In this article, we will explore the concept of Krishna prema, or pure love of God, as described by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. We will also look at some of the characteristics of love that distinguish it from lust or selfishness.
Lord Caitanya describes,prema-pumārtho mahān. The highest goal of human life is Krishna prema, pure love of God.
kṛṣṇa-viṣayaka premā —parama puruṣārtha
yāra āge tṛṇa-tulya cāri puruṣārtha
‘Religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation are known as the four goals of life, but before love of Godhead, the fifth and highest goal, these appear as insignificant as straw in the street. (CC Adi 7.84)
Mahāprabhu says that Dharma(religiosity), artha (economic development),kāma(sense gratification), and mokṣa (liberation), the four principles of religion that pertain to the material world are all useless as one’s actual goal is to attain Love of Godhead.We Gauḍiya Vaisnavas are not here per se to become spiritual warriors, or soldiers, or sadhus, or devotees’, but to become lovers of God and render Him loving service.
Now the question is how do we search for Love? For that, we must know what is Love!
Characteristic of Love
Possessiveness :Transferring All Affection to God
One of the features of love is possessiveness, or mamatva in Sanskrit. This means that one transfers all one’s affection and attachment to the Supreme Godhead and considers Him as one’s own. This is different from the lust that is directed towards material objects or persons, which is based on the false concept of kinship.
To attain love of God, one has to give up all other so-called loves, including one’s own self. This is not easy, as we are attached to many things in this world. Therefore, God tests our sincerity by putting us in difficult situations, where we have to choose between Him and our material desires. For example, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, was disrobed in the assembly of the Kurus, but she did not pray to God for protection. She only prayed for His love, and He came to rescue her. Similarly, Gajendra, the king of the elephants, was attacked by a crocodile, but he did not ask God for relief. He only asked for eternal liberation from ignorance, and God came to save him.
Selflessness: Serving God for His Sake
Another characteristic of love is selflessness, or hrdi marsnita in Sanskrit. This means that one serves God for His sake, not for one’s own sake. It is God who is important, not I. One does not serve God to get something from Him, but to please Him. This is different from the sentimentality that is based on one’s own emotions or expectations.
To attain love of God, one has to surrender one’s ego and serve God without any motive. This is not easy, as we are conditioned by our false ego and material desires. Therefore, God helps us by giving us the association of His pure devotees, who teach us how to serve Him selflessly. For example, the six Gosvamis of Vrindavan, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya, renounced everything for the sake of God and dedicated their lives to His service. They wrote many books, established temples, excavated holy places, and preached the message of love of God to everyone. They showed us that love of God is not a matter of words, but of actions.
Addiction: Being Trapped by Love
Another characteristic of love is addiction, or bhava eva sandranatmain Sanskrit. This means that one is so captivated by love that one cannot escape from it, even if one wants to. This is different from the lust that binds us to material things or persons, which is based on our false identification. As many poets say, love is like a prison, where one is not handcuffed or locked, but still cannot leave. When one is trapped by love, one’s mind goes to God even when one is inattentive, just like our mind goes to material things when we are trapped by lust. That way, we cannot give up lust, and similarly, those who want to give up love cannot do so, because they are addicted.
Krishna prema, or pure love of God, is the highest goal of human life, as taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is characterized by possessiveness , selflessness, and addiction which are the opposite of lust and selfishness. To attain love of God, one has to give up all material attachments and serve God for His pleasure. This is possible by the grace of God and His devotees, who guide us on the path of devotion. By following their instructions, we can hope to achieve the ultimate perfection of life, which is to love God and be loved by Him.