God is Love

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Immortal Atma Svarup! Beloved children of the Divine! We are in the presence of beloved and worshipful Gurudev. We are constant recipients of his goodness, his grace and above all his motiveless, infinite love.

In this world of human beings and living creatures, it is said that the greatest manifestation of love is the love of the mother for her child, a love in which the mother holds back nothing, desires nothing and considers no sacrifice too great. And this phenomenon is observed all over the universe, not only in human behaviour or human society but in the behaviour of all living beings.

When the eggs have hatched and the little fledglings have come out, you have only to see the way in which the entire life of the mother and the father birds becomes a total absorption in the feeding and protection of the new-borns. From morning till night, even in the worst of climates, they will forage for food and come and feed the young ones, protect them, and even die for them.

A cow that has calved, with what tenderness she licks the calf and looks after it day and night! If anyone approaches, the docile cow loses all fear and is ready to attack the intruder. It is said that when the young one is there, an animal will attack even a tiger or a lion if it approaches; it forgets all fear.

Thus it is with every species—the tenderness with which a cat licks its kittens or a ferocious animal like a tiger puts up with the playful antics and annoyances of its cubs. When herds of elephants move in a forest infested with beasts of prey, the youngest are kept in the centre of the herd, while the elder ones, the strongest and most experienced, take up the periphery. Thus they move about protecting the young ones.

This protecting, feeding, nourishing of the young is the most universal and vital manifestation of love. It is to be observed everywhere as the one common universal phenomenon in all forms of life. For every such observed phenomenon, there may be a hundred, nay a thousand unobserved, because many forms of life are not under our direct observation. To what extent the mother bird or mother animal goes, maybe even starving itself, going to any trouble and not regarding it as trouble, is known only to God Who observes it in the mother, and not to the offspring because it is not in a position or condition or state to intelligently know what is going on. All it knows is to look to her for this protection and nourishment and there it is available. Thus in a world of change, there is one thing that never changes and has been so ever since creation: this phenomenon of the love of the mother for its offspring manifesting in the form of care, protection and nourishment—and at the time when the offspring is most helpless, most vulnerable and needing protection.

And all the great mystics who have attained God-consciousness or God-realisation or God-experience have vouched for this and borne it out, that this is the one truth about God: He is infinite love, immeasurable love, boundless love, that does not know barriers of time and space. One great mystic from the Dravidian culture explains and says: “Anpe Sivam—That Supreme Reality is nothing but absolute love.” And he adds: “One who has known that the Supreme Being is an embodiment of love, he indeed has known. And one who does not know that the Supreme Being is all love, what has he known? He has not known, he has yet to know.”

And this has been successively borne out by the experience of all the great mystics. One great mystic of Europe, from Bavaria in Germany, wrote a dialogue between a master and a disciple which has brought this out. He says: “What do you know about the power of divine love, O disciple? It is such that it cannot be fathomed, it cannot be described. It is something that will follow you wherever you go, whatever you are, whatever you have done. If necessary, even if you go to hell, it will reach out for you there and break hell to pieces and redeem you.” He uses the expression, it will “break hell to pieces.” Such is the nature of the love of God.

What is the tattva or principle behind all the avataras? All the avataras took place because God, out of His infinite love, wanted to come and help, protect, save and liberate His devotees from all fear. “Do not fear, do not sorrow. There is nothing for you to fear or be sorrowful about.” And thus the entire phenomenon of avatara is a manifestation, an outcome and expression of this great love of God. Because, He is concerned about the highest good and when He is called, He comes—“I come again and again to protect the righteous, to censure the unrighteous.” Why? Because God is love. And His love is one unchanging, ever-present truth that one has to know, one has to experience and one has to have firm abiding faith in.

