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 perverted presentation of mellows.
Expert learned scholars say that laughing is generally found amongst youngsters or in the combination of old persons and young children. This ecstatic loving laughing is sometimes also found in persons who are very grave by nature. Once an old mendicant approached the door of Mother Yaśodā's house, and Kṛṣṇa told Yaśodā, "My dear Mother, I don't wish to go near this skinny villain. If I go there, he might put Me within his begging bag and take Me away from You!" In this way, the wonderful child, Kṛṣṇa, began to look at His mother, while the mendicant, who was standing in the door, tried to hide his smiling face, although he could not do so. He immediately expressed his smiling. In this instance, Kṛṣṇa Himself is the object of laughing affairs.
Once one of Kṛṣṇa's friends informed Him, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, if You will open Your mouth, then I shall give You one nice sugar candy mixed with yogurt." Kṛṣṇa immediately opened His mouth, but instead of giving Him sugar candy with yogurt, the friend dropped a flower in His mouth. After tasting this flower, Kṛṣṇa turned His mouth in a disfigured way, and upon seeing this all His friends standing there began to laugh very loudly.
Once a palmist came to the house of Nanda Mahārāj, and Nanda Mahārāj 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 Mahārāj 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.
According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī's calculation, laughter in ecstatic love can be broken down into six divisions. These divisions, according to different degrees of smiling, are called in the Sanskrit language smita, hasita, vihasita, avahasita, apahasita, and atihasita. These six classes of smiling can be classified as major and minor. The major division includes smita, hasita and vihasita smiling, and the minor division includes avahasita, apahasita and atihasita smiling.
When one is smiling but his teeth are not visible, one can distinctly mark a definite change in the eyes and in the cheeks. This is called smita smiling. Once when Kṛṣṇa was stealing yogurt, Jaratī, the headmistress of the house, could detect His activities, and she was therefore coming very hurriedly to catch Him. At that time, Kṛṣṇa became very much afraid of Jaratī and went to His elder brother Baladeva. He said, "My dear brother, I have stolen yogurt! Just see—Jaratī is coming hurriedly to catch Me!" When Kṛṣṇa was thus seeking the shelter of Baladeva because He was being chased by Jaratī, all the great sages in the heavenly planets began to smile. This smiling is called smita smiling.