There is a beautiful myth about the origin of love in the Hindu religion. Initially, there was a superbeing – Purusha, who did not know fear, greed, passion and desire to do anything, because the Universe was already perfect. And then, the creator Brahma took out his divine sword, dividing Purusha in half. Heaven was separated from earth, darkness from light, life from death, and man from woman. Since then, each of the halves strive to reunite. As human beings, we seek unity, which is what love is.
How to keep the life-giving flame of love? The ancient sages of India paid great attention to this issue, recognizing the power of romance and intimacy in stimulating emotions. However, the most important question for them was: what is behind the passion? How to use the intoxicating power of attraction to create happiness that will last even after the original flame has died down? Philosophers have preached that love consists of a series of stages. The first phases of it do not necessarily have to go away as one becomes more enlightened. However, a long stay on the initial steps will inevitably entail sadness and disappointment.
It is important to overcome the ascent of the ladder of love. In the 19th century, the Hindu apostle Swami Vivekananda said: .
So, the five stages of love from the point of view of Hinduism
The desire to merge is expressed through physical attraction, or kama. From a technical point of view, kama means “the desire to feel objects”, but it is usually understood as “sexual desire”.
In ancient India, sex was not associated with something shameful, but was an aspect of a happy human existence and an object of serious study. The Kama Sutra, which was written at the time of Christ, is not just a set of sexual positions and erotic techniques. Much of the book is a philosophy of love that deals with passion and how to sustain and cultivate it.
Sex without true intimacy and exchange devastates both. That is why Indian philosophers paid special attention to the emotional component. They have come up with a rich vocabulary of words that express myriad moods and emotions associated with intimacy.
From this “vinaigrette” of feelings, shringara, or romance, is born. In addition to erotic pleasure, lovers exchange secrets and dreams, affectionately address each other and give unusual gifts. It symbolizes the relationship of the divine couple Radha and Krishna, whose romantic adventures are featured in Indian dance, music, theater and poetry.
From the point of view of Indian philosophers, . In particular, this refers to the manifestation of love in simple things: a smile at the checkout, a chocolate bar for the needy, a sincere hug.
, — said Mahatma Gandhi.
Compassion is the simplest manifestation of the love we feel for our children or pets. It is related to matru-prema, the Sanskrit term for motherly love, which is considered its most unconditional form. Maitri symbolizes tender motherly love, but expressed towards all living beings, not just her biological child. Compassion for strangers does not always come naturally. In Buddhist and Hindu practice, there is meditation, during which the ability to wish the happiness of all living beings is developed.
While compassion is an important step, it is not the last. Beyond the interpersonal, Indian traditions speak of an impersonal form of love in which feeling grows and becomes directed towards everything. The path to such a state is called “bhakti yoga”, which means the cultivation of personality through love for God. For non-religious people, bhakti may not focus on God, but on Goodness, Justice, Truth, and so on. Think of leaders like Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama, and countless others whose love for the world is incredibly strong and unselfish.
Before this stage, each of the stages of love was directed to the external world surrounding a person. However, at its top, it makes a reverse circle to itself. Atma-prema can be translated as selfishness. This should not be confused with selfishness. What this means in practice: we see ourselves in others and we see others in ourselves. “The river that flows in you also flows in me,” said the Indian mystical poet Kabir. Reaching Atma-prema, we come to understand: putting aside our differences in genetics and upbringing, we are all manifestations of one life. Life, which Indian mythology presented in the form of Purusha. Atma-Prema comes with the realization that beyond our personal faults and weaknesses, beyond our name and personal history, we are children of the Supreme. When we love ourselves and others in such a deep yet impersonal understanding, love loses its boundaries and becomes unconditional.