Next comes Madhura, sweetest love, the love of husband and wife. Of this St. Teresa and the ecstatic saints have been examples. Amongst the Persians, God has been looked upon as the wife, amongst the Hindus as the husband. We may recall the great queen Mira Bai, who preached that the Divine Spouse was all. Some carry this to such an extreme that to call God “mighty” or “father” seems to them blasphemy. The language of this worship is erotic. Some even use that of illicit passion. To this cycle belongs the story of Krishna and the Gopi – girls. All this probably seems to you to entail great degeneration on the worshipper. And so it does. Yet many great saints have been developed by it. And no human institution is beyond abuse. Would you cook nothing because there are beggars? Would you possess nothing because there are thieves? “O Beloved, one kiss of Thy lips, once tasted, hath made me mad!”
The fruit of this idea is that one can no longer belong to any sect, or endure ceremonial. Religion in India culminates in freedom. But even this comes to be given up, and all is love for love’s sake.
Last of all comes love without distinction, the Self. There is a Persian poem that tells how a lover came to the door of his beloved, and knocked. She asked, “Who art thou?” and he replied, “I am so and so, thy beloved!” and she answered only, “Go! I know none such!” But when she had asked for the fourth time, he said, “I am thyself, O my Beloved, therefore open thou to me!” And the door was opened.
A great saint said, using the language of a girl, describing love: “Four eyes met. There were changes in two souls. And now I cannot tell whether he is a man and I am a woman, or he is a woman and I a man. This only I remember, two souls were. Love came, and there was one.”
In the highest love, union is only of the spirit. All love of any other kind is quickly evanescent. Only the spiritual lasts, and this grows.
Source: The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 8/Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures/The Religion Of Love