To clarify, in the previous chapters, the symptoms of devotional service were explained along with instructions as to how they can be executed with our present senses, gradually rising to the platform of ecstasy of 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. This stage of appreciation becomes the cause of future exchanges of loving affairs with Kṛṣṇa.
Elevation to this stage of ecstasy can be possible in two ways. One way is 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. In special cases, of course, there is special favor from Kṛṣṇa, and although we should always expect that, we should not sit idly and simply wait for Kṛṣṇa's special mercy; the regular duties must be performed. It is just as when, sometimes, it is found that a person who never attended school or college may be recognized as a great scholar, or an honorary degree from great universities may be offered to him. But this does not mean that one should avoid school and expect to automatically receive an honorary degree from some university. Similarly, one should devoutly execute the regulative principles of devotional service and at the same time hope for Kṛṣṇa's favor or for His devotee's favor.
An example of rising to the stage of ecstatic love by executing the regulative principles of devotional service is given in the life story of Nārada, which is described to Vyāsadeva in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Nārada tells there of his previous life and how he developed to the stage of ecstatic love. He was engaged in the service of great devotees and used to hear their talks and songs. Because he had the opportunity to hear these pastimes and songs of Kṛṣṇa from the mouths of pure devotees, he became very attracted within his heart. Because he had become so eager to hear these topics, he gradually developed within himself an ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa. This ecstatic love is prior to the pure love of Kṛṣṇa, because in the next verse Nārada confirms that by the gradual process of hearing from the great sages he developed love of Godhead. In that connection, Nārada continues to say in the First Canto, 5th Chapter, 28th verse, of the Bhāgavatam: "First I passed my days in the association of the great sages during the rainy autumn season. Every morning and evening I heard them while they were singing and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and thus gradually my heart became purified. As soon as I heard them with great attention, the influence of the modes of material ignorance and passion disappeared, and I became firmly fixed in devotional service to the Lord."