Love in India

“There is no other country where basic questions crop up as quickly as in India”, a young Spanish woman recently told me. I fully agreed with her, as it reminded me of my early time in India some 30 years ago. One basic question then was about love. In the west, love refers mainly to the attraction between the sexes. Falling in love is considered highly attractive especially among youngsters and causes envy in those who are not in love. And whether one is in love seems to depend on whether one met Mr or Miss Right.

However, experience shows that even though one thought one has found the right person, the emotional high usually wears off and what one had considered as eternal love sometimes turns not only into disappointment, but even into hate. The conclusion usually is that it was the wrong person, and one is again on the lookout for the right one. There is probably no other issue in the west that causes so much emotional pain among people as so called ‘romantic love’. I wondered whether the western approach is immature and whether India has a more mature approach to love.

“True love is not possible between individuals”, claimed the saintly Anandamayi Ma. And, “Genuine, true and permanently fulfilling is only the love for God.” God here means the one true Being, Brahman, Ishwar or Satchitananda that is our Self. I had been confronted with this view right from the beginning of my stay in India. Our ‘human loves’ don’t quite merit being called love. The sages suggest words like attraction, dearness, fondness, infatuation, friendship, even delusion for our love-feelings, because there are always egoistic intentions involved. True love however has no hidden agenda and one’s ego does not come into the picture.

An analogy is used for illustration: The wave (individual) is one with the ocean (the Whole, God). If the wave fixes its gaze only at other waves, chooses some to give its love to and to receive their love, then this love is narrow, small minded and definitely not as eternal as the wave may dream it is. Eternal is only its oneness with the ocean. The ocean is the essence of all the waves, and the wave is anyway for ever one with it. The ocean is its great love, even if the wave doesn’t know it. As long as the wave considers itself to be simply a wave, unconnected with the ocean, and doesn’t even see the ocean because of all those other waves, it suffers from the illusion, that it is lacking in love and that it has to look for it among the other waves.

“Don’t get caught up in the illusion” Ramana Maharshi, the sage from Tiruvannamalai, advised. “The senses are deceiving you. There is only the One behind all names and forms, whether they are beautiful or ugly. Think of the projection of a film. The different persons are fascinating, but they don’t have any substance in themselves. Substance has only the screen, on which they appear. This screen stands for the one consciousness.”

I knew not only intellectually that there is a whole behind the multiplicity – a fact that nowadays nobody can question thanks to the findings of modern science. Therefore I also knew that the Indian sages are right when they claim that only love for God can really and permanently fulfil, because He alone truly is.

However, it was one thing to understand this, and another to live accordingly. When I honestly looked into myself, I had to admit that my love for God was not very great. I certainly wouldn’t have called it ‘true love’. Moreover, I could not imagine how I could deeply love the One that is not accessibly to the senses. I felt there need to be at least eyes into which I could look. “Let me learn to love you”, I prayed. The second prayer which logically had to follow  was more difficult: “Let me not fall in love again, but let me love all equally.”

I tried to resign myself that I would have to manage now with a kind of ‘medium’ love for everyone for the rest of my life without any highlights. I didn’t quite believe that the whole screen could become my ‘great love’. The One was so incomprehensible, without any substance, like air. But if I wanted to live with integrity I had to put it in the first place.

By thinking such thoughts I had moved far from normal western thinking, however in regard to India, I was moving towards normal thinking, because here, the majority still considers it normal and important, to develop love for God. After all, life is meant to realise the truth and there are mainly two methods recommended:

– Jnana – knowledge or wisdom. In jnana the main point is to be aware of the one limitless being, to identify with it and to deny the truth of the manifold appearances radically and continually. This path is more difficult, says Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.

– Bhakti – devotion. The main point here is to develop love for God, and to dissolve in it. In both cases the goal is the disappearance of the ego. The bhakti path is easier, says Sri Krishna.  And as the human being needs something tangible to love, he suggests to Arjuna: “love me”. Or love Rama, Shiva, the divine Mother and so on. One has the choice of many personalities with the noblest qualities – as a helpful means.

People hear it from childhood: bhakti fulfils. There are many stories of saints who were mad with love. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a professor of logic, who lived some 500 years ago, is an example. He finally left all logic aside and moved through the streets singing and dancing, always the name of Krishna on his lips. “A-chinta” he supposedly said when he left the university. He is the founder of the Hare Krishna movement.

Of course, not all Indians strive for bhakti, because the attractions of the world are strong also in India.  But in contrast to their western contemporaries, Indians usually don’t (wrongly) expect heaven on earth from romantic love. Here, love is not taken to be the opposite of hate, but as our basic nature. Therefore, they don’t give so much importance to falling in love, but rather to developing love in their relationships.

Compared to them, our western attitude seems like kindergarten – where sexual attraction is considered as the highest of all possible human states, where ‘making’ love scores over ‘feeling’ love, where ‘love for the neighbour’ is delegated to charity organisations and where love for God has no place.

I did not doubt that westerners, too, sincerely want to love. But I felt that we are lacking in wisdom and therefore experience so much disappointment. In India, people have not yet completely thrown out their ancient tradition and the wisdom contained in it, even though many are eagerly doing it. Yet many Indians are still well rooted in life. They still know where they have to look for happiness and love – in themselves…

In India I learnt that the dream of eternal love is not unrealistic. In fact, love is so close, so real that it is quite amazing that it is not felt.  It is not outside, but deep inside, intimately connected with one’s own being.

by Maria Wirth



  1. arishsahani · · Reply

    India is the only place where Real God have taken birth and people were given direction time to time.

