I - 3 Devotional Service in Ecstasy


Third Wave: Devotional Service in Ecstasy


atha bhāvaḥ —
śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā prema-sūryāṃśu-sāmya-bhāk |
rucibhiś citta-māsṛṇya-kṛd asau bhāva ucyate ||1.3.1||

Bhāva-bhakti is that part of bhakti whose essence is saṃvit- and hlādinī-śakti, that is one ray of the sun of prema soon to rise in the heart, and that softens the heart with desires to meet, serve and exchange love with the Lord.”


In a Tantra it is said:
“The preliminary stage of premais called bhāva. There are a few sāttvika-bhāvas such as tears in the eyes and hairs standing on end.”


An example of sāttvika-bhāvas appearing at this stage, from Padma Purāṇa:
“Continually meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord, Ambarīṣa developed slight transformations of heart and tears in his eyes.”


“Appearing in the mental functions, bhāva becomes the mental state itself. Though bhāva is self-revealing, it appears to become manifest by the mind. Though in its essential nature it is taste itself, it also acts as a cause of tasting the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, His associates, His form and His qualities.”


Bhāva appears in very fortunate persons in two ways: by absorption in sādhana, or by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee. Its appearance by sādhana is normal; its appearance by mercy is rare.”


“First bhāva arising from sādhana will be discussed. Bhāva arising from sādhana is of two types: arising from vaidhī-sādhana and arising from rāgānuga-sādhana. Steady absorption in sādhana (niṣṭhā) produces taste (ruci), then attachment (āsakti), and then rati or bhāva for the Lord.”

||1.3.9 ||

Bhāva arising from vaidhī-bhakti-sādhana is illustrated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.5.26]:
“O Vyāsadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedāntists, I could hear them describe the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa. These became very attractive (ruci), my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step. Thus listening attentively (āsakti), rati for the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared.”


“The word rati in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam indicates bhāva, not prema, because two verses later the appearance of prema is indicated with the words, ‘My (prema)-bhakti then appeared.’ ”

||1.3.11 ||

It is also said in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.5.28]:
“Thus during two seasons—the rainy season and autumn—I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of Lord Hari. As the flow of my (prema)-bhakti appeared, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished.”

||1.3.12 ||

There is a similar usage of the word bhakti in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [3.25.25]:
“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually develops faith, rati and prema for Kṛṣṇa.”

||1.3.13 ||

“In the Purāṇas and Nātya-śāstra, rati and bhāva have the same meaning. Thus they will have the same meaning in this work also.”

||1.3.14 ||

Bhāva arising from rāgānuga-sādhana is described in the Padma Purāṇa:
“A young girl, having great joy in her heart and being very enthusiastic to dance, danced all night to please the Lord.”


“Now, bhāva arising from the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee is defined: Bhāva that appears suddenly without performance of sādhana is known as bhāva arising from the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee.”


Bhāva arising from Kṛṣṇa’s mercy is now considered. This mercy arises from the words of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, or just appears in the heart.”


Verbal mercy is shown in the Nāradīya Purāṇa:
“O best of the brāhmaṇas, may you have undeviating bhakti (bhāva) for Me. That bhakti is the crest jewel of all auspiciousness and is full of eternal bliss.”


Giving mercy by showing Himself is illustrated in the Skanda Purāṇa:
“When they saw Kṛṣṇa, who appeared like nothing they had seen before, the hearts of the residents of Jāṅgala melted and they could not take their eyes away from His form.”

||1.3.19 ||

“The definition of hārda is given: Mercy that arises from within is called hārda.”


Thus it is said in the Śuka-saṃhīta:
“O Bādarāyaṇa, you have given birth to a great devotee as your son. Without sādhana, which brings about the goal, viṣṇu-bhakti has appeared within his heart.”

||1.3.21 ||

Bhāva arising from the devotee’s mercy is described in the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [7.4.36]:
“Who could list the innumerable transcendental qualities of Prahlāda Mahārāja? He had unflinching faith in Vāsudeva, Lord Kṛṣṇa, and unalloyed devotion to Him. His rati to Lord Kṛṣṇa was naisargikī, through mercy. Although his good qualities cannot be enumerated, they prove that he was a great soul [mahātmā].”

||1.3.22 ||

“Favor or nisarga was granted to Prahlāda by Nārada and this created devotional impressions. Thus his rati is called naisargikī (through mercy).”

||1.3.23 ||

Bhāva arising out of a devotee’s mercy has also been explained in the Skanda Purāṇa:
“O Nārada, you are noble. By your mercy the hunter, though low in nature, immediately developed goosebumps and attained rati for Lord Acyuta.”

||1.3.24 ||

“According to the different types of devotees with five different sthāyi-bhāvas, there are five different types of rati. These will be considered and explained later, and thus will not be discussed here.”


