The following miraculous act has been related. It is said that a brāhmaṇa on pilgrimage became a guest in His house, cooked food and read grace with meditation upon Kṛṣṇa. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The brāhmaṇa, astonished at the lad's act, cooked again at the request of Jagannātha Miśra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the brāhmaṇa was offering it to Kṛṣṇa with meditation. The brāhmaṇa was persuaded to cook for a third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and the lad showed himself as Kṛṣṇa to the traveler and blessed Him. The brāhmaṇa was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of his worship.
Ecstasy (Other Books)
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Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
He ordered the townspeople to appear in the evening, each with a torch in his hand. This groups, and on his arrival in the Kazi's house, he held a long conversation with the Kazi and in the end communicated into his heart his Vaiṣṇava influence by touching his body. The Kazi then wept and admitted that he had felt a keen spiritual influence which had cleared up his doubts and produced in him a religious sentiment which gave him the highest ecstasy. The Kazi then joined the saṅkīrtana party. The world was astonished at the spiritual power of the Great Lord, and hundreds and hundreds of heretics converted and joined the banner of Viśvambhara after this affair.
If one is engaged in chanting and hearing with devotion and faith, his material misgivings gradually become vanquished. As his faith in devotional service gradually increases, he becomes assured of a higher perfectional position. In this way one can become firmly fixed in devotion, increase his taste for it, become attached and feel ecstasy. This ecstasy occurs in the preliminary stage of love of Godhead. Attainment of ecstasy is produced by execution of devotional service. When one continues the process of hearing and chanting, attachment grows and assumes the name of love of Godhead.
When one attains the third stage of transcendental love of God, there occur further developments known as transcendental affection, emotion, ecstasy, and extreme and intense attachment. These are technically known by the terms rāga, anurāga, bhāva and mahābhāva. The progress from one stage to another can be compared to the thickening of sugar candy juice. In the first stage sugar candy juice is like a thin liquid. When, by evaporation, it becomes thicker and thicker, it turns into molasses. Finally it turns into granules and becomes sugar, rock candy and so on. Just as liquid sugar juice progresses from one stage to another, similarly transcendental love for the Supreme Lord develops by stages.
The ecstasy of transcendental love has two components—the context and the cause of the excitement. The context is also divided into two parts—the subject and the object. The exchange of devotional service is the subject, and Kṛṣṇa is the object. The transcendental qualities are the causes of excitement. This means that the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa excite the devotee to serve Him. The impersonal (Māyāvādī) philosophers say that the Absolute Truth has no specific qualities, but the Vaiṣṇava philosophers say that the Absolute Truth is described as nirguṇa (without qualities) because He has no material qualities. This is not to say that He does not have spiritual qualities. Indeed, the Lord's spiritual qualities are so great and so enchanting that they can even attract a liberated person.
The higher stage of ecstasy can be characterized by the following thirteen transcendental activities: (1) dancing, (2) rolling on the floor, (3) singing, (4) clapping, (5) bristling of the hairs of the body, (6) thundering, (7) yawning, (8) breathing heavily, (9) forgetting social conventions, (10) salivating, (11) laughing, (12) aching, (13) coughing. All these symptoms are not awakened simultaneously; they act according to the exchange of transcendental relationships. Sometimes one symptom is prominent, and at another time another is prominent.
When the Lord embraced him, Sanātana became overwhelmed with spiritual ecstasy, and he said, "My dear Lord, please do not touch me." But both of them embraced each other and began to cry. Seeing Sanātana and Lord Caitanya acting thus, Candraśekhara was struck with wonder. At length, Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked Sanātana to sit down with Him on a bench. He was touching the body of Sanātana with His hand, and Sanātana asked Him again, "My dear Lord, please do not touch me."
While Lord Caitanya was speaking to Sanātana Gosvāmī about the opulences of Kṛṣṇa, He was deep in ecstasy, and in that transcendental state He cited a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.2.21) in which Uddhava, after the disappearance of Kṛṣṇa, told Vidura:
- svayaṁ tv asāmyātiśayas tryadhīśaḥ
- baliṁ haradbhiś cira-lokapālaiḥ
"Kṛṣṇa is the master of all demigods, including Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the expansion of Viṣṇu within this universe. Therefore no one is equal to or greater than Him, and He is full in six opulences. All the demigods engaged in the administration of each universe (brahmāṇḍa) offer their respectful obeisances unto Him.
Kṛṣṇa freely moves amongst His friends as a cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana, and when He plays His flute, all living creatures, mobile and immobile, become overwhelmed with ecstasy. They quiver, and tears flow from their eyes. Of Kṛṣṇa's various opulences, His conjugal love is the summit. He is the master of all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation, and out of these, His perfect beauty is His conjugal attraction. The form of Kṛṣṇa, the conjugal beauty, is eternally existent in Kṛṣṇa alone, whereas His other opulences are present in His Nārāyaṇa form.
When Lord Caitanya described the superexcellence of Kṛṣṇa's conjugal attraction, He felt transcendental ecstasy, and, catching the hands of Sanātana Gosvāmī, He began to proclaim how fortunate the damsels of Vraja were, reciting a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.44.14):
- gopyas tapaḥ kim acaran yad amuṣya rūpaṁ
- lāvaṇya-sāram asamordh vam ananya-siddham
- dṛgbhiḥ pibanty anusavābhinavaṁ durāpam
- ekānta-dhāma yaśasaḥ śriya aiśvarasya
"What great penance and austerities the damsels of Vṛndāvana must have undergone, for they are able to drink the nectar of Kṛṣṇa, who is all beauty, all strength, all riches, all fame and whose bodily luster is the center of all beauty."
Since one cannot adequately see Kṛṣṇa with only two eyes, one feels incapable and thus becomes bereaved. Such bereavement is slightly reduced when one criticizes the creative power of the creator. The unsatiated seer of Kṛṣṇa's face nonetheless laments: "I do not have thousands of eyes, but only two, and these are disturbed by the movements of my eyelids. Therefore it is to be understood that the creator of this body is not very intelligent. He is not conversant in the art of ecstasy but is simply a prosaic creator. He does not know how to arrange things properly so one can see only Kṛṣṇa."
The devotee increasingly feels the absence of Kṛṣṇa, for without Him one cannot drink the nectar of His beauty. When the transcendental sound of Kṛṣṇa's flute is heard, the devotee's anxiety to continue to hear that flute enables him to penetrate the covering of the material world and enter into the spiritual sky, where the transcendental sound of the flute enters into the ears of the followers of the gopīs. The sound of Kṛṣṇa's flute always resides within the ears of the gopīs and increases their ecstasy. When it is heard, no other sound can enter into their ears, and amongst their family they are not able to reply to questions properly, for all these beautiful sounds are vibrating in their ears.
A person engaged in devotional service becomes heartsick when singing the glories of the Supreme Lord. Because the Lord is very dear to him, when he glorifies the Lord's name, fame and so on, he becomes almost like an insane man, and in that condition he sometimes laughs, sometimes cries and sometimes dances. He continues in this way without even considering his situation. By gradually developing his love of Godhead, he increases his affection, his emotion and his ecstasy. Such attachment, mahābhāva, is the highest stage of devotional love. It may be likened to sugar candy, which is the most powerful form of sugar. Love of Godhead can gradually develop in such a way that transcendental pleasure is increased to the highest stage for the real devotee.
Conjugal love is very prominent, and it is symptomized by the devotee's decorating his body to attract Kṛṣṇa. The flavor of servitorship increases to include affection, anger, fraternity and attachment. The flavor of friendship increases to include affection, anger, fraternity, attachment and devotion, and in parenthood the attachment increases to include affection, anger, fraternity, attachment, and devotion. There are also special flavors experienced in friendship with the Supreme Lord, and these are manifested by friends such as Subala, whose devotion increases up to the point of bhāva. The different rasas are also divided into two kinds of ecstasy, called yoga and viyoga, or meeting and separation. In friendship and parenthood, the feelings of meeting and separation are various.
The situations known as rūḍha and adhirūḍha are possible in the conjugal love relationship. Conjugal love exhibited by the queens at Dvārakā is called rūḍha, and conjugal love exhibited at Vṛndāvana by the damsels of Vraja is called adhirūḍha. The highest perfection of adhirūḍha affection in conjugal love involve meeting (mādana) and separation (mohana). In the ecstasy of mādana, meeting, there is kissing, and in the ecstasy of mohana, separation, there is udghūrṇā and citrajalpa. As far as citrajalpa is concerned, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a portion known as Bhramara-gītā in which various kinds of citra jalpa are mentioned. Udghūrṇā is a symptom of separation, and there is also a symptom called transcendental insanity. In that transcendental insanity one thinks that he himself has become the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In such an ecstasy, he imitates the symptoms of Kṛṣṇa in different ways.
There are two kinds of dresses worn in that relationship of conjugal love, and they are called sambhoga and vipralambha. On the sambhoga platform, the dresses are unlimited, and on the vipralambha they are four in number. The ecstasy exhibited before the lover and beloved meet, the ecstasy experienced between them after meeting, the state of mind experienced by not meeting, and the state of mind experienced after meeting fearing separation are called vipralambha. That vipralambha serves as a nourishing element for future meetings. When the lover and beloved meet all of a sudden and embrace one another, they feel an ecstasy of happiness, and the state of mind they experience in that ecstasy is called sambhoga. According to the situation, sambhoga ecstasy is also known by four names: (1) saṅkṣipta, (2) saṅkīrṇa, (3) sampanna, (4) samṛddhimān. Such symptoms are also visible during dreams.
