Dread and Ghastliness
In ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa in dread, there are two causes of fear: either Kṛṣṇa Himself or some dreadful situation for Kṛṣṇa. When a devotee feels himself to be an offender at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes the object of dreadful ecstatic love. And when, out of ecstatic love, friends and well-wishers of Kṛṣṇa apprehend some danger for Him, that situation becomes the object of their dread.
When Ṛkṣarāja was in front of Kṛṣṇa fighting and suddenly realized that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa addressed him thus: “My dear Ṛkṣarāja, why is your face so dry? Please do not feel threatened by Me. There is no need for your heart to tremble like this. Please calm yourself down. I have no anger toward you. You may, however, become as angry as you like with Me – to expand your service in fighting with Me and to increase My sporting attitude.” In this dreadful situation in ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Himself is the object of dread.
There is another instance of a dreadful situation with Kṛṣṇa as the object as follows. After being sufficiently chastised by child Kṛṣṇa in the Yamunā River, the Kāliya snake began to address the Lord, “O killer of the Mura demon, I have acquired many mystic powers by my austerity and penances, but before You I am nothing; I am most insignificant. Therefore, please be kind upon a poor soul like me, and don’t be angry with me. I did not know Your actual position, and out of ignorance I have committed such horrible offenses. Please save me. I am a most unfortunate, foolish creature. Please be merciful to me.” This is another instance of the ecstasy of dread in devotional service.
When the Keśī demon was causing disturbances in Vṛndāvana by assuming a large horse’s body that was so big that he could jump over the trees, mother Yaśodā told her husband, Nanda Mahārāja, “Our child is very restless, so we had better keep Him locked up within the house. I have been very worried about the recent disturbances of the Keśī demon, who has been assuming the form of a giant horse.” When it was learned that the demon was entering Gokula in an angry mood, mother Yaśodā became so anxious to protect her child that her face dried up and there were tears in her eyes. These are some of the signs of the ecstasy of dread in devotional service caused by seeing and hearing something that is dangerous to Kṛṣṇa.
After the Pūtanā witch had been killed, some friends of mother Yaśodā inquired from her about the incident. Mother Yaśodā at once requested her friends, “Please stop! Please stop! Don’t bring up the incident of Pūtanā. I become distressed just by remembering this incident. The Pūtanā witch came to devour my son, and she deceived me into letting her take the child on her lap. After that, she died and made a tumultuous sound with her gigantic body.”
In the ecstasy of devotional service in dread, the unconstitutional symptoms are drying up of the mouth, exuberance, glancing behind oneself, concealing oneself, bewilderment, searching after the endangered lovable object and crying very loudly. Some other unconstitutional symptoms are illusion, forgetfulness and expectation of danger. In all such circumstances the ecstatic dread is the steady or constant factor. Such dread is caused either by offenses committed or by dreadful circumstances. Offenses may be committed in varieties of ways, and the dread is felt by the person who has committed the offense. When dread is caused by a fearful object, this fearful object is generally a person who is fearsome in his features, nature and influence. An example of an object that caused ecstatic dread is the Pūtanā witch. Dread may be caused by mischievous demoniac characters, such as King Kaṁsa, and it may be caused by great powerful demigods, such as Indra or Śaṅkara.
Demons like Kaṁsa feared Kṛṣṇa, but their feelings cannot be described as ecstatic dread in devotional service.
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