“The anubhāvas or characteristics of a person who has developed the bud of bhāva are as follows: tolerance, not wasting time, detachment from enjoyment, pridelessness, confidence in the Lord’s mercy, longing for the Lord, taste for chanting the Lord’s Holy Name, attachment to discussing the Lord’s transcendental qualities, and attachment to living in the abode of the Lord.”


“Tolerance is defined as follows: being undisturbed, even when there is cause for disturbance.”


Tolerance of the bhāva-bhakta is illustrated in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.19.15]:
“O brāhmaṇas, just accept me as a completely surrendered soul, and let mother Ganges, the representative of the Lord, also accept me in that way, for I have already taken the lotus feet of the Lord into my heart. Let the snake-bird, or whatever magical thing the brāhmaṇa created, bite me at once. I only desire that you all continue singing the deeds of Lord Viṣṇu.”

||1.3.29 ||

Not wasting time is illustrated in Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya:
“The devotees continually praise the Lord with words, remember Him with their minds and offer respects with their bodies. Still they are not satisfied, With tears flowing from their eyes, they offer their complete lives to the Lord.”


“Detachment is defined as follows: having a natural distaste for the objects of the senses.”

||1.3.31 ||

Detachment is illustrated in the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [5.14.43]:
“While in the prime of life, the great Mahārāja Bharata gave up everything because he was fond of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Uttamaśloka. He gave up his beautiful wife, nice children, great friends and an enormous empire. Although these things were very difficult to give up, Mahārāja Bharata was so exalted that he gave them up just as one gives up stool after evacuating. Such was the greatness of His Majesty.”

||1.3.32 ||

“Pridelessness is defined as follows: despite having a high position, remaining humble.”

||1.3.33 ||

Pridelessness is illustrated in Padma Purāṇa:
“King Bhagirātha, though the crest jewel among kings, went out begging at the house of his enemies and offered respects to the dog-eaters, because he had rati for the Lord.”

||1.3.34 ||

“Confidence is defined as follows: firm assumption that one will attain the Lord.”


An example of confidence is the following statement of Sanātana Gosvāmī:
“I do not have prema or the practices of hearing and chanting in bhakti. I have no practice of meditation on Viṣṇu in the aṣtāṅga-yoga process, nor do I have practices of jñāna or varṇāśrama duties. I do not even have the good birth to execute these processes properly. But since You are most merciful to the least qualified, O dear Lover of the gopīs, though I have impure desires, my aspiration for You continues to agitate me.”


“Longing is now defined: longing means to have intense greed for attaining service to the Lord.”


An example of longing for the Lord is given in the Kṛṣṇa-Karṇāmṛta:
“I long to see that young Kṛṣṇa who enchants the universe with His curved black eyebrows, thick eyelashes, with His attractive, shifty eyes, with His soft words that melt the heart, with His sweet red lips, and with the intoxicating sound emanating from the clear notes of His flute.”


Taste for chanting the Holy Name of the Lord is illustrated as follows:
“O Govinda! Today the young girl with the sweet voice, whose lotus eyes are streaming with tears of honey, is singing Your names.”

||1.3.39 ||

Attachment to discussing the Lord’s qualities is described in Kṛṣṇa-Karṇāmṛta [88]:
“That youthful Kṛṣṇa, with the qualities of Cupid, who is extremely sweet and extremely fickle, has stolen my heart. What should I do?”


