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NoD 34: The Nectar of Devotion

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.

Whenever there is a recitation of poetry or a dramatic play on the different pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, the audience develops different kinds of transcendental loving service for the Lord. They enjoy different types of vibhāva, anubhāva and sañcāri-bhāva.

No one, while remaining on the material platform, should discuss these different descriptions of bhāva and anubhāva by quoting different statements of transcendental literatures. Such manifestations are displays of the transcendental pleasure potency of the Lord. One should simply try to understand that on the spiritual platform there are many varieties of reciprocal love. Such loving exchanges should never be considered to be material. In the Mahābhārata, Udyama-parva, it is warned that things which are inconceivable should not be subjected to arguments. Actually, the transactions of the spiritual world are inconceivable to us in our present state of life. Great liberated souls like Rūpa Gosvāmī and others have tried to give us some hints of transcendental activities in the spiritual world, but on the whole these transactions will remain inconceivable to us at the present moment. Understanding the exchanges of transcendental loving service with Kṛṣṇa is possible only when one is actually in touch with the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord.

In this connection Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī gives an example of the clouds in the sky. The clouds in the sky arise from the ocean, and when the clouds become water again and fall to the ground, they glide back to the ocean. Thus the pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa is compared to the ocean. The pure devotee is the pleasure-possessing cloud, and when he is filled with transcendental loving service, then he can bestow his mercy as a downpour of rain—and the pleasure potency returns to the ocean of Kṛṣṇa.

Direct and Indirect Attraction for Kṛṣṇa

Transcendental pleasure derived from devotional service can be divided into two groups: direct devotional service and indirect devotional service. Direct devotional service is divided into five transcendental humors or flavors, and indirect devotional service is divided into seven transcendental humors. Direct devotional services are as follows: neutrality, servitude, fraternity, paternity and conjugal love. Indirect devotional service is divided into laughter, compassion, anger, chivalry, dread, astonishment and ghastliness. Devotional service can therefore be divided into twelve types, each of which has a different color. The colors are white, multicolored, orange, red, light green, gray, yellow, off-whitish, smoky, pink, black and cloudy. The twelve different kinds of transcendental humors are controlled by different incarnations of God, such as Kapila, Mādhava, Upendra, Nṛsiṁha, Nanda-nandana, Balarāma, Kūrma, Kalki, Rāghava, Bhārgava, Varāha and Matsya.

Sustenance, manifestation, expansion, reflection and lamentation are the five visible symptoms in exchanges of ecstatic love. The test of devotional service can therefore be made in terms of these five symptoms. In the devotional service of neutrality there is sustenance, in chivalrous devotional service there is expansion, in compassionate devotional service there is reflection, in angry devotional service there is lamentation, and so on.

An apparently pitiable condition in devotional service may appear distressing to the inexperienced student, but the feelings of the devotee in this pitiable condition are considered to be ecstatic by expert devotees. For example, the subject matter of the Rāmāyaṇa is sometimes considered pitiable and distressing to the heart, but actually that is not the fact. The Rāmāyaṇa narrates how Lord Rāma was sent to the forest by His father just when He was going to be enthroned. After Lord Rāma's departure, Mahārāja Daśaratha, His father, died. In the forest His wife, Sītādevī, was kidnapped by Rāvaṇa, and there was a great war. When Sītādevī was finally delivered from the clutches of Rāvaṇa, Rāvaṇa's whole family and kingdom, and Rāvaṇa himself, were vanquished. When Sītādevī came home she was tried by fire, and after some days she was again banished to the forest. All of these subjects in the Rāmāyaṇa seem very pitiable, and they may appear very distressing to the reciter, but actually they are not. Otherwise, why would Hanumān, the great devotee of Lord Rāmacandra, read daily about the activities of Lord Rāmacandra, as described in the Rāmāyaṇa itself? The fact is that in any of the above-mentioned twelve transcendental humors of devotional service, everything is transcendentally pleasing.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī mourns in this connection for persons who are in the fire of false renunciation, the dry speculative habit, and who neglect devotional service. Persons who are attached to the ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas and to the impersonal Brahman cannot relish the transcendental pleasure of devotional service. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī advises, therefore, that devotees who have already tasted the nectar of devotion be very careful to protect devotional service from such dry speculators, formal ritualistic elevationists and impersonal salvationists. Devotees should protect their valuable jewel of spiritual love from the clutches of thieves and burglars. In other words, a pure devotee should not describe devotional service and its different analytical aspects to dry speculators and false renouncers.

Those who are not devotees can never achieve the benefits of devotional service. For them the subject of devotional service is always very difficult to understand. Only persons who have dedicated their lives unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can relish the real nectar of devotion.

When one transcends the status of ecstatic love and thus becomes situated on the highest platform of pure goodness, one is understood to have cleansed the heart of all material contamination. In that pure stage of life, one can taste this nectar, and this tasting capacity is technically called rasa, or transcendental mood.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta summary study of the second division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in the matter of general devotional service.