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What is Love?

Updated: Mar 27

What is Love?

"Love is the total absence of fear," said the Master.

"What is it we fear?"

"Love", said the Master.

(Anthony de Mello)



My Tribute to the Late Lata Mangeskhar; mother of magical music.

Thank you for your pure heart-warming voice.

We often hear the word ‘Love’ and immediately think of two human beings who feel a sexual attraction, a physical interest, a romance in a relationship. We might speak of the love between parent and child. We might consider the love for a pet, or certain family members such as grandparents. We could talk about the love we have for doing certain treasured activities or eating certain foods or wearing certain outfits, or even travelling to places we love.


It took me a long time to experiment with this thing we call ‘Love’, searching for it in many variations of relationships, activities, and interests that related to the Physical life. Here the relationships were all about ‘me’ or all about ‘you'. Through the process of experimentation and asking research questions of myself, I found a way towards true love that feels good, true and beautiful (even when it appears to be ugly and uncomfortable).

Here I would like to draw attention to a kind of Love that invites an authentic, altruistic and compassionate relationship to all forms of life and choice. The lessons came in gently through Bollywood songs, and perceptions along the journey that helped to refine my Thinking, Feeling, and Will.

It was 1998 and I had ‘fallen in love’ with a Hindu Punjabi boy from Cranford. He lived two floors down in our Halls of Residence and during a fire alarm set off by a student at 3am, we met. We spent the night watching three Bollywood movies, laughing, crying, singing, dancing and talking.

Our favourite song was “Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, Khayal Aata Hai”.

“Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hain

Ke jaise tujhko banaaya gaya hain mere liye

Tu abse pehle sitaaron mein bas rahi thi kahin

Tujhe zameen pe bulaaya gaya hain mere liye” which means…

Sometimes, in my heart a feeling emerges

That it's like you have been created just for me.

Before, you dwelled among the stars somewhere

And now, you have been called down to the earth just for me

For years, I couldn’t understand why I loved this song so much even after the boy and I had parted ways, years before. In 2020 just as I was graduating from the Tobias School of Art & Therapy, I realised what the words were pointing to. The insight arrived through our global metamorphosis opportunity. As I was waking up in the mornings, many different song lines would be heard softly in my mind; some songs I would need to search online for the whole song lyrics, and English translations.

Their words spoke of Love and the pain of longing and parting. Sometimes, the song lines would touch my heart and tears would flow. Sometimes, guilt and shame would arise amongst the fear, anger and confusion. Still I could not understand why I was replaying Bollywood songs in my mind. I reasoned that I was a Bollywood dancer and a singer for twenty years or so, and that perhaps my mind was simply emptying itself of old content. As I sat with the feelings in all their technicolour pain, my excessively intellectual side made some space for my intuitive side to speak to me through pictures.

Over the last few years, through my work with children as a Transpersonal Arts Counsellor, I have begun to place myself in the position of listener to the words and movements, as well as trying out the position of the singers message. Sometimes, I would place myself in the characters roles; the male and the female lovers, and new inspirations would arise helping me to make sense of my life challenges and struggles in search of Love. It has always been difficult for me to accept kindness, goodness, and feelings of love, because of the brutality I had faced in early childhood, with hungry men and women, who I realised in time were themselves, hungry for love. I met many adults who were trying to covet me, use me, own me, sell me. I searched high and low to unpack what it was that was driving me to accumulate and desire excessively, that was lustful for an advancement in me, and in the majority of adults I had encountered.

Often we are faced with conditioned ideas of love, happiness, joy, and health, whether through TV, social media and movie channels presenting temporary measures for feel-good things, or through education, healthcare, familial, religious and political ideals. Thanks to the use of Anthroposophical therapies, remedies and tools, I began to realise the I had been longing for a sustainable feeling of Love that felt safe and unconditional. It’s what many of us are searching for throughout all human lives. For me, any form of goodness, truth and beauty felt unknown and frightening. I found love through a striving to want to know why I met what I met in my life story, and through this striving to heal the Personal, a Transpersonal love found me; inside and around.

Today, the dear woman whose singing voice supported my growth from little Indian girl to a woman, passed on. Her name was Lata Mangeshkar and she was a highly respected Bollywood singer based in India and adored internationally. People called her the "nightingale of Bollywood" for her role as a playback singer, recording the songs that actors would lip-sync on screen. Her extraordinary career spanned more than half a century and she recorded thousands of songs in 36 languages. Generations of people found expression of their innermost emotions through her voice. The news of her passing was heart-breaking for me, as it is for millions the world over.


As I played her songs back to back all day, I felt deeply saddened to remember that I too used to sing for people (before my voice and breathing broke down somehow). I would sing Lata’s songs for finely dressed couples getting married. I would sing songs to people eating Indian dinner in restaurants. I would sing at corporate events after the speeches and awards. Processing trauma from my past left me with various congestions and so I wait until a time when it will clear and I can sing again.


It has always been Lata’s songs that have helped me to grieve losses. I nearly lost my mother in Christmas 2021, who was also a singer. Today I grieve not only for the loss of Lata's talent to the musical world, but for the beloved one who sang me songs through my crises years, in my night dreams and in my daydreams often whilst simply travelling around London. In grieving losses, I rediscovered the Beloved becoming stronger within and around me, in all relationships beyond human intersections of nationalities, cultures, religions, genders, ages, and groups.

