The real meaning of BHAVA, or "BHAV", as in "be in the bhav!"
September 26, 2014
A popular "slang phrase" being widely used mostly by the yoga kirtan community, may be uttered innocently, but the real meaning of "be in the bhav" carries an extremely deep import and meaning, than practically anyone today has the qualifications to even talk about, at least according the devotional Vedic literatures.
The real meaning of BHAVA, is pure love for God, without a "tinge" of material desire. Pure love of Godhead, means to offer uninterrupted devotional service to the Supreme Lord without any motivation. Anyabilasita sunyam, jnana karma anavritam. In the bhava stage of spiritual advancement, one does not want karma (fruitive actities and their rewards), jnana (the speculative process of knowledge of the Absolute), or yoga (mystic powers), but only wants to engage in loving service to the Supreme.
Srila Prabhupada, a bhakti-yoga acharya or teacher, quotes Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who summarizes this growth of love of Godhead as a gradual process:
"A person becomes interested in devotional service by some good fortune. Eventually he becomes interested in pure devotional service without material contamination. At that point, a person wants to associate with devotees. As a result of this association, he becomes more and more interested in discharging devotional service and hearing and chanting. The more one is interested in hearing and chanting, the more he is purified of material contamination. Liberation from material contamination is called anartha-nivṛtti, indicating a diminishing of all unwanted things. This is the test of development in devotional service. If one actually develops the devotional attitude, he must be freed from the material contamination of illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating. These are the preliminary symptoms. When one is freed from all material contamination, his firm faith in devotional service awakens. When firm faith develops, a taste arises, and by that taste one becomes attached to devotional service. When this attachment intensifies, the seed of love of Kṛṣṇa (God) fructifies. This position is called prīti or rati (affection) or bhāva (emotion). When rati intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. This love of Godhead is actually life’s highest perfection and the reservoir of all pleasure."
Thus devotional life is divided into two stages — sādhana-bhakti and bhāva-bhakti. Sādhana-bhakti refers to the development of devotional service through the regulative principles. The basic principle for the execution of devotional service is faith. Above that, there is association with devotees, and after that there is initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. After initiation, when one follows the regulative principles of devotional service, one becomes freed from all unwanted things. In this way one becomes firmly fixed and gradually develops a taste for devotional service. The more the taste grows, the more one desires to render service to the Lord. In this way one becomes attached to a particular mellow in the Lord’s service — śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya or madhurya. As a result of such attachment, bhāva develops. Bhāva-bhakti is the platform of purified goodness. By such purified goodness, one’s heart melts in devotional service. Bhāva-bhakti is the first seed of love of Godhead. This emotional stage is there before one attains pure love. When that emotional stage intensifies, it is called prema-bhakti, or transcendental love of Godhead. "
Verses 1.3.25-26 of the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, of Srila Rupa Goswami, reveal nine symptoms which can been seen in the character of one who has achieved the stage of bhava. These symptoms are seen as excellent criterion for determining advancement in bhakti, as opposed to other types of displays which may be easily imitated.
Kshanti: perseverance. Remaining tolerant and patient, even amid disturbance. Avyartha-kalatvam: utilization of time. Refers to constant engagement in devotional seva (service). Virakti: detachment. Completely indifference to the objects of sense gratification. Mana-shunyata: absence of false prestige or pridelessness. To feel humble, free from the longing for being shown respect. Asha-bandha: hope. To be always certain that Krishna will bestow His mercy on oneself. Samutkanta: An intense eagerness to achieve or ardent desire for attaining one’s desired supreme object (prema). Nama-gane sada ruci: Thirst arising out of affection for constantly chanting the Lord’s holy names. Asaktis tad-gunakhyane: A natural attachment to describe the Lord’s most sweet qualities, pastimes and so on. Pritis tad-vasati-sthale: The desire to reside in the places of the Lord’s pastimes such as Vrindavana.
Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu is one of the foundational texts in the Chaitanya-vaishnava lineage of bhakti-yoga. It is an assimilation of the teachings that Rupa Goswami received from Sri Chaitanya in a ten day discussion held on the bank of the Ganga at Dasasvamedha-ghata in Pryaga, India. Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu elaborates on the nature, practices and gradations of bhakti as well as the components of bhakti-rasa (the experience of pure devotion).
Srila Prabhupada, in a room conversation with some of his disciples at the New Mayapur farm in France, gives some better meaning, on who is qualified to "taste" this highest devotional ecstasy called "bhava":
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam atmanam mat-parayanah
"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." (Bhagavad-gita verse).
Prabhupada:"So what is the difficulty? Krsna is recommending these four things:
"Always think of Me." You, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah. "You become My devotee." Unless you become devotee, you cannot think of Krsna. That is automatic. If you think of Krsna always, that means you are devotee. Otherwise, why a person wastes his time thinking of Krsna? He can think of business. He can think of so many other things. Only the devotee can think of Krsna. So if you think of Krsna, then automatically you become devotee. Is there any objection? Who can think of Krsna always? Not always even, think of Krsna? Unless one is devotee? And to think of Krsna, what is the difficulty? Huh? Is there any difficulty? To think of Krsna? Thinking power we have got. We think so many... Our mind is never vacant. Always think something. We think of something always, twenty-four hours. That is mind's nature."
So if you simply think of Krsna, then your life becomes successful. Where is the difficulty? Hmm? And the result is mam evaisyasi: by following these principles or thinking of Krsna, which means to become a devotee... Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji. Anyone who is devotee, naturally he'll worship Krsna. The temple is there, we worship. Then? Man-mana bhava, mad-yaji mam namaskuru. And worshiping Krsna means, if you cannot do anything, you simply go and offer your obeisances, that's all. It is open to everyone. There is no restriction that such and such men can come and offer obeisances. No. Anyone. Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah [Bg. 9.32]. Even born in low-grade family, it doesn't matter. So where is the difficulty? That we want to discuss. To become Krsna conscious, is there any difficulty for any person anywhere, any part of the world? Let us discuss this point. Huh? You sit down properly. I you, yes. So, discuss this point. What is the difficulty? Why people are not Krsna conscious. But the process is simple. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji. The result? Don't divert your attention."
Material means that you love more Krsna, automatically material desires will be finished. Because you do not love Krsna cent percent, therefore material desires. The balance is filled up by material desires. Just like in a glass there is some ink. And if you fill up with water, the full glass, the ink will vanish, there will be no more ink. It will all, all white. This is the way. Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra syat [SB 11.2.42]. To love Krsna means you have no more material desire. The percentage you are lacking Krsna love, the percentage material desires are there. Ye yatha mam prapadyante. If you love Krsna ten percent, then ninety percent material desire. And if you love Krsna ninety percent, ten percent material desire. And if you love Krsna cent percent there is no material desire. This is the way. So if you love Krsna twenty-four hours, cent percent, simply thinking of Krsna, and offering obeisances, worshiping, then where is the possibility of material desires? There is no possibility."
So the process is very simple, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah, and all other things, they will come automatically. Actually Krsna is supplying everything. Krsna is supplying this grass. The animal will eat. And the animal will supply you milk. You'll drink the milk. So Krsna is supplying. Everything is being supplied by Krsna, actually, but because we do not know Krsna and do not love Krsna, cannot understand. But supply is being made by Krsna, yoga-ksemam vahamy aham [Bg. 9.22], even for the nondevotees. So what to speak of the devotee? It automatically comes. This is the way. So the point is there is no difficulty to become Krsna conscious, and the result is so big that mam evaisyasi asamsayah [Bg. 18.65]. Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama [Bg. 15.6]. So for such great benefit of life, if you simply think of Krsna and become His devotee, why shall I lose this opportunity? What is that intelligence?