Question to Radhanath Swami: In the path of Bhakti we are told to refrain from certain activities like meat eating for developing our love for God. But can’t I love God and simultaneously do these things? Love is not to be bound by rules and regulations. Why then do we have rules and regulations on the path of Bhakti?
Radhanath Swami: Unconditional love is a very high and pure platform. To get there we have to honestly begin from where we are. The beginning of love is to do what the beloved wants. Similarly, the beginning of developing love of God is to understand what God wants us to do and to obey that. Can we love our mother and simultaneously torture and kill our younger brother? Would she accept that as love? Similarly can we kill innocent animals to satisfy our taste buds and say that we love God? Will God accept that love?
Obedience is the beginning of love. Therefore there must be rules and regulations so that we can monitor and orchestrate our lives in a way that we are doing what God wants. In a college there are rules and regulations. One cannot go to college tomorrow without wearing any clothes and say that the goal of coming to college is to study unconditionally. It is definitely the perfection to study unconditionally but to come to that stage one has to follow the discipline set by the college.
Impelled by our inclinations and conditionings we act in ways that are harmful for us, harmful to others and displeasing to the object of our love. Unconditional love comes when our inclinations are perfectly in harmony with God’s will. But to come to that point, first we have to discipline ourselves to live according to God’s will. And to inculcate a spirit of discipline, rules and regulations are absolutely necessary