A course on love being offered at Presidency University, Kolkata, is a welcome step: for once, this is an opportunity to study this subject for the lessons in caring it holds.
The 196-year-old Presidency University (formerly Hindu College and Presidency College) in Kolkata is 'sexing up' the academic life of the students by turning a romantic page. Come January 2014, students will be given an opportunity to study “love” as a subject, the paper carrying 50 marks.
This exercise is to catch up “with the changes in the notion of love that have taken place in the country”, says Suchismita Ray Paul, Associate Professor, Sociology Department of Jogmaya Devi College. The Vice-Chancellor, Malabika Sarkar, says in jest: "It will not be a course about love stories, but an academic course.”
The aim to consummate a fecund brain with the knowledge is commendable. And just in time, too. Amid the mindless violence particularly towards women, this will go a long way. After all it’s sensibly said love is an aide-de-camp of fellow feeling.
Love has always been a Noetic science. Shakespeare got it long back: "Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind" (A Midsummer Night's Dream). A meta-analysis conducted by Syracuse University Professor Stephanie Ortigue - “The Neuroimaging of Love” - reveals love affects intellectual areas of the brain.
The Presidency University should however go into all aspects – the mechanics as well as the metaphysics. It should explain to the students - in a lucid manner - the ins and outs of such a mechanism that makes love. Students no doubt would passionately embrace this subject. But killjoys may term it infatuation - blind as they are to the notion that love is life. Such people should read Virgil (70-19 BC): "Love conquers everything [Amor vincit omnia]." Let us, too, yield to love.
One should be left to read the subject just for the love of it and nothing else. Love begets care and tenderness and has a healing touch for the mind, body and soul. Eminent scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose proved that plants have feelings and respond to a loving touch. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has created an interactive experiment that lets people tweet to a plant located at the museum through a website dedicated to the project, all to highlight the effects of a heartfelt tweet. Animals, too, respond to a caressing hand.
The university must strive to bring out all the shades of the subject – platonic, physical and emotional. The expression of love in itself is an art. Poets like Kalidasa and writers like Honore De Balzac (1799-1850) explored the frontiers of love with all their heart. And quite longingly. Feel this quote from Balzac: "O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful. Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!”
I hope other universities also will follow suit wholeheartedly.