If you love, love openly

When you understand the true meaning of love, you will go beyond its physical expression.
Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha: Rang Barse
Yesterday, I watched ‘Silsila’ (Yash Chopra, 1981, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Sanjeev Kumar) one more time. It’s a story of complicated relationships and of the people who are entangled in them. The movie made history not only because of the onscreen chemistry between Amitabh and Rekha but also because of the much rumored offscreen affair between them and the stresses between Amitabh and his onscreen wife Jaya (his real Life wife too). In one scene, in the iconic ‘Holi’song ‘Rang Barse’ (sung by Amitabh Bachchan himself), Amitabh hugs and kisses Rekha, much to the shock and dismay of their respective onscreen spouses, Jaya and Sanjeev Kumar – and to the surprise of the audience. While contextually, the hug and kiss are meant to only be a bold expression of the Amitabh-Rekha onscreen romance, there can be a spiritual interpretation to it too!
Here’s a Zen story, that I recall, to illustrate the point.

Twenty monks and one nun, called Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen Master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the Master gave his customary morning lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

The import of the story is that if you love, love openly. For long society has suppressed love. It is natural, it is human nature, for people to love other people. But society has placed a restriction. For ages now, society has proclaimed that you cannot love more than one. And that restriction has come about from what society has created again – the institution of marriage. Religion has made this even more complex and intimidating by introducing the concept of sin. So, if you love another when you are married to one, it is both illegal and a sin. This is because the meaning of love has been distorted. Love has come to mean something conditional – almost everyone is saying, at least through implication, that if you behave within the contours of a relationship, you will be loved by me.

So, Eshun’s open invitation in the Zen story, and Amitabh’s ‘daring’ act in the ‘Rang Barse’ song may alarm many. But, however difficult it may be to immediately relate to it or accept it, the truth is that it is they who personify true, pure love. As human beings, our true nature is love. We don’t have to do anything to love or be loving or become loving. We just have to tear down all the walls we have allowed to come up between us and our expression of love. Then love will transcend the physical plane and break through social barriers. Then we will love openly!


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