In the Skanda Purāṇa a devotee tells Lord Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Lord, as the sun evaporates all the water on the ground by its scorching heat, so my mental state has dried away the luster of my face and body, due to separation from You." This is an example of withering in ecstatic love.
An expression of disappointment was made by Indra, the King of heaven. When he saw the sun-god, Indra told him, "My dear sun-god, your sunshine is very glorious because it reaches unto the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the master of the Yadu dynasty. I have thousands of eyes, but they have proved to be useless because not even for a moment are they able to see the lotus feet of the Lord."
Reverential devotion for the Lord gradually increases and transforms itself into ecstatic love, then affection and then attachment. In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Thirty-eighth Chapter, verse 6, Akrūra says, "Because I am going to see Lord Kṛṣṇa today, all symptoms of inauspiciousness have already been killed. My life is now successful, because I shall be able to offer my respects unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead!"
Another devotee in ecstatic reverential affection once said, "When will that glorious day in my life come when it will be possible for me to go to the bank of the Yamunā and see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa playing there as a cowherd boy?"
When there is no diminishing of this ecstatic love and when it is freed from all kinds of doubt, the devotee has reached the stage called steady love for Kṛṣṇa. In this stage, all expressions of unhappiness by the devotee are called anubhāva, or ecstatic loving symptoms.
The symptom of ecstatic affection with reverence felt by Bali Mahārāja was expressed as follows: "My dear Lord, You have simultaneously punished me and showed me Your causeless mercy. My conclusion is that when I have taken shelter of Your lotus feet I shall never be disturbed in any condition of life. Whether You give me the opportunity to enjoy all the yogic perfections or You put me into the most abominable condition of hellish life, I shall never be disturbed."
Kṛṣṇa Himself, after seeing Bali Mahārāja, told Uddhava, "My dear friend, how can I express the glorious characteristics of Bali Mahārāja, the son of Virocana? Although the King of the suras (demigods) was cursed by this son of Virocana, and although I cheated him in My incarnation as Vāmana, taking away his dominions throughout the universe, and although I still criticized him for not fulfilling his promise, I have just now seen him in his kingdom, and he feelingly expressed his love for Me."*
When such a feeling of love becomes intensified, it is called affection. In that affectional stage, one cannot bear separation from Kṛṣṇa even for a moment.
One devotee told Dāruka, the servant of Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Dāruka, when you become like wood because of your separation from Kṛṣṇa, it is not so wonderful. Whenever any devotee sees Kṛṣṇa, his eyes become filled with water, and in separation any devotee like you would become stunned, standing just like a wooden doll. That is not a very wonderful thing."
There is a statement about Uddhava's symptoms of love. When he saw Lord Kṛṣṇa his eyes filled with tears and created a river which flowed down toward the sea of Kṛṣṇa to offer tribute, as a wife offers tribute to her husband. When his body erupted with goose pimples, he appeared like the kadamba flower, and when he began to offer prayers, he appeared completely distinct from all other devotees.
When affection is symptomized by direct happiness and distress, it is called attraction. In such an attracted state of ecstatic love, one can face all kinds of disadvantages calmly. Even at the risk of death such a devotee is never bereft of the transcendental loving service of the Lord. A glorious example of this ecstatic love was exhibited by King Parīkṣit when he was at the point of death. Although he was bereft of his entire kingdom, which spread over all the world, and although he was accepting not even a drop of water in the seven days remaining to him, because he was engaged in hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord from Śukadeva Gosvāmī he was not in the least distressed. On the contrary, he was feeling direct transcendental ecstatic joy in association with Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
One devotee has confidently expressed this opinion: "If a drop of Lord Kṛṣṇa's mercy can be bestowed upon me, then I shall feel completely carefree, even in the midst of a fire or an ocean. But if I become bereft of His causeless mercy, then even if I became the King of Dvārakā, I would be simply an object for pinpricks."
Devotees such as Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Uddhava are all situated in ecstatic attraction on the basis of affection, and in that state of affection a feeling of friendship becomes manifest. When Uddhava was freed from all material contamination, he saw the Lord, and his throat became choked up, and he could not speak. By the movements of his eyebrows alone he was embracing the Lord. Such ecstatic love has been divided by great scholars into two groups - addition and subtraction. If a devotee is not directly associated with the Lord, it is called subtraction. In this state of love, one is constantly fixed with his mind at the lotus feet of the Lord. A devotee in this state becomes very eager to learn of the transcendental qualities of the Lord. The most important business of such a devotee is attaining the association of the Lord.
In the Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa there is a statement about King Ikṣvāku which illustrates this state of ecstatic love. Because of his great affection for Kṛṣṇa, King Ikṣvāku became greatly attached to the black cloud, the black deer, the deer's black eyes and the lotus flower, which is always compared to the eyes of the Lord. In the Tenth Canto, Thirty-eighth Chapter, verse 10, of the Bhāgavatam, Akrūra thinks, "Since the Lord has now appeared to diminish the great burden of the world and is now visible to everyone's eyes in His personal transcendental body, when we see Him before us, is that not the ultimate perfection of our eyes?" In other words, Akrūra realized that the perfection of the eyes is fulfilled when one is able to see Lord Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, when Lord Kṛṣṇa was visible on the earth by direct appearance, everyone who saw Him surely attained perfection of sight.
In the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, written by Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, there is this expression of eagerness in ecstatic love: "How miserable it is, my dear Kṛṣṇa, O friend of the hopeless! O merciful Lord, how can I pass these thankless days without seeing You?" A similar sentiment was expressed by Uddhava when he wrote a letter to Kṛṣṇa and said, "My dear Supreme King of Vraja, You are the vision of nectar for the eyes, and without seeing Your lotus feet and the effulgence of Your body, my mind is always morose. I cannot perceive any peace under any circumstance. Besides that, I am feeling every moment's separation to be like the duration of many, many long years."