One of the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa once addressed Him in this manner: "My dear Lord, although You are not a professional dancer, by Your dancing You have so astonished us that we can understand that You are personally the master of all dancing. Certainly You must have learned this dancing art directly from the goddess of love." When a devotee dances in ecstatic love, there are manifestations of symptoms which are called sāttvika. Sāttvika means that they are from the transcendental platform. They are not symptoms of material emotion; they come from the soul proper.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, Eighty-fifth Chapter, verse 38, Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells Mahārāja Parīkṣit that after surrendering everything unto the lotus feet of Vāmanadeva, Bali Mahārāja immediately caught hold of the lotus feet of the Lord and pressed them to his heart. Being overwhelmed with joy, he manifested all the symptoms of ecstatic love, with tears in his eyes and a faltering voice.
In such expressions of ecstatic love there are many other subsidiary symptoms, such as jubilation, withering, silence, disappointment, moroseness, reverence, thoughtfulness, remembrance, doubtfulness, confidence, eagerness, indifference, restlessness, impudence, shyness, inertness, illusion, madness, ghastliness, contemplation, dreaming, disease and signs of death. When a devotee meets Kṛṣṇa, there are symptoms of jubilation, pride and perseverance, and when he is feeling great separation from Kṛṣṇa, the symptoms of ghastliness, disease and signs of death become prominent.
It is stated in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Chapter, verse 5, that when Lord Kṛṣṇa returned from the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra to His home at Dvārakā, all the residents of Dvārakā began to talk with Him, as a child talks lovingly to his father after the father's return from foreign countries. This is an example of jubilation.
When Bahulāśva, the King of Mithilā, saw Kṛṣṇa at his palace, he decided to offer his respects by bowing down before Him at least a hundred times, but he was so overcome by feelings of love that after bowing down only once, he forgot his position and could not rise again.
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.