Madness pervades all of society. We live in a crazy, mad world. Some of us are mad for money, some for fame. Yet others are mad for power and prestige Love also causes madness as does hate or excessive pride. A fortunate few are mad for the love of God.
Search for the eternal truth (Parama Satya), the Ancient being (Adi, Anadi) and the most complete entity in the universe (Parmatma, Vishwatma) has led many a "great beings" to the very depths of madness.
There is only one difference between the certified mad and the "sacred" mad. The former has no control over his/ her mind and the latter has chosen his/ her course with the greatest deliberation.
The Thirthankars, Paramhansas, Gopies and many other saints (such as Mirabai), are glowing examples of the divine mad. These great beings have become so immersed in the ocean of divine love that they no longer care for the external, material world. Inspired by love for the divine, they pay scant regard to the hypocritical world that surrounds them. Like the lotus, they too live in the mire of mud and water without ever being soiled by them.
A yogi practices detachment with great zeal. After years of concerted effort, s/he may achieve this exalted state for a few minutes or hours a day. Detachment is a difficult goal in a world filled with innumerable attachments. It is difficult and often even painful to cut off all those bonds lovingly cultivated over several lifetimes, through several millenniums.
For those who are in love with the divine, these bonds, karmic or otherwise, form no obstacles at all. Just as in conventional love, nothing can deviate the mind from the beloved, no one can persuade the course of love to change Unlike conventional love, this love is eternal, it brings no sadness or remorse. There is no regret as their object of love, God, is not a flawed entity, but the absolute Lord of the Universe.
Omnipresent, omnipotent, universal spirit is complete and pure. Hence all who fall in love with "it" ("it" = for it is neither he or she) can suffer no conventional pains found in earthly love. There is no decay or deceit in the universal spirit, hence all love for it is undying, eternal.
Divine love intoxicated some of the greatest sages and saints of our history. The Thirthankars were so immersed in Atman Gyan that they appeared unconscious to the outside world. Ramakrishna was so imbibed with love for the divine mother that he saw her in everything around him. The Gopies of Brindavan saw Krishna in all animate and inanimate objects around them. Mirabai was so much in love with her Girdhar Gopal, she abandoned her family and friends for Him.
The Adi Shankara called the world an illusion only because he has had experienced "THE" ultimate reality. In throes of divine love, numerous sages and saints have lost all interest in this transient world. What use are the comforts of this world to a madman? A conventional mad may yet find some pleasure in them, but the "Gyani mad" would find all material enjoyment fruitless and ultimately painful. It was with this idea that the Thirthankars abandoned all material attachments and pursued the path of absolute knowledge with such resoluteness.
Various Bhakti Acharyas have expounded the path of love and grace. Though no less tougher than the purely austere paths of knowledge and yoga, the Bhakti Marg was easier to assimilate in to the daily routine and its philosophy was easier for a layman to understand. We all have some experience of love. Love between mother and child, father and son, between brothers and sisters, amongst friends, with the spouse etc.. Bhakti simply asks a person to translate this love for mortals to the immortal. Love is God's gift to mankind, if directed at God, it becomes Bhakti, otherwise it is lust and attachment.
All that we love, people, possessions, prestige, position- are short lived. Bhakti aims to pour the nectar of love in to a more permanent, more subtle container than our currently leaky one. All too often the love we give to earthly, material, people disappoints us by failing in our expectations The best way to tackle this is to transfer our love over to some one who will not disappoint us. God is the only entity that can give us unconditional love and return our love with equal vigor.
Elixir of love is a maddening drink. We have all drunk it at some time or other in our lives. Unfortunately our vessels are cracked and all too often the precious nectar flows away before we can really enjoy ourselves or appreciate it. However, if we fill our precious potion of love in the cup of God, the golden liquid is guaranteed to remain with us for eternity.
A wise person once said, " To love is to live ", but love what? Our love is like that of the bee. It is constantly hovering from one object to another. Such transitory love tires us. According to Narad's Bhakti Sutra, true love is not based on any "guna" - desirable characteristics. As long as the "love" is based on beauty, fame, fortune, intelligence or power, it will loose its charm in the relentless passage of time.
To love is to be happy. Yet, how can the love for the world make us happy? The wise man, however, spoke of love, not a passing fancy. Love is eternal. Let this gem not fall in to the desert sands of our lives while we chase mirages.
A conventional mad kicks and hollers when agitated. Those fortunate few maddened by their love for God, give excellent advice, Gyana, when agitated by the outside world. Like the tree, when cruelly struck, they give sweet fruits, and never resort to unkindness. Having found this oasis of love, sages and saints do not wish to leave it, even if we call them mad!! Jad Bharat, one of the greatest avadhotes, was even taunted and kicked by the king Nahush, because the king thought him mad. Like the true great sage, Jad Bharat gave Atman-Gyan to the king in return for his abuses.
According to sage Narad, love that is based on specific characteristic(s) is not real or enduring. Love based on beauty, fame, fortune, position/ status, intelligence, power etc. lasts only while the reason for "love" exists. In its absence, the so called love evaporates rather too quickly. True love is for love sake only. Saints and sages are mad in this love. Madness for material objects brings sadness, madness for God brings bliss. Madness for material objects bonds, divine madness liberates, gives Mukti. Truly learned choose to be a part of this madness rather than be a part of this "Sane" world.