Mythologist | Author | Speaker | Illustrator

June 6, 2014

First published June 5, 2014

 in Mid-day

Reverse Love

Published on 16th February, 2014, in Mid-Day.

It must be love. What else can it be? Such vicious words hurled against each other. Clearly the other really, really, really matters. Why else would anyone bother? It is a very different kind of love, the malignant kind, but love nevertheless.

One party hurts the other by rude and lewd commentaries, then pretending to be the injured party, the other party, angry at such deliberate misreading, attacks ruthlessly and demands a change of lens, questioning the intent. Both talking. Neither listening. Two star-crossed forces, blazing comets of the left and the right on an ‘almost’collision course, doomed never to meet. One wants to be seen, the other refuses to see. One an insider, the other an outsider. One the smarting deity, the other an angry devotee. One born into privilege, the other crawling his way up. Each one highly territorial and some would say rather manipulative. Both smart. Both charismatic. Both argumentative. Both alphas, refusing to listen to other points of view. Both convinced they are right. Both with vast armies of followers ready to go to war offline and online, across continents and websites. Each one with cheerleaders and critics. Both wanting to change the world, but only their way. Both loving the attention, the adulation, and the martyrdom. Each one unwittingly promoting the other through negative publicity. Both providing entertainment to a world that really does not care beyond a point.

Am I talking about the Wendy Dongier/Rajiv Malhotra affair over psychosexual interpretation of Hindu gods that has now spread from America and reached Indian publishing shores? Her books are pulped by publishers following threats of fundamentalists. He is blocked from entering literary festivals by liberals. Both wounded animals, each one imagining the other as the predator.

But I could also be talking about the NaMo/RaGa affair that has now seemingly been waylaid by AAP, or the Alagiri/Stalin family battles in Tamil Nadu or the Putin/LGBT spat at the Russian Olympics, or even the Republican/Democrat war of words over US healthcare reforms, or even the Arab/Israeli dispute. It could be that estranged uncle and aunty. It could be the beloved elder brother and your best friend who just refuse to get along. It could be your mother and your wife, your husband and your father. Identities do not matter. The pattern does. One just has to notice how each party flares up as soon as the other’s name is mentioned.

It is a case of ‘reverse love’, or what the scriptures refer to as ‘vipreet-bhakti’, a state where you hate the enemy so much that you think about them all the time and it ends up being dedicated devotion. Of course, mention this to either party and they will disown this suggestion contemptuously, with detailed rationalised arguments, as is their wont.

Ramayana speaks of vipreet-bhakti of Ravana for Ram. Bhagavat speaks of vipreet-bhakti of Kansa for Krishna. Both so-called ‘villains’ attain moksha, for there is love embedded in that hatred. Of course, in the human cases we wonder who is Ram and who is Ravan, who is Kansa and who is Krishna. There will be a war of words even here.

This concept of vipreet-bhakti forces everyone to see everything in this polarised world using the currency of love. Time to stop the hate, see the love, laugh at all the possibilities of unresolved issues and unwarranted heartbreak.

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