The transcendental mellow of affection has been accepted by authorities like Śrīdhara Svāmī as a perfectional stage of devotion. It is just above the humor of neutrality and is a requisite for the development of the serving humor. In literature such as Nāma-kaumudī this state of existence is accepted as continual affection for or attraction to Kṛṣṇa. Authorities like Śukadeva consider this stage of affection to be in the neutral stage, but in any case this affection is relished by the devotees in different transcendental tastes, and therefore the general name for this state is affection, or pure affection for Kṛṣṇa.
Devotees engaged in servitude are attached to Kṛṣṇa in the affection of reverence. Some of the inhabitants of Gokula (Vṛndāvana as exhibited on earth) are attached to Kṛṣṇa on this platform of affection in reverence. The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana used to say, "Kṛṣṇa is always manifest before us with a complexion like a blackish cloud. He holds His wonderful flute in His lotus hands. He is dressed in yellow silks and bedecked with a peacock feather on His head. When Kṛṣṇa walks near Govardhan Hill with these personal features, all the inhabitants of the heavenly planets, as well as the inhabitants of this earth, feel transcendental bliss and consider themselves the eternal servants of the Lord." Sometimes the devotee becomes filled with the same awe and reverence by seeing a picture of Viṣṇu, who is dressed like Kṛṣṇa and who has a similar complexion. The only difference is that Viṣṇu has four hands, in which He holds the conchshell, the disc, the club and the lotus flower. Lord Viṣṇu is always decorated with many valuable jewels, such as the candrakānta stone and the sūryakānta stone.
In the Lalita-mādhava by Rūpa Gosvāmī there is the following statement by Dāruka, one of the servants of Kṛṣṇa: "Certainly Lord Viṣṇu is very beautiful with His necklace of kaustubha jewels, His four hands holding conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower and His dazzlingly beautiful jewelry. He is also very beautiful in His eternal position, riding upon the shoulder of Garuḍa. But now the same Lord Viṣṇu is present as the enemy of Kaṁsa, and by His personal feature I am completely forgetting the opulence of Vaikuṇṭha."
Another devotee once said, "This Supreme Personality of Godhead from whose bodily pores come millions of universes, permanently rising, who is the ocean of mercy, who is the owner of inconceivable energies, who is always equipped with all perfections, who is the origin of all incarnations, who is the attraction for all liberated persons—this very Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme controller, the supremely worshipable, all-cognizant, fully determined, fully opulent, the emblem of forgiveness, the protector of surrendered souls, munificent, true to His promise, expert, all-auspicious, powerful, religious, a strict follower of the scripture, the friend of the devotees, magnanimous, influential, grateful, reputable, respectable, full of all strength and submissive to pure love. Surely He is the only shelter of devotees who are attracted to Him by the affection of servitorship."
The devotees of the Lord in servitude are divided into four classes: appointed servants (such as Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who are appointed to control over the material modes of passion and ignorance), devotees in servitude who are protected by the Lord, devotees who are always associates, and devotees who are simply following in the footsteps of the Lord.
In a conversation between Jāmbavatī, one of Kṛṣṇa's wives, and Kālindī, her friend, Jāmbavatī enquired, "Who is this personality circumambulating our Kṛṣṇa?"
Kālindī replied, "He is Ambikeya, the superintendent of all universal affairs."
Then Jāmbavatī enquired, "Who is this personality who is trembling at the sight of Kṛṣṇa?"
Kālindī replied, "He is Lord Śiva."
Then Jāmbavatī enquired, "Who is the person offering prayers?" Kālindī replied, "He is Lord Brahmā."
Jāmbavatī then asked, "Who is that person who has fallen on the ground and is offering respect to Kṛṣṇa?"
Kālindī replied, "He is Indra, the King of heaven."
Jāmbavatī next inquired, "Who is this person who has come with the demigods and is laughing with them?"
Kālindī replied, "He is my elder brother, Yamarāja, the superintendent of death."
This conversation offers a description of all the demigods, including Yamarāja, who are engaged in services appointed by the Lord. They are called adhikṛta-devatā, or demigods appointed to particular types of departmental service.