The wonder and fear were one and the same; one an inhale and one an exhale - both vital for Life to flower.

Now when I meet my Art Therapy clients, I am able to recognise the Beloved strengthening me to hold them in my heart, and I can see the Beloved’s presence within them as they let go, transform, realise, explore, feel, question, and listen to their art-making and perceptions.

As I trust the love as authenticity, courage, and hope, my clients feel naturally able to meet their therapeutic work feeling supported and accepted for their journey towards the recognition of Love within and around them; (even when something hurts or stings or breaks apart for awhile). It is a love that is simultaneously bridging divisions and empowering individuality, which feels wholesome, relevant, and necessary for our time, where the music between us feeds our souls.


My reflection of Love in the Physical side of Life, is my fiance Drew; artist, singer, dancer, and writer. We were led to each other in 2017, rather abruptly through the power of music-making and singing. I feel deeply humbled to be experiencing true love in the Physical as well as though the Spiritual now. To become conscious of the workings of the Beloved through our lives came from practices offered by Anthroposophy. As I embrace the offerings by the Sufi community, I deepen further into my heart to heal the wounding.

To truly know the difference between lust and love and choose Love is open to everyone if we muster the courage to ask deeper questions and listen artistically; intuitively.



These words reflect my feeling of Love through struggle and suffering of all kinds.

(The song is sung by the late Lata Mangeshkar, with Mukesh. The lyrics were written by Santosh Anand while the soundtrack music was given by Laxmikant and Pyarelal).

“Ek pyar ka nagma hai, maujon ki rawani hai

It’s a song of love, it’s a flow of ecstasy

Ek pyar ka nagma hai, maujon ki rawani hai

It’s a song of love, it’s a flow of ecstasy

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai

Life is nothing but a story about you and me

Ek pyar ka nagma hai, maujon ki rawani hai

It’s a song of love, it’s a flow of ecstasy

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai

Life is nothing but a story about you and me

Ek pyar ka nagma hai

It’s a song of love.

Kuch paakar khona hai, kuch khokar paana hai We have to attain something and lose something Jeevan ka matlab toh aana aur jaana hai The meaning of life is coming and going Do pal ke jeevan se ek umar churani hai We have to steal a lifetime from this short life Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai Life is nothing but a story about you and me Ek pyar ka nagma hai It’s a song of love

Tu dhaar hai nadiya ki, main tera kinara hoon

You’re the current of a river and I’m your shore

Tu mera sahara hai, main tera sahara hoon

You’re my support and I’m your support

Aankhon mein samandar hai, ashaon ka paani hai

In my eyes there’s an ocean with waters of desires

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai

Life is nothing but a story about you and me

Ek pyar ka nagma hai

It’s a song of love

Toofan ko aana hai, aakar chale jaana hai

The storm has to come and leave as well

Baadal hai yeh kuch pal ka, chhakar dhal jaana hai

The clouds will thunder for a few moments and then pass

Parchaiyan reh jaati, reh jaati nishani hai

Shadows remain, marks remain

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai

Life is nothing but a story about you and me

Ek pyar ka nagma hai, maujon ki rawani hai

It’s a song of love, it’s a flow of ecstasy

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahi teri meri kahani hai

Life is nothing but a story about you and me

Ek pyar ka nagma hai

It’s a song of love”.

Question: What do you experience as true Love that feels globally uniting as well as respectful of your individual freedom?

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved

Baahon mein chupake yeh kya kiya, o re piya o

O beloved, what have you done by hiding me in your arms

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved

Paas bulake gale se lagake tune toh badal dali duniya

You've changed my world by calling me near you and embracing me

Naye hai nazare naye hai ishare rahi na woh kal wali duniya

The sceneries and signs are new, it's not yesterday's world

Paas bulake gale se lagake tune toh badal dali duniya

You've changed my world by calling me near you and embracing me

Naye hai nazare naye hai ishare rahi na woh kal wali duniya

The sceneries and signs are new, it's not yesterday's world

Sapne dikhake yeh kya kiya, o re piya o

O beloved, what have you done by showing me dreams

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved

O mere sajan kaisi yeh dhadkan shor machane lagi mann mein

What are these heartbeats that create a lot of noise in my heart

Jaise leharaye nadiya ka pani lehar uthe re mere tann mein

A wave is flowing in my body just like it flows in the river

O mere sajan kaisi yeh dhadkan shor machane lagi mann mein

What are these heartbeats that create a lot of noise in my heart

Jaise leharaye nadiya ka pani lehar uthe re mere tann mein

A wave is flowing in my body just like it flows in the river

Mujh mein samake yeh kya kiya, o re piya o

O beloved, what have you done by settling in me

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved

Baahon mein chupake yeh kya kiya, o re piya o

O beloved, what have you done by hiding me in your arms

Tune o rangeele kaisa jaadu kiya

O colourful one, what magic have you done

Piya piya bole matwala jiya

My crazy heart is calling out for my beloved



I felt inspired to write this tribute article to say goodbye.

Lataji never married and I sense that her love was for the divine.


Blessings to you beauty, mother, sister, teacher, role model since childhood, for my mum and for me. 💫 Blessings also to the Beauty of the Eternal Divine Feminine we are now reuniting through the timeless hearts soul-spirit self.


Love.

Nisha




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