Author: Beloo Mehra (2020). Published in Sraddha, Vol. 11 (4), April 2020, pp. 82-99
CONTINUED FROM PART 1
What Does Love Seek?
According to Sri Aurobindo, love seeks for two things, eternity and intensity. In his chapters on Yoga of Divine Love (ordinarily referred to as Bhakti Yoga in the Indian tradition) in his work ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’ he writes that this seeking for eternity and for intensity is instinctive and self-born in the relation of the Lover and Beloved (CWSA, Vol. 23, p. 569). This relation is the basis of the religion of the Vaishnavas, the yearning of the human soul for the Supreme Beloved.
We see such seeking of love also manifesting in the human lovers. When a person first falls in love with another, that love is highly intense at the beginning. And of course, never for a moment does the person think that this love will not last forever. The common phrase “happily ever after” is reflective of this seeking for eternity and intensity.
Rama’s lament for Sita after she is kidnapped, as presented by Rishi Valmiki in the Aranya Kanda of Ramayana is a wonderful example of such deep intensity and eternity that love seeks.
भृशमाव्रजमानस्य तस्याधो वामलोचनम्।
प्रास्फुरच्चास्खलद्रामो वेपथुश्चाप्य जायत।।
As Rama was returning (to the hermitage), his left eye throbbed repeatedly and he stumbled and his body trembled.
उपालक्ष्य निमित्तानि सोऽशुभानि मुहुर्मुहुः।
अपि क्षेमं नु सीताया इति वै व्याजहार च।।
As inauspicious omens appeared again and again, doubting if all is well with Sita, he said to himself, Can Sita be safe?
त्वरमाणो जगामाथ सीतादर्शनलालसः।
शून्यमावसथं दृष्ट्वा बभूवोद्विग्नमानसः।।
Anxious to see Sita, he hastened to the hermitage and finding it empty, became restless.
उद्भ्रमन्निव वेगेन विक्षिपन्रघुनन्दनः।
तत्र तत्रोटजस्थानमभिवीक्षय समन्ततः।।
ददर्श पर्णशालां च रहितां सीतया तदा।
श्रिया विरहितां ध्वस्तां हेमन्ते पद्मिनीमिव।।
Rama, the delight of the Raghu dynasty, hurtled in, turning round, throwing his hands to and fro, casting his looks all around the cottage where she used to move. The cottage, devoid of Sita looked like a lotus pond, the beauty of its lotuses destroyed by winter.
रुदन्तमिव वृक्षैश्च म्लानपुष्पमृगद्विजम्।
श्रिया विहीनं विध्वस्तं सन्त्यक्तवनदेवतम्।।
दृष्ट्वा शून्यं निजस्थानं विललाप पुनः पुनः।।
The trees with flowers withered, the animals and birds turned pale looked as if they were weeping. Bereft of their beauty they wore a ruinous look. The sylvan deities had left. The deerskin and kusa grass were strewn here and there, the grass cushions and straw mats lay scattered. Seeing his cottage so desolate Rama wept again and again.
हृता मृता वा नष्टा वा भक्षिता वा भविष्यति।
निलीनाप्यथवा भीरुरथवा वनमाश्रिता।।
‘Timid Sita might have been abducted or dead or crushed or eaten up by demons. Or, she may be hiding for protection in the forest’
गता विचेतुं पुष्पाणि फलान्यपि च वा पुनः।
अथवा पद्मिनीं याता जलार्थं वा नदीं गता।।
‘Maybe she has gone to pluck flowers or fruits. Or to the lotus pond or river to fetch water.’
यत्नान्मृगयमाणस्तु नाससाद वने प्रियाम्।
शोकरक्तेक्षणश्शोकादुन्मत्त इव लक्ष्यते।।
He ransacked the forest, yet did not find his beloved. He appeared like a mad man, his eyes turned red with tears of sorrow.
वृक्षाद्वृक्षं प्रधावन्सगिरेश्चाद्रिं नदान्नदीम्।
Running from tree to tree, hill to hill, and river to river and weeping, Rama was immersed in a sea of sorrow.
अपि काचित्त्वया दृष्टा सा कदम्बप्रिया प्रिया।
कदम्ब यदि जानीषे शंस सीतां शुभाननाम्।।
‘O Kadamba tree, tell me if you have seen my beloved with a fair face and with love for kadamba flowers.’
शंसस्व यदि वा दृष्टा बिल्व बिल्वोपमस्तनी।।
‘O Bilva tree, tell me if you have seen a lady delicate like your tender leaf, dressed in yellow silk, a lady whose breasts are round like Bilva fruits.’
अथवाऽर्जुन शंस त्वं प्रियां तामर्जुनप्रियाम्।
जनकस्य सुता भीरुर्यदि जीवति वा न वा।।
‘O Arjuna tree, tell me if you know a timid lady, daughter of Janaka and my beloved, fond of Arjuna tree. Is she living or not?’