Persons who have been thoroughly cleansed by devotional service and are always joyful, being situated in elevated consciousness, who are very much attached to the studies of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, who are always cheerful in the association of devotees, who have accepted the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa as the ultimate shelter of their lives, and who are pleased to perform all details of devotional service, have in their pure hearts the transcendental ecstasy of attachment. When that ecstatic state of being is enriched with love of Kṛṣṇa and the transcendental experience, one gradually attains to the mature oneness of spiritual life.
Lord Caitanya thus explained briefly the transcendental situation and spiritual enjoyment of life, and He taught that the first stage of perfection is to become a religious man in the ordinary sense, as known in the material world. The second stage of perfection is to become materially rich. The third stage of material perfection is the attainment of complete sense enjoyment, and in the fourth stage there is knowledge of liberation. Above this platform are those on the fifth stage who are already liberated and who are established in Kṛṣṇa consciousness or devotional service to the Lord. In the highest perfection of devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one experiences the taste of the ecstasy of spiritual relish.
Those who are related in friendship attain love of God to the point of fraternity. Those who are in love with God as His parents are elevated to the point of transcendental emotion. But only those who are related with the Supreme in conjugal love can experience the highest of ecstasies. Thus there are different meanings for the word bhakti.
The mystic who worships the Supersoul within himself is also called ātmārāma. The ātmārāma yogīs are of two kinds: sagarbha and nigarbha, It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.2.8): "Some yogīs meditate within their heart on the localized Viṣṇu, who is four-handed and who holds four symbols: conch, disc, mace and lotus." The yogī who thinks of the four-handed Viṣṇu becomes absorbed in devotional ecstasy and evinces the symptoms of that state. Sometimes he cries, and sometimes he feels separation. In this way he merges in transcendental bliss. The result of all this is that he becomes entrapped like a fish.
In ārurukṣu yoga, various sitting postures are practiced, and the mind is concentrated. But when one has already ascended to the path of yoga, meditation and detachment are the goals, and when one is no longer attached to working for sense gratification, he gradually becomes free. At that time he also attains a state of ecstasy called yoga ārūḍha. If these mystic yogīs somehow or other come in contact with a saintly person, they become devotees of Kṛṣṇa. The word urukrama indicates the Supreme Lord.
Although the hunter formerly took great pleasure in half-killing animals, since he became a great devotee of the Lord, he was not prepared to give pain even to an ant. The hunter received the two great sages at his home and offered them a sitting place, brought water, washed their feet, took water to them to drink, and finally both he and his wife touched the water with their heads. After this, they began to feel ecstasy and began to dance and sing Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. They raised their hands and danced with their clothes flying. When the two great sages saw this ecstasy of love of Godhead manifest in the body of the hunter, Parvata Muni told Nārada: "You are a touchstone, for by your association even a great hunter has turned into a great devotee."
When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world. The devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy and sometimes laughs, cries and dances in his ecstasy. Sometimes the unintelligent put hindrances in the path of chanting this mahā-mantra, but one who is situated on the platform of love of Godhead chants the holy name loudly for all concerned. As a result, everyone becomes initiated in the chanting of the holy names—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. By chanting and hearing the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, a person can remember the forms and qualities of Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Caitanya next explained that His spiritual master had confirmed the validity of His ecstasy which resulted from His chanting the holy name of God and also confirmed that the essence of all Vedic literature is the attainment of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya's spiritual master had said that the Lord was fortunate enough to have attained love of Godhead. By attaining such transcendental love, one's heart becomes very anxious to attain direct contact with the Lord. Feeling such transcendental sentiment, one sometimes laughs and sometimes cries, sings and dances like a madman, and sometimes traverses hither and thither. In this way there are various ecstatic symptoms evinced: crying, changing bodily color, madness, bereavement, silence, pride, ecstasy and gentleness. Frequently the person in love with God dances, and such dancing places him in the ocean of the nectar of love of Kṛṣṇa.
"A person who is constantly engaged in devotional service to Kṛṣṇa and who chants His holy name becomes so transcendentally attached to the chanting that his heart becomes softened without extraneous endeavor. When this happens, he exhibits transcendental ecstasies and sometimes laughs, sometimes cries, sings and dances—not exactly in an artistic way, but just like a madman."
All the inhabitants of Benares were struck with wonder upon seeing the ecstatic dancing of Lord Caitanya. However, Lord Caitanya checked His continuous ecstasy and stopped dancing when He saw the Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. As soon as the Lord stopped chanting and dancing, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī fell at His feet. Trying to stop him, Lord Caitanya said, "Oh, you are the spiritual master of the whole world, jagad-guru, and I am not even equal to your disciples. You should therefore not worship an inferior like Me. You are exactly like the Supreme Brahman, and if I allow you to fall down at My feet, I will commit a very great offense. Although you have no vision of duality, for the sake of teaching the people in general you should not do this."
"When devotees discuss subjects dealing with the Supreme Lord, who can cleanse the heart of His devotee from all kinds of sinful reactions, they become overwhelmed with ecstasy and display different symptoms due to their devotional service." The Bhāgavatam further states: "Due to their spontaneous attachment for the Lord, when they chant His holy names they sometimes cry, sometimes laugh, dance, sing and so on, not caring for any social convention." (SB 11.2.40)
It is said that Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya composed a hundred verses in appreciation of the Lord's activities, and that those verses were so great that they could not even be surpassed by Bṛhaspati, the greatest learned scholar in the heavenly planets. The Lord was very pleased to hear these hundred verses, and He embraced Bhaṭṭācārya. Bhaṭṭācārya became overwhelmed with ecstasy by the Lord's touch, and he practically fell unconscious. He cried, trembled, shivered and perspired, and sometimes he danced and sang and fell at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. Bhaṭṭācārya's brother-in-law, Gopīnātha Ācārya, and the devotees of the Lord were surprised to see the Bhaṭṭācārya transformed into a great devotee.
There are restrictions one must follow before accepting food from various people, but there are no restrictions on accepting prasāda from all kinds of people. prasāda is always transcendental and can be taken under any condition. Lord Caitanya was very pleased to see that Bhaṭṭācārya, who had always obeyed the rules and regulations strictly, accepted prasāda without following any rules and regulations. Being so pleased, Lord Caitanya embraced Bhaṭṭācārya, and they both began to dance in transcendental ecstasy. In that ecstasy, Lord Caitanya exclaimed: "My mission in Jagannātha Purī is now fulfilled! I have converted a person like Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. I shall now be able to attain Vaikuṇṭha without fail."
Since he was formerly a great academic scholar, Bhaṭṭācārya could only have been converted by the causeless mercy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. From that day forward Bhaṭṭācārya never explained any Vedic literature without explaining devotional service. Gopīnātha Ācārya, his brother-in-law, was so pleased to see Bhaṭṭācārya's condition that he began to dance in ecstasy and vibrate the transcendental sound Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
After visiting the temple of Jiyara-nṛsiṁha, the Lord proceeded further south into India and ultimately reached the bank of the Godāvarī. While on the bank of this river, the Lord remembered the Yamunā River in Vṛndāvana, and He considered the trees on the bank to be the forest of Vṛndāvana. Thus He was in ecstasy there. After taking a bath on the banks of the Godāvarī, the Lord sat near the bank and began chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. While sitting and chanting, the Lord saw that the governor of the province, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya, had reached the banks of the river accompanied by his associates, which included many brāhmaṇas.
When Rāmānanda Rāya presented his credentials, Lord Caitanya embraced him, and both of them were overwhelmed with ecstasy. The brāhmaṇas who accompanied Rāmānanda Rāya were surprised to see them embracing in transcendental ecstasy. The brāhmaṇas were all stalwart followers of the rituals, and they could not understand the meaning of such devotional symptoms. Indeed, they were rather surprised to see such a great sannyāsī touch a śūdra, and they were also surprised to see Rāmānanda Rāya, who was a great governor and practically king of that province, crying simply by touching a sannyāsī. Lord Caitanya understood the brāhmaṇas' thoughts, and, considering the unfavorable situation, He pacified Himself.
Lord Caitanya then asked Rāmānanda Rāya to proceed further in order to come to the point of conjugal love. Understanding the mind of Lord Caitanya, Rāmānanda Rāya immediately answered that it was indeed conjugal love with Kṛṣṇa that constituted the highest relationship. In other words, intimate relationships with Kṛṣṇa develop from an ordinary conception of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to the conception of master and servant, and, when this becomes confidential, it develops into a friendly relationship, and when this relationship further develops, it becomes paternal, and when this develops to the highest point of love and affection, it is known as conjugal love with the Supreme Lord. Rāmānanda Rāya quoted another verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.60) stating that the transcendental mode of ecstasy exhibited during the rāsa dance between the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa was never relished even by the goddess of fortune, who is always situated on the chest of the Lord in the spiritual kingdom.
There is certainly transcendental intimacy between the damsels of Vraja and Kṛṣṇa, Rāmānanda pointed out, but out of all the relationships, the relationship between Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa in conjugal love is the most perfect. No common man can understand the ecstasy of transcendental love between Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa, nor can he understand the transcendental flavor of the transcendental love between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs. Yet if one tries to follow in the footsteps of the gopīs, he may become situated in the highest stage of transcendental love. Thus one who wants to be elevated to the transcendental stage of perfection should follow in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja as an assistant maidservant of the gopīs.
He points out that the body of Rādhārāṇī is in itself an actual evolution of transcendental pleasure. That body is decorated with flowers and fragrant aromas and is complete with transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa. That is the personification of His pleasure potency. That transcendental body takes bath three times: first in the water of mercy, second in the water of youthful beauty, and third in the water of youthful luster. After taking bath three times in that way, Her body is covered with shining garments and decorated with Kṛṣṇa's personal beauty, which is compared to cosmetics. Thus Her beauty constitutes the highest artistry. Her body is also decorated with the ornaments of spiritual ecstasy—trembling tears, petrification, perspiration, choking, cessation of all bodily functions due to transcendental pleasure, stumbling, high blood pressure and madness.
