Articles by HDG Shrila B.S. Tirtha Maharaj

Hankering for Love or Lust?

Man or woman, everyone wants to love and be loved. This is the natural tendency for all human beings to get into a relationship that springs from our hankering for love. But do we really find that love? Or do we simply pursue lust? What is Love? What is Lust? Do we really know the difference? Hardly. His Divine Grace Shrila B. S. Tirtha Maharaja enlightens us on this subtle issue...
There is always a burning desire in our hearts to
love someone to our total satisfaction, to give up
ourselves completely. We also try very hard to
find someone who can give us love. This quest for a
loving exchange is the basic reason for our urge to get
into relationships. Therefore, no amount of dishonour
and discomfiture has ever discouraged anyone in the
relentless pursuit of the object of love a person always
wants to achieve.
This goes back to the very beginning of this cosmic
creation. Since then, all human beings have always felt
the instinctive need to forge relationships. This innate
nature has culminated in development of class,
community, race and nation.
People try to derive great pleasure from various kinds of relationships because these relationships apparently forged unity among the related ones (as a class or a community, as a race or a nation) and provided a sense of security. On the strength of such relationships, many dynasties thrived, empires were built, civilizations grew, cultures spread and traditions developed. However, close individual relationships like conjugal, paternal and fraternal ties have invariably provided ecstatic experiences resulting in unforgettable sentiments due to the intimacy involved, as compared to group relationships. At the same time, we learn from history that many dynasties were destroyed, empires crumbled
down, civilizations wiped away, cultures became polluted and traditions collapsed totally due to soured relationships. Personal relationships are also often subjected to dissatisfaction, failures, disappointments, frustrations, envy, enmity, jealousy and belligerence. When viewed with a philosophical approach or through pragmatic observation, these relationships are
meaningless in the ultimate issue. All physical relationships are fake, hypocritical and contrived bonding.

Due to this deep rooted desire to relate, we become
desperately attached to our parents, wives, children,
other family members and friends. Little do we realise
that our connection with family members and friends is
actually as superficial as our associations with strangers whom we sometimes chance to meet at restaurants, hotels, highway motels and tourist spots. The togetherness with our family members is therefore called pantha sangamah - association with travellers. Such relationships in this world are temporary because the sudden death of any one person will sever all connections with the rest for ever. It is just as we get into our cars and leave the tourist spot, we simply do not bother any more to remember who we met and chatted with. No relationship in this world is permanent no matter how valuable or intimate it may be. The so-called pleasure experienced in physical relationships is illusory.
One should, therefore, not become attached thinking these are eternal. seeing a sense of permanency in things that are temporary - anitye nitya buddhyah, as indicated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (9- 18-41). Therefore, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11-17-54) directs, “Griheshu atithivat vasan - one should stay at one’s own home merely as a guest and not unnecessarily entangle in domestic affairs.” With the death of our present body, all our relationships will instantly come to an end. Love, which every living being is searching for, in life after life, is true but the medium through which one wants to attain it is false. A conditioned soul cannot taste love in the physical conception of life. Love belongs to the spiritual realm. Since the bodily covering is only a superficial imposition on the eternal soul, in the conditional state, what underlie all dealings in
physical relations are different degrees of lust and not love. Lust arises from selfishness while love is generated from
selflessness. So, it is not love but lust at first sight. As long as the body is the medium of transactions between two persons, the influence of selfishness is inevitable. Hence, love is ruled out in all bodily connections. Emotional attachment should never be misconstrued for loving feelings. Although we think otherwise, relationships are not founded on love or affection. All relationships with our family members and friends are need based and lack substance. Hence, every relationship based on the physical conception of life is irritating and disappointing at the end. No relationship, however intimate it may be, gives one genuine satisfaction or pleasure.

