Bhava in Bhakti
By Swami Sivananda
In Bhakti Yoga, there are five kinds of Bhava (mental attitudes) viz., Santa Bhava, Madhurya Bhava, Vatsalya Bhava, Dasya Bhava and Sakhya Bhava. Madhurya Bhava is also known as Kanta Bhava, Sakhya Bhava comes under the category of Madhurya Bhava. Select any Bhava that suits your temperament and develop Bhakti to a maximum degree.
Sannyasi Bhaktas have Santa Bhava. A Bhakta of Santa Bhava type is not emotional. He does not exhibit much emotions. He cannot dance and weep and yet his heart is full of intense devotion. Sri Aurobindo Maharaj prefers this type and considers dancing and weeping as a kind of weakness.
In Madhurya Bhava, the Bhaktas entertain the idea of the lover and the beloved. He regards himself as the wife of Rama or Krishna. The Mohammedan sufis also entertain this kind of mental attitude. In Brindavan, Mathura and Nadiad, you will find a large number of Bhaktas with Madhurya Bhava. They dress themselves like ladies and behave and speak exactly like ladies also. They dance a lot till they get Murchha Avastha (swoon) and fall down in great exhaustion.
In Sakhi Bhava, the devotee thinks that he is the Sakhi (fellowmate) of Sita or Radha.
In Vatsalya Bhava, the devotee takes Lord Krishna as his son, a boy of ten years. The attractive features of this Bhava is that the devotee gets rid of all fears as he is the father of Krishna and destroys all kinds of selfish motives as he cannot expect anything from his small son. The followers of Vallabhacharya entertain Vatsalya Bhava.
In Dasya Bhava, the devotee thinks that he is the servant and Lord Krishna or Rama is his master. Sri Hanuman had this Bhava. In Ayodhya the vast majority of persons have this Bhava. They have their names as Ram Das, Sitaram Das, etc.
In Sakhya Bhava, the devotee takes Lord Krishna as his friend. This Bhava demands purity, boldness, understanding and courage. Ordinary people will find it difficult to have this Bhava. But when Bhakti develops and matures, the Bhava comes by itself. Arjuna had this Bhava. There is equality in this Bhava between the worshipper and the worshipped. Sakhya Bhava is a mild type of Vedantic meditation. It will culminate in identity. Then the devotee says: "Gopaloham-I am Gopala."