Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thoughts on Love

view from the mosque

A Muslim praying in the mosque next to the Taj Mahal. 
Which is real love - the monument or the prayer?

"If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism." 
- Erich Fromm 

When I first entered the gates and saw the Taj Mahal, the full impact of its glory didn't quite sink in. I had to sit down on a ledge for over five minutes to drink in the splendor. I analyzed lines and perfect arcs and the symmetry of the white marble against a pale blue sky. At one point I couldn't even analyze any more - it was just too beautiful.  

My awe was tingued with distaste, though. All this splendor... to house a dead body? And second, the nature of this king; he cut off the hands of the 300 artisans who had labored for 22 years to create this masterpiece, just so that the Taj could be unparalelled. Such violence just to protect his ego.

If that king truly loved anyone in this world, his love would extend to others. He would be a revered example of care and compassion. His "love" for Mumtaz was selfish, in the end, and he used that "love" as an excuse to glorify himself. 

Now consider the Palace of Gold in New Vrindavan, which has often been called the "Taj Mahal of the West". The Palace was a part of my childhood, and in growing up in New Vrindavan, I heard volumes of tales of the sacrifices that were poured into the building of this monument for Srila Prabhupad. 

(above photo courtesy of

And I realize that when we do something for God, or His devotees, no act of sacrifice or service, no expression of love is ever too great. We could dedicate every breath, every movement of our bodies, every thought in our minds to God and to His devotees, and still we could find more to give. That's the nature of love. 


Aspiring Servant ! said...

Wow!Jaya! Too beautiful. Thank you so much!

Preetam said...

I reckon the comparison is disparate here. Expression of Love towards a partner and expression of Love towards God/service to God are different.

I agree to your point of view on ego though.

Kedarnath said...

We have all heard how the Taj Mahal, which is considered one of the great wonders of the world, was built as the preeminent expression of a man's love for a wife. That it was built by emperor Shah Jahan in commemoration of his wife Mumtaz. However, in our continuous effort to get to the truth, we have acquired some very important documents and information. There is evidence that the Taj Mahal was never built by Shah Jahan. Some say the Taj Mahal pre-dates Shah Jahan by several centuries and was originally built as a Hindu or Vedic temple/palace complex. Shah Jahan merely acquired it from its previous owner, the Hindu King Jai Singh.

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