Bhakti or Divine love brings God closed to a spiritual aspirant. He can be loved and adored as a spouse, or a child , or a mother, or a servant , or a friend, as did the Gopis of Vrndavan, Yashoda, Sir Ramakrishna , Hanuman, and Arjuna, respectively. .
The emotion of love is a divine gift to man . When it is controlled and given the proper direction , man attains the summum bonum of life . Cutting asunder all wordly bondages, he can cross the
ocean of samsara and enjoy divine bliss. Worldly love when directed towards and offered to God becomes devotion. A heart given to the world may break at any moment . such as at the loss of a beloved one. Love offered to God grows day by day, expanding our heart till it reaches his holy feet.
Sir Krsna says in the Bhagawad Gita:’ Whoever offers Me with devotion a leaf ,a flower, a fruit or water, I accept that , the pious offering of the pure in heart’.(Gita:9.26)
To develop love for God one must cultivate divine attitude towards Him. It is called Bhava in Sanskrt. One attains knowledge as well as vision of God by cultivating a proper longing for him. In Narada Bhakti Sutras, Narada has mentioned eleven types of such moods. Not that there are only are eleven types. But there are as many possibilities as there are human relationships. Narada points out that even if they appear different, they are all manifestations of love , which in itself is only one.
The gopis of Vrndavan and Mirabai practised Madhura Bhava: that is , they loved Sir Krsna as their husband . Dhruva loved the Lord as his father. The sages practice Santa Bhava, the peaceful attitude by practicing regular meditation and japa. Hanuman found delight in serving his Lord Rama; it is known as Sasya Bhava- the attitude of friendship. Yasoda exhibited parental love towards Krsna- Vatsalya Bhava and the great devoyee Bali is a surpreme example of complete self- surrender to the Lord. The last attitude is a common characteristic of all Bhaktas, because it is in the very nature of intence love that it cannot bear separation.
Whatever may be the attitude, we must make God our own and develop intimacy with Him. Wholehearted and selfless love alone will lead us to the Divine.