Love - The Yogis Perspective
The creative minds of the east gave us an image of Śhiva and Pārvatī as one person. One being. The image is Śhiva as Ardhanārīśvara - half man, half woman. On first seeing this image, its looks rather odd, especially as Śhiva is considered as the symbol of ultimate masculinity.
There are many interpretations of this image, one of them is that Ardhanārīśvara is just a symbol. A symbol of pure love. These lovers joined together and became as one, but on the surface, they always remained two.
An example that was given by Osho Rajneesh to explain Ardhanārīśvara is as follows; Look at it in this way: if the room is dark, you bring two lamps into it. Those two lamps remain two, but their light has mingled and become one. You cannot separate the light; you cannot say, “This light belongs to this lamp and that light belongs to that lamp.” Light has mingled and become one. The spirit is like light, the body is the lamp.
One of the doors to the divine or the higher state (the ultimate goal for the yogi) is Love. Pure love. This is one of the most difficult things to achieve. Two lovers are two bodies, but can the souls become like one as happened with Śhiva and Pārvatī? Swami Vivekananda says love is the hardest journey, but the most rewarding; "Books and learning, Yoga and meditation and illumination — all are but dust compared with love".
If even only for a moment this type of love can be achieved with a partner, this oneness will become the door to the divine. What is achieved is a perpetual state of ecstasy beyond our understanding. The English expression, “Falling in love,” is significant says Yogi Jaggi Vasudev (2016), "because you fall in love, something of who you are has to go. If not the whole of you, at least a part of you should collapse. Only then there is love"
In the west, we confuse this with sex. The tantric's say we confuse love and sex. That is why there is so much misunderstood about Tantra. Tantra is not all about sex. Far from it. Sex is biological whereas love is emotional. Sex can exist with love, but without love, sex (as a means for the yogi) only fulfils immediate needs. The yogi's say we can only comprehend tantra when we understand and experience love. Osho on his commentary of the Vijnanbhairava Tantra says the text is written in the language of love. Love is the basic device to understand the tantric wisdom. He says we try to understand ancient wisdom with a logical mind. The tantras where never written for the logical. When Pārvatī sits on Śhiva's lap and enquires about reality, there is no logic between the two. Just pure love. So tantra is written in the language of love. Not sex.
The yogi’s say that if you truly love, you give. If you are loved, you will receive. We are warned if we are trying to extract love out of somebody, this will lead to disaster. Let love come to you. "Human love is seen to flourish only in places where it is returned; where love is not returned for love, cold indifference is the natural result." (Vivekananda 1947). Real love nourishes your soul. "The ordinary love is a demand, the real love is sharing. It knows nothing of demand; it knows the joy of giving" (Rajneesh 2002) Of course some (sanyasi's) will abandon love in their pursuit towards a higher reality, these yogi's have the same goal of "ultimate freedom", their path is however different. Those who ignore love say that love is attachment and of no use and will be an obstacle towards 'ultimate freedom", those who embrace love say that you simply cannot ignore this basic human emotion, to love. Rather than suppress love and fight its temptations, you embrace love, you become a servant of love. Osho argues against the idea that love is attachment, "Love is freedom from attachment. When you love everything you are attached to nothing" (2002). He argues that we become attached to something from the fear of losing it. But if the love is pure, it can never be taken so it cannot be an attachment.
The cultural view is that you cannot experience love for divinity (god/the universe etc), until you have experienced this personal love for someone else. This love that grows from passion, "like a plant that grows from a single seed" is the gateway to universal love. How can you love god who is beyond your understanding if you cannot feel true love for another?
Iyengar talks of love in 'Light on Life' (2005); "There is a natural progression in marriage whereby the importance of passion becomes less important—not unimportant, but less important—and its place is filled evermore by love and friendliness. The gateway to divine love, I believe, as I have experienced it, is through personal love—the love of one other incarnate soul. Just as you cannot find illumination by jumping from one guru to another, according to your whims, you will not easily find the greater love of God if you keep on finding imperfections in particular creations. The Love that transcends the particularity of individual attraction and perceives the soul within the other is the great pathway to God".
The yogi's have been telling us of pure love for centuries. It is us the reader that has misinterpreted them so poorly. All the "gods" with all their powers and splendour are always with a consort. Always present with a goddess. This beautiful woman besides them is far from the passive householder, they are literally the other half of the "god". Without Pārvatī, Śhiva is inert and incapable. He is "Shava" (dead/corpse). She breathes life into him. Rāma is only the perfect man when his beloved Sita returns in the Rāmāyaṇam. Without Sītā, Ram is lost and devoid of life. Osho says; "Man alone without a woman is half, a fragment, not the whole. Rāma alone is not the whole, so Hindus say “Sita-ram.” They put the woman first. They will never say “Ram-sita,” they will say “Sita-ram.” They will say “Radha-krishna.” They will put woman first for a basic reason - because man is born out of woman and man alone is half. With woman he becomes whole".
This wholeness is only experienced when the love is pure. When love is lost or abandoned, when Rāma is missing Sītā, when Śhiva falls into the darkness of his own sorrow before Pārvatī arrives, each man is lost. Without love they are incomplete. Its the love of the other that makes them whole. There is no salvation for Rāma or Śhiva without their respective consorts.
These are "gods" imagined by men. We made them as godly and divine as we possibly could. But in order to relate to them, we gave them the one thing we know that we cannot survive without. Love. Its the pursuit of this love that has many trials and tribulations, but the stories tell us that this love, impossible as it may appear at times, is more than worth the wait.