Lovers of God

Religious and mystical texts abound with the ecstasy of the God-intoxicated, the great lovers of God compellingly pulled towards union with the object of their love.

Mirabai: her love for Krishna is legendary It is said that when we realize the self, all of life becomes an invocation… a calling out, a praising! Because we’ve fallen in love with who we really are. And when you’re in love, even television doesn’t matter! Nothing matters except that you want to think about the one you love, you want to be with the one you love, you want to touch the one you love, you want to talk to the one you love, sing to the one you love, lie down with the one you love. But what to do when we realize that the one we love is within us? How do we find Him?” says Krishna Das, in his Pilgrim of the Heart.

The world, from time to time, has seen these lovers of God who found the ultimate Beloved within. Their stories abound. Ramakrishna Paramahansa, the priest of Dakhineshwar Kali temple, fell into a trance on seeing the dark clouds gather like the dark Mother Kali or simply on hearing the Divine name. He could not be initiated into ritualistic worship of Kali because as soon as the teacher whispered the first holy word in his ear, Ramakrishna fell into deep, God-intoxicated samadhi.

Goswami Tulsidas was so intensely in love with the ‘Ram Katha’ that tears would stream from his eyes when he sang the name. So intense was his love that when he gave a murderer a share of ‘prasad’, it completely absolved the latter of his sins. Guru Nanak was so drunk on God that it came in the way of keeping accounts at his store. He would measure out wheat by counting, “Ek do teen (One, two, three) but fall into a trance the moment he uttered the number ‘tera’ (13) meaning ‘yours’ repeating ‘tera’, ‘tera’, ‘ sab tera’ (all Thine)

Bulle Shah even braided his hair and danced like a woman to please his ‘murshid’, Inayat Khan.

A traditional devotional song says, “Behold the ones who weep while chanting His name. Who dance in ecstasy and make the world dance in His name. Drunk with Hari’s love, who make the world drunk as well.” Crowds followed dancing when Gauranga (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) stepped out with a song on his lips and anklets on his feet. His ecstasy touched thousands. Even trees, plants, birds and animals followed his irresistible chant, ‘Hari Bol! Hari Bol!’

Mirabai danced her way into the sanctum sanctorum of Krishna’s temple at Vrindavan where only men were supposed to enter. Her fervor was infectious as she came singing the divine name, dancing as if enchanted, holding her ‘ektara.’ The temple guards stood stunned, the air stopped, mesmerized. In an instant, like a breeze or a wave, Mira walked past the gates into the very heart of the temple. When admonished by the priest that no women were allowed inside, she replied, “I thought there was no other man besides Krishna. Are you too a man?”

The Lord is the only man for the lover… the only Beloved. The rest of the world are his lovers. The entire creation is an expression of His love. “The greatest romance you can have is the romance with God… He is the Lover and our souls are the beloved and when the soul meets the greatest lover of the universe, then the eternal romance begins,” says Paramhansa Yoganandain in his book, Divine Romance.

There are innumerable ways in which this summons can be heard. Perhaps as many ways as there are people. Some hear it in dreams or in an outbreak of visions that explode what they understood before about reality; some meet the Beloved first in the agony and revelation of human love; some are unnerved by loss or disease or bankruptcy or betrayal into re-examining everything in the light of Eternity.

Thus, at the moment of realization, even that relationship between the individual and the Divine falls away and the unity of reality is seen as it is. There is always and only the Divine. Everything else was just a magic show of light and shadow and shape. “There is only the mountain,” American poet and founder of the poetry website, Chaikhana, Ivan M Granger said. “Forever unknown, forever revealed…!


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