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Emotion Needs Culturing

by Swami Sivananda

Devotion is ingrained in every being. Even an atheist is devoted to his atheism. Love dwells in the heart of every creature. Without love, life itself cannot exist. Even the most cruel‑hearted men love something or other.

As everything else, this love also needs culturing. What is the difference between gardens and forests? In forests, too, there are flowerbeds, there are fruit‑bearing trees. Yet, man is afraid to enter the forest. The earth is strewn with thorns; there are ominous‑looking bushes here and there that hide wild animals. The trees also grow haphazardly and a violent storm produces a forest‑fire which destroys the entire forest. Not so is the case of a garden. The plants are beautifully and artistically laid out. There are order, harmony and pruning. The ground is swept clean and you take delight in walking over the lawns. All foul‑smelling things are removed from the garden and the sweet fragrance of the flowers wafts around.

Similar is the case with love. Love grows wildly in the ignorant man's heart. There is the luscious fruit of love in a corner of the heart; but the entire heart is strewn with thorns of hatred, jealousy and so many other vicious qualities that the charm of love is marred. There are bushes of lust, anger and greed which hide within them the wildest animals. Love lies hidden far beneath and far beyond reach. It is as good as non‑existent. But, in the case of a true devotee of the Lord, this love has been cultured, and the garden of his heart is cleared of the thorns of vicious qualities, of the bushes of lust, anger and greed. Love of God which is the sweetest of fragrances wafts from such a heart.

Turn your gaze within. Look into your own heart. Find out your love. Take firm hold of this love. Cultivate it consciously and deliberately. Find out the thorns and the bushes. By intelligent methods, throw them out. They have no place in the beautiful garden of your heart where the Lord dwells. See what great preparations you make for the reception of a king, a Governor or a big leader! How nicely you sweep the roads, how beautifully you decorate your houses! How much more preparation is necessary for receiving in the temple of your heart the Lord of the Universe, the Governor of the Universe?

When you eradicate the vices that lurk within and cultivate virtues, you will more fully manifest the hidden love. The great Masters of Bhakti have classified Bhakti into five Bhavas. You can adopt any one of these Bhavas or attitudes towards God. These Bhavas are the natural sublimated human attitudes of love. You love your child; correspondingly there is the Vatsalya Bhava towards God where you treat Him as your child. You love your friend; there is the Sakhya Bhava or attitude of friendship towards God. You love your master; there is the Dasya Bhava where you serve the Lord as your Master. You love your husband or wife; there is the Madhurya Bhava where you take the Lord as your Supreme lover. Some people are loving by nature and their love is distributed on all; they have no particular love‑attitude; corresponding to this there is the Santa Bhava where the devotee loves the Lord in his heart, in peaceful contemplation.

Find out where your love lies, whom you love most in the world. Adopt the same love‑attitude towards God, your Indweller, your Lord, your real Friend, who resides within your heart. Love for your friends and relations is Moha or deluded attachment. It binds you faster to the wheel of Samsara. It is fleeting and it is fraught with all sorts of unpleasant consequences. Love of God is liberating. It will lead you to perennial bliss and immortality. It is Bhakti which will bring about an Eternal Union between you and the Supreme Lord of the Universe. It will enable you to realise your identity with Him.

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