An example of attachment for the abode of the Lord is found in the Padyāvalī [121]:
“Nanda’s house was here. This is where Kṛṣṇa broke the cart. Here is where Dāmodara, who cuts material bondage, was tied up by ropes. When will I be fortunate enough to wander about in Mathurā with tears streaming from my eyes, drinking such streams of nectar flowing from the mouth of an elder of Mathurā?”

||1.3.41 ||

“However it should be said: if softness of the heart, the symptom of rati, becomes clearly visible in persons desiring liberation, or in other unqualified persons, then it is not real rati.”

||1.3.42 ||||1.3.43 ||

“How can rati appear in persons having desires for enjoyment or liberation? Those persons do not perform pure bhakti. Ratiis sought out by those liberated from all desires and it is not given by Kṛṣṇa immediately even to the devotees, since it is most secret.”

||1.3.44 ||||1.3.45||

“Though this semblance of rati is very astonishing to the innocent, those in knowledge understand what it really is by seeing the characteristics [of the person displaying so-called rati]. This is called ratyābhāsa, a semblance of rati. This semblance of rati has two types: reflection (pratibimba) and splendor (chāyā).”


Pratibimba or reflection is described as follows: When there are apparent qualities of rati accompanied by desires for enjoyment or liberation, it is called pratibimba (reflected) ratyābhāsa. This pratibimba ratyābhāsa awards the goals of enjoyment and liberation to those persons without their having to exert effort.”


“The reflection of the moon of bhāva appears in the hearts of some persons who are attached to enjoyment or liberation, but who become somewhat satisfied by following the aṅgas of bhakti through occasional association with real devotees. That moon of bhāva is situated in the sky of the real devotee’s heart, and it appears as a reflection in the nondevotee for some time by its impressions.”

||1.3.49 ||

Chāyā-ratyābhāsa is now described: That which has some similarity to real rati, which possesses a small amount of interest in the Lord, which is unstable and which destroys suffering, is said to be chāyā-ratyābhāsa.”

||1.3.50||||1.3.51 ||

Chāyā ratyābhāsa appears sometimes even in ignorant people by a combination of performing actions dear to the Lord, observing the festivals of the Lord, residing in the dhāma of the Lord and associating with the devotees of the Lord. Even this chāyā-ratyābhāsa, which eventually bestows auspiciousness to these people, appears only with great good fortune.”

||1.3.52 ||||1.3.53 ||

“By the great mercy of a dear devotee of the Lord, the semblance of bhāva suddenly becomes real bhāva. By offending that devotee, even the best bhāvābhāsa gradually wanes, just as the full moon in the sky gradually wanes.”

||1.3.54 ||

“Moreover, it should be stated: By an offense against the dearest devotee of the Lord, if the offense is grave, even real bhāva will be destroyed. If the offense is medium, the bhāva will turn into bhāvābhāsa. If the offense is slight, the bhāva will become an inferior type.”


“By intimate association with a person who strongly desires impersonal liberation, real bhāva becomes bhāvābhāsa, or becomes worship of the self as the Lord.”


“It is seen sometimes that new devotees, absorbed in the goals of different types of liberation, identify themselves with the Lord momentarily, during dancing or other acts of devotion.”


Bhāva sometimes suddenly appears in a person without knowledge of sādhana or mercy, and without scriptural knowledge. It should be inferred that in a previous life, some obstacle interrupted that person’s skillful sādhana, and in this life the obstacle has finally been removed.”


“That bhāva which is more amazing than anything in this world, which gives all powers and which is very deep, is caused by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa.”

||1.3.59 ||

“If some apparent fault is seen in a person who has developed real bhāva, one should not be hostile toward him, because he has accomplished the goal in all respects.”


Thus it is said in the Narasiṃha Purāṇa:
“A person who is dedicated completely to the Lord may show, externally, serious contamination, but internally he is pure. The full moon, though marked by the figure of a rabbit, is never overcome by darkness.”

ratir aniśa-nisargoṣṇa-prabalatarānanda-pūra-rūpaiva |
uṣmāṇam api vamantī sudhāṃśu-koṭer api svādvī ||1.3.61 ||

Rati is naturally and eternally unstable because of its continuous, ever-increasing desires for pleasing the Lord, and it is full of bliss. Manifesting this instability in the form of a variety of sañcāri-bhāvas, it is tastier than millions of moons.”

iti śrī-śrī bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhau
purva-vibhāge bhāva-bhakti-laharī tṛtīyā ||

“Thus ends the Third Wave in the Eastern Ocean of Śrī Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-sindhu, concerning bhāva-bhakti.”