The heart of the matter
When we talk about the heart, it is mostly in reference to the romantic or to the medical. The heart is either stolen by that fairy-like culprit or it is attacked by the clogged cholesterol in the arteries and in matters of the heart, you are either a victim or a patient. When the heart is stolen, the victim searches for it in the eyes of the beloved and while it is attacked, the patient counters it with a stent if possible, or through a by-pass, if necessary. The heart can only be a lover’s cupid or a meaty organ, to be chivalrously won or to be medically fixed and there isn’t any other way we would possibly associate the heart with.
But we use the heart to express a variety of thoughts and a plethora of ideas which range from the mundane to the philosophical. Take the case of the heart attack for instance. The heart of the problem that causes this disease is the unregulated food habits coupled with a sedentary life-style and when this fact is recognised, we could take heart in the knowledge that the ailment could well be prevented. And once we realise that we need take charge of our habits, there is a change of heart in the way we approach our daily dietary routine and are off to a heart pounding exercise regimen. Sharing light hearted jokes and bursting to hearty laughs are the perfect recipes to bust the stress and keep the heart healthy. With a strong heart and an able body, we then begin to lead our lives to our heart’s content.
Though the heart is the centre of attraction, the romance is again not for the feeble hearted. For, to win the heart of the damsel, one has to display lion-hearted courage to dispel the challenges of the diehard relatives and pass the test that true love entails. Without this quality of the heart, one would only be heart-broken in his romantic voyage fit only to receive heartfelt condolences. Half-hearted attempts to achieve success in any enterprise would be disastrous and it is more so where hearts are involved.
But vastly different from these aspects, there is another attribute that we could associate only to the heart and that is its pristine quality of compassion. Heart in Sanskrit is “Hrudhaya” its meaning being the “seat of compassion” and, heart truly is the altar from where the milk of human kindness flows incessantly and in copious measure. On witnessing the suffering of other beings the heart melts instantaneously and rushes to provide succour and solace and it just does not distinguish or differentiate the recipient on any of the countless lines that the humans have invented to discriminate one from the other. Like the sun that cannot be separated from its light, it is in its very nature of the heart to love and to give and it needs no reason to do it.
It is this very quality of the heart that it is in direct conflict with that of the head. The heart seeks the warmth of love and the head works on cold calculation and when the heart trusts and believes, the head doubts and suspects. While the heart pours out selflessly defying all rationality, the head rationalizes every selfish demand and clothes it with cerebral justification. And it is in this fundamental contradiction that man, many a time, finds himself torn apart, unable to make the fine distinction between the voice of compassion and the clamour of logic. But listen he has to, if he were to make transformational decisions and that would happen only when he goes by the whispers of the heart.
And the lord too listens to the prayers of devotion only when it emanates from the heart that is filled with compassion and not when it is uttered from the head where doctrines and doubts clash.