‘When a serious devotee first sets his aim on following in the footsteps of the Goloka-vasis, the goal may seem far away. He may begin his endeavour still encumbered by many material desires. But the more he carefully studies the transcendental reality, the more he renounces his unsuitable desires. He then rises above the misgivings born of fear, reverence, distrust, and shame. The real beginning of spiritual life, therefore, is to become free from material desires.

Until the obstacles are overcome, the devotee sees the object of his devotion only as the supreme powerful and so remains to fearful and respectful to have any real love for Him. But later, when the devotee swims in the vast ocean of bhakti, the superficial waves of contrary impulses recede, and he is granted the superintelligence for friendship with the Supreme. The devotee then approaches the Lord with such apparently worldy moods as that of a consort or a son and serves His lotus feet accordingly. He renders pure devotional service, as defined in the Padma Purana: ananya-mamata visnau/mamata prema-samyuta/bhaktir ity ucyate bhisma-/prahladoddhava-naradhah. ‘When one develops an unflinching sense of ownership or possessiveness in relation to Lord Visnu, or, in other words, when one thinks Visnu and no one else to be the only object of love, such an awakening is called bhakti by exalted persons like Bhisma, Prahlada, Uddhava and Narada”.

(Cf. Gopiparanadhana prabhu, Brihad-Bhagavatamrita Vol III, Chapter V, p.228-9)