"An emotional attraction towards a personal god began to be expressed in the early centuries of the Christian Era." Ency. Britannica on Line
"Deliverence is not for me in renunciation. I feel the freedom in a thousand bonds of delight." Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali
Bhakti Movement for the Love of God:
Bhakti a devotional movement in in Medieval India (& South Asian Hinduism), expressing the intense love and emotional attachment of the faithful to their personal god. Bhakti came to mean "devotional worship and sharing love," the Sanskrit verbal root bhaj, originally meant "to share, to apportion."
Bhakti movement, integrates aspects of personal religious experience, social protest, and a variety of ritual modes around a notion of intimacy with one's deity that colours all aspects of human existence. Bhakti Proponents among Hindus, challenged Vedic sacrificial religion, gender inequity, caste boundaries, and dominant use of Sanskrit as sole religious language.
While all of the principal divinities in Hinduism; Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti, has their own devotional cults, the Bhakti movement most characteristically developed around Vishnu, principally in his two earthly incarnations as Rama and Krishna. The mystical way of bhakti, claimed by its supporters to be a superior way, has contrasted other ways of achieving salvation, by knowledge, ascetic body disciplines, and ritualistic/good works. It is as well open to all, irrespective of their class, gender, or caste into which they were born.
Krishna's Sacred Love:
An emotional attraction towards a personal god began to be expressed in the early centuries of the Christian Era. It was an attitude furthered by the Indian epics, "the Mahabharata and the Ramayana" and by the Puranas, sacred texts that recount legends of the various appearances of the deities, their incarnations and genealogies. The devotional practices accorded them included the recitation of God's name, the singing of hymns in praise of him, wearing his emblem, undertaking pilgrimages to sacred places serving him in many ways.
Radha, in Hindu mythology, is the beloved consort of Krishna during his earthly life among the cowherds of Vrindavana. Radha, who was the wife of another cowherd was Krishna's unseparable companion. In the Bhakti devotional fellowship Radha, symbolizes the female human soul while Krishna, the divine male. Radha allegorical love has been given expression in lyrical poetry of most Indian languages, including the supremely lyrical Govinda Das. The Bengali god Chaitanya was deemed an incarnation of the unseparable lovers; Krishna on the inside and Radha on the outside. Chaitanya also composed many lost lyrics celebrating the divine love. The Gitagovinda by Jayadeva was a favourite source of inspiration for later miniature painters, in whose works Radha is seen waiting for Krishna to return with the cows in the twilight or engaged with him in amorous play in a forest grove. The images of Krishna playing the flute, enshrined in temples are often accompanied, in the eastern provinces of India, by images of his beloved Radha, and is also venerated in worship.
Veneration of the Buddha:
In Buddhism and Jainism, bhakti was an infrequent technical term implying veneration and awe of Gautama Buddha or Mahavira. It was considered one factor among others such as knowledge of scriptures or asceticism, necessary for spiritual practice. In South Asian Islam, the rudiments of bhakti appeared in works of Sufism, particularly during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605), and in the veneration of a pir, or charismatic Sufi figure. Sikhism, emerging in the sixteenth century, incorporated many practices associated with bhakti, such as an emphasis on the name (Nam) of God in worship.The devotional fervour of the seventh-tenth-century hymnists of South India, the Alvars and the Nayanars, also travelled north, until in time bhakti became an extremely widespread and popular form of Hindu religious life, inspiring a substantial quantity of superb religious poetry and art.During the medieval period (twelfth to mid-eighteenth century), the various possible relationships of the worshipper to God, based on the analogy of human sentiments -- such as that felt by a servant towards his master, friend towards a friend, parent towards a child, child towards a parent, and woman towards her beloved -- were explored in separate schools.
The love of Radha:
A particularly rich tradition centred in Bengal concentrated on the love of Radha, who symbolizes the human soul, for Krishna, the supreme God. In this tradition are Chandidas and the Maithili poet Vidyapati (c. 1400). The greatest single influence was Chaitanya, who in the sixteenth century renewed Krishnaism. He left no writings but inspired many hagiographies, of which the "Nectar of Chaitanya's Life" by Krishna Das (1517) dominates. His profound and everlasting influence on the religious sentiments of his Bengali countrymen propagated the community celebration of Krishna as the most powerful means of revealing the real bhakti attitude. Chaitanya also introduced the worship of 'God,' the director of man's senses, within the very activity of those senses, kept free from egoism and completely surrendered to preman (the intense desire) to satisfy the beloved Krishna. (Condensed & Edited from Ency. Britannica on Line)
Padas, Religious Lyrics:
The religious lyric continues in the so-called padas (verses); one of the greatest poets in the Bhakti genre in which divine love is symbolized by human love is Govinda Das (1537-1612). The songs of Ramprasad Sen (1718-75) similarly honour Shakti as mother of the universe and are still in wide devotional use. The most famous religious lyrics in Gujarati are the poems of the saint Mira Bai (1503-73), who wrote passionate love poems to Krishna, whom she regarded as her husband and lover.
Jayaveda's Gitagovinda is a dramatic lyrical peom, unique in Indian religious inspiration lyrics. Krishna's love with Radna, of intense passion, in a rite of spring expresses the complexities of Bhakti expression of a sensual human response to divine passion. The poems remain popular, allover the Indian subcontinent, even if they were written 800 years ago, in eastern India. Its songs take an important share in inspiration when performed with devotional music, and consitute a principal subject in medieval Rajput painting.
* "[Miller] has given us the Indian equivalent of the Song of Songs without the usual sentimentality." D. Shapiro, Parabola
* "[This new translation] beautifully renders the sankrit lyric into poetic English and captures the rich imagery and musical rhythms of Jayadeva's language." choice