It was a Sunday morning at Prasanthi Nilayam. After finishing the morning 'interviews', Baba went to the western side of the Mandir where the children from the Primary School were seated. Baba does not like anybody, and certainly not the sweet little ones, to sit in the hot sun! He made them all sit in the shade in the porch very near the 'interview' room. The children beamed as they trooped in and sat in an orderly fashion, followed by Baba who came behind them, glowing with a big smile! He came to the first row and all of a sudden started singing, 'Love is My Form! ...... ' He asked the children to join. All of us who were fortunate to be present had this unexpected gift of Grace! (I have found that Grace always comes unexpectedly!). Half way, He stopped and asked the children, "What is love?' with a teasing smile. The children were taken by surprise at this question and smiled, non-plussed! He 'minused' their bewilderment by obliging the answer!
"Love is Ice cream!" I heard Baba say. He allowed the children's laughter and the adults' surprise to die down, before He explained further. Baba, the ideal Teacher, is Master of the technique of teaching. A startling question to evoke attention, provoke curiosity and secure interested listening is the master's method! All ears were now alert, awaiting Baba's explanation! 'Love is sweet, like ice cream; Love is joy, like ice cream; Love is cool, like ice cream and Love is pure, like white ice cream!' Baba explained. Apparently meant for the children, it was a gift from Baba to all of us, this extra-ordinarily original definition of Love from Love Incarnate! Images are sketched by poets to make the abstract concrete. Baba, the poet of poets, gives images which have great spiritual depths, and uses the most modern of them to make us understand what He wants to convey. In the Krishna Avatar, it was milk, curds and butter; Sai Krishna uses the imagery of Ice cream!
Who will not understand that Love is sweet like ice cream? Baba had also said, Love is joy like ice cream. We understand this best when Baba gives us a taste of what Love really is.
The kind of Love that we experience with Baba is sweetness itself. "Rasovai sah" 'He is the very essence of sweetness," says the Upanishad.
I remembered the imagery of a cup of water with a spoonful of sugar added to it, given by Baba on another occasion. Baba said: "There is sugar in the cup, but the water is insipid, for you have not stirred it well. There is God in the world, and by stirring the Divine well into every drop and atom thereof, you can make the world a sweet thing to live by." Life becomes sweet and joyful by stirring the Divine, whose most potent expression is Love, into every action of ours.
Baba said: 'Love is 'cool' like ice-cream!" This is so very different from the commonly understood meaning attached to the word love. We somehow think that love is 'hot'. Our popular conception of 'love' is that of a heated passionate emotion. This is what happens when people 'fall in love'! But Baba is talking of a kind of love which belongs to a higher realm, more lasting and sustained than the passion that fluctuates!
Ice cream makes people who taste it by allowing it to melt slowly on the tongue, joyful and happy. The solid block of ice cream loses its form by melting and finally disappearing, fulfilling itself. Pure love springs from self-sacrifice; pure love is fulfillment. It is in losing that one gains everything.
Like Ice cream, God also melts when the heart of the devotee displays the warmth of Love towards Him. Sri Ramakrishna compared the inactive snake curled up, as Nirguna Brahman, while the same snake in motion is Saguna Brahman; both are the same essentially. The block of Ice cream is Nirguna Brahman; when the Ice cream melts giving ananda to the devotee, it is Saguna Brahman. The Avatar incarnates for this very purpose.
- by Dr. M.V.N.Murthy
...extracted from Sanathana Sarathi, May-June 1982