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7. The Seventh Shower of Nectar
Strong attachment (asakti) is gradually transformed into bhava, or spontaneous spiritual emotion. Bhava later climaxes into rati, or the first stirrings of divine love. Eternality, absolute knowledge, and divine bliss (sat, cit, ananda) are emanations of the original state of consciousness, or the svarupa. Bhava is the budding blossom of these three energies: sat, cit, and ananda. Bhava has also been described as the gleaming blossoms of the creeper of devotion.
The external splendour bhava exhibits is factually unattainable for the average person, and its internal grandeur makes the revered status of liberation insignificant. In truth, even a minute fraction of the splendour of bhava can thoroughly dispel any trace of ignorance in the human consciousness.
The sweet, far-reaching fragrance of the blossoms of bhava sends enchanting invitations to the Supreme Lord, gently inducing Him to appear in person before His devotee. Furthermore, when the soul's natural sentiments are even faintly scented by bhava, they melt and flow unrestrained toward the Supreme Lord, bathing His divine form with love. As soon as bhava appears in the devotee's heart it elevates him to a high podium of spiritual communion. Even if he happens to be born in a family of candalas, or dog-eaters, he is indeed to be revered even by brahmanas, the priestly class.
The Magnificient Symtnptoms of Bhava
The symptoms that embellish the sublime sentiments of bhava are magnificent: The devotee's eyes are constantly inebriated from seeing the beauty of Vrajendra-Nandana Krishna-His complexion the colour of a monsoon cloud; His pinkish lips, His compassionate eyes; the brilliance of His perfect moonlike face with its innocent, gentle smile; and His shining yellow dress and radiantjewels. The devotee's voice chokes up as he perceives the beauty of His Lord and tears flow incessantly' saturating his body. His eager ears strain to hear the haunting melody of Krishna's flute, His captivating honeyed voice; they strain to hear all the instructions on serving and worshipping His lotus feet. The devotee experiencing bhava-bhakti restlessly moves about trying to collect any information about his beloved Lord and how to serve Him. The bhava-bhakta sometimes pauses in one spot, rooted to the ground as if he is trying to hear a faint voice, moving his head in different directions in order to hear better.
Bhava is self-willed and moves on it's own volition. The actions of a devotee in bhava are unpredictable-he may suddenly try to Imagine how it feels to be touched by the tender palms of the Lord, and when all the hairs of his body stand on end, it appears as if it is actually happening to him: On other occasions the devotee's nostrils flare from inhaling deeply the sweet lingering aroma of the Lord's transcendental body, sending him into raptures. Sometimes he thinks, “Shall I ever be fortunate enough to relish the ambrosia issuing from Krishna's sublime lips?” Immediately he begins to lick his own lips as if his tastebuds have been given a magnificent treat only his cherished dream could fulfill. Again at times such a devotee experiences waves of pleasure transmitted from the Lord, the reservoir of all pleasures, and an ineffable joy envelops his heart, making him feel the same as when he sees the Lord face-to-face. In this way he becomes absorbed in the bliss of pure Krishna consciousness.
Occasionally these ecstatic feelings disappear, and the devotee plunges into a sea of deep despair and gloom. In this condition he nevertheless decorates his heart with sancari-bhava [one of the four kinds of bhava], thus reviving with renewed impetus his beleaguered spiritual sentiments.
In bhava-bhakti, the devotee focuses his mind with unwavering attention on the Supreme Lord. In sleeping, waking, or dreaming he always remembers Krishna. With incessant and intense desire to properly serve the Lord, the devotee in bhava discovers his original spiritual form. Naturally and perfectly gliding into that form, he more or less discards his sadhaka tabernacle. Now his sentiments, his entire being, yearns to be transformed into a bumble-bee humming and searching for honey around the lotuslike feet of the Supreme Lord. The devotee at this stage has acquired a priceless treasure trove, but he hides his wealth like a miser-his spiritual sentiments of bhava-and displays only abject poverty. Ordinary people are unable to appreciate the value of riches such as qualities of austerity, tolerance, and forgiveness in a person, whereas wise saints shower laurels on him. A nondevotee considers pure devotees like these to be either scatter-brained or mad.
This bhava is of two kinds: raga-bhakti-uttha (springing from spontaneous devotional service) and vaidha-bhakti-uttha (springing from regulated devotional service). A devotee displaying the first kind of bhava (raga-bhakti-uttha) denounces worship in awe and reverence because he shies away from any awareness of position (jati) and scriptural knowledge and edicts (pramana). One relates to the Lord more or less on equal terms, thus lending depth and weight to this particular bhava.
The second kind lacks the intensity of the jati and pramana sentiment, and therefore bhava becomes influenced by the opulence of the Lord, thus reducing its weight and depth. Hence these two varieties of bhava are relished by its two kinds of devotees respectively in hearts laden with transcendental desires to serve, in two different ways.
Rasa—Spiritual Taste in Bhava
Now we shall discuss the different ways of relishing that rasa. Sweetness is present in different foods in varying degrees. Jackfruit is sweeter than mango, sugarcane sweeter than jackfruit, and raisins sweeter than the rest. Similarly, the different devotees relish varying intensities of bhava according to their taste, and this produces five variations: santa (neutral); dasya (servitude); sakhya (friendship); vatsalya (parental); and madhurya (conjugal). Bhava is thus displayed as serenity in a santa-bhakta, as affection in a dasya-bhakta, as camaraderie in a sakhya-bhakta, as filial love in a vatsalya-bhakta, and as conjugal love in a madhura-bhakta.
These five kinds of rasa, according to their will, modify themselves as vibhava, anubhava, and vyabhicari-bhava. Then sthayi-bhava, the reigning king of bhava, surrounded by his subjects, the other bhavas, and in alliance with them, is transformed into the five rasas: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya. In other words bhava becomes metamorphosed into rasa. The following quotation from the Vedas lends authority to this, 'The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the embodiment of rasa, and the jiva exults upon receiving it.”
Another truth arises from this quotation: For the many different bodies of water-ponds, lakes, streams, rivers-the ocean is their final destination and shelter. By the same token, the many incarnations of the Supreme Lord all display that rasa, but Lord Krishna, the source of all incarnations, like the ocean is the only paramount emblem of that rasa. The initial transformations of bhava reveal the Supreme Lord to the devotee, and later in prema the rasika devotee directly perceives Him as the absolute personification of the divine rasa.