Emotions Needs Culturing

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Devotion is ingrained in you all. Love dwells in the heart of every creature. Without love, life itself cannot exist. Even the most cruel hearted man loves something or the 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 so haphazardly that a violent storm produces a fire which destroys the entire forest.

Not so in the case of a garden. The plants are beautifully and artistically laid out. There is order, harmony and pruning. The ground is swept clean and you take a delight in walking on the lawns. All foul smelling things are removed from the garden and the sweet fragrance of the flowers wafts around.

The garden of love

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 the 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 case of a true devotee of the Lord, this love is 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!

Five kinds of emotion

When you eradicate the vices that lurk within and cultivate virtues, you will more fully manifest the hidden love. The great Masters of Devotion have classified bhakti into five bhavas. You can adopt any one of these bhavas or attitudes towards God. These bhavas are 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, so there is the sakhya bhava or attitude of friendship towards God. You love your master and there is the dasya bhava where you serve the Lord as your master. You love your husband or wife and there is 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 shanta bhava where the devotee loves the Lord in his heart, in peaceful contemplation.

Love of God gives liberation

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 realize your identity with Him.

23 October 1950, Hyderabad