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is decorated with sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions, which sometimes include tribulation and sometimes pacification. All the transcendental ecstasies are manifested in the body of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions are manifest when a lover is overwhelmed with certain feelings which he or she cannot check. Rādhārāṇī has another emotion called kilakiñcita, which is manifest in twenty different ways. These emotions are manifested partly due to body, mind and habit. As far as the bodily emotions are concerned, they are manifested in posture and movement. As far as the emotions of the mind are concerned, they are manifested as beauty, luster, complexion, flavor, talking, magnanimity and patience. As far as habitual emotions are concerned, they are manifested as pastimes, enjoyment, preparation and forgetfulness.
Lord Caitanya was very satisfied to hear these statements from Rāmānanda Rāya, and He embraced him. Then both of them began to cry in the ecstasy of transcendental realization. Thus the Lord and Rāmānanda Rāya discussed the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa throughout the night, and in the morning they separated. Rāmānanda left to go to his place, and the Lord went to take His bath.
"And what do you recommend a person to think of?" Lord Caitanya asked. Rāmānanda replied that one should always think of the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa has multiple activities, and they are described in many Vedic scriptures. One should always think of those pastimes; that is the best meditation and the highest ecstasy. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.2.36) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that one should always think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—not only think of Him, but one should also hear and chant His name, fame and glories.
"One who is highly elevated in devotional service sees the Supersoul, Kṛṣṇa, who is the Soul of all individual souls." A similar passage is found in the Tenth Canto (10.35.9) where it is stated that all creepers, plants and trees, laden with flowers and fruits, were bent in the ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa, for Kṛṣṇa was the Soul of their soul. After Kṛṣṇa left them, those trees and plants became thorny.
"Please rest assured that I have nothing to hide from you," Lord Caitanya told Rāmānanda. "Even if I do try to hide from you, you are such an advanced devotee that you can understand all My secrets. I request that you please keep this a secret and do not disclose it to anyone. If it were revealed, everyone would consider Me a madman. The facts which I have disclosed to you cannot be understood by materialistic people. When they hear of this, they will simply laugh at Me. You can understand this yourself and keep it to yourself. From a materialistic point of view, a devotee becomes mad in his ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa. Both you and I are just like madmen. So please don't disclose these facts to ordinary men. If you do, they will surely laugh at Me."
Nectar of Devotion
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu is divided into four parts, just as the ocean is sometimes divided into four parts, and there are different sections within each of these four divisions. Originally, in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the ocean is divided like the watery ocean into east, south, west and north, while the subsections within these different divisions are called waves. As in the ocean there are always different waves, either on the eastern side, the southern side, the western side or the northern side, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu similarly has different waves. In the first part there are four waves, the first being a general description of devotional service. The second concerns the regulative principles for executing devotional service, and the third wave, devotional service in ecstasy. In the fourth is the ultimate goal, love of God. These will be explicitly described along with their different symptoms.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya Prahlāda Mahārāja, while satisfying Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva by his prayers, says, "My dear Lord of the universe, I am feeling transcendental pleasure in Your presence and have become merged in the ocean of happiness. I now consider the happiness of brahmānanda to be no more than the water in the impression left by a cow's hoof in the earth, compared to this ocean of bliss." Similarly, it is confirmed in the Bhāvārtha-dīpikā, Śrīdhara Svāmī's commentary on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, "My dear Lord, some of the fortunate persons who are swimming in the ocean of Your nectar of devotion, and who are relishing the nectar of the narration of Your pastimes, certainly know ecstasies which immediately minimize the value of the happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. Such a transcendental devotee regards any kind of happiness other than devotional service as no better than straw in the street."
The three categories of devotional service which Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī describes in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu are listed as devotional service in practice, devotional service in ecstasy and devotional service in pure love of Godhead. There are many subheadings in each of these categories. Generally it is understood that in the category of devotional service in practice there are two different qualities, devotional service in ecstasy has four qualities, and devotional service in pure love of Godhead has six qualities. These qualities will be explained by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī later on.
Here is a general description of devotional service given by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Previously, it has been stated that devotional service can be divided into three categories—namely devotional service in practice, devotional service in ecstasy and devotional service in pure love of God. Now Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī proposes to describe devotional service in practice.
In the Dvārakā-māhātmya the importance of dancing before the Deity is stated by Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows: "A person who is in a jubilant spirit, who feels profound devotional ecstasy while dancing before Me, and who manifests different features of bodily expression can burn away all the accumulated sinful reactions he has stocked up for many, many thousands of years." In the same book there is a statement by Nārada wherein he asserts, "From the body of any person who claps and dances before the Deity, showing manifestations of ecstasy, all the birds of sinful activities fly away upward." Just as by clapping the hands one can cause many birds to fly away, similarly the birds of all sinful activities which are sitting on the body can be made to fly away simply by dancing and clapping before the Deity of Kṛṣṇa.
Rūpa Gosvāmī has stated that five kinds of devotional activities—namely residing in Mathurā, worshiping the Deity of the Lord, reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, serving a devotee and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra—are so potent that a small attachment for any one of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte.
In beginning His teaching of the Gītā, the Lord said to Arjuna, "Because you are My devotee, I shall teach these secrets to you." Vedic knowledge means ultimately to understand the Supreme Lord, and the process of entering into His kingdom is devotional service. That is accepted by all authentic scriptures. Mental speculators neglect the process of devotional service, and by simply trying to defeat others in philosophical research they fail to develop the ecstasy of devotion.
To clarify, in the previous chapters the symptoms of devotional service were explained along with instructions as to how we may execute devotional service with our present senses and gradually rise to the platform of ecstasy in spontaneous love. And the two kinds of devotional service—namely devotional service through regulative principles and through spontaneous love—were discussed. Within the stage of the regulative principles of devotional service there are two divisions—namely executive and effective. This effective portion of devotional service is called bhāva, or ecstasy. In this connection, there is a statement in the tantras that ecstasy is the first symptom of pure love for the Personality of Godhead, and in that stage one is sometimes found shedding tears or shivering. Not always are these symptoms manifest, but occasionally. When King Ambarīṣa was put into difficulty by Durvāsā, he began to think of the lotus feet of the Lord, and thus there were some changes in his body, and tears were falling from his eyes. These symptoms are activities of ecstasy. They are visible in the shivering of the body and the shedding of tears. After the outward appearance of these ecstatic symptoms, they stay within the mind, and continuation of the ecstasy is called samādhi.
Elevation to this stage of ecstasy can be possible in two ways. One way is by constant association with pure devotees. The other way is by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or by the mercy of a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Elevation to the ecstatic stage of life is generally attained through association with pure devotees, while elevation to that stage by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee is very rare. The purport is that one should execute devotional service rigidly in the association of devotees so that there will be certainty in raising oneself to that ecstatic position.
What is the secret of hearing and chanting? A professional speaker cannot impress transcendental ecstasy within the hearts of the listeners. However, when a realized soul who is engaged in the service of the Lord is speaking, he has the potency to inject spiritual life within the audience. One should, therefore, seek the association of such pure, unalloyed devotees, and by such association and service a neophyte devotee will certainly develop attachment, love and devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
If someone becomes attached to the principles of salvation or to merging into the existence of the brahmajyoti, his ecstasies gradually diminish into shadow and parā attachment or else transform into the principles of ahaṅgrahopāsanā. This ahaṅgrahopāsanā describes a living entity when he begins spiritual realization by identifying himself with the Supreme Lord. This state of self-realization is technically known as monism. The monist thinks himself one with the Supreme Lord. Thus, because he does not differentiate between himself and the Supreme Lord, it is his view that by worshiping himself he is worshiping the supreme whole.
Great authorities like Bhīṣma have explained that love of Godhead means completely giving up all so-called love for any other person. According to Bhīṣma, love means reposing one's affection completely upon one person, withdrawing all affinities for any other person. This pure love can be transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead under two conditions—out of ecstasy and out of the causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.
This is the first stage of association with pure devotees. In the second stage, after one becomes a little advanced and mature, he automatically offers to follow the principles of devotional service under the guidance of the pure devotee and accepts him as the spiritual master. In the next stage, under the guidance of the spiritual master, the devotee executes regulative devotional service, and as a result of such activities, he becomes freed from all unwanted occupations. When he is freed from unwanted occupations, his faith becomes steadily fixed, and he develops a transcendental taste for devotional service, then attachment, then ecstasies, and in the last stage there is pure love of Godhead. These are the different stages of the development of pure love.
Only the most fortunate persons can achieve such success in life. Those who are simply academic students of the Vedic scriptures cannot appreciate how such a development takes place. In the Nārada-pañcarātra Lord Śiva therefore tells Pārvatī, "My dear supreme goddess, you may know from me that any person who has developed the ecstasy of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and who is always merged in transcendental bliss on account of this love, cannot even perceive the material distress or happiness coming from the body or mind."
In this division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu there are five general topics: (1) vibhāva—special symptoms or causes of ecstasy, (2) anubhāva—subsequent ecstasy, (3) sāttvika-bhāva—constitutional or existential ecstasy, (4) vyabhicārī-bhāva—aggressive ecstasy and (5) sthāyi-bhāva—fervent or continuous ecstasy. The word rasa, used in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, is understood by different persons differently because the exact English equivalent is very difficult to find. But as we have seen our spiritual master translate this word rasa into "mellow," we shall follow in his footsteps and also translate the word in that way.
The particular loving mood or attitude relished in the exchange of love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called rasa, or mellow. The different types of rasa, when combined together, help one to taste the mellow of devotional service in the highest degree of transcendental ecstasy. Such a position, although entirely transcendental to our experience, will be explained in this section as far as possible, following in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
There are eight transcendental symptoms found in the body during ecstasy, and all of them are possible only by a mixture of the above—mentioned five ecstatic divisions. Without some mixture of these five ecstatic principles, one cannot relish transcendental bliss. The cause or basis for relishing transcendental mellow is exactly what we mean by vibhāva. This vibhāva is divided into two—namely, basic and impelling, or impetus—giving.
