In Bhakti Yoga, a devotee can have many different relationships with God. One is sakha bhava, the relationship that exists between friends. Another one is matri bhava, the relationship that exists between a mother and child. Another is dasja bhava, the relationship that occurs between a master and servant. There is also vair bhava, the relationship based on hate.
There have been many bhakti yogis who have in the world. Yashoda, the mother of Krishna and Kaushalya, the mother of Rama, developed matri bhava, a relationship with God in the form of mother and child. Suddama, a companion of Krishna, developed sakha bhava, the relationship between friends. Radha, the consort of Krishna, developed prem bhava the relationship that exists in love. Ravana and and Rama, and Kansa and Krishna developed vair bhava, the relationship of hate and animosity. You may wonder how hate and animosity become part of bhakti. If you dislike somebody intensely from the depth of your heart, what do you do? You think about that person all the time. Kansa was possessed by the prophecy that Krishna, the eighth son of Vasudev, was going to kill him. He would even see Krishna in dreams. His thoughts never left Krishna. Ravana's thoughts never left Rama; they were fixed and one pointed.
Of course if you want to develop vair bhava with God then you have to become either Ravana or Kansa, because for each bhava you need to have the corresponding mentality. I am Swami Niranjan, so the bhava which is applicable to me is going to be different. I am not Ravana or Kansa. My bhava, my relationship, will be according to the life that of a disciple. For me it will be dasya bhava, master and servant. I am given an order, I do it. If I do not get an order then I use my brains and do it. So, different kinds of relationships can take place according to the personality of the devotee.
Mira Bai, one of the great women saints, had a relationship of love. This love was so intense at the time of her death that her entire being merged with the image, the statue of Krishna. The love transformed her physical body into energy which merged with the statue. The same thing happened with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who was a very great bhakta from Bengal. The story is that even his body became one with the image of the Lord in Jagannath, Puri. He also had the same relationship. So, we can develop a form of relationship according to our tendencies, according to our personality.
However, the best description of a relationship that I have come across anywhere in my life is the one between Hanuman and Rama. Somebody once asked Hanuman, "What is your relationship with Rama?" The answer that he gave is a very beautiful one. "Physically, I am the servant of my master. Mentally, my master is my friend. Spiritually, my master and I are one."
This description is applicable to each one of us, because if you believe that, "Physically I am a servant," then what is the form of your ego at that level? Does the ego exist or not? Then the idea evolves that, "No. God is the master and I am simply a follower of that command." Then the ego does not exist; there is no role for the ego in a relationship between master and servant mentally, when you think that, "He and I are friends" what does that mean? Somebody who is able to confide in you and somebody in whom you are able to confide without any distinction, without any barrier.
So, all the differences disappear. There is no hate, there is not even love. There is no anger, there is not even affection in the sense that we understand hate or anger or jealousy or love or affection. No. It is just an open communication without any conditionings or walls in between. So, that feeling of freedom, swatantrata, that feeling of openness, is the quality of friendship. When you have this clear and free personality, which is free from ego, then at the spiritual level there is no difference between the two. You are what God is and God is what you are.
If anyone tries to follow Bhakti Yoga then this is the best relationship that I can recommend. Move one stage to the next. Move from the physical level. Be a servant, not intellectually, not physically but in your entire being. Develop the qualities of a person who follows the mandate, the command of the Master, 'Let Thy will be done.' This in itself is a very great sadhana and form of living.