The scientific explanation of these eight symptoms is given by Rūpa Gosvāmī as follows: When the vital force of life is in contact with the earth, it is called stunning. When the same force comes into contact with water, there is the shedding of tears. When the same force comes into contact with fire, there is perspiration. When the same force comes into contact with the sky, there is complete devastation. And when that force comes into contact with the air, there is trembling, failing of the voice and standing of the hairs on the body.
These symptoms are sometimes manifested internally and sometimes externally. The pure devotee always feels such symptomatic expressions within himself, but being afraid of outsiders he does not generally manifest them externally.
The symptom of becoming stunned is caused by ecstatic tribulation, fearfulness, astonishment, lamentation and anger. This symptom is exhibited by a stoppage of talking, a stoppage of movement, a feeling of voidness and an extreme feeling of separation.
When Uddhava was describing Kṛṣṇa's pastimes to Vidura, he said, "One day the gopīs became stunned when Kṛṣṇa, in the dress of a gardening maid, entered the greenhouse and enlivened them with joking and laughter. Then when Kṛṣṇa left the greenhouse, the gopīs were seeing Kṛṣṇa so ecstatically that it was as though both their minds and eyes were following Him." These symptoms signify that although the gopīs' business was not finished, they had become stunned with ecstatic love.
Another example of being stunned took place when Kṛṣṇa was surrounded by various wrestlers in the sacrificial arena of Kaṁsa. His mother, Devakī,* then became stunned, and her eyes dried up when she saw Kṛṣṇa amongst the wrestlers.
- Devakī was the "natural" mother of Kṛṣṇa, His father being Vasudeva. In order to protect the divine baby from Devakī's brother, Kaṁsa, Vasudeva delivered Kṛṣṇa to Nānda and mother Yaśoda in Vṛndāvana, and it was there that He exhibited His childhood pastimes. At sixteen years of age He returned to Mathurā (where Devakī had given birth to Him) and vanquished Kaṁsa in the arena mentioned here. See the author's Kṛṣṇa, as well as his Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, for fuller details of these events.