Such a mystic becomes so joyful by constant execution of the regulative principles of devotional service that he thereby achieves the special favor of the Supreme Lord. Yamarāja, the mighty superintendent of death, is afraid to go near such a devotee; so we can imagine the potency of advanced devotional service, especially when devotees sit together and engage in talking of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those devotees express their feelings in such a way that they automatically melt with ecstasy, and many transcendental symptoms become manifested in their bodies. Anyone desiring advancement in devotional service must follow in the footsteps of such devotees.
A person's achieving perfection in devotional service simply by the causeless mercy of the Lord is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with the brāhmaṇas and their wives who were engaged in performing yajña, or sacrifice. When the wives of the brāhmaṇas were favored by Lord Kṛṣṇa and immediately attained the ecstasy of love of Godhead, their husbands said, "How wonderful it is that although these women have undertaken no reformatory performances such as accepting the sacred thread, have not resided in the monasteries of the spiritual master, have not observed the strict principles of celibacy, have not undergone any austerities and have not philosophized upon the observance of ritualistic ceremonies, they still have attained the favor of Kṛṣṇa, which is aspired after even by great mystics!
It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that when Akrūra, who drove Kṛṣṇa from Vṛndāvana to Mathurā, saw the footprints of Kṛṣṇa on the land of Vṛndāvana, his ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa increased so much that the hairs on his body stood up. His eyes became overflooded with tears, and in such ecstasy he jumped out of the chariot and fell down on the ground and began to chant, "How wonderful this is! How wonderful this is!"
While watching the rāsa dance performed by Lord Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs, Lord Śiva beheld the beautiful face of Kṛṣṇa and immediately began to dance and beat upon his small diṇḍima drum. While Lord Śiva was dancing in ecstasy, his eldest son, Gaṇeśa, joined him.
It is said that sometimes when Nārada, the carrier of the vīṇā, remembers his Lord Kṛṣṇa in great ecstasy, he begins to stretch his body so vigorously that his sacred thread gives way.
When there are manifestations of ecstatic symptoms in the body of a nondevotee, these are called dried-up symptoms of ecstatic love. The nondevotees are actually materialistic, but in contact with some pure devotee, they sometimes may manifest some symptoms of ecstasy. Devotional scholars call these dried-up symptoms.
Sometimes, while participating in ceremonies celebrating Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, or in the society of devotees, there is dancing ecstasy. Such sentiments are called blazing.
Sometimes impersonalists, who are not actually in devotional service, may also exhibit such symptoms of ecstatic love, but this is not accepted as actual ecstasy. It is a reflection only. For example, sometimes in Vārāṇasī, a holy city for impersonalist scholars, there may be seen a sannyāsī crying from hearing the glories of the Lord. Impersonalists also sometimes chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and dance, but their aim is not to serve the Lord. It is to become one with the Lord and merge into His existence.
In the Tenth Canto, Seventy-first Chapter, verse 39, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is an account of King Yudhiṣṭhira's bewilderment after his bringing Kṛṣṇa into his home with the greatest respect. King Yudhiṣṭhira was very much bewildered because of his transcendental pleasure at having Kṛṣṇa present in his house. In fact, while receiving Kṛṣṇa, King Yudhiṣṭhira forgot himself. This is an instance of inertia resulting from the ecstasy of seeing Kṛṣṇa.
One day, in a joking mood, Kṛṣṇa informed Rādhārāṇī, "My dear Rādhārāṇī, I am going to give up Your company." Upon saying this, He immediately disappeared, and because of this Rādhārāṇī became so afflicted that the hue of Her body changed, and She immediately fell down upon the ground of Vṛndāvana. She had practically stopped breathing, but when She smelled the flavor of the flowers on the ground, She awoke in ecstasy and got up. This is an instance of transcendental alertness caused by smelling.
The continuous ecstasy of love can remain like a powerful king, subduing all temporary manifestations of love as well as any opposing elements of anger. It can be exhibited directly or indirectly, and thus ecstatic love can be described as direct or indirect. These symptoms of ecstatic love are possible only when one is fully situated in a transcendental position. Direct ecstatic love can be divided into two groups—namely, selfish and selfless.
The ecstasy of astonishment in devotional service is perceived in two ways: directly, by the experience of one's own eyes, and indirectly, by hearing from others.
Sometimes among contemporary personalities there are signs of ecstasy in anger because of love for Kṛṣṇa. An example of such anger was exhibited in a quarrel between Jaṭilā and Mukharā. Jaṭilā was the mother-in-law of Rādhārāṇī, and Mukharā was Her great-grandmother. Both of them were talking about Kṛṣṇa's unnecessary harassment of Rādhārāṇī when She was walking on the street. Jaṭilā said, "You cruel-faced Mukharā! By hearing your words my heart feels like it is burning in a fire!" And Mukharā replied, "You sinful Jaṭilā, by hearing your words, there is aching in my head! You cannot give any evidence that Kṛṣṇa has attacked Rādhārāṇī, the daughter of my granddaughter Kīrtidā."
It is understood from authoritative sources that an attachment for Kṛṣṇa because of feelings of disgust sometimes presents a ghastly ecstasy in devotional service. The person experiencing such ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is almost always in the neutral stage of devotional service, or śānta-rasa.
When a devotee, lamenting for his past abominable activities, shows special symptoms on his body, his feeling is called ecstasy in devotional service in ghastliness. This is caused by the awakening of his Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
There is another instance of a dreadful situation with Kṛṣṇa as the object as follows. After being sufficiently chastised by child Kṛṣṇa in the Yamunā River, the Kāliya snake began to address the Lord, "O killer of the Mura demon, I have acquired many mystic powers by my austerity and penances, but before You I am nothing; I am most insignificant. Therefore, please be kind upon a poor soul like me, and don't be angry with me. I did not know Your actual position, and out of ignorance I have committed such horrible offenses. Please save me. I am a most unfortunate, foolish creature. Please be merciful to me." This is another instance of the ecstasy of dread in devotional service.
When the Keśī demon was causing disturbances in Vṛndāvana by assuming a large horse's body that was so big that he could jump over the trees, mother Yaśodā told her husband, Nanda Mahārāja, "Our child is very restless, so we had better keep Him locked up within the house. I have been very worried about the recent disturbances of the Keśī demon, who has been assuming the form of a giant horse." When it was learned that the demon was entering Gokula in an angry mood, mother Yaśodā became so anxious to protect her child that her face dried up and there were tears in her eyes. These are some of the signs of the ecstasy of dread in devotional service, caused by seeing and hearing something that is dangerous to Kṛṣṇa.
In the ecstasy of devotional service in dread, the unconstitutional symptoms are drying up of the mouth, exuberance, glancing behind oneself, concealing oneself, bewilderment, searching after the endangered lovable object and crying very loudly. Some other unconstitutional symptoms are illusion, forgetfulness and expectation of danger. In all such circumstances the ecstatic dread is the steady or constant factor. Such dread is caused either by offenses committed or by dreadful circumstances. Offenses may be committed in varieties of ways, and the dread is felt by the person who has committed the offense.
The particular type of ecstatic loving sentiment that develops within the heart of a particular devotee is considered to be vibhāva. And the resultant manifestations such as moving of the eyebrows, fear, astonishment and smiling, which have been explained hereinbefore, are called anubhāva. The different causes for developing anubhāva and vibhāva are called steady ecstasy, or sañcāri-bhāva.
In the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu it is said that when Lord Kṛṣṇa was blowing His conchshell known as Pāñcajanya, many great sages who were living in the caves of the mountains immediately reacted, being awakened from their trance of meditation. They immediately saw that the hairs of their bodies were standing. Sometimes devotees in śānta-rasa become stunned, peaceful, jubilant, deliberate, reflective, anxious, dexterous and argumentative. These symptoms indicate continuous ecstasy, or established emotion.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, Fourth Chapter, verse 40, Prahlāda Mahārāja says that even in his childhood, when he was loudly speaking the glories of the Lord, he used to dance just like a shameless madman. And sometimes, being fully absorbed in thought on the pastimes of the Lord, he used to imitate such pastimes. This is an instance of a devotee's being almost like a madman. Similarly, it is said that the great sage Nārada was so ecstatically in love with Kṛṣṇa that he would sometimes dance naked, and sometimes his whole body would become stunned. Sometimes he would laugh very loudly, sometimes he would cry very loudly, sometimes he would remain silent, and sometimes he would appear to be suffering from some disease, although he had no disease. This is another instance of becoming like a madman in the ecstasy of devotion.
Similarly, in the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Chapter Seven, verse 34, Prahlāda Mahārāja says to his friends, "My dear friends, as soon as pure devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa hear of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, who is the eternal reservoir of pastimes, or hear about His transcendental qualities, they become overpowered with jubilation. Ecstatic symptoms are manifested in their bodies. They shed tears, talk falteringly, glorify the Lord in a loud voice and chant and dance in ecstasy. These ecstasies are always there, but sometimes they overcome all limits, and the symptoms become manifest to all."
When Cupid came on one occasion to visit Lord Kṛṣṇa, some devotee addressed him thus: "My dear Cupid, because you have been so fortunate as to have placed your eyesight on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, the drops of perspiration on your body have become frozen, and they resemble kaṇṭakī fruits (a kind of small fruit found in thorny bushes)." These are signs of ecstasy and veneration for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the princes of the Yadu dynasty heard the vibration of Kṛṣṇa's Pāñcajanya conchshell, the hairs on their bodies immediately stood up in ecstatic jubilation. It seemed at that time that all the hairs on the bodies of the princes were dancing in ecstasy.
