Most people value love as an ideal. The religiously inclined like to say, “God is love.” Srila Prabhupada would point out that love is part of our essential nature as spiritual beings and that even ferocious animals show love in raising their offspring.

I find it interesting that people who champion love as the solution to all the world’s problems often hold philosophical views that preclude the reality of love. For the philosophical materialist, only matter and laws controlling matter exist. In that view, love does not really exist, and neither do we. It’s all illusion.

The perspective of those who hold that the Truth is ultimately impersonal is similar to that of the materialists. They speak lovingly about love, but they aspire to dissolve into the one all-pervading spiritual reality, leaving no chance for exchanges of love.

Materialism and impersonalism are both monistic philosophies, in which reality is either only matter or only spirit, both ultimately without variety. The more nuanced philosophy of Krishna consciousness, on the other hand, allows for love. Against the philosophy of materialism, it argues that consciousness is irreducible and outside of matter; we and our love actually exist – eternally. Against the philosophy of impersonalism, Krishna consciousness argues that to conclude that spirit must lack variety is shortsighted. The Vedic literature consistently teaches that the individuality of both God, the supreme spiritual person, and the innumerable minute jiva souls is eternal.

Not only do Krishna and the jivas always exist, but their loving relationships are the essence of reality. We devotees of Krishna may feel uncomfortable with the phrase “God is love,” because love is a thing and God is a person: Krishna. But we can soften our objection to the phrase by remembering that Krishna is identical to His qualities, love arguably being the most important and the most defining of His personality.

Our spiritual process, bhakti-yoga, is all about love. We Hare Krishna people know more about love than anyone else in the world. Or at least we have access to more information about it than anyone else, received most notably from Srila Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, which Srila Prabhupada presented as The Nectar of Devotion. That book – in fact all of Prabhupada’s books – teaches us pretty much all there is to know about love.

I recently typed “love of God” into my Internet search engine, and although I didn’t spend much time looking at the results, my impression was that those who used the phrase were mostly talking about God’s love for us. There didn’t seem to be much about us loving God. But love, of course, has to go both ways.

Nurturing appreciation for Krishna’s love for us is part of the process of awakening our love for Him. And we have access to a wealth of information about Krishna’s loving dealings with His devotees. As we immerse ourselves in these topics, our hearts become purified and we can understand and relish the richness of Krishna’s intimate relationships with His devotees.

One thing we learn is that Krishna – God Himself – is completely controlled by the love of His purest devotees, because of His infinite love for them. Amazingly, Krishna does all the things God does, such as creating, maintaining, and destroying innumerable universes, while at the same time running in fear from His mother after He’s caught doing mischief. Who couldn’t love such a God?

– Nagaraja Dasa