Pramod Muthalik has said that he opposes Valentine’s Day because, among other things, it is about lust, not about love.

To begin with, if exchanging cards and roses is a sign of lust to Muthalik, all I can say is that this man has had a very, very sad life! He needs help. And I don’t mean in his chaddi-retailing business.

But even if it is about lust, so what?

I think lust is good. I also think love is a tad overrated. Just a tad, mind you.

Why is lust seen as something undesirable? I mean, ‘only love’ is fine when it comes to parents, siblings, friends, offspring, pets, friends, abstract concepts, mathematics, art, vada-pav – you get the gist.

But when it comes to the real thing, isn’t it actually lust that makes the world go ‘round? Isn’t it really lust that kick-starts love?

There are many myths about love. That could be because no one can really define, or even describe, love. Many, it seems, don’t know or realise what love is – but in the same breath will tell you that they are, or at some point have been, in love. On the other hand, lust is so much more, well, tangible. Everyone knows and realises what lust is. It’s kind of difficult not to.

So what are the myths? Let’s start with the most enduring one – that love endures, while lust is fleeting. Complete drivel. Let me stand that question on its head. Without lust, can love endure without degenerating into glorified companionship? And, allow me to add, by the time lust stops to matter, I am sure love does as well. Then, all that one craves is company – any company, comfort and care. And a safe distance from incontinence.

There’s also this whole thing about true love (as opposed to the false variety!) not asking anything in return, being unselfish, putting the other person first. Isn’t that exactly what a traditional Indian housewife does, or is supposed to do? Is that true love? Because if it is, I know most women would not want love! And – be truthful now – how many of us are truly unselfish, not asking anything in return, and putting the other person first? Not too many, I’d wager.

This is not to knock love off its lofty pedestal. It’s just to point out that regardless of which one comes first, or which one outlasts the other, for most of our lives, love and lust go hand in hand. And my submission is that both, lust without love as well as love without lust, are necessarily transient and incomplete experiences. For anything less fleeting and more fulfilling, both need to co-exist. So perhaps it’s time to stop not just trashing lust, but also lauding love at its expense.

Besides, does ‘pure’ love, as glorified by the scriptures, literature and the religiously orthodox, exist? Or is it just a pleasant, companionable feeling in the head, initiated by a chemical reaction and sustained by a biological urge?

Do tell.

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