Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seven Stages of Love

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According to Arabic literature, there are seven stages of love..

1. हब - Hub - Attraction
2. उन्स - Uns - Infatuation
3. इश्क़ - Ishq - Love
4. अक़ीदत - Aqeedat - Reverence
5. इबादत - Ibaadat - Worship
6. जूनून - Junoon - Obsession
7. मौत - Maut - Death


This seven fold philosophy of love is beautifully depicted in this song from the movie Dil Se, which is one of my favorite movies... The song and film is extremely figurative and artistic and the symbolism is not easily understood in first viewing. However this symbolism and theme of seven steps, is artistically depicted in the movie...

This song is played at all the major turning points of the film where the characters cross each of these 7 check points leading ultimately to their death.. Inexorably drawn towards each other, the crescendo of love goes on increasing unchecked....


तू ही तू.... तू ही तू सतरंगी रे...
तू ही तू... तू ही तू मनरंगी रे..


दिल का साया हमसाया सतरंगी रे... मनरंगी रे...
कोई नूर है तू, क्यूँ दूर है तू....
जब पास है तू, अहसास है तू....
कोई ख़्वाब हैं या परछाई है, सतरंगी रे ???.... सतरंगी रे.....
इस बार बता मुजोर हवा ठहरेगी कहाँ ???

This is the first stage of Hub... The eyes meet, the spark is initiated... the journey begins...

इश्क़ पर जोर नहीं, हैं ये वो आतिश ग़ालिब....जो लगाए न लगे और बुझाए न बने.....

One of the most beautiful and insightful lines of Mirza Ghalib... He compares love with of an uncontrolled fire... Difficult to ignite, and once started, impossible to extinguish...


आँखों ने कुछ ऐसे छुआ.... हल्का हल्का उन्स हुआ...
हल्का हल्का उन्स हुआ, दिल को महसूस हुआ...

Second stage of infatuation achieved...

तू ही तू.... तू ही तू, जीने की सारी खुशबू
तू ही तू... तू ही तू, आरजू आरजू...
तेरी जिस्म की आंच को छूते ही, मेरे सांस सुलगने लगते हैं..
मुझे इश्क़ दिलासे देता हैं, मेरे दर्द बिलखने लगते हैं.....

Third stage of love.. This is the pinnacle of the feel good involved in the process. The most blissful of all the stages.. If this point is crossed, the bliss starts decreasing. We can't say whether pain starts after this stage or not, but the the ideas of bliss and pain start getting increasingly impersonal... If love crosses this point, there usually is no turning back.. One has to follow the chain of events which leads to death or severe heart-break, poetically worse than Death...

तू ही तू... तू ही तू, जीने की सारी खुशबू...
तू ही तू... तू ही तू, आरजू आरजू
छूती है मुझे सरगोशी से, आँखों में घुली खामोशी से...
मैं फर्श पे सजदे करता हूँ, कुछ होश में कुछ बेहोशी से...

Fourth and Fifth stage is seen in this stanza.. Reverence and Worship... An object one initially was infatuated with and attracted to, becomes the object of reverence which leads to it becoming an object of worship... The object of worship is elevated to a higher pedastal where nothing can be wrong with the object.. There can be no negotiations about the infallibility of the object...

Interesting thing is, until this point, the Dvaita (Duality) of lover and beloved is maintained.. Although the object becomes infallible and utmost important, this is not the point where the identity of person is lost...

All the relations which come until this point are dualist. Devout lovers, Devout Bhaktas (Devotees), Fanatic believers in God, all come until this point of the journey..

The next 2 steps are so insanely dangerous that few dare to tread them...

तेरी राहों में उलझा उलझा हूँ, तेरी बाहों में उलझा उलझा...
सुलझाने दे होश मुझे, तेरी चाहों में उलझा हूँ....
मेरा जीना जूनून, मेरा मरना जूनून...
अब इसके सिवा नहीं कोई सुकून...

The sixth stage of Obsession achieved... Here, slowly, person starts identifying whole-heartedly with the object of his obsession.. He starts loosing his identity and begins the process of becoming one with the object of obsession.. He entangles hopelessly into the identity of object of obsession.. To such an extent that the existence-nonexistence of the object becomes the matter of his own existence-nonexistence...

