What is love?

As social beings, each one of us has a network of family and friends within whose influence we operate. In a very oblivious way some of these bonds grow strong, some wither away, many new associations form, as these relationships influence and impact on who we become. Yet, in spite of so many relationships that we have, how does suddenly the entire gravity of our bearing just get shifted to one person? Why do our hormones act up because of only one individual? What is this power that this BAE has in our life, that outweighs so many other relationships? Commonly it is called Love. But really, what is it? More importantly why is it so obsessive in its nature?

The answer somewhere perhaps lies in the concept of Ardhanarishvara – the half man and half woman form of a Indian mythological deities Shiva and Parvati. That you can be a complete individual in yourself, yet when you homogenize with another, the concept of complete finds a new dimension and meaning. It is when you meet this other, something deep and slumbering awakens in you that makes you truly aware to the world that you thought you knew. Just like Shiva, who was an ascetic before he met Sati and discovered a whole new dimension of life. He accepted this new dimension by not changing his character and becoming a new person with new moral values. But he accepted this new dimension by finding greater strength and validation in his character and evolving to become a householder as he got more clarity of his own moral values. Thus, true love is not an obsession in another person, but in one self and in what one believes.

Parents and family members give you a social bearing – where needs are taken care of and a general rule book of the tribe is brainwashed into our heads with no application of it. Friends and social circles give you validation and acceptance, ready to bail you out a hundred times and somehow come to tolerate your antics. But a lover is a moral compass that helps you guide on a journey of self-enquiry. It’s a force that can either validate, challenge or worse confuse everything that you believed. It’s a catalyst whose reactions can never be reversed or undone. The elusiveness of love, lies in the constant choices that we need to make, leading to a self-discovery and showing us what truly matters to us in life.

Today as we have made so much technological progress and reaching newer limits of the outer space, we still grapple to understand the true power of love. The biggest factor for this is, we sexualize love. While sex is a clear physical act, love is more spiritual, emotional, psychological and most importantly individualistic which cannot be seen. You can have great sex with someone you don’t love and you can love someone so deeply without the presence of a physical expression.

Because of this convoluted understanding of love, constitutionally we had criminalized LGBT relationships till recently. Marriages, essentially a legal way of finding a hire to physical property of the family is romanticized even now and falsely promises one of finding love. As more vocal youth who want to break free from these clutches, trend hash tags called #selflove on the internet, not knowing really what it means.

Love is not something that exists in some other person. It is something that resides in us, which gets reflected on another person. Much confusion arises as we mix up what is internally existing and what is externally reflected!

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