Last Updated: March 5, 2017

Definition - What does Prem mean?

Prem is a Sanskrit word for "love." More specifically, it refers to pure, unconditional love that leads to total devotion and surrender. Of the various paths of yoga, Bhakti yoga is most associated with prem, as the highest form of devotion (bhakti) is prem.

Hinduism has several words that translate as love, but each describes a different type of love. Kama, for example, is pleasurable love, but prem (also called prema) is an elevated form of love in which the devotee loves without selfishness and with no expectations of something in return for that prem love.

Yogapedia explains Prem

Prem is also expressed as atma-prema (unconditional love of the Self). Hindu philosophers in the Bhakti tradition believe the love follows a series of stages, culminating with atma-prema. Prior to this final stage, love is directed outward, but in atma-prema, it is directed deeply inward to not just the individual self but the higher, universal Self.

Prem is a concept in another Indian tradition, Sikhism, in which it is pure love for the Divine that is expressed in a number of ways. A Sikh may express prem by wearing spiritual clothing, singing hymns of praise, reading scripture, becoming absorbed in thoughts of the divine object of prem or through selfless service to the community, a concept known as seva.

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