When Pradyumna came back home after killing Śambarāsura and saw his father, Kṛṣṇa, before him, he at once became so overjoyed that he himself could not understand his joy on that occasion. This is an instance of success in separation. A similar satisfaction was observed when Kṛṣṇa returned from the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra to His home at Dvārakā. All of His sons were so overjoyed that out of ecstasy they repeatedly made many mistakes. These mistakes were a sign of complete satisfaction.
When a devotee is permanently situated in devotional service, and by different symptoms of ecstasy he has developed and matured a fraternal mellow or flavor in relationship with the Personality of Godhead, his feeling is called fraternal love of Godhead.
In the Tenth Canto, Twelfth Chapter, verse 12, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is stated that even after undergoing severe penances and austerities and performing the yogic principles, the great mystic yogīs can hardly become eligible to achieve the dust of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, but the same Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is easily available to the vision of the residents of Vṛndāvana. This means there is no comparison to the great fortune of these devotees. The friendly relationship of the cowherd boys with Kṛṣṇa is a particular type of spiritual ecstasy almost similar to the ecstasy of conjugal love. This ecstasy of loving affairs between the cowherd boys and Kṛṣṇa is very difficult to explain.
Once mother Yaśodā addressed one of her friends in this way: "Nanda Mahārāja, the leader of the cowherd men, worshiped Lord Viṣṇu, along with me, and as a result of this worship, Kṛṣṇa has been saved from the clutches of Pūtanā and other demons. The twin arjuna trees were, of course, broken due to a strong wind, and although Kṛṣṇa appeared to have lifted Govardhana Hill along with Balarāma, I think that Nanda Mahārāja actually held the mountain. Otherwise how could it have been possible for a little boy to lift such a great hill?" This is another example of ecstasy in parental love. This kind of parental love is generated in a devotee out of his conviction, in love, that he himself is superior to Kṛṣṇa and that without being taken care of by such a devotee Kṛṣṇa could not possibly live.
In enjoying Kṛṣṇa's attitude of stealing butter very stealthily, mother Yaśodā experienced the ecstasy of maternal love by smelling His head, sometimes patting His body with her hand, sometimes offering blessings, sometimes ordering Him, sometimes gazing at Him, sometimes maintaining Him and sometimes giving Him good instructions not to become a thief. Such activities are in maternal ecstatic love.
The general activities of all the mothers of the cowherd boys were to kiss them, to embrace them, to call them by their names and sometimes to chastise them mildly for their stealing habits. These manifestations of parental love are called sāttvika ecstasy, wherein manifestations of eight kinds of ecstatic symptoms are visible in full. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter, verse 22, Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells King Parīkṣit, "All the mothers of the cowherd boys were illusioned by the covering influence of the yogamāyā potency of the Personality of Godhead, and as soon as they heard the flute playing of their boys, they immediately stood up and mentally embraced their sons, who had been created by the direct internal potency of Kṛṣṇa.
Sometimes there are examples of mother Yaśodā's becoming stunned in ecstasy. This was exhibited when she saw her son lifting Govardhana Hill. When Kṛṣṇa was standing, raising the hill, mother Yaśodā hesitated to embrace Him and became stunned. The dangerous position that Kṛṣṇa had accepted by lifting the hill brought tears to her eyes. With her eyes filled with tears she could not see Kṛṣṇa anymore, and because her throat was choked up by anxiety she could not even instruct Kṛṣṇa as to what He should do in that position. This is a symptom of becoming stunned in ecstatic love.
Mother Yaśodā sometimes enjoyed transcendental ecstasy in happiness when her child was saved from a dangerous situation, such as being attacked by Pūtanā or some other demon. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Seventeenth Chapter, verse 19, Śukadeva Gosvāmī says that mother Yaśodā felt very, very fortunate when she got back her lost child. She immediately placed Him on her lap and began to embrace Him again and again. While she was thus embracing her son repeatedly, torrents of tears fell from her eyes, and she was unable to express her transcendental joy.
The parental love of mother Yaśodā for Kṛṣṇa steadily increases, and her love and ecstasy are sometimes described as intense affection and sometimes as overwhelming attachment. An example of attachment for Kṛṣṇa with overwhelming affection is given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Sixth Chapter, verse 43, where Śukadeva Gosvāmī addresses Mahārāja Parīkṣit in this way: "My dear King, when magnanimous Nanda Mahārāja returned from Mathurā, he began to smell the head of his son, and he was merged in the ecstasy of parental love." A similar statement is there in connection with mother Yaśodā when she was too anxious to hear the sound of Kṛṣṇa's flute, expecting Him back from the pasturing ground.
In Vidagdha-mādhava, a devotee addresses Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows: "My dear Mukunda, just after seeing Your face, which was full with the scent of the lotus flower, mother Yaśodā, being attracted by the moonlight of Your face, became so overjoyed in her affection that immediately from the nipples of her waterpotlike breasts, milk began to flow." She was thus constantly engaged in supplying milk to Kṛṣṇa after wetting the covering cloth over the jug. These are some of the signs of parental love for Kṛṣṇa by His mother, His father and elderly persons. Symptoms of ecstatic love in parental affection are expressed when Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the son. These constant transcendental emotions for Kṛṣṇa are called steady ecstasy in parental love.
The steady ecstasy of conjugal love is the original cause of bodily enjoyment. In the Padyāvalī this original cause of union is described when Rādhārāṇī tells one of Her constant companions, "My dear friend, who is this boy whose eyelids, dancing constantly, have increased the beauty of His face and attracted My desire for conjugal love? His ears are decorated with buds of aśoka flowers, and He has dressed Himself in yellow robes. By the sound of His flute, this boy has already made Me impatient."
In the fourth division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described seven kinds of indirect ecstasies of devotional service, known as laughing, astonishment, chivalry, compassion, anger, dread and ghastliness. In this portion, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī further describes these ecstasies of devotional feelings, some being compatible and others incompatible with one another. When one kind of ecstatic devotional service overlaps with another in a conflicting way, this state of affairs is called rasābhāsa, or a perverted presentation of mellows.
Once a palmist came to the house of Nanda Mahārāja, and Nanda Mahārāja asked him, "My dear sage, will you kindly check the hand of my child, Kṛṣṇa? Tell me how many years He will live and whether He will become the master of thousands of cows." Upon hearing this, the palmist began to smile, and Nanda Mahārāja asked him, "My dear sir, why are you laughing, and why are you covering your face?" In such a laughing ecstasy of love, Kṛṣṇa or matters pertaining to Kṛṣṇa are the cause of the laughter. In such laughing devotional service, there are symptoms of jubilation, laziness, concealed feelings and similar other seemingly disturbing elements.
When the ecstasy of devotional service produces some kind of lamentation in connection with Kṛṣṇa, it is called devotional service in compassion. The impetuses for this devotional service are Kṛṣṇa's transcendental quality, form and activities. In this ecstasy of devotional service there are sometimes symptoms like regret, heavy breathing, crying, falling on the ground and beating upon one's chest. Sometimes symptoms like laziness, frustration, defamation, humility, anxiety, moroseness, eagerness, restlessness, madness, death, forgetfulness, disease and illusion are also visible. When in the heart of a devotee there is expectation of some mishap to Kṛṣṇa it is called devotional service in bereavement. Such bereavement is another symptom of this devotional service in compassion.
In devotional service without strong attraction to the Lord, there may sometimes be smiling and other symptoms, but never the stress or lamentation that are symptoms of devotional service in compassion. The basic principle of this compassion is always ecstatic love. The apprehension of some mishap to Kṛṣṇa or to His beloved queens, as exhibited by Baladeva and Yudhiṣṭhira, has been explained above. This apprehension is due not exactly to their ignorance of the inconceivable potencies of Kṛṣṇa but to their intense love for Him. This kind of apprehension of some mishap to Kṛṣṇa first of all becomes manifested as an object of lamentation, but gradually it develops into such compassionate loving ecstasy that it turns to another channel and gives transcendental pleasure.
When in the rasa of neutral love (śānta-rasa) there are found traces of ghastliness or astonishment, the result is compatible. When with this neutral love there are manifestations of conjugal love, chivalry, anger or dread, the result is incompatible.
When in the ecstasy of a serving humor there are manifestations of dread, neutral love or chivalry (such as dharma-vīra and dāna-vīra), the result is compatible. The ecstasy of devotional service in chivalry (yuddha-vīra) and anger are directly produced by Kṛṣṇa Himself.
With the ecstasy of fraternal love a mixture of conjugal love, laughter or chivalry is highly compatible. With the same fraternal love, a mixture of dread or parental love is most incompatible.
Although there are gulfs of differences between them, with the ecstasy of parental affection a mixture of laughter, compassion or dread is compatible.
With the ecstasy of parental love a mixture of conjugal love, chivalry or anger is incompatible.
With the ecstasy of devotion in conjugal love a mixture of laughter or fraternity is compatible.
According to certain expert opinions, in the ecstasy of conjugal love the feelings of chivalry known as yuddha-vīra and dharma-vīra are the only compatible additions. According to this view, except for these two humors, all other manifestations are taken as incompatible with conjugal love.
With the ecstasy of devotional laughter a mixture of dread, conjugal love or parental love is compatible, whereas a mixture of compassion or ghastliness is incompatible.
With the ecstasy of devotion in astonishment a mixture of chivalry or neutral love is compatible, whereas a mixture of anger or dread is always incompatible.
With the ecstasy of devotional chivalry a mixture of astonishment, laughter or servitude is compatible, whereas a mixture of dread or conjugal love is incompatible. According to some expert opinions, the ecstasy of neutral love is always compatible with devotional service in chivalry.
