Is love for our parents, brothers, sisters Maya – does such love have no meaning or value?
Transcription (edited) by- Keshavgopal Das
Question- Is love for our parents, sisters, brothers, maya? Does such love have no meaning or value?
Answer (short) –
- Love for our relatives is not maya as long as such love does not drag us away from Krishna.
- Maya means which that does not exist, but our relationships are real hence cannot be called as maya. But if we think that this is all that is there to life then it is maya.
- Our relationships with our relatives do provide us shelter, in that sense they do have a value. However, if we do not see them in connection with Krishna then that is maya.
Answer (long)- No, not at all.
All love that we get in this world, is ultimately a reflection of Krishna’s love for us. All love that we offer in this world is also an expression of our love for Krishna. The problem arises when such love becomes disconnected from its source i.e. Krishna. Let us try to understand this.
There is one famous shloka:
tvameva mata cha pita tvameva,
tvameva bandhushcha sakhaa tvameva,
tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva,
tvameva sarvam mama deva deva
You alone are my mother, You alone my father. You alone are my kinsman, You alone my friend. You alone are my knowledge, You alone my wealth. Oh Lord of Lords, You alone are everything to me!
What does this verse literally mean? Is it saying that mother or father itself is God? No. What it means is that in this world we get love, knowledge, wealth, health, shelter etc. from different sources, but the source of all sources is God. Hence we should see God as the source of love that we receive from our relatives or offer to our relatives.
When a child is born a mother offers her milk to the child. Without such nourishment child will have great difficulty to survive. Mother’s love is very sublime and selfless. However, mother does not do anything special to produce milk in her breast. When a baby is born, it is by God’s arrangement the milk starts to flow in mother’s breast for the baby. In the same way, we need to see the love we get in this world as an expression of God’s or Krishna’s love for us. When we train ourselves to develop such vision, we will not only reciprocate lovingly with people connected to us but we will also develop our loving relationship with Krishna.
We have a vertical relationship with Krishna and we have horizontal relationship with the people in this world. The ideal situation is that the vertical and horizontal relationships are symbiotic. What this means is that by our devotional service to Krishna, we become calmer, more self-controlled, more tolerant etc. which in turn make our horizontal relationships stronger. And if our horizontal relationship is with those who are also devoted to God, then their example and devotion also inspires us to practice bhakti more.
The horizontal relationship can work in three possible ways – pro-devotional, non-devotional, and anti-devotional. Pro-devotional means that our relatives are also devotees or at least they are also devotionally inclined. They assist or encourage in our practice of bhakti. Non-devotional means that they let us practice our bhakti, but they themselves are not interested. Anti-devotional means that they actively do something to oppose our practice of bhakti.
We should understand that relationship alone is not maya, however seeing that relationship without connection with Krishna is maya. If we miss to see the connection with Krishna in a relationship and the relationship drag us away from Krishna then the relationship take us into maya. Relationship itself is not maya. Maya means which that does not exist. However, our relationship with our relatives does exist. It is real, hence cannot be called as maya. But if we think that this is all that is there to life then it is maya. If we think that I have this relationship, I am doing my duties in this relationship, and I do not need to do anything more, that is maya.
If certain relationship involving us drags away further from Krishna, then we have to be firm. Just like Dhritarashtra was not as villainous as Duryodhana. Duryodhana was an active scheming type villain; however Dhritarashtra was more of a passive consenting type villain. The attachment of Dhritarashtra to Duryodhana made Dhritarashtra party to various devious, grievous, ghastly, and reprehensible schemes. Those kinds of situation in which our attachment to relatives make us do activities which are anti-devotional, we need to check. How we check that, it will vary according to time, place, and circumstances. Important thing is that at the material level in this world these relationships do shelter us. In that sense they do have a value. But Bhagvatam says, whatever we see as meaningful, but we do not see its connection with Krishna then that is maya.
ṛte ’rthaṁ yat pratīyeta
na pratīyeta cātmani
tad vidyād ātmano māyāṁ
yathābhāso yathā tamaḥ
O Brahmā, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy (maya), that reflection which appears to be in darkness.
To summarize, if we let our relationships with our relatives drag us away from Krishna then there influence on us will be maya. But if we somehow manage to harmonize these relationships with our practice of bhakti, then we will be able to move forward in our spiritual life even through those relationships.