Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden visit to Pakistan to wish a happy birthday to his Pakistani counterpart had left the country perplexed. Political analysts were debating if it was wise to show love to a sworn enemy of India.
Often when it comes to dealing with an enemy, people misconstrue love and humility to be a weakness. We imagine that if we love our enemy, we may compromise on principles and land up doing things to flatter and please him. And if we are humble, the enemy may abuse us and betray our trust.
Even if we consider Pakistan our rival, it pays well to love them, but without compromising on truth. That is mature, visionary love where we love the person but don’t subscribe to his theories; we separate the person from his ideology. Blind love, on the other hand, is based on emotional moods; it often borders on fanaticism and even swings to hatred, the exact opposite of love. Karna is a classic example of this: he professed to love Duryodhana, but he hated the Pandavas. His love blinded him to the evil doings of Duryodhana and party.
And there are others who are so attached to being right that they become hard-hearted and lose the rich treasure of love from their hearts. We end up hating those who disagree with us. We even become vindictive and forget that human beings are fallible and could be misguided. We need to see others beyond their externals: the soul residing within the body is a pure, part and parcel of God, and thus deserves love and respect.
A truly evolved soul or a pure devotee of God is one who loves the person although he may hate the disease that affects the person he loves. That is mature love. We could consider three examples from Vedic history of leaders who loved their enemies without compromising on the truth.
Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner
Vibhisana offered sagacious counsel to his older brother Ravana, yet he was slighted and even criticized. Vibhisana, however, remained loyal and continued to love him. Finally things went beyond all limits of human decency when Ravana refused to return Sita, the chaste wife of Lord Rama. Vibhisana desperately pleaded with him to return her back to Rama. But Ravana and his son Indrajit could not appreciate these words. They humiliated Vibhisana with sharp words and even threatened to kill him. That’s when Vibhisana, although he loved Ravana, left his kingdom and joined Rama’s forces. That’s uncompromising on what is right.
Vibhisana’s love and compassion for Ravana was proved not only by his repeated good counseling but also after Ravana’s death at the hands of Rama. Vibhisana cried piteously, and lamented that only if Ravana had heeded to his advice, this day could have been avoided. For all the insults thrown at him, Vibhisana maintained his affection for his brother. Yet he didn’t compromise on the truth.
The same principle was followed by Vidura. He loved his brother Dhrtarastra who was not only physically blind but also blind in his affection towards his evil son Duryodhana. Despite repeated advice by Vidura to abandon Duryodhana, Dhrtarastra being weak-hearted couldn’t act upon this counsel. Eventually things worsened and Duryodhana hurled the choicest expletives at Vidura, and ignored his decades of selfless service to the kingdom. Vidura was hurt by this ungrateful behavior of Duryodhana and the tacit support Duryodhana received from Dhrtarastra. Vidura was rejected by the very brother he had loved his whole life, yet he bore no grudges or malice in his heart. This was evidenced when Vidura returned years after the Mahabharata war was over in which Duryodhana and all the Kauravas were killed. His motive was to help and save his brother Dhrtarastra. Although Vidura was rejected, he hadn’t rejected those who hated him. He continued to love, and then by his loving counsel he helped his brother Dhrtarastra find spiritual perfection. At the same time, his love for Dhrtarastra didn’t blind him; he refused to support the wicked Kauravas. His vision was fixed on the principles of truth and justice.
Even Prahlada, the famous boy-saint, was severely tormented by his father, Hiranyakasipu. Yet, like Vidura and Vibhisana, he didn’t compromise on the principles of truth, and at the same time loved his father. Eventually Hiranyakasipu was killed by Lord Nrsimha. When pleaded by the Lord to ask for a boon, Prahlada asked pardon for his father and recounted how his father loved him so dearly. Although Hiranyakasipu had tried to kill little Prahlada, he chose to remember only the one instance when his father had smelt his head in love and had a tear of affection in his eyes. Prahlada felt this one small gesture proved that his father loved him and therefore requested the Lord to pardon him.
All three examples teach us visionary love – love that is based on the vision of seeing the person beyond his or her temporary bodily designations.
Maturity, as a popular motivational speaker said, is to balance courage with consideration. A true lover has the courage to speak the truth, yet he is sensitive to balance with kind words and affection. It remains to be seen if Mr. Modi, who has now shown consideration, would also back up with courage when the two countries meet next to discuss the contentious Kashmir issue.
Vraja Bihari Dasa holds a postgraduate degree in International Finance and an MBA from Mumbai University. He is a resident monk at ISKCON Chowpatty and an active teacher of bhaktiyoga. Visit his website: www.yogaformodernage.com