The different stages of devotional service

Maharaja Bharata by performing his devotional service his love for Krishna increased more and more melting his heart. Maharaja Bharata was practicing regulative principles of bhakti-yoga very strictly – bathing three times a day, chanting Gayatri mantra when the sun rose, chanting the others prayers according to the time and schedule. Thus he was completely engaged. So from that regulated practice of devotional service he gradually rose to the platform of bhava or ecstatic devotional service, where he experienced parama hlada or the highest transcendental spiritual bliss; gambhira which was very deep; hrdaya-sthira situated in his heart; so much so that he was experiencing the asta sattvika bhava the eight ecstatic symptoms like standing of hair on the end romaharsana, crying, choking, and so on, choking up in the throat. So many tears were coming he couldn’t see through his eyes. So in that ecstasy sometimes he would forget the regulative practices or services to the Lord. He might forget to take a bath or may have forgotten to do something because of chanting and being so absorbed in ecstasy that he forgot the time, just being completely overwhelmed by the meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

So this of course illustrates the different stages of devotional service. We practice devotional service according to the regulative principles. We follow the regulative services – there’s the regulative service and there’s spontaneous service. Of course the principles are there in both. But one in the regulative service a person may not even have a great deal of taste. If someone in the beginning of devotional service, sometimes they say that “I am chanting, I am rising, and I am doing everything but I am still not feeling a great deal of taste.” Or sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down due to subtle attachments, due to bad association, due to offenses to Vaisnavas and the Deity. One may be doing all right starting to feel very blissful but then due to some mistakes or irregularity then again they become distraught.

H.H. Jayapataka Swami Maharaj

1984, 13th Sep, SB class @ Bhaktivedanta Manor, London, UK