तू ही तू.. तू ही तू, सतरंगी रे...
तू ही तू... तू ही तू, मनरंगी रे...

इश्क़ पर जोर नहीं हैं ये वो आतिश ग़ालिब... जो लगाए न लगे और बुझाए न बने...

मुझे मौत की गोद में सोने दे.....
तेरी रूह में जिस्म डुबोने दे....

सतरंगी रे.....मनरंगी रे.....

Final stage.... Death.. This can be literal as well as figurative...

The other words which convey the meaning of this stage are फना (Fanaa - Destruction of ego), कैवल्य (Kaivalya - Singularity) and अद्वैत (Advaita - Non-Dualism).

All these four concepts of Death, Destruction (of ego), Singularity and Non-dualism signify the same climax.. The lover destroys his self-identity; his Aatman (Sense of "I")..

If someone contemplates on a woman and travels these stages, he will end up destroying himself, but will not become one with the woman or her identity... If one chooses to contemplate on some idea or something abstract, like Brahman, he will achieve unity... It is a matter of great skepticism whether an accomplished Yogi actually experiences the state of Singularity (Kaivalya) or not... But he claims to be, and there is no way to either prove or disprove it...

Just as it is the case with love... It is strictly a personal experience.... No one can feel it for you... No one can measure it and validate it... It is something which simply exists.. without any requisite explanation OR justification...

As it is said by Ghalib... Love is like an uncontrollable fire.... Difficult to ignite and impossible to quench...

9 comments:

Prabhat said...

nice one! loved it :)

WildMagic said...

As I was going through this post, I couldn't help thinking that these are actually the stages of UNREQUITED love. The stages beyond इश्क़ seem to be those of an obsessive mind who can't come to terms with the fact that his progression through the first three stages has been impotent. I ask myself, "Why will a truly fulfilled love move beyond इश्क़ ?" and I can't come up with a reasonable answer. On the other hand, I can totally "get" how stages 4-7 are practically inevitable, given sufficient strength of 1-3.

I wonder what your thoughts are about this point of view.

Sagar

Chiron said...

Dear Sagar,

Thanks for the comment !!

"Why will a truly fulfilled love move beyond Ishq?"

Well, most do not.. But for some, its just not enough. Most do not because, the path thereafter is not sustainable. The end is not completely known, nor are the gains but the loss is complete..

Pardon for using language of gain/loss in a topic which is universally acknowledged as something higher. But, I think for attempting to answer this question, one has to use this language..

The fear of unknown, many times, stops an individual from knowing certain things completely. This fear of unknown is one factor which repels most of "Lovers" from going beyond Ishq.

Secondly, once "content" sets is, there is a local optima on the love-curve. An individual won't try and leave the comfort zone of content to find something more.

Content sets in because, the motives of falling in love are completed and achieved. The motives for falling in love are difficult to express in words, but liking someone's company, thought-process, sexual-attraction, mutual respect, are some reasons/motives. By the stage of Ishq, most of these motives are fulfilled for most of the "lovers".

But, there are few of those which are either delayed of fulfilment of some motive, they tend to jump to higher level. Here again, most of the delayed ones either give-up the pursuit and try luck somewhere else or get detached.

Few persist. The subsequent stages are for those very few. What makes them persistent? Perhaps their nature, perhaps their involvement, perhaps too much of mental investments at stake, perhaps because they just can't help.

In my opinion, for journey through post Ishq stages requires support of the beloved as well. Depending upon the nature of pursuer, the beloved (person OR idea) should either encourage him/her OR elude him/her.

If we consider character of Arjun and Eklavya, and beloved was the skill of archery (Dhanur-vidya), Arjuna reached completion owing to encouragement of the beloved, whereas Ekalavya reached same stage owing to eluding rejection of the beloved so that he simply could not give up. Both however, reached the final stage of "love" with respect to their beloved.

What happened thereafter is none of our concern as there are social, political and other reasons for it..

For some, world is simply not enough.. I guess only those move beyond stage 3. As we see around, most of people do not move beyond stage three because of reasons well elucidated by you in your comment..

I am interested in your response to this !!

Thanks again for valuable comment...

