Opinions

Valentine's Day has dehumanised love

'February is the month of love because spring is on us
Yet it seems that there's a futile and unnecessary fuss
Valentine Day also comes along with message of love
But there remains love which's different and far above
And that's the myriad manifestation of this emotion
For, everyone thinks of love with a different notion'

—Anonymous

Whoever wrote the aforementioned verse, wrote it with a profound understanding of love and its myriad avatars. Love is not just limited to the mushy love expressed and manifest on Valentine Day that falls on February 14 every year. Centuries ago, Fariduddin Attar, the putative master of Jalaluddin Rumi of Balkh, wrote in Pahalavi (precursor to Persian), 'choon astas roz-e-khaas ishq murdam, ya farzaad in bilam, ulfat va-qadas jaavidaan' (Not just a moment, hour or day is earmarked for love/It's a continuous process; it's perennial). 

Indeed, love is eternal and comes in all hues and shades. Tagore wrote in Gitanjali, 'Prem achhe tahole hi jeebon achhe' (Life exists because love exists). Love's life, life's love. 

Valentine's Day seems to have demarcated, desensitized and also dehumanised love. It's also narrowed its horizon down to lovers and their (mushy) love. Agreed, that's also a part of love but love reaches its acme when it gets sublimated into Ishq-e-haqiqi, the divine or Universal love. Amir Khusro says in Persian, 'Kaifir-e-ishqam musalmani mara darkaar neest/Har rage-jaan taar gushta haajat-e-zunnar neest' (I've accepted love as the all-pervasive power, now I don't require Islam/Love flows through my veins, I don't need the sacred thread (janeu, worn by Hindus)).

Love is the greatest human emotion that must be celebrated every moment because only through love can humans become humans: Har lamha ishq ke naam kar/Isi jazbe par toh munhasir hai insaniyat (Devote every moment to love/Because, on this very emotion is based the humanity-Hafiz Jalandhari).

More than ever do we humans need the force of love to eclipse and overwhelm all our debased emotions of hatred, violence, bloodshed, anger, rancour and all negativity. 

At this crossroads of uncertainty, the power and celebration of love becomes all the more meaningful. 'Only with a collectively loving disposition of mind, mankind can survive,' opined Aldous Huxley in his book, Brave New World. He wrote to Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan when the latter was teaching Eastern Religions and Ethics as a Spalding Professor at Oxford, 'What could be your remedy to permanent peace on this volatile earth?' The Indian philosopher-par-excellence replied in just one word: LOVE. So very true. There can't be any other solution to everlasting peace and bonhomie in this war-ravaged world and moth-eaten humanity.

We must never get discouraged of love and give it up, for, love triumphs in the end and always has the last laugh. To love one person is the beginning of loving the whole of humanity because love begins with one and ends with countless. Sublimate it to the level of universal love that encompasses and embraces all and sundry in its boundless ambit. Pledge to augment its canvas on Valentine's Day and spread it far and wide. Love has the uncanny habit of coming back to you manifold. 

To quote Allama Iqbal, 'Parcham-e-ishq buland kar/Luta de apni hasti iss par/Unsiyat hi insaaniyat hai/Ise gale lagane se na dar' (Unfurl the flag of love/Sacrifice your life on love/Love is humanity/Don't be afraid of embracing it). It's worthwhile to mention that the Arabic word 'Uns' (Love) gave birth to the word 'Insaan' (one who loves). Unsiyat means 'love.' 

So, let's sublimate Valentine's Day and disseminate love and only love. [end]

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