When love is directed toward God, it blossoms into Divine Love which is supreme love. The Srimad Bhagavatam says, “Blessed indeed are they that steadfastly devote themselves to the worship of God, for they shall attain to absolute freedom.” The Bhagavad-Gita says (7/17):
Tesham jnaanee nitya-yukta eka-bhaktir vishisyate;
Priyo hi jnanino ‘tyartham aham sa cha mama priyah.
(Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.)
God’s plan for creation can be rooted only in love. The universe is the play of the divine lover. One of the Bihu songs says “God first created the Universe, with millions of teeming beings. He himself is Love Incarnate, and kindles the fire within.” Sorokin said “love is cosmic power that counteracts the disintegrating forces of chaos, unites what is separated by enmity, builds what is destroyed by discord, creates and maintains the grand order in the whole universe.” Swami Ramdas believed that: “God is defined as Love. What does this word Love here signify? What is its real nature? Love is absolute and is perfectly impersonal; it is the pure and dazzling power of the Spirit that dwells in and pervades all beings and things. Love is infinite and eternal. Love is beyond the implications of name and form- still it works through them. Love is beyond the sense of duality- still it reveals in multifarious ways. It is the omnipotent power that guides and controls all things.”
There is path leading to God – the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga). If one gains love of God, if once the chanting of His holy name begins to thrill the devotee with joy, no effort is needed for the control of passions afterwards. The control comes of itself. At the same time, there are different flavors of Divine Love. At the bottom is the Shanti Rasa showing itself in concentration, detachment, selflessness. In the Dasya Rasa, God is the Master: the devotee is the servant ever alert to please his Lord by loving and submissive service. In the Sakhya Rasa, a more emotional quality makes itself felt and the soul feels for God the love that exists between friend and friend, and delights in the feeling that the adorable is very near. An even more intimate degree of love is Vatsalya Rasa, in which the devotee thinks of God as his own child, caressing and protecting Him. And finally, there is the Madhurya Rasa, such an entire devotion as may exist between lover and beloved. The ultimate aim is to realize grace of divine love.
God, who is defined as Love, gives love to mankind. Divine love brings to cessation all sorrow, suffering and pain; it lifts the soul above all bondage. Divine Love finds its delight and satisfaction in itself; it has no need to be received and appreciated, nor to be shared- it loves for the sake of loving, as a flower blooms. To feel this love in oneself is to possess an immutable happiness. Augustine said “God made himself lovable, because He knew that would move us to love him; by love of the good we became better.”
Divine Love is unconditional from one side- because no participation, no condition. Sai Baba said “I need not any horse or carriage or train or tonga but I manifest myself to the man who loves me with a pure heart.” Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri once stated: “Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.” Once the human heart is coated with the chemicals of Bhakti, the image of Divinity can be impressed. One does not know where God is, who he is, what he is, but one may be in love with him. Eknath, a poet-saint, in the 16th century sang in the praise of God:
“Where is He and where is He not?
I find God in every flower and pot.
In space and substance, in sky and earth,
One doesnot miss Him from birth to birth
He stands and stares at one and all
The blind see Him not, to stumble and fall.
But Eknath, searching with faith and prayer,
Finds God here, there and everywhere.
For the Bhakta all philosophical distinctions are mere ideal talk. He cares nothing for argument; he does not reason; he senses, he perceives. He wants to lose himself in pure love of God. There have been bhakas who maintain that this is more to be desired than liberation, and says: “I do not want to be sugar. I want to taste sugar. I want to love and enjoy the Beloved.” The Yamuna beach is hallowed by memories of Lord Krishna where Lord was engaged with the gopis, exemplifying the supernal love which ever exists between a divine incarnation and his devotees. The love that Radha bore for Shri Krishna has no parallel in this world. Her happiness consists in the happiness of Krishna. She cannot live without Krishna. Yet she does not want anything from him. When at the point of death, it is the name of Krishna which revives her. When her attendants proposed to bring Krishna from Mathura, where he flourished as a King, Radha demurred. She said: “Let him enjoy the happy life of a King. Why should you bring him back to the forest of Brindaban? Of course, my heart yearns to see him, but it would be selfish of me to remove him from his golden throne, and make him live with me in this wilderness.” This is the conduct of supreme genuine love. Swami Vivekananda once observed: “A great landmark in the history of religion is here, the ideal of love for love’s sake, work for work’s sake, duty for duty’s sake, for the first time let fall from the lips of the greatest of incarnations, Krishna, and for the first time in history of humanity, upon the soil of India. Forget first the love for gold and name and fame, and for this little three penny world of ours. Then, only then, you will understand the love of the Gopis, too holy to be attempted without giving up everything, too sacred to be understood until the soul has become perfectly pure.”