One resident of Vṛndāvana once told Lord Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, O pleasure of Vṛndāvana! Being afraid of this material existence, we have taken shelter of You, for You can completely protect us! We are well aware of Your greatness. As such, we have given up our desire for liberation and have taken complete shelter under Your lotus feet. Since we have heard about Your ever-increasing transcendental love, we have voluntarily engaged ourselves in Your transcendental service." This statement is by a devotee who is under the protection and shelter of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Upon being chastised by Kṛṣṇa's constant kicking on his head, Kāliya, the black snake of the Yamunā, came to his senses and admitted, "My dear Lord, I have been so offensive unto You, but still You are so kind that You have marked my head with the impression of Your lotus feet." This also is an instance of one's taking shelter under the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
In the Aparādha-bhañjana a pure devotee expresses his feelings: "My dear Lord, I am ashamed to admit before You that I have carried out the orders of my masters named lust, anger, avarice, illusion and envy. Sometimes I have carried out their orders in a way most abominable. Yet in spite of my serving them so faithfully, they are neither satisfied nor are they kind enough to give me relief from their service. They are not even ashamed of taking service from me in that way. My dear Lord, O head of the Yadu dynasty, now I have come to my senses, and I am taking shelter of Your lotus feet. Please engage me in Your service." This is another instance of surrendering and taking shelter of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
There are many instances in the various Vedic writings of persons who were aspiring after liberation by speculative knowledge but gave up this process in order to take complete shelter under the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Examples of such persons are the brāhmaṇas headed by Śaunaka in the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya.* Learned scholars accept them as devotees having complete wisdom. There is a statement in the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya in which these great brāhmaṇas and sages, headed by Śaunaka Ṛṣi, told Sūta Gosvāmī: "My dear great soul, just see how wonderful it is! Although as human beings we are contaminated with so many taints of material existence, simply by our conversing with you about the Supreme Personality of Godhead we are now gradually decrying our desire for liberation."
* These are the brāhmaṇas to whom Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was spoken by Sūta Gosvāmī, as described in the author's Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Volume I, Chapter l.
In Padyāvalī a devotee says, "Persons who are attached to speculative knowledge for self realization, who have decided that the supreme truth is beyond meditation and who have thus become situated in the modes of goodness—let them peacefully execute their engagement. As for us, we are simply attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is by nature so pleasing, who possesses a complexion like a blackish cloud, who is dressed in yellow garments and who has beautiful lotus-like eyes. We wish only to meditate upon Him."
Those who are from the very beginning of their self realization attached to devotional service are called sevāniṣṭha. Sevāniṣṭha means simply attached to devotional service. The best examples of such devotees are Lord Śiva, King Indra, King Bahulāśva, King Ikṣvāku, Śrutadeva and Puṇḍarīka. One devotee says: "My dear Lord, Your transcendental qualities attract even the liberated souls and carry them to the assembly of devotees where Your glories are constantly chanted. Even great sages who are accustomed to live in solitary places are also attracted by the songs of Your glory. And, observing all Your transcendental qualities, I have also become attracted and have decided to dedicate my life to Your loving service."
In the city of Dvārakā the following devotees are known as Kṛṣṇa's close associates: Uddhava, Dāruka, Sātyaki, Śrutadeva, Śatrājit, Nanda, Upananda and Bhadra. All of these personalities remain with the Lord as His secretaries, but still they are sometimes engaged in His personal service. Among the Kuru dynasty, Bhīṣma, Mahārāj Parīkṣit and Vidura are also known as close associates of Lord Kṛṣṇa. It is said, "All the associates of Lord Kṛṣṇa have lustrous bodily features, and their eyes are just like lotus flowers. They have sufficient power to defeat the strength of the demigods, and the specific feature of their persons is that they are always decorated with valuable ornaments."
When Kṛṣṇa was in the capital of Indraprastha, someone addressed Him thus: "My dear Lord, Your personal associates, headed by Uddhava, are always awaiting Your order by standing at the entrance gate of Dvārakā. They are mostly looking on with tears in their eyes, and in the enthusiasm of their service they are not afraid even of the devastating fire generated by Lord Śiva. They are souls simply surrendered unto Your lotus feet."
Out of the many close associates of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Uddhava is considered the best. The following is a description of him: "His body is blackish like the color of the Yamunā River, and it is similarly as cool. He is always decorated with flower garlands first used by Lord Kṛṣṇa, and he is dressed with yellow silk clothing. His two arms are just like the bolts of a door, His eyes are just like lotus flowers, and he is the most important devotee amongst all the associates. Let us therefore offer our respectful obeisances unto Uddhava's lotus feet."