ककुभः ककुभोरूं तां व्यक्तं जानाति मैथिलीम्।
यथा पल्लवपुष्पाढ्यो भाति ह्येष वनस्पतिः।।
‘This Kakubha tree rich with tender leaves and flowers (perhaps) knows Maithili whose thighs are beautiful like the trunk of the Kakubha tree.’
भ्रमरैरुपगीतश्च यथा द्रुमवरो ह्ययम्।
एष व्यक्तं विजानाति तिलकस्तिलकप्रियाम्।।
‘This great Tilaka tree round which bees bumble surely knows the lady who loves to put tilaka marks on the forehead.’
अशोक शोकापनुद शोकोपहतचेतसम्।
त्वन्नामानं कुरु क्षिप्रं प्रियासन्दर्शनेन माम्।।
‘O Ashoka tree, dispeller of sorrow, by quickly showing me my darling make me ashoka (free from sorrow) as I am grief stricken at heart.’
यदि ताल त्वया दृष्टा पक्वतालफलस्तनी।
कथयस्व वरारोहां कारुण्यं यदि ते मयि।।
‘O Palmyra tree be kind to me and tell me if you have seen my beautiful beloved who has breasts like ripe palmyra fruit?’
यदि दृष्टा त्वया सीता जम्बु जम्बूफलोपमा।
प्रियां यदि विजानीषे निःशङ्कं कथयस्व मे।।
‘O Jambu tree, do not hesitate to tell me if you know Sita whose body shines lovely like gold.’
अहो त्वं कर्णिकाराद्य सुपुष्पैश्शोभसे भृशम्।
कर्णिकारप्रिया साध्वी शंस दृष्टा प्रिया यदि।।
‘O Karnikara tree with flowers in full bloom, tell me if you have seen my faithful beloved who is fond of karnikara flowers.’
दाडिमाननसान्गत्वा दृष्ट्वा रामो महायशाः।।
मल्लिका माधवीश्चैव चम्पकान्केतकीस्तथा।
पृच्छन्रामो वने भान्तः उन्मत्त इव लक्ष्यते।।
Renowned Rama, like a madman confused, approached the Mango, Kadamba, Sal and Jackfruit, Dhava, Champak, Ketaki trees and Pomegranate, Jasmine and Madhavi creepers, in order to make similar queries.
अथवा मृगशाबाक्षीं मृग जानासि मैथिलीम्।
मृगविप्रेक्षणी कान्ता मृगीभिस्सहिता भवेत्।।
‘Or, O deer do you know about Maithili who has the eyes of a fawn? My beloved who has the restless eyes of a doe may be found in their company.’
गज सा गजनासोरूर्यदि दृष्टा त्वया भवेत्।
तां मन्ये विदितां तुभ्यमाख्याहि वरवारण।।
‘O elephant tell me if you have seen her whose thighs are like the trunk of an elephant. O best of elephants, tell me if you know her.’
शार्दूल यदि सा दृष्टा प्रिया चन्द्रनिभानना।
मैथिली मम विस्रब्धं कथयस्व न ते भयम्।।
‘O tiger, tell me freely and fearlessly if you have seen my beloved princess from Mithila with a face like the moon.’
किं धावसि प्रिये दूरे दृष्टासि कमलेक्षणे।
वृक्षैराच्छाद्य चात्मानं किं मां न प्रतिभाषसे।।
‘O lotus eyed darling, why are you running away? I have already seen you. Why are you hiding behind trees and not replying to me?’
तिष्ठ तिष्ठ वरारोहे न तेऽस्ति करुणा मयि।
नात्यर्थं हास्यशीलासि किमर्थं मामुपेक्षसे।।
‘O my beautiful beloved, stay, stay. Have you no compassion for me? You are so fond of fun. Why do you avoid me?’
पीतकौशेयकेनासि सूचिता वरवर्णिनि।
धावन्त्यपि मया दृष्टा तिष्ठ यद्यस्ति सौहृदम्।।
‘O lady of lovely complexion, I can see your yellow silk (flying), while you are running away. If you have love for me, stay on.’
नैव सा नूनमथवा हिंसिता चारुहासिनी।
कृच्छ्रप्राप्तं न मां नूनं यथोपेक्षितुमर्हति।।
‘O lady with a sweet smile I have never hurt you. When I am in difficulty it does not behoove you to ignore me.’
व्यक्तं सा भक्षिता बाला राक्षसैः पिशिताशनैः।
विभज्याङ्कानि सर्वाणि मया विरहिता प्रिया।।
‘It is clear that separated from me, the body of my young beloved is torn off and eaten away by carnivorous demons.’
नूनं तच्छुभदन्तोष्ठं सुनासं चारुकुण्डलम्।
पूर्णचन्द्रनिभं ग्रस्तं मुखंनिष्प्रभतां गतम्।।
‘Her beautiful face with her sparkling teeth and lips, well-shaped nose, shining earrings has been like the full moon, eclipsed and rendered pale.’
