“The Lord is very kind to the forgetful souls. He therefore comes Himself and leaves behind necessary instructions and also sends His good sons as representatives to call all the conditioned souls back to Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.9 Purport)
Friend1: What is your definition of love?
Friend2: What do you mean? In terms of kama versus prema or in the ordinary sense?
Friend1: Just your first reaction; for right now forget the technical definitions that you’re so fond of sharing.
Friend2: Okay. Hmm, I have to think about it.
Friend1: No, don’t think. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Friend2: Well, why don’t you go first and then I’ll have something to work off of?
Friend1: That’s not how you play, but I can see that we’re not getting anywhere otherwise. My definition is “wanting more for the object of love than you want for yourself.”
Friend2: Oh, that’s pretty good. I like that. I would say “caring.”
Friend1: Compassion too, no?
Friend2: Yeah, for sure. Empathy; that’s not something you hear every day.
Friend1: That’s a good one. When you know how someone feels about a certain thing, it means that you can better connect with them. With empathy, you are better equipped to support them.
Friend2: Supportive! That’s another definition.
Friend1: Now we are getting somewhere. Let’s kick it up a notch. Give me examples of where love is shown.
Friend2: What do you mean? Like my mom showing up at school with my favorite sandwich and a drink after I’ve taken an important exam?
Friend1: Exactly. I’ll say filling up your spouse’s car with gas when you know that they’ve got a long trip scheduled the next day.
Friend2: How about having dinner ready on the table when you’ve come home late from a hard day at the office?
Friend1: You really like the food examples, eh? Can’t you think outside the box for once?
Friend2: Okay. Ooh, I got one. How about the affection of a grandparent?
Friend1: Be more specific.
Friend2: Like influencing the grandchildren when they are young. The love of the grandparent is unique since they don’t get to see the result later on.
Friend1: Because they won’t live for very long?
Friend2: Not necessarily that, but the grandparents usually aren’t with the children all the time. Twenty or thirty years later, something the grandparents did can bring a positive influence. For example, wasn’t your grandfather instrumental in your marriage happening?
Friend1: He was. That’s a very good point. And I didn’t even talk to him much at that time. I did more so when I was younger. I guess he never forgot about me; he showed love throughout even though my attention was diverted when I got older. If it wasn’t for him, I likely wouldn’t be married today to a wonderful wife.
Friend2: See, so that’s a good example of love. You can say it’s even stronger in that case since the result is not visible.
Friend1: See, I’m glad we had this discussion. I never thought about that before.
Friend2: I’ll do you one better. How about the saints of the Vedic tradition who left such a wealth of literature available to the future generations?
Friend1: You mean like Vyasadeva and Valmiki? Lord Chaitanya’s closest disciples Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami?
Friend2: And don’t forget their nephew Jiva Gosvami.
Friend1: You think what they did was love for others, though? Weren’t they more interested just in worshiping God? Not that that’s a bad thing, but it seems more on the selfish side.
Friend2: Well, that’s the great thing about bhakti-yoga. The Supreme Lord is the root of everything. If you water the roots of a plant, you feed the whole plant. If you are selfish in the sense that you want to worship Krishna all the time, understanding that God is indeed all-attractive, then you actually benefit so many others.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine where I would be today if I didn’t have the works of the saints of the bhakti tradition. I love reading the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He influences people today and he will continue to do so going forward. People he never met have had their lives changed for the better because of him. Can anyone compete with that kind of love?
Friend1: I’ll have to think about that one. It’s difficult to top I must say. You’re working in divine love, and you won’t necessarily see the results to your work. You just have to have faith that you’re on the right path.
Friend2: Well, we are the proof that one should indeed maintain that faith. And not just the saints who were skilled in writing – anyone who works in bhakti helps others in the same way. Think of Shri Hanuman. He risked his life to find Rama’s missing wife Sita. He didn’t care what others thought about him. He was not worried about his reputation. To this day he takes great pleasure in hearing about Sita and Rama. No one can shake him from this position.
Friend1: So you’re saying his love automatically extends to everyone else?
Friend2: It does. It is said that the devotee is a symbol of sacrifice. Prahlada Maharaja is the same way. You don’t even have to pick someone famous. Any family member who practices bhakti-yoga influences others, even if only indirectly. Their chanting of the holy names alone helps so many others. To hear the mantra from someone who loves the Supreme Lord is a great boon.
How concept of love to define?
Is it when meeting interests of mine?
Highest sacrifice possibly to be,
When the results not even to see.
Think of work of Vedic saints done,
How help in the future also to come.
Generation after generation coming,
Through that love devotees becoming.