What is love?

As social beings, each one of us have 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, and many new associations form, as these relationships influence and impact who we become. Yet, in spite of so many relationships that we have, how does the entire gravity of our bearing suddenly only get shifted to one person? Why do our hormones act up because of only one individual? What is this power that this BAE has over us, that outweighs so many other relationships? Commonly it is called Love. But really, what is it? More importantly why is it so obsessive in nature?

The answer lies, perhaps somewhere in the concept of Ardhanarishvara – the half man and half woman form of Indian mythological deities Shiva and Parvati. One can be a complete individual in ones self, yet when homogenized with another, the concept of complete finds a new dimension and meaning. Something deep and slumbering awakens. A new sense of awareness is discovered. 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 by accepting this new dimension, he finds greater strength and validation in his character and evolves 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 ones self and in what one believes.

Parents and family members give us a social bearing – where needs are taken care of and a general rule book of the tribe is brainwashed into our heads. Friends and social circles give us validation and acceptance, ready to bail us out a hundred times and somehow come to tolerate our antics. But a lover is a moral compass that helps guide us on a journey of self-enquiry. It’s a force that can either validate, challenge or on the contrary confuse everything that we 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 us to self-discovery and to understanding what really matters to us in life.

Today as we have made so much technological progress and are reaching newer limits, we still grapple to understand the true power of love. The biggest cause for this is that 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 carnal expression.

Because of this convoluted understanding of love, constitutionally we had criminalized LGBTQ 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 wants to break free from these clutches, trend hashtags called #selflove on the internet, not knowing really what it means.

Love is not something that exists outside of us. It is something that resides in us and sometime may get reflected on another person. Much confusion arises as we mix up what is internally existing and what is externally reflected!

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