सा हि चम्पकवर्णाभा ग्रीवा ग्रैवेयशोभिता।
कोमला विलपन्त्यास्तु कान्ताया भक्षिता शुभा।।
‘That delicate, beautiful neck of my beloved having the complexion of a champak flower and adorned with necklaces was perhaps eaten up.’
नूनं विक्षिप्यमाणौ तौ बाहू पल्लवकोमलौ।
भक्षितौ वेपमानाग्रौ सहस्ताभरणाङ्गदौ।।
‘Her arms, delicate like tender leaves, their tips (fingers) quivering, adorned with armlets and bracelets have surely been eaten away.’
मया विरहिता बाला रक्षसां भक्षणाय वै।
सार्धेनेव परित्यक्ता भक्षिता बहुबान्धवा।।
‘The young lady having many relations, forsaken by me, has been (perhaps) picked up by a demon for food and later abandoned half-eaten.’
हा लक्ष्मण महाबाहो पश्यसि त्वं प्रियां क्वचित्।
हा प्रिये क्व गता भद्रे हा सीतेति पुनः पुनः।।
‘O long-armed Lakshmana, are you able to see my beloved anywhere? O noble lady, O darling, where have you gone? O Sita, Sita!’
इत्येवं विलपन्रामः परिधावन्वनाद्वनम्।
क्वचिदुद्भ्रमते वेगात्क्वचिद्विभ्रमते बलात्।।
क्वचिन्मत्त इवाभाति कान्तान्वेषणतत्परः।
Rama ran from forest to forest, now jumping, now taking strong strides, but all the time weeping, a madman busy in search of his beloved.
स वनानि नदीश्शैलान् गिरिप्रस्रवणानि च।।
काननानि च वेगेन भ्रमत्यपरिसंस्थितः।
He rushed through forests, rivers, hills and mountain streams and through dense jungles with an unstable mind.
तथा स गत्वा विपुलम् महद्वनं परीत्य सर्वं त्वथ मैथिलीं प्रति।
अनिष्ठिताशस्सचकार मार्गणे पुनः प्रियायाः परमं परिश्रमम्।।
Rama went about the vast forest searching for the princess from Mithila all over not giving up hope of finding her. He continued to make great efforts for searching his beloved.
इत्यार्षे श्रीमद्रामायणे वाल्मीकीय आदिकाव्ये अरण्यकाण्डे षष्टितमस्सर्गः।।
Thus ends the sixtieth sarga of Aranyakanda of the holy Ramayana the first epic composed by sage Valmiki. (3.60.1-38)
And such sorrowful lament continues in the next sarga (canto) in the poem. (Translation by Prof. P. Geervani & Prof. K. Kamala)
This is Rama’s intensity, the intensity of his love for Sita!
Love is also a seeking for mutual possession, and in a relation of the lover and beloved, this demand for mutual possession becomes absolute. However, the desire of possession still assumes a difference between the two – lover and beloved. The deeper seeking is that of a oneness, “of two souls merging into each other and becoming one” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 23, p. 569). This is what will ultimately satisfy the lover.
We find great examples of this intense yearning in the love poetry written across various cultures. Kālidāsa, the great Sanskrit master-poet of sensuous beauty dealt with human emotions in a very delicate way. In Act III of Vikaramorvasie, we find some beautiful description of the deep yearning of a lover who is unable to sleep because of not being with his beloved, and who is also unable to paint a picture of her beloved because he is worried that his tears may spoil her sweet face drawn on the paper.
“How can I, with this rankling wound of love,
Call to me sleep who marries men with dreams?
And if I paint the sweetness of her face,
Will not the tears, before it is half done,
Blurring my gaze with mist, blot the dear vision?”
(Translation by Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 5, p. 151)
Love is also a seeker for beauty and delight. And again, in the love of a lover for his beloved this yearning is eternally satisfied in the vision and the touch and the joy of the beloved. A lover finds the highest possible ecstasy both of the heart-consciousness and of every fiber of the being only when he or she is with his or her beloved.
We find a good example of such yearning of love for beauty and delight in Kālidāsa’s Meghdūtam. The story is of a husband banished for a year from his home and wife. The husband sends “his imagination travelling on the wings of the northward-bound cloud over the sacred places, the great cities and rivers of India to the snowbound Himalaya and the homes of the Gods. There his mind sees his wife, breathes to her all its sorrow and longing and prays for an answering message. The love described may not be on the highest altitudes, but it is utterly real and human, full of enduring warmth, tenderness & passion, of strife and joy, tears and kisses, the daily food of love” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 1, p. 238).
Sri Aurobindo reminds that this relation between a lover and the beloved demands the most and, even when it reaches the greatest intensities it is still the least satisfied. This is because only in the Divine can love – any love – find its real and its utter satisfaction.