Since time immemorial, Scriptures and teachers teaches that family attachment is delusive if it prevents the devotee from seeking the giver of all boons, including the one of loving relatives, not to mention life itself. Jesus taught: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” and “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” He in his first commandment stated “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Swami Vivekananda said “The love for our children and our wives is mere animal love; the love which is perfectly unselfish is the only love, and that is of God….No one in this world can really love anything but God….”
The exquisite love-poem ‘The Song of Songs’ in the old Testament have been often interpreted by Jews as a picture of the relationship between God and his people and by Christians as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Many mystic expressed the mixture of exquisite pain with incomparable delight in describing her relations with God. Theresa said “Between the soul and God there is such a sweet love transaction that it is impossible for me to describe what passes”. The English mystic, Richard Rolle describing the union of the soul with God stated: “Love, the noblest of virtues, the most excellent and sweetest, join the Beloved to the lover, and everlasting couples Christ with the chosen soul.” 18th century evangelical John Wesley who led a great revival of Christianity in England preached on divine love in following word: “….We see what advantage we derive therefrom with regard to the love of God; both of God the Father and God the Son. The chief ground of this love, as long as we remain in the body, is plainly declared by the Apostle: “We love Him, because He first loved us…”
In India, there have been so many saints, seers and seeresses, who are known for having supreme love with her divine. They were in an ecstatic state all the time with someone else who is not there. People around them witnessed that and were thoroughly confused as to what was happening with them. Akka Mahadevi was having an active love affair with Shiva. Mirabai was a medieval Rajputani princess who had abandoned her court life to seek the company of saints. ‘The secret arrow of love has pierced my heart’, she said and she dedicated her whole being to the love of God:
‘Of this body I will make the lamp,
And of my mind the wick;
With the oil of love will I fill it,
And tend its flame day and night.’
Nearly 700 years ago when Namdeva, the poet-saint of Maharashtra was denied to go near the idol of Lord Vithoba, he composed and recited his devotional poems on the steps of the temple and to hear them Lord Vithoba came out of the temple and sat on the steps, leaving the Brahmins to worship the stone He left behind. In one of his devotional Marathi verse means:
“Oh, Lord, I prostrate and touch Thy divine feet,
With tears I behold Thy silhouette sweet.
With love I embrace and with joy I worship Thee,
With faith I adore, now hear Naamaa’s humble plea.”
The sole gift that man can offer to God is love; it suffices to call forth His overwhelming generosity. Saint Dadu Dayal said:
“Dadu is thirsty for love, O Lord,
Give him a drink, filling the cup,
Give it to me in person, and bring the dead to life.”
Sri Aurobindo stated “The way of Bhakti … proceeds by worship which belongs to that stage of spiritual experience where there is a difference, an insufficient unity between the human soul and the Divine, because its very principle is love and love means always two, the lover and the beloved, a dualism therefore, while oneness is the highest spiritual experience …” The Mother said: “The only love that never fails is the Divine’s. Love the Divine alone and the Divine will always be with you.” She further said “There is only one true love—it is the Divine Love; all other loves are diminutions, limitations and deformations of that Love. Even the love of the bhakta for his God is a diminution and often is tainted by egoism. But as one tends quite naturally to become like what one loves, the bhakta, if he is sincere, begins to become like the Divine whom he adores, and thus his love becomes purer and purer. To adore the Divine in the one whom one loves has often been suggested as a solution, but unless one’s heart and thought are very pure, it can lead to deplorable abasements.”
To Gandhi, God as Love was the same as God as Truth, for Love or Ahimsa and Truth were identical. One who loves God lives in the soul, his true Self. He does everything for God, nothing for himself. He loves everybody, because he sees the world as the Lord’s cosmic show. He can never be provided to say or do anything in anger or with egotism, but only with desire to be of help to all. That is the attitude one must have. It has to be lived. It cannot come by any amount of pretense, but only when one see God in everyone- when one love everybody as a part of her love to get grace of divine love.