  2. The ‘basic questions’ have been the community’s concern at all times.Most marriages till now in history(even in europe) have been arranged or at least it was expected by relatives.It so happens that in the past 50 years an overdose of anti family ideas,hard drinks and drugs have been held as the in thing which is just an aberration.Once this phase is over youll hear similar questions in europe. Curiosity about marriage,children family etc.are very natural among all peoples that moderns decry as violations of rights and privacy.

    1. saurabh · · Reply

      u r is the only hope in this hopeless world.

  3. Jura Nanuk · · Reply

    Beautiful text, I enjoyed reading it and I learned so much from it. Thank you for writing it.

  4. shamboo nath mishra · · Reply

    Hi Maria,

    nice blog again.i have been seraching for th blog of yours, wher you have mentioned many gurus of india. i exactly do not recall the name, but can you please share me the link of the blog.plss.

    1. was it this one which came long ago in Life Positive?
      LP dismantled the pages for authors, one can search my articles only when the title is known. maybe i put some of them here on the blog

  5. shamboo nath mishra · · Reply

    a bigggg thank u

  6. shamboo nath mishra · · Reply

    hi maria,

    unfortunately this is not the one I was looking for. I read an article of your about existence of many guru, there life journey to spirituality…..if you remember.. please forward the link to me.

  7. Love as we know in the 21st century- Just a sensation guided by pure LUST. It is transitory; take different shapes in due course.
    Lust is the main ingredient for young’s to fall for each other. This has nothing to do with spirituality. Today’s so called love can turn into tomorrow’s revulsion.

    We are programmed with Genetic codes by Nature (God) to populate the earth, so the urge for sex (love) is tremendous fuelled by our pre determined hormones activity.

    Maria I can recommend you as Love Doctor. Many thanks for this brilliant explanatory work

  8. Beautiful summary, so true.

  9. You put it so well…in India we do not make a big fuss about love. Its only in recent times that we see this commercialisation of love be it Valentine’s day, kiss of love etc all driven by forces alien to bharat and their commie brothers and sisters.

  10. 1. Why should the transience of love be seen as it being somehow false?

    2. What about the love (or whatever name one would want to give to that feeling) that is felt because of observable attributes of the other person?

    My way of looking at things is: we lead our lives on many planes.

    May be the first plane is our mind, of which we can be most intimately aware, if we so choose to. I can’t vouch for others, but my mind would be filled with various impulses at different times, which would range from most altruistic to most destructively selfish and many others that won’t have a bearing on any other humans’ lives. But on most instances we remain unaware of the events in our own mind.

    The second plane is where we interact with other fellow humans. Our tendencies would be guided by our impulses, but there are many checks and counter checks on whether they become manifest. This is a sort of learned behavior.

    The third plane is the one where our understanding of the nature of the Universe and where we fit in are the only things we are aware of. We become insulated from our own impulses and the stimuli in the external world also don’t filter in. May be this is a state of meditation or a deep introspection or of a trance when one would gaze at the stars lying in a garden.

    Now in my understand, ‘love’ as most people know it belongs to the first and the second planes. The reason I say this is the third plane is simply incompatible with the other two planes. Once you become enlightened and would be convinced that you have witnessed the Ultimate Truth (whatever it may subjectively be), what incentive would one have to lead a materialistic life? Why would, e.g., one want to get a promotion or would want to learn a new theory that would explain things in materialistic terms or would want to beat their opponent at a game of chess?

    The Love you have mentioned belongs in the third plane, the way I see it. There’s no point quibbling about what should be the qualities of true ‘Love’, but I only wanted to point out, the ‘higher’ kind of love is possible only when one renounces the material world, and I don’t think most people are prepared for it, or if there is any tangible ‘benefit’ of the same. 🙂

  11. As one reaches the stage of loving the entire screen and not disliking any part of the screen, anger goes out, disappointment goes out, judgement goes out. Eternal bliss. How can you be disappointed if you don’t expect anything and instead always give

  12. ramesh kumar · · Reply

    Love India thanks

  13. […] I reflected on ‘falling in love” which is considered a highly desirable state in the west, and wondered why there is so much “falling out of love”, too. I wrote on my blog about it: “Love in India”. Please have a look […]

  14. Bhogaraju Venugopala Rao · · Reply

    Loving God is simply reciprocity. We are blessed with a ‘life’, worldly knowledges, professions, riches, opportunities, successes, fame… everything. When in the next second of our success, triumph or fulfillment we shall be able to attribute it to God and not to ourselves, it means we love God. But to achieve this we need to practice being grateful to God and expressing gratitude too very frequently. For, all our achievements are but for the opportunities and blessings of God including the caliber, intelligence and all human enterprises. Secondly our ability to love all the creation both with and without life, the good, bad and the ugly – will determine to what extent we are loving God. Because as I said reciprocity means loving everything SINCE God loves everything and everyone of His creation.

  15. Beautiful as always. Recently, I was reading this book called “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm, written in 1958. It starts off with very similar views. For instance, love is defined as “Oneness” that is a deep underlying notion, than “Sameness” that is pursued in the name of love between individuals.

    However, as I read through the book, I felt that Fromm could not resist the urge to compartmentalize, disassemble and finally “conquer” the concept of love — by leaving no stone unturned in defining it comprehensively. It left me feeling disillusioned by the time I finished reading the book.

    As you have rightly noted, the quest for love is universal. But the Western mind (and our mainstream education in India), is conditioned to articulate, compartmentalize, formalize and finally take control of whatever catches our fancy. This fixation on form, unfortunately keeps our mind ignorant of the underlying spirit..

  16. Excellent as always!

    Love it!

  17. Utkarsh Aditya Dwivedi · · Reply


  18. Atul Khole · · Reply

    You forgot to write about Karma marga. Jnana, Bhakti and Karma.

  19. S K raman · · Reply

    So beautifully explained. Thank you Maria! I will be passing this on to ppl in my circle. Thank you again

    1. thanks for sharing it

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