With the ecstasy of compassion in devotional service a mixture of anger or parental love is compatible, whereas a mixture of laughter, conjugal love or astonishment is always incompatible.
With the ecstasy of anger in devotional service a mixture of compassion or chivalry is compatible, whereas a mixture of laughter, conjugal union or dread is completely incompatible.
With the ecstasy of dread in devotional service a mixture of ghastliness or compassion is compatible.
With the ecstasy of chivalry in devotional service a mixture of conjugal union, laughter or anger is always incompatible.
In the ecstasy of ghastliness in devotional service, feelings of neutral love, laughter or servitude are compatible, whereas feelings of conjugal union and fraternity are incompatible.
The following statement elucidates the subject of part and whole: "All living entities are just like sparks from the supreme fire, and as such, I do not know if I, a tiny spark, shall be able to engage myself in the transcendental loving service of this supreme fire, Lord Kṛṣṇa." In this statement, the feelings of neutral love are taken as the whole, whereas the desire to serve the Lord is taken as the part. Actually, in the Brahman effulgence there is no chance for reciprocation of loving ecstasy between the Lord and the devotee.
There is another quotation, from a devotee who laments as follows: "Alas, I am still trying to relish different pleasurable states from this body, which is simply some skin covering mucus, semen and blood. In this state of consciousness I am so condemned that I cannot relish the transcendental ecstasy of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead." In this statement there are two ecstatic loving humors, namely neutrality and ghastliness. Neutrality is taken here as the whole, whereas the ecstasy of ghastliness is the part.
There is a similar statement by a devotee as follows: "I shall now begin my service of fanning the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is seated on a golden throne. He is the supreme Parambrahma in His eternal transcendental form of a cloudy blackish complexion. Now I shall give up my affection for my material body, which is nothing but a bunch of flesh and blood." Herein also there is a combination of servitude and ghastliness, where the ecstasy of servitude is taken as the whole and the ecstasy of ghastliness is taken as the part.
There is another statement as follows: "When shall I be freed from the mode of ignorance? And being thus purified, when shall I attain the stage of serving Kṛṣṇa eternally? Only then shall I be able to worship Him, always observing His lotus eyes and beautiful face." In this statement the whole is the ecstasy of neutrality, and the part is servitorship.
One devotee boldly said, "My dear Lord, now I am turning my face from any thought of association with young girls. As far as Brahman realization is concerned, I have lost all interest, because I am completely absorbed in thinking about You. And being absorbed so blissfully, I have lost all other desires, even the desire for mystic powers. Now my mind is attracted only to worshiping Your lotus feet." In this statement, the whole is the ecstasy of neutrality, and the part is chivalry.
In another statement, Subala is addressed thus: "My dear Subala, the damsels of Vṛndāvana who had the opportunity of enjoying Kṛṣṇa's kissing must be the foremost of all the fortunate women in the world." In this example, the ecstasy of fraternal devotional service is the whole, and the ecstasy of conjugal love is the part.
The following is an example of a mixture of conjugal love and laughter in devotional service. Kṛṣṇa, in the dress of a young girl, told Rādhārāṇī, "Oh, You hardhearted girl! Don't You know that I am Your sister? Why are You unable to recognize Me? Be merciful upon Me and please capture My shoulders and embrace Me with love!" While Kṛṣṇa was dressed up exactly like Rādhārāṇī, He was speaking these nice words, and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī could understand His purpose. But because She was in front of many of Her superiors, She simply smiled and did not say anything. In this instance, the ecstasy of conjugal love is taken as the whole, and the ecstasy of laughter is taken as the part.
Expert analysts of these various kinds of mellows instruct us that when different mellows overlap one another, the mellow which is the whole, or the prominent humor, is called the permanent ecstasy. It is confirmed in the Viṣṇu-dharmottara that when there are many mellows of devotional ecstasy mixed together, the prominent one, or the whole, is called the steady ecstasy of devotional service. Although the subordinate mellow may be manifested for a certain time, at length it will become merged into the prominent whole. Thus it is called an unconstitutional ecstasy of devotional service.
When an unconstitutional ecstasy of devotional service is manifested prominently at a certain time, it is still accepted as the part. If it is not very prominently manifested, it appears only slightly and merges quickly back into the whole. At such times of slight appearance, no consideration is given to it; when one is eating some palatable dishes, if one also eats a small blade of grass he will not taste it, nor will he care to distinguish what its taste is like.
The following is a conversation consisting of questions put before Rambhā, a celebrated beautiful woman, and her corresponding answers. Rambhā was asked, "My dear Rambhā, who are you?" She answered, "I am peace personified." Question: "Then why are you in the sky?" Answer: "I am in the sky to experience the Supreme Absolute Truth." Question: "Then why are you staring?" Answer: "Just to look into the supreme beauty of the Absolute Truth." Question: "Then why do you appear to be disturbed in mind?" Answer: "Because Cupid is acting." In the above example also there is no perverted representation of mellows, because on the whole the ecstasy of conjugal love has exceeded the neutral position of devotional service.
Nectar of Instruction
Devotional service is not a matter of sentimental speculation or imaginative ecstasy. Its substance is practical activity. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.11), has defined devotional service as follows:
- ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
- śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
- (CC Madhya 19.167)
"Uttamā bhakti, or unalloyed devotion unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, involves the rendering of devotional service in a way that is favorable to the Lord. This devotional service should be free from any extraneous motive and devoid of fruitive karma, impersonal jñāna and all other selfish desires."
When a person is relieved from unwanted things, he becomes fixed in executing his Kṛṣṇa activities. Indeed, he becomes attached to such activities and experiences ecstasy in executing devotional service. This is called bhāva, the preliminary awakening of dormant love of Godhead. Thus the conditioned soul becomes free from material existence and loses interest in the bodily conception of life, including material opulence, material knowledge and material attraction of all variety. At such a time one can understand who the Supreme Personality of Godhead is and what His maya is.
When one is able to chant in ecstasy, he attains the stage of smaraṇāvasthā, the stage of remembering. Recollection, absorption, meditation, constant remembrance and trance are the five items of progressive kṛṣṇa-smaraṇa. At first, remembrance of Kṛṣṇa may be interrupted at intervals, but later remembrance proceeds uninterrupted. When remembrance is uninterrupted, it becomes concentrated and is called meditation. When meditation expands and becomes constant, it is called anusmṛti. By uninterrupted and unceasing anusmṛti one enters the stage of samādhi, or spiritual trance.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
My dear brother, You are the supreme worshipable Godhead. Just see how the peacocks are dancing before You in great ecstasy. The deer, whose behavior is just like that of the gopīs, are welcoming You with the same affection. And the cuckoos who are residing in this forest are welcoming You with their joyful, sweet cries because they consider that Your appearance in their home is so auspicious. Even though they are trees and animals, these residents of Vṛndāvana are glorifying You. They are prepared to welcome You to the best of their ability, as is the practice of great souls in receiving another great soul at home. As for the land, it is so pious and fortunate because the footprints of Your lotus feet are marking its body.
Another gopī said, "Everything appears wonderful when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma travel in the forest of Vṛndāvana playing Their flutes and making intimate friendship with all kinds of moving and nonmoving living creatures. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma play on Their transcendental flutes, the moving creatures become stunned and stop their activities, and the nonmoving living creatures, like trees and plants, begin to shiver with ecstasy. These are the wonderful reactions to the vibration of the transcendental flutes of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma."
All the men loaded their valuables on carts and slowly left with their cows and other paraphernalia. After they had cleared out everything, Lord Kṛṣṇa very slowly replaced Govardhana Hill in exactly the same position it had been before. When everything was done, all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana approached Kṛṣṇa with feelings of love and embraced Him with great ecstasy. The gopīs, being naturally very affectionate to Kṛṣṇa, began to offer Him yogurt mixed with their tears, and they poured incessant blessings upon Him. Mother Yaśodā, mother Rohiṇī, Nanda and Balarāma, who is the strongest of the strong, embraced Kṛṣṇa one after another and, from spontaneous feelings of affection, blessed Him over and over again.
So some of the gopīs who joined Kṛṣṇa's pastimes within this material world were coming from the status of ordinary human beings. If they had been bound by fruitive action, they were fully freed from the reaction of karma by constant meditation on Kṛṣṇa. Their severely painful yearnings caused by their not being able to see Kṛṣṇa freed them from all sinful reactions, and their ecstasy of transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa in His absence ended all their reactions to material pious activities. The conditioned soul is subjected to birth and death, either by pious or sinful activities, but the gopīs who began to meditate on Kṛṣṇa transcended both positions and became purified and thus elevated to the status of the gopīs already expanded by His pleasure potency.
As soon as he entered the boundary of Vṛndāvana, he saw the hoofprints of the cows and Lord Kṛṣṇa's footprints, impressed with the signs of His soles—the flag, trident, thunderbolt and lotus flower. These symbols on the soles of the Lord's transcendental lotus feet are worshiped by all the demigods and other great personalities throughout the three worlds. Upon seeing the footprints of Kṛṣṇa, Akrūra immediately jumped down from the chariot out of respect. He became overwhelmed with all the symptoms of ecstasy; he wept, and his body trembled. Out of extreme jubilation upon seeing the dust touched by the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, Akrūra fell flat on his face and began to roll on the ground.
Upon touching the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he became overwhelmed with transcendental bliss; his voice choked up, and he could not speak. Due to his transcendental pleasure, incessant torrents of tears fell from his eyes. He remained stunned in ecstasy, as if devoid of all powers to see and speak. Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is very kind to His devotees, raised Akrūra with His hand and embraced him. It appeared that Lord Kṛṣṇa was very much pleased with Akrūra. Balarāma also embraced Akrūra. Taking him by the hand, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma brought him to Their sitting room, where They offered him a very nice sitting place and water for washing his feet.
