Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.
This one’s to all the ladies who calmly endure pain and hardship, and to their husbands who lovingly care for their wife’s every single need — I salute you.
We’ve had a bereavement in the family. My wife’s aunt (we’ll call her ‘masi’) passed away at the age of 51. She had been facing an ongoing battle with cancer for many years. Masi leaves behind her husband (we’ll call him ‘masa’) and a 17 year old son.
At the prathna sabha — a prayer meeting where the community come together to take strength from detachment-cultivating songs and pay their condolences to the family — members of the family and community spoke about masi’s life and her virtues.
Samta bhaav: calmly enduring the ups and downs of life
Masi’s cancer was advanced. It had gotten into her bones and affected every part of her body. She was constantly in so much pain and yet her focus was clear. She knew she needed to remain calm, stay strong, persevere and raise her son to become the wonderful young man he is today.
In Jain dharma, there is a term known as “samta bhaav”. It means to have a feeling of calmness and peace in any given situation. It means to have equanimity regardless of the pushes and pulls and ups and downs of life.
Samta bhaav arises from a knowing that everything around us is merely temporary — it will come and go as appropriate, based on the knots we have bound to ourselves through our previous behaviours. Those knots we have bound in the past bring rise to these present situations in our life.
Samta bhaav is a feeling that arises as a result of knowing in the depths of our heart that we are wholly responsible for the situations that are manifesting in our lives right now. Our present behaviours — the way we endure the situations we face — will determine the knots we bind and the subsequent situations that present themselves to us.
Masi, through the day-to-day endurance of physical pain, demonstrated samta bhaav to us.
Despite what she was going through, she would have a smile on her face and not let talk about her medical condition dampen the vitality of her life and her family.
We can take inspiration from that, learn to ease our own suffering and eventually free ourselves from our own self-made traps.
Pyaar ka saagar: being an ocean of love
During the prathna sabha, there was a devotional song performed, titled ‘Tu pyaar ka saagar hain’ (external links: music video; lyrics translation).
The song expresses devotion towards the great souls who have experienced their true limitless inner bliss and freedom from suffering.
These great souls are an ocean of love, overflowing with compassion. We look to them to give us just one drop of love (from that ocean of love) to quench our thirst, our thirst for freedom and ultimately cure our otherwise endless suffering.
Pyaar ka saagar means ‘ocean of love’. By taking a drop from the ocean of love, may we also be free to fly across our own ocean of suffering.
During the words from family members shared at the end of the prathna sabha, masi’s eldest brother spoke briefly about masi’s virtues and then directed our attention towards masa (masi’s husband) — an embodiment of ‘pyaar ka saagar’, an ocean of love.
Masa, in all these years, stood firmly next to masi, taking care of her every single need. From the ups and downs, the holidays and the hospital visits, and everything in between, he was right there, by her side, supporting masi through the journey.
He would work hard at the office all day and then tend to masi in the evenings and throughout the night. He is someone who clearly understood his duty and continued to diligently fulfill it.
Masa personified an ocean of love by consistently being at masi’s side, helping her endure what life presented her with.
Striving to be an ocean of love
As the upcoming years and decades unravel, I hope that my wife never has to suffer any physical pain, emotional turmoil or mental anguish.
But if she has to face any of this, then I hope I have the strength, stamina and diligence to care for her every need and soften her day-to-day suffering.
I look towards masa, my father, grandfather and other great men out there, and seek to become an ocean of love just like them.