Chiron said...

Dear Sagar,

I guess, this is where, "no man is an island entirely of itself" applies the most.

In my humble opinion, almost all of the test subjects in any sort of connective relationship with any object/person/idea are lovers. I am just redefining the phrase for sake of discussion. Love is sort of connection between two entities, which either can be attractive (forces add up to each other) or repulsive (forces subtract).

This is a bit slippery because, hatred shows similar trajectory of emotions as that of attraction/love. The Sanskrit term used by Rishi Patanjali (ऋषि पतंजलि) in his Yogsutras(योगसूत्र) is Raag(राग). Raag is typically used in Sanskrit to refer to any strong emotion(भाव). going off topic, the Raag in classical music too refers to certain intense mood which is conveyed by that particular combination of musical notes.

Anyways, now that, the ground has been sufficiently, defined, here are my arguments.

1. Philosophically, 7 seven stages of Love are in fact 7 stages of Raag.

2. The Onset of Raag towards a particular object generally will result in completion of cycle, in absence of other mental faculties which somehow resist the progression. Add to that, the environmental inputs which either dissuades an individual from moving ahead OR pre-occupies his mind with something else.

3. In my opinion, the stages subsequent to Ishq become exceedingly momentary and very difficult to sustain for longer durations. It requires a very high energy system to sustain a particular Raag towards particular object at Junoon level for life-time. The sheer cost of maintaining such continuous high-energy state dissuades people from going further.

4. Now, awareness of choice is to be thought at two level; conscious and sub-conscious. I guess, at least at subconscious level everybody is aware of the high-maintenance and ephemeral nature of Raag in post Ishq stages.

5. Interestingly, the choice of halting at stage three is mostly done at subconscious level. If the awareness manages to reach to conscious level, the mental peace of individual tends to be disrupted as now he will have to consciously make a decision, which is kind of painful. Ignorance is bliss and knowledge may or may not be power, but definitely not bliss.:-)

6. I do not have a survey to back my argument, but I guess most of test subjects tend to reject the possibility of going ahead beyond Ishq as long as they are provided with choice at least on subconscious level. The analysis has to occur on whether to go ahead OR not. Whether it happens consciously OR subconsciously in given individual, varies from nature of person (Swadharma), object, desire, age, conditioning (Sanskaars)and time.

7. This, however, also concurrently leads us to an argument that there are certain individuals which choose subconsciously to move beyond Ishq stage. They find themselves irrevocably moving along the harsher currents of their Raag towards certain object and they are somehow unable to consciously understand this drift.

8. Destruction does not happen until it has happened. In my opinion, mind is strong enough to stop an individual on its journey to destruction and turn back until destruction actually happens; after that, there is no mind, no ego, nothing. The biggest example is that of Vishwamitra and Menaka. Vishwamitra intended to reach the 7th stage and was very close to it. Menaka's diversion proved strong enough to pull him back from edge of destruction (at least temporarily). Of course, later he left both Menaka and his daughter and attained 7th stage.

9. I guess, the problem is choice.

The more I think of it, the more I find the similarity of these 7 stages in Arabic literature with Yoga-Philosophy. Since I am also an avid lover of history, geo-socio-politics, I hazard a guess that this is what they (arabs) understood of Yogsutras when this knowledge was passed on to that region.

unthoughtknown14 said...

Amazing !!

H said...

I am speechless. This is a beautiful piece of writing, and a profound one.

Ami Ganatra said...

I have a slightly different take on the last 2 points - after one reaches a point of reverence in a relationship or love or bhakti - there are 2 ways to go, Ravan chose to take the first one, the one of obsession - wherein he wanted to posses the object of his bhakti, i.e.Shiva and when obsession strikes, death is the end,but there is another approach to let go, because you are one in spirit and in mind with your object of love, there is no desire posses, because there is not need to posses, your emotions at that stage need no gratification, as was the case with Narsinh Mehta or Tulsidas, they did not try to posses but accepted fate wholeheartedly, and if thats your approach bliss is the ultimate reward, not death but liberation

Ami Ganatra said...

But a beautiful piece indeed :) wouldn't have ever analysed a song in this depth

Sonal Lodha said...

Loved this! New insight. :)