For a very long time the women of Mathurā had heard about Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and Their uncommon characteristics, and they were very much attracted and eager to see Them. Now when they actually saw Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma passing on the street and saw Them sweetly smiling, the ladies' joy reached the point of ecstasy. When they actually saw Them with their eyes, they took Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma within their hearts and began to embrace Them to their fullest desire. Their bodily hairs stood up in ecstasy. They had heard of Kṛṣṇa, but they had never seen Him, and now their longing was relieved. After going up on the roofs of the palaces of Mathurā, the ladies, their faces joyful, began to shower flowers upon Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. When the brothers were passing through the streets, all the brāhmaṇas in the neighborhood went out with sandal water and flowers and respectfully welcomed Them to the city.
All the people gathered there began to clap in great ecstasy, and no one could estimate the bounds of their pleasure. The brāhmaṇas present began to praise Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma ecstatically. Only Kaṁsa was morose; he neither clapped nor offered benediction to Kṛṣṇa. Kaṁsa resented that the trumpets and drums should be played for Kṛṣṇa's victory, and he was very sorry that the wrestlers had been killed and had fled the assembly. He therefore immediately ordered the band to stop playing and addressed his men as follows: "I order that these two sons of Vasudeva be immediately driven out of Mathurā. The cowherd boys who have come with Them should be plundered and all their riches taken away. Nanda Mahārāja should immediately be arrested and killed for his cunning behavior, and that rascal Vasudeva should also be killed without delay. Also my father, Ugrasena, who has always supported my enemies against my will, should be killed."
The demigods from the higher planetary systems showered flowers, congratulating Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Among the demigods were powerful personalities like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and all joined together in showing their jubilation over Kaṁsa's death. There were beating of drums and showering of flowers from the heavenly planets, and the wives of the demigods danced in ecstasy.
As soon as they saw Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma coming out on the street, very nicely dressed and smiling and looking at the citizens with grace, the citizens were immediately filled with loving ecstasies simply by seeing the personal presence of Mukunda. The name Mukunda refers to one who can award liberation and transcendental bliss. Kṛṣṇa's presence acted as such a vitalizing tonic that not only the younger generation but even the old men of Mathurā became fully invigorated with youthful energy and strength by regularly seeing Him.
Kṛṣṇa did not want Vṛndāvana disturbed by enemies like Dantavakra and Jarāsandha. If Kṛṣṇa were to go to Vṛndāvana, these enemies would not only attack Mathurā but would go on to Vṛndāvana, and the peaceful inhabitants of Vṛndāvana would be disturbed. Kṛṣṇa therefore decided to remain in Mathurā, and Nanda Mahārāja went back to Vṛndāvana. Although the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana felt separation from Kṛṣṇa, the resulting ecstasy (bhāva) caused them to perceive that Kṛṣṇa was always present with them by His līlā, or pastimes.
Since Kṛṣṇa had departed from Vṛndāvana and gone to Mathurā, the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, especially mother Yaśodā, Nanda Mahārāja, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the gopīs and the cowherd boys, were simply thinking of Kṛṣṇa at every step. They were thinking, "Here Kṛṣṇa was playing in this way. Here Kṛṣṇa was blowing His flute. Kṛṣṇa was joking with us in this way, and Kṛṣṇa was embracing us like this." This is called līlā-smaraṇa, and it is the process of association with Kṛṣṇa most recommended by great devotees; even Lord Caitanya, when He was at Purī, enjoyed līlā-smaraṇa association with Kṛṣṇa. Those in the most exalted position of devotional service and ecstasy can live with Kṛṣṇa always by remembering His pastimes.
When Uddhava saw Mahārāja Nanda and Yaśodā so extraordinarily overwhelmed with thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and when he experienced their extraordinary affection for Him, he also became overwhelmed and spoke as follows: "My dear mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja, you are most respectable among human beings because no one but you can meditate in such transcendental ecstasy."
These talks of Rādhārāṇī with the bumblebee messenger, including Her accusing Kṛṣṇa in so many ways and at the same time expressing Her inability to give up talking about Him, are signs of the topmost transcendental ecstasy, called mahā-bhāva. The ecstatic mahā-bhāva manifestation is possible only in the persons of Rādhārāṇī and Her associates. Great ācāryas like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have analyzed these mahā-bhāva speeches of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and described their different varieties, such as udghūrṇā, or bewilderment, and jalpa-pratijalpa, or talking in different ways. These are the signs of ujjvala-rasa, or the brightest jewel of love of God.
While Rādhārāṇī was talking with the bee and the bee was flying hither and thither, it all of a sudden disappeared from Her sight. She was in full mourning due to separation from Kṛṣṇa and felt ecstasy by talking with the bee. But as soon as the bee disappeared, She became almost mad, thinking that the messenger-bee might have returned to Kṛṣṇa to inform Him all about Her talking against Him. "Kṛṣṇa must be very sorry to hear it," She thought. In this way She was overwhelmed by another type of ecstasy.
Uddhava was standing near, and he heard Rādhārāṇī talking in this way, as if She had become almost mad for Kṛṣṇa. He was exceedingly surprised at how the gopīs were accustomed to thinking of Kṛṣṇa constantly in that topmost ecstasy of mahā-bhāva love. He had brought a message in writing from Kṛṣṇa, and now he wanted to present it before the gopīs, just to pacify them. He said, “My dear gopīs, your mission of human life is now successful. You are all wonderful devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore you are eligible to be worshiped by all kinds of people."
At this time, the earth personified appeared before Lord Kṛṣṇa and greeted Him with a Vaijayantī flower garland. She then returned the dazzling earrings of Aditi, bedecked with jewels and gold. She also returned the umbrella of Varuṇa, along with a valuable jewel, which she presented to Kṛṣṇa. After this, the earth personified offered her prayers to Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality and master of the world, who is always worshiped by exalted demigods. She fell down in obeisances and, in great devotional ecstasy, began to speak.
The audience of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is not at all commonplace. Therefore, when King Yudhiṣṭhira heard that Lord Kṛṣṇa had arrived in his capital city, Hastināpura, he became so joyful that all his bodily hairs stood on end in great ecstasy, and he immediately came out of the city to properly receive the Lord. He ordered the musical vibration of different instruments and songs, and the learned brāhmaṇas of the city began to chant the hymns of the Vedas very loudly. Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as Hṛṣīkeśa, the master of the senses, and King Yudhiṣṭhira went forward to receive Him exactly as the senses meet the consciousness of life.
The eternal form of Lord Kṛṣṇa is the everlasting residence of the goddess of fortune. As soon as King Yudhiṣṭhira embraced Him, he became free from all the contamination of material existence. He immediately felt transcendental bliss and merged in an ocean of happiness. There were tears in his eyes, and his body shook in ecstasy. He completely forgot that he was living in this material world. After this, Bhīmasena, the second brother of the Pāṇḍavas, smiled and embraced Lord Kṛṣṇa, thinking of Him as his own maternal cousin, and thus he also merged in great ecstasy. Bhīmasena was so filled with ecstasy that for the time being he forgot his material existence. Then Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself embraced the other three Pāṇḍavas, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.
Now the performance of the Rājasūya sacrifice by King Yudhiṣṭhira was almost certain. Bhīmasena, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, arrived before King Yudhiṣṭhira and offered their respects to the King. King Yudhiṣṭhira attentively heard the narration of the killing of Jarāsandha and the setting free of the kings. He also heard of the tactics adopted by Kṛṣṇa to kill Jarāsandha. The King was naturally affectionate toward Kṛṣṇa, but after hearing the story he became even more bound to Him in love; tears of ecstasy glided from his eyes, and he was so stunned that he was almost unable to speak.
King Yudhiṣṭhira felt such ecstasy by honoring Kṛṣṇa, his only lovable object, that tears glided down from his eyes, and although he wanted to see Lord Kṛṣṇa, he could not see Him very well. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was thus worshiped by King Yudhiṣṭhira, all the members present in the assembly stood up with folded hands and began to chant, "Jaya! Jaya! Namaḥ! Namaḥ!" All joined together to offer their respectful obeisances to Kṛṣṇa, and there were showers of flowers from the sky.
On hearing these statements of Mahārāja Parīkṣit's, Śukadeva Gosvāmī was overwhelmed with devotional ecstasy because of King Parīkṣit's advanced understanding of the Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was already engaged in describing the activities of the Lord, and when asked by Mahārāja Parīkṣit to describe them further, he continued to narrate Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with great pleasure.
The brāhmaṇa's wife appeared so beautiful that it seemed as if the goddess of fortune herself had come to receive him. As soon as she saw her husband present before her, tears of joy fell from her eyes, and her voice became so choked up that she could not even address her husband. She simply closed her eyes in ecstasy. But with great love and affection she bowed down before her husband, and within herself she thought of embracing him. She was fully decorated with a gold necklace and ornaments, and while standing among the maidservants she appeared like a demigod's wife just alighting from an airplane. The brāhmaṇa was surprised to see his wife so beautiful, and in great affection and without saying a word he entered the palace with her.
The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were well-wishers and intimate friends of the Yadu dynasty. This meeting of the two parties after long separation was a very touching incident. All the Yadus and the residents of Vṛndāvana felt such great pleasure in meeting and talking together that it was a unique scene. Meeting after long separation, they were all jubilant; their hearts throbbed, and their faces appeared like freshly bloomed lotus flowers. Drops of tears fell from their eyes, the hair on their bodies stood on end, and because of their extreme ecstasy, they were temporarily speechless. In other words, they dove into the ocean of happiness.
When they were embracing one another in their arms, the saffron and kuṅkuma spread on their breasts was exchanged from one person to another, and they all felt heavenly ecstasy. Due to such heart-to-heart embracing, torrents of tears glided down their cheeks. The juniors were offering obeisances to the elders, and the elders were offering their blessings to the juniors. They thus welcomed one another and asked after one another's welfare. Ultimately, however, all their talk was only of Kṛṣṇa.
