What is Bhakti or Divine Love?

.Divine Love

By Swami Shivananda

The term Bhakti  means ‘to be attached to God’.  The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. There is no fear also.  The devotee feels, believes, conceives and knows that his Lord is an Ocean of Love.

It is the slender thread of  love that binds the heart of a devotee with the Lord. Bhakti is intense devotion and supreme attachment to God. It is the supreme love for God. It is the spontaneous out-pouring of love.  It is pure, unselfish, divine love or pure love. There is not a bit of bargaining or expectation of anything here. This higher feeling is indescribable in words. It has to be sincerely experienced by the devotee. Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotees with the Lord.

Mark how love develops. First arises faith. Then follows attraction and after that adoration. Adoration leads to suppression of mundane desires. The result is single-mindedness and satisfaction. Then grow attachment and supreme love towards God.

In this type of highest Bhakti all attraction and attachment which one has for objects of enjoyment are transferred to the only dearest object, viz., God. This leads the devotee to an eternal union with his Beloved and culminates in oneness.

Bhakti is of various kinds. One classification is Sa-kamya and Nish-kamya Bhakti. Sakamya Bhakti is devotion with desire for material gains. A man wants wealth with this motive practices Bhakti. Another man wants freedom from diseases and offers prayers.  This is Sakamya Bhakti. Whatever you want the Lord will certainly give you, if your Bhakti is intense and if your prayers are sincerely offered from the bottom of your heart. But you will not get supreme satisfaction, immortality and liberation through Sakamya Bhakti.

Your Bhakti should always be totally selfless. God has already given you a good position, a good job, wife and children and enough wealth. Be contented with these. Your heart will be purified and the Divine Grace will descend upon you. Be in communion with the Lord, you will become one with the Lord and you will enjoy all the Divine Aisvaryas (Divine attributes like wisdom, renunciation, power, etc.). All the Vibhutis (Special forms in which the Lord manifests) of the Lord He will give you.

Just as a flower grows in the garden, so also gradually develop divine love in the garden of your heart.