Lord Caitanya, describing the symptoms of a person who has developed from faith to the stage of bhāva, states that such a person is never agitated even if there are causes for agitation. Nor does such a person waste his time even for a moment; he is always anxious to do something for Kṛṣṇa. Even if he has no engagement, he will find some work to do for Kṛṣṇa's satisfaction. Nor does such a person like anything which is not connected with Kṛṣṇa. Although he is situated in the best position, he does not hanker after honor or personal respect. He is confident in his work, and he is never under the impression that he is not making progress toward the supreme goal of life-going back to Godhead. Since he is fully convinced of his progress, he is always confident and keeps himself busy to achieve the highest goal. He is very much attached to gratifying the Lord and in chanting or hearing about the Lord, and he is always attached to describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord. He also prefers to live in holy places like Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā. Such characteristics are visible in one who has developed to the stage of bhāva.
King Parīkṣit affords a good example of bhāva. When sitting on the banks of the Ganges waiting to meet his death, he said: "All the brāhmaṇas present here, as well as Mother Ganges, should know that I am a soul completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. I do not mind if I am immediately bitten by the snake sent by the brāhmaṇa boy's curse. Let the snake bite me as it likes. I shall be pleased if all of you present here will go on chanting the message of Kṛṣṇa." Such a devotee is always anxious to see that his time is not wasted in anything which is not connected with Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he does not like the benefits derived from fruitive activity, yogic meditation or the cultivation of knowledge. His attachment is to discourses which are favorably related to Kṛṣṇa. Such pure devotees of the Lord always pray to the Supreme Lord with tears in their eyes; their minds are always engaged in recollecting the activities of the Lord, and their bodies are always engaged in offering obeisances. In this way they are satisfied. Any devotee who is acting in devotional service dedicates his life and body for the purpose of the Lord.
King Bharata—after whom India is called Bhārata-varṣa—was also a pure devotee, and at an early age he left his household life, his devoted beautiful wife, his son, friends and kingdom just as if they were stool. This is typical of a person who has developed bhāva in devotional service. Such a person thinks of himself as the most wretched, and his only satisfaction is in thinking that some day or other Kṛṣṇa will be kind enough to favor him by engaging him in devotional service. In the Padma Purāṇa another instance of pure devotion is found. There it is recorded that the king, although the most elevated of human beings, was begging from door to door and was even praying to the caṇḍālas, the lowest members of human society.
It was Sanātana Gosvāmī who later composed this verse:
- na premā śravaṇādi-bhaktir api vā yogo 'thavā vaiṣṇavo
- jñānaṁ vā śubha-karma vā kiyad aho saj-jātir apy asti vā
- hīnārthādhika-sādhake tvayi tathāpy acchedya-mūlā satī
- he gopījanavallabha vyathayate hā hā madāśaiva mām
"I am poor in love of Godhead, and I have no asset for hearing about devotional service. Nor do I have any understanding of the science of devotional service, nor any cultivation of knowledge, nor any righteous activities to my credit. I am not even born in a high family. Nonetheless, O darling of the damsels of Vraja, I still maintain hopes of achieving You, and these hopes are always disturbing me." Such a devotee, being touched deeply by such strong desires, always chants Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
In this regard, the following verse by Bilvamaṅgala appears in the kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta (32):
- tvac chaiśavaṁ tri-bhuvanādbhutam ity avehi
- mac cāpalaṁ ca tava vā mama vādhigamyam
- tat kiṁ karomi viralaṁ muralīvilāsi
- mugdhaḥ mukhāmbujam udīkṣitum īkṣaṇābhyām
"O Kṛṣṇa, O wonderful flute player, the beauty of Your boyhood activities is very wonderful in this world. You know the agitation of my mind, and I know what You are. No one knows how confidential our relationship is. Although my eyes are anxious to see You and Your face, I cannot see You. Please let me know what I shall do." A similar passage appears in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.3.38) in which Rūpa Gosvāmī states:
- dṛgindīvarādya govinda
- tava madhura-svara-kaṇṭhī
- gāyati nāmāvalīṁ bālā
"O Govinda! This young girl with tears in her eyes is crying in a sweet voice, chanting Your glories." Such pure devotees are always anxious to describe the glories of Kṛṣṇa and to live in a place where He exhibited His pastimes. A similar verse appears again in kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta (92): "The body of Kṛṣṇa is so nice, and His face is so beautiful. Everything about Him is sweet and fragrant." And in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.156): "O lotus-eyed one, when will I be able to always chant Your holy name, and being inspired by that chanting, when will I be able to dance on the banks of the Yamunā?"
All these descriptions of the bhāva stage of devotional service were quoted by Lord Caitanya to Sanātana Gosvāmī. Lord Caitanya next proceeded to describe the symptoms of actual love for Kṛṣṇa. He informed Sanātana Gosvāmī that no one can understand the person who has developed love of Kṛṣṇa. No one can understand his words, his activities or his symptoms. Even if one is very learned, it is very difficult for him to understand a pure devotee who is in love with the Lord. This is also confirmed in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.
A person engaged in devotional service becomes heartsick when singing the glories of the Supreme Lord. Because the Lord is very dear to him, when he glorifies the Lord's name, fame and so on, he becomes almost like an insane man, and in that condition he sometimes laughs, sometimes cries and sometimes dances. He continues in this way without even considering his situation. By gradually developing his love of Godhead, he increases his affection, his emotion and his ecstasy. Such attachment, mahābhāva, is the highest stage of devotional love. It may be likened to sugar candy, which is the most powerful form of sugar. Love of Godhead can gradually develop in such a way that transcendental pleasure is increased to the highest stage for the real devotee.