As Valentines Day approaches we consider the joy of having loving relationships in our lives. We all want to find that special someone, and once that time comes, to live together happily for life. At least that is the ideal. But love comes in so many varieties and flavors. We dream of becoming carried away by it, imagining an ecstatic wave of joy in our hearts. But to define this all-encompassing desire for love inside us seems almost impossible.
The ancient Vedic culture of India gave varying names for different kinds of love, as did the Greeks. The Greeks actually had as many as thirty different words to describe shared love, but seven were most prominent.
Agape to the Greeks or Maitri for the Hindus, meant the love we have for all others in the world, like when we feel compassion for people suffering due to a lack of basic resources, war or natural disasters. It brings a desire to be charitable to others that we have never met, just on the basis of being part of one extended family. Agape was also the Greek word used for love for God. In ancient India the word Bhakti was used for such transcendental love, love that can only be for and shared with the Supreme Lord of all creation. I feel it is no accident that Bhakti Yoga is now experiencing resurgence, especially among the younger population.
Storge to the Greeks, or vatsalya for the Hindus, meant love within the immediate, or extended, family. It is the love of a parent for their children, grandchildren, adopted children, uncle or other relations that is special because of family ties. This is why healthy family love is so important in our emotional growth and wellbeing. Something that is severely lacking in today’s disjointed, and often lonely world.
Pragma in Greece, or Preyo in India, is the love that endures the test of time. This is love that develops over time, such as that between a married couple that stays together through thick and thin. Or, perhaps the love that we feel for an old friend, caring for them when they have trouble later in life.
Philautia to the Greeks, or Svabhista in India, is self-love, or self-respect. Not in the sense of being vain or narcissistic, but that caring love to do right by ourselves, that gives us our principles, values and strength. This in turn then allows us to care for others. This is another love that is lacking in today’s society. Often, if others have not loved us, we find it hard to even like ourselves, let alone love ourselves.
Philia to the Greeks, or Prita in ancient India, is the love that we share with others when we cooperate to achieve something, like with our co-workers, other players on the same sports team, or soldiers in a unit of the armed forces. We may call it camaraderie, but it is love all the same. Ask any soldier returning form war, how strongly they feel about the men or women on their unit. It is indeed, a very strong, special love.
Ludus is actually a Roman term, madhurya in India, for the love that we flirt or play when we meet someone we’re attracted to, the feelings in the heart (and stomach) that often brings a strong sense of euphoria.
Eros to the Greeks, or Shringara to the ancient Vedic civilization, is the love that most of us think of and wish to stoke the fires of, on Valentines Day. It is romantic, and erotic. Carried on the winds of imagination, its magnetism brings our sexual desires to the forefront of our minds and bodies. The Greeks actually considered eros as dangerous and irrational, it could take hold of and possess you. Let this be food for thought.
There is no feeling, sensation or thought that can compare to the sheer joy of sharing love with another. It is an affair of the heart, and as we call upon our heart’s vast resources with which to love we find that as we give more love, we get more love in return. The more loving we become with others, the more love we have to give. Rather than becoming depleted of love we become nourished and filled with it!
For love is the true ground upon which we live; it is the only environment that any of us truly desire. It should be shared with everyone on some level, creating an environment of peace and joy. We naturally think of being more caring with those we know, that are in our circle of friends and family. But to exercise those same heart muscles with other souls outside this circle will not only bring more light into their lives, but it increases our own.
A smile for someone you don’t know, helping a distressed
animal, giving in charity in a way that you become emotionally involved, or a hug for someone that’s feeling lost and alone, will bring feelings of joyfulness to the heart. The more we share love with others, the more love fills and overflows our hearts. When we give of our hearts freely the realization comes that we are all a part of one big family.
For the most intimate of personal relationships having synastry between you on a soul level is essential. Being able to see the arrangement of the heavens at the time of the persons’ birth will tell the tale. When we use an accurate Vedic horoscope, we can see right away if there is enough compatibility (synastry) for the marriage to be successful. Not only that, but we can look at the future career and social statuses of the couple, as well. We all want to meet with success, and knowing the synastry between you can make the difference between having a fulfilling marriage and home life, or not.
So this Valentine’s Day plan for that special event, dinner or night out with your special someone, but don’t forget to call Mom, or Dad. For that one day resolve to express only warmth and kindness, try to keep a smile on your lips whenever you see anyone and try to feel yourself as part of one Earth family. Not only will you have one of the best days of your lives, you’ll realize forever more that love really is all we need. If we have that, then the world looks bright. For to love and be loved, is life’s greatest gift. Happy Valentine’s Day!