They condemned Brahmā, the creator of the body, because he foolishly made eyelids which blinked and checked their seeing Kṛṣṇa. Because they had been separated from Kṛṣṇa for so many years, the gopīs, having come along with Nanda Mahārāja and mother Yaśodā, felt intense ecstasy upon seeing Kṛṣṇa. No one can even imagine how eager the gopīs were to see Kṛṣṇa again. As soon as Kṛṣṇa became visible to them, they took Him inside their hearts through their eyes and embraced Him to their full satisfaction. Even though they were embracing Kṛṣṇa only mentally, they became so ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy that for the time being they completely forgot themselves. The ecstatic trance they achieved simply by mentally embracing Kṛṣṇa is impossible to achieve even for great yogīs constantly engaged in meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa could understand that the gopīs were rapt in ecstasy by embracing Him in their minds, and therefore, since He is present in everyone's heart, He reciprocated the embracing from within.
Feeling very much obliged and wanting to receive his guests to the best of his ability, he called for nice chairs and cushions, and Lord Kṛṣṇa, along with all the sages, sat down very comfortably. At that time, King Bahulāśva's mind was very restless, not because of any problems but because of great ecstasy of love and devotion. His heart was filled with love and affection for the Lord and His associates, and his eyes were filled with tears of ecstasy. He washed the feet of his divine guests, and afterward he and his family members sprinkled the water on their own heads. After this, he offered the guests nice flower garlands, sandalwood pulp, incense, new garments, ornaments, lamps, cows and bulls. In a manner just befitting his royal position, he worshiped each one of them in this way.
For all the queens, Kṛṣṇa was their only worshipable object. They were always absorbed in thought of Kṛṣṇa, the lotus-eyed and beautifully blackish Personality of Godhead. Sometimes, in thought of Kṛṣṇa, they remained silent, and in great ecstasy of bhāva and anubhāva they sometimes spoke as if in delirium. Sometimes, even in the presence of Lord Kṛṣṇa, they vividly described the pastimes they had enjoyed in the lake or river with Him. Some of such talk is described here.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
The Supreme Lord is the embodiment of eternal bliss and is always engaged in transcendental pastimes. The only thing required to worship Him is undeviating devotion—ostentation will not please Him. Devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa does not produce hate or envy; only the agnostic reprobates are strongly opposed to the Lord's devotional service and His devotees. One derives the greatest bliss in devotional service. Indeed, when one finally obtains the Lord, it is like being drowned in an ocean of unlimited ecstasy. Only the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa can taste this ecstasy and be always joyful.
They execute this ninefold devotional service in the stage of sādhana, or practice, and feel deep satisfaction in the perfected, or siddha, stage. They become saturated with the transcendental spiritual mellows of servitorship, friendship, and so on, from which they derive divine ecstasy. Lord Kṛṣṇa grants genuine transcendental understanding, buddhi-yoga, to those devotees who experience spiritual satisfaction and divine bliss through constant devotional service; gradually their specific devotional attitude increases to the point where they can relish pure love of God.
In the stage of bhāva, or spontaneous devotional service in ecstasy, there is a direct transcendental exchange of mellows between Lord Kṛṣṇa and His pure devotee. The Supreme Lord Himself gives His devotee buddhi-yoga, or spiritual intelligence, and the devotee, acting with that intelligence, serves the Lord until he gradually approaches the Lord's supreme abode. Such a devotee can never be affected by ignorance.
The fraction can never become the whole or equal to the whole. Thus the Māyāvādīs' claim that the fraction can become the whole is mischievous, even nefarious. This is the Vedic verdict. After overcoming his conditioned state, the fractional jīva enters the spiritual sky and participates in the Supreme Lord's transcendental, eternally blissful pastimes. The jīva permanently engages in the Lord's service in one of the many spiritual mellows and enjoys divine ecstasy.
The scriptures have clearly indicated that the ecstasy of devotional service to the Supreme Lord is far superior to the bliss of impersonal liberation, brahmānanda. Indeed, the happiness of merging into the Lord's existence (sāyujya-mukti) is like a puddle of water in a calf's hoofprint compared with the ocean of bliss derived from devotional service. The devotee never prays for the jñānī's sāyujya-mukti, for it is an impossible proposition. By sāyujya-mukti the impersonalists mean relinquishing one's identity, or individuality. This is nothing less than spiritual suicide.
It is wrong to equate the position of an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa with that of a slave of māyā, the illusory potency of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, the feelings of power and pleasure gained by lording it over matter are insignificant compared to the ecstacy one feels in the Lord's service. Even the eight kinds of mystic perfections are puny compared with the bliss of being an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. And surrender is the only means to attain this state; no artificial method can be applied.
Indeed, it is only a preliminary consequence. Gradually, the knowledge that love of Godhead is the absolute necessity of life becomes clearer, the dark veil of ignorance is lifted, and one gets a glimpse of absolute knowledge. As the devotee realizes this transcendental knowledge, he feels ever-increasing spiritual ecstasy overwhelming his heart. This spiritual joy expands at every moment. Let the all-auspicious chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa be ever victorious!
Light of the Bhagavata
It is the duty of the saints and sages to enlighten the fallen souls, and reciprocally it is the duty of the householder to receive the saints and sages cordially, as the peacock dances in ecstasy at the presence of clouds in the sky. The fire of threefold miseries experienced by materialistic men can be extinguished only by the cloud of mercy of the saints and sages who can pour down the water of transcendental messages to put an end to the miseries of the householders.
Unfortunately, cheap neophytes make a show of the transcendental ecstasies of the gopīs, bringing them onto the mundane plane for perverted manifestations and thus clearing the way to hell by such unwanted caricatures. Serious students of yoga, however, practice it seriously, and thus they attain the highest perfection in bhakti-yoga, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (6.47):
- yoginām api sarveṣām
- śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
- sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
A devotee of Godhead is he who glorifies the Personality of Godhead under the dictation of transcendental ecstasy. This ecstasy is a by-product of profound love for the Supreme, which is itself attained by the process of glorification. In this age of quarrel and fighting, the process of chanting and glorification recommended here by King Kulaśekhara is the only way to attain perfection.
Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
If a person is fortunate enough to vanquish all misgivings caused by material existence and rise up to the stage of niṣṭhā, he can then rise to the stages of ruci (taste) and āsakti (attachment for the Lord). Āsakti is the beginning of love of Godhead. By progressing, one then advances to the stage of relishing a reciprocal exchange with the Lord in ecstasy (bhāva). Every living entity is eternally related to the Supreme Lord, and this relationship may be in any one of many transcendental humors. At the stage called āsakti, attachment, a person can understand his relationship with the Supreme Lord. When he understands his position, he begins reciprocating with the Lord. By constant reciprocation with the Lord, the devotee is elevated to the highest stage of love of Godhead, prema.
One who understands perfectly the process of devotional service in love of Godhead becomes intoxicated in its discharge. Sometimes he becomes stunned in ecstasy and thus enjoys his whole self, being engaged in the service of the Supreme Self.
"A person engaged in the devotional service of the Lord in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness automatically becomes carried away by ecstasy when he chants and hears the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. His heart becomes slackened while chanting the holy name, he becomes almost like a madman, and he does not care for any outward social conventions. Thus sometimes he laughs, sometimes he weeps, sometimes he cries out very loudly, sometimes he sings, and sometimes he dances and forgets himself."
Neither formal religious rituals, economic development, sense gratification, nor liberation can compare with this sweet stage of perfection of love of Kṛṣṇa, love of the Supreme Lord. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 7.97) describes this stage of ecstasy and intoxication as being far above the ecstasy of realizing oneself as Brahman, or the supreme spirit. Lord Caitanya says that the ecstasy of bhakti (love of Godhead) is so vast that it is like an ocean compared to the drop of pleasure derived from understanding oneself as one with Brahman. In all Vedic literature, the highest perfectional stage is said to be the state of intoxication of devotional service. It is not achieved by ordinary persons, the nondevotees.
In the stage of perfection, one's heart becomes slackened and one becomes more and more attached to attaining the lotus feet of the Lord. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, a great ācārya in the line of devotional service, has described this stage as follows: "Although appearing just like a madman, a person in the ecstasy of devotional service is not mad in the material conception of the term; this ecstasy is the manifestation of the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord." The Lord has various potencies, one of which is called āhlādinī-śakti, His internal pleasure potency. Only one who becomes a little conversant with this potency can taste such ecstasy. The Vedānta-sūtra (1.1.12) states, ānanda-mayo 'bhyāsāt: "By nature the Lord is always joyful." This joyfulness of the Lord is due to His pleasure potency.
One who becomes affected by the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord manifests various symptoms of ecstasy, such as slackening of the heart, laughing, crying, shivering, and dancing. These symptoms are not material. However, exhibiting such ecstatic symptoms just to get credit from the public is not approved by pure devotees. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda says, "Persons without attainment of the highest perfectional stage of loving service cannot achieve any auspiciousness simply by artificially laughing, crying, or dancing without any spiritual understanding. Artificial movement of the body... must always be rejected. One should wait for the natural sequence within devotional service, and at that time, when one cries or dances or sings, it is approved. A person artificially showing symptoms of the pleasure potency creates many disturbances in the ordinary way of life."
One who attains the perfectional stage of devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master may preach the science of devotion as Lord Caitanya did. When Lord Caitanya preached, He danced and showed other symptoms of ecstasy. Once, in Benares, a Māyāvādī sannyāsī named Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī objected to these activities. He said that since Lord Caitanya had taken sannyāsa, the renounced order of life, He should not act in such an intoxicated way.