Therefore, true loving exchanges are possible only on the spiritual platform of Krishna consciousness. When one realises one’s true identity and eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord Krishna by transcendental knowledge, pure love blossoms in his heart. A conditioned soul cannot on its own effort revive its knowledge of eternal relationship with Lord Krishna. This can be achieved only through sadhu sanga - the association of saintly personalities who are pure devotees of the Supreme Lord.
Even great philosophers of the impersonal school, who
have come to understand with thorough conviction that
they are not bodies but spirit souls, cannot understand
the loving feeling that exists on the transcendental platform. Their knowledge of abstract Brahman and their
own position as mere atomic consciousness deprives them of this understanding. Only pure devotees are blessed to experience this. If one succeeds in reestablishing one’s relationship with the Supreme Lord, one will constantly float on the boundless ocean of joy and relish the true loving sentiments for the highest object of love. Nothing else will then matter to him as confirmed in the Gita (6-22),“Yam labdhva chaparam labham.” This cannot be experienced by an empirical approach or any speculative means. A devotee is beyond the jurisdiction of all material conceptions. No one can understand the supernatural position of Lord Krishna through mental theories. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (5-3-10) affirms that “Nija purusha ikshana vishaya - He can be seen only by His pure devotees.” This is also stated in the Gita (7-25), “Naham prakashah sarvasya - I do not reveal Myself to one and all.” Fully surrendered devotees of Lord Krishna see Him all the time in their hearts through premanjana chhurita
bhakti vilochanena - devotional eyes anointed with the pulp of love. Despite repeated let-downs in various relationships, we desperately crave for favourable response each time we get into a new relationship. We are often disappointed despite careful cultivation, sensible handling and tactful behaviour. We are, at times, haunted by a deep sense of betrayal when confronted and exposed in our many attempts to achieve meaningful relationships because
sense satisfaction is the basis of all symbiotic links.
Even the most outstanding enthusiasts of pleasure games in this world are ultimately left high and dry. Only those
who are mature enough to see through this sham become averse to all sorts of hypocritical and pretentious relationships aimed at fulfilment of gross physical and subtle mental cravings. A relationship-gone-sour often serves as an impetus or acts as a catalyst in some cases to motivate one to the spiritual path as it enables the loser for a serious
introspection. Lord Rishabha-deva, an incarnation of Lord Vasudeva, says in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (5-5-1):
nayam deho deha-bhajam nriloke
kashtan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam
shuddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv-anantam

My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has
been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is
available even for dogs and pigs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the
divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one’s heart is purified, and when one attains this
position, one attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.

Human beings should not engage their bodies in activities like the pigs do. Pigs have only two tasks - eating and mating. Why? They have no other ideas. This is their goal of life - enjoyment through physical relationships. For human beings, the Lord recommends tapah - penances. Penance means voluntarily accepting physical discomforts for higher purposes. Why should we practice penances? Because they purify our existence - yena sattvam shuddhyet.
Right now, our minds (the minds belongs to the subtle body which accompanies the spirit soul during transmigration from one gross body to another) are impure because of our past habits in past lives in the bodies of animals and birds. Due to habit, our minds continue to be polluted by demanding the same type of enjoyments we experienced in those bodies. Now we have the chance to start the decontamination process. Why should we do it? Yasmat Brahma saukhyam tu anantam - because we can taste unending spiritual bliss. This is the result of becoming free from all fake,
hypocritical contrived bonding of all physical relations of this world. Only a purified mind has the capacity to
understand spiritual subjects. The Supreme Lord of gods, Krishna says in the Gita (18/65)
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo si me

Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come
to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

Why does the Lord command like this? Because we are
related to Him eternally. This spiritual relationship is
based on pure love. Lord Krishna is our saviour, our
protector. Our relationship with Him is the only true
relationship because it is based on love. This love for
Krishna is dormant in all living entities. Unfortunately,
due to contact with matter, this loving propensity has
become degraded to material sense enjoyment. It is just
like rain water which is so pure when it falls from the sky
but becomes dirty as it comes in contact with the earth.

We think that we are suffering here due to various
reasons. Ostensibly yes, but the real fact is that the
suffering is like the lovers’ pain due to separation. Our
estrangement from Lord Krishna is the root cause of all
sufferings. Lord Chaitanya who is Lord Krishna Himself
in the form of a devotee expresses it as:
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His
embrace or makes me broken-hearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.

This is the true sign of the realization of our true relationship with Lord Krishna. On reviving this spiritual relationship, the living being becomes purified and serene, enjoying an ecstatic state of experience forever. This happens because it has regained a firm footing or everlasting loving connection with the supreme object of love, Lord Krishna.


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