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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part II - Rasa Shastra - The Science of Life's Creative Forces

Chapter XV


Any study of psychology shows that success and happiness in life are found in singleness of mind. To focus itself the mind takes a single direction. And singleness of vision cannot fail to develop singleness of purpose. Many are the paths that lead to success. The difficulty lies in keeping strictly to the chosen path, or in other words in retaining singleness of mind. There is one means only by which man can attain to a realization of the religious ideal of the Godhead, and that is through sincerity and single-mindedness in the conduct of everyday life.

So it is that the ideal of monogamy has been considered by the wise as no less sacred than religion. In this ideal, verily, is found the natural law of religion.

Even among polygamous peoples monogamy prevails; because the one who is bound to several in marriage is most often devoted to one alone, and thus monogamy is in a sense more natural than polygamy. It is a tendency that is seen to a certain extent in birds and beasts. Doves, for example, when mated remain attached to each other and share equally the responsibility of rearing their young. Many other animals always keep to one mate, and only after long separation, when they have lost all consciousness of the other, will they accept a second mate. Such loyalty among animals is always a source of interest to man, and is in itself significant.

Once in India a man out hunting killed a bird, and saw as it fell to the ground that its mate flew down seeking after it. And when he came near to his prey he found the mate dead beside it. So impressed was he by the sight of the lifeless body lying beside its slaughtered mate, that he never again went shooting. Constancy never fails to impress by its beauty.

In testing gold we recognize the real gold by its enduring qualities. The real gold lasts; and what the human being calls divine character is something that is enduring in its beauty, and thus different, distinct, and apart from the world which is ever changing.

The value of the things of life lies in the worth that man attaches to them. Of themselves they have no value. There is a time when toys are treasures. But the child who cries for a toy comes to an age when he gives it away. And at every step in a man's evolution the values of power and position and wealth change in his eyes. And so as he evolves there arises in him a spirit of renunciation, which may be called the Spirit of God. Gradually he recognizes the real value of those fair and lovely qualities of the spirit that change not. In the ideal of monogamy, in the ideal of devotion to one alone, abides a recognition of loyalty and constancy as being the most valuable, as being the divine attribute of man.

To the poet, to the artist, whatever be his art, to the idealist, the idea of the one beloved is part of his being. With selfless sincerity he is faithful to his vision of beauty. And every thought that tempts him from his loyalty is to him like going astray. No social law or moral teaching is needed to chain him to his beloved. His inward impulse keeps him to her.

It has been no uncommon thing to find in any age, in any country, cases where a bereaved mate has been unable to live on after the death of the beloved. Most often one sees the bereaved one of a true union living a dead life, suffering a long drawn-out crucifixion, till death terminates the enforced separation. Among the Hindus, that most idealistic of races, marriage gives a sacred position to the wife, so that she is, ideally, entirely dependent upon her husband to fight every battle of life for her. And to them the thought that a wife could marry a second time seems intolerable. Such stories of fidelity became so honored amongst the Hindus as to make Sati a custom, and it became usual for Hindu women to imitate in their own lives the stories of great devotion, and by dying on their husband's grave to give thus the greatest proof of loyalty.


There is a story told about the wife of Jayadev, the poet of the Sanskrit age whose Ashtapadis have been sung for centuries with unfailing interest. The story tells that Jayadev's wife visited the court of the queen to offer sympathy according to custom, after the queen's sister had died in Sati. Jayadev's wife remained silent before the queen, who began to feel insulted that she did not express admiration for the great ideal that her sister had shown, or condole her for her own loss. 'Does it not seem to you a great and noble proof of love?' asked the queen. 'Indeed, yes...' answered Jayadev's wife, but she seemed to hesitate as if she had no words and the queen kept this in her mind.

Some time later the king happened to be away with Jayadev on a tiger hunt. The queen sent word to his wife to say that the poet had died on the expedition. 'What?' said she, 'Is Jayadev dead?' and she sank unconscious, and never recovering consciousness thus died.

For a youth to prefer death to dishonor is a great and generous ideal, but when this ideal becomes a custom, then the ideal has become an idol. It seems more terrible than the custom of Sati that a young man should kill himself for an ideal at the very threshold of life. But indeed that the human being should hold life cheap in comparison with his ideal has nothing of terror or horror in it. The horror begins when custom enforces such a sacrifice upon the individual who cannot understand or willingly accept it.

The joy or devotion to one alone, the joy of loving someone so much as to feel entirely loyal and true is such that it cannot be compared in its fullness to any other in life. It is a joy that cannot be known except to the pious in the path of love. The virtue of this plant of truth and constancy reared in the heart spreads through its branches into each part of life in ever springing virtues that are constantly blossoming and bearing fruits of every happiness and blessing.

There is a verse of Hafiz which says, 'My heart is so pure in its love for you, that indeed it shows no purity; for save you it loves no one.' The apparent confusion of this thought lies in this: that to love sincerely one cannot love more than one. And yet love must grow, for to cease to grow means but to wither and to die.

And to love one alone, and that one truly, is to expand and respond to all the beauty of life. The real lover laughs at him who says, 'I have loved, but my beloved failed me and therefore, I love no more.' The real lover, like Aladdin, has his magic lamp, and he creates his vision of beauty. The real lover cries like Majnun, 'To see the beloved you must have my eyes.' He says, 'O you who blame, you who despair, and you who hate, cannot see.'

An English poet, writing of the sun, has said:

When the sun begins to spread his rays
He shows his face ten thousand ways;
Ten thousand things do then begin
To show the life that they are in.

And the poet Shams-i Tabriz has written:

When the sun showed his face
Then appeared the faces of the forms of all worlds;
His beauty showed their beauty;
In his brightness they shone out;
So by his rays we saw, and knew, and named them.

A flame of pure and sincere love is as a torch upon the path of the lover. It reveals to him the mysteries of life, as it awakens the answering gleam of light, the soul, in each created thing.

checked 18-Oct-2005