love you' cards on Valentine's Day to be sent to a dozen really close boy-friends.

What about men? I am sure the same applies to men too except that no one had ever given them credit for being so patni-vrata (true to wife in all respects) as to sing paeans describing their virtuous nature as we did of the Indian women of yore.

But the way that poor guy is nowadays treated by the modern Indian woman, very soon we shall have a Munnabhai (in reversal of role of Meerabai) marrying the idol of Durga in supreme devotion.

Any comments?

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