Many a time we think God’s love is not available to us. However, one poet declares the truth that when you think that God’s love has been withdrawn, “now I do not have it, it is no more available to me, it is no more extended to me,” perhaps that is the time when it is most extended to you. Some unknown author has brought this out, giving it in the form of someone narrating a dream. In that dream the person had a very vivid experience and suddenly feels deprived of the love and protection of God at a time when he most needed it. He then questions God: “Why did you not come to my rescue at that time?” The answer that comes from God is very revealing. It is worth knowing, and this truth, expressed in the form of a narration of a dream, is under the caption “Footprints.” (A man dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord. He looked back and noticed that at the lowest and saddest times of his life there was only one set of footprints instead of two. He questioned the Lord as to why, when he needed Him the most, the Lord had left him. The Lord replied: “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you only see one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”)

God’s love is manifest in all His creation. It is that love which made God give the wisdom teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. “Thou art dear to Me, therefore I shall reveal this truth to you. Even though it is very, very difficult of knowing, yet because you are dear to Me, I will reveal it to you.” Thus through the abundance of love that Lord Krishna had for Arjuna, an individual soul, a representative human being, the experience of the eleventh chapter of the Gita has been made available to humanity.

Love is the central fact of this universe. Without it the universe will not stand; it will disintegrate and fall away, because it is love that upholds. It is present even in inert, gross matter as a power that scientists know as cohesion. Cohesion is the outermost manifestation of His love. It is that which holds everything together. Thus it is that the whole of the solar universe is held in its place by this great attracting power of cohesion, the power of gravitation.

It is this love that is ceaselessly flowing forth from Gurudev, that is manifesting to us in the form of protection, in the form of nourishment, clothing us, giving us shelter, helping us along the path, giving us inspiration, giving us guidance. All that love means, he manifested in and through this Ashram, providing a place where the necessities of a sincere seeking soul are made available, so that he may pursue his spiritual life free of anxiety, free of fear, free of the pain of want. If one could see the reality of this set-up and what it means and one could impartially ponder it, then one would be amazed at the abundant love, the motiveless love, the unceasing love and grace and compassion of that being whom we call Gurudev. It is a manifestation of his love for sincere seekers, be they deserving or be they undeserving. His love is showered upon all without distinction. Because of their inner sincerity and because of their need of his love, it comes forth spontaneously.

Whenever he used to move about, Gurudev always carried some spiritual literature with him for free distribution—to convey some divine thought, some inspiration, some enlightenment, some insight to whomsoever he came across, be it a seeker, a devotee of God, an unhappy human being, or a dejected individual. In this way, he always had something to give to people to tell them the truth. And if you live in the truth, you will get rid of fear, you will get rid of sorrow. All such things go away when you live in truth.

Following the practice of the Master, some devotees recently shared a poem written by the late, well-known and beloved American poetess, Helen Steiner Rice:

“The seasons come and go,
    And with them comes the thought,
Of all the various changes
    That Time in flight has brought.
But one thing never changes,
    It remains the same forever,
God truly loves His children
    And He will forsake them never.”

And it is for the children to feel that they are His children. Then they will immediately experience the presence of His love or recognise the love that has always been present in their lives.

“Just close your eyes and open your heart,
And feel your worries and care depart.
Just yield yourself to the Father above,
And let Him hold you secure in His love.”
                                            —Helen Steiner Rice

When I read the poem I thought, how wonderful, how amazing that what this poetess of the twentieth century writes was also experienced thousands of years ago by mystics of India and medieval mystics of Europe. In the Indian experience, in the Indian vision of the ancient sages, they came face to face with this fact, with this great truth, and they called the Supreme Being, bhakta-vatsalya. He has vatsalya towards bhaktas. Vatsalya means mother’s love to the child. And you know that in India, in the context of devotion, the Supreme is addressed as: “You are my mother, You are my father, You are my relative and friend, You are my knowledge and my wealth, You are my all-in-all.”

God’s love is boundless, motiveless, and it is available in abundance to each and every one of His creatures, man and animal, all forms of life. And more so to the human beings whom He made in His own image, who are a part of His own Being. They are all a manifestation of the supreme principle of love that is the innermost essence of God. Thus in this world of change, in this world of phenomena, if there is at all anything that is unchanging, ever-constant, ever-present, most dependable, it is that God is love and God’s love is available to you. This is the one great fact of your own life. “Anpe Sivam! God is love!”

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