The founder of Gaudiya Sampradaya, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the joint incarnation of Shri Radha and Krishn, appeared on this earth over 500 years ago and spent his life teaching others how to chant and sing the Holy Names of the Lord. Mahaprabhu revealed that the topmost goal of a living being is to attain perfect, blissful love of Radha-Krishn (sacred love) which leads to their eternal abode Shri Vrindavan where the eternal associates serve them.
By his personal example, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed that Raganuga-bhakti or following the devotional path of the residents of Shri Krishn’s eternal home is the means to obtain this love. These residents (Brajwasis) serve the Lord in one of the following relationships: as his servant ( dasya), as his friend ( sakhya), as his parent ( vatsalya), or as his lover ( madhurya).
The Chaitanya School of Vaishnavism, explains the different processes to reach the level where one experiences this sacred love:
“First comes acquisition of faith by the company of devotees, then learning the process of bhajan (sweet remembrance whilst performing any action) from them. Thereafter, the practice of bhajan begins, which leads to anartha-nivritti (cessation of harmful habits and cleansing of bad qualities), nishtha (steadiness in bhajan), ruchi (consistent delight in every item of practice), aasakti (deep attachment), bhaav (extreme maturity of aasakti) and then prem (sacred love). This is the general sequence in which the spiritual development of the aspirant occurs.”
( Bhaktirasamrtasindhu, 1.4.15-16)
Gopal Bhatt Goswami, a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, explains in his Krishn Karnamrit commentary:
“Sacred love is the only means by which we can see Lord Krishn. Without sacred love, even if we meet him, it is as if we have not met him. When he manifested himself on earth, even demons saw him but they could not relish a single drop of the ocean of joy that he is. Instead, they burned with anger, envy and violence. Thus we can understand that sacred love is the only way to relish Lord Krishn’s sweetness.”
Sacred love has various levels of intensity which can be explored and experienced only when one pursues any of the four relationships with Shri Krishn. From servitude to friendship, the love increases, and more so when one becomes his parent. But one experiences the highest form of this love when one becomes his lover.