Uddhava has described the transcendental qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as follows: "Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is our master and worshipable Deity, who is the controller of Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, the controller of the whole universe as well, accepts the controlling orders of Ugrasena, His grandfather. He is the proprietor of millions of universes, but still He begged a little land from the ocean. And although He is just like an ocean of wisdom, still He sometimes consults me. He is so great and magnanimous, yet He is engaged in His different activities just like an ordinary person."
Those who are constantly engaged in the personal service of the Lord are called anugas, or followers. Examples of such followers are Sucandra, Maṇḍana, Stamba and Sutamba. They are all inhabitants of the city of Dvārakā, and they are dressed and ornamented like the other associates. The specific services entrusted to the anugas are varied. Maṇḍana always bears the umbrella over the head of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Sucandra is engaged in fanning the white cāmara bunch of hair, and Sutamba is engaged in supplying betel nuts. All of them are great devotees, and they are always busy in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
As there are anugas in Dvārakā, so there are many anugas in Vṛndāvana also. The names of the anugas in Vṛndāvana are as follows: Raktaka, Patraka, Patrī, Madhukaṇṭha, Madhuvrata, Rasāla, Suvilāsa, Premakanda, Marandaka, Ānanda, Candrahāsa, Payoda, Bakula, Rasada, and Śārada.
Descriptions of the bodily features of the anugas in Vṛndāvana are given in the following statement: "Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the constant associates of the son of Mahārāj Nanda. They always stay in Vṛndāvana, and their bodies are decorated with garlands of pearls and with bangles and bracelets of gold. Their colors are like black bees and the golden moon, and they are dressed just to suit their particular special bodily features. Their specific duties can be understood from a statement by Mother Yaśodā, who said, 'Bakula, please cleanse the yellowish dress of Kṛṣṇa. Vārida, you just flavor the bathing water with aguru scent. And Rasāla, you just prepare the betel nuts. You can all see that Kṛṣṇa is approaching. There is dust overhead, and the cows can be seen very distinctly.'"
Amongst all the anugas, Raktaka is considered to be the chief. The description of his bodily features is as follows: "He wears yellow clothing, and his bodily color is just like newly-grown grass. He is very expert in singing and is always engaged in the service of the son of Mahārāj Nanda. Let us all become the followers of Raktaka in offering transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa!" An example of the attachment felt by Raktaka toward Lord Kṛṣṇa can be understood from his statement to Rasada: "Just hear me! Please place me so that I may always be engaged in the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who has now become famous as the lifter of the Govardhan Hill."
The devotees of Kṛṣṇa engaged in His personal service are always very cautious because they know that becoming personal servitors of Lord Kṛṣṇa is not an ordinary thing. A person who offers respect even to the ants engaged in the service of the Lord becomes eternally happy, so what is there to say of one who offers Kṛṣṇa direct service? Raktaka once said within himself, "Not only is Kṛṣṇa my worshipable and servable Lord, but also the girl friends of Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs, are equally worshipable and servable by me. And not only the gopīs, but anyone who is engaged in the service for the Lord is also worshipable and servable by me. I know that I must be very careful not to become overly proud that I am one of the servitors and devotees of the Lord." From this statement one can understand that the pure devotees, those who are actually engaged in the service of the Lord, are always very cautious and are never overly proud of their service.
This mentality of the direct servitor of Kṛṣṇa is called dhurya. According to expert analytical studies of the direct associates of the Lord, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has divided these into three classes—namely, dhurya, dhīra and vīra. Raktaka is classified among the dhurya, or those who are always attached to serve the most beloved gopīs.
One dhīra associate of Kṛṣṇa is the son of Satyabhāmā's nurse. Satyabhāmā is one of the queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā, and when she was married to Kṛṣṇa, the son of her nurse was allowed to go with her because they had lived together from childhood as brother and sister. So this gentleman, the son of Satyabhāmā's nurse, used to live with Kṛṣṇa as His brother-in-law, and sometimes as brother-in-law he used to play jokes with Kṛṣṇa. He once addressed Kṛṣṇa in this way: "My dear Kṛṣṇa, I never tried to gain the favor of the goddess of fortune, who is married to You, but still I am so fortunate that I am considered one of the members of Your house, the brother of Satyabhāmā."
This same person once expressed his pride, declaring, "Lord Baladeva may be a great enemy of Pralambāsura, but I have nothing to worry about from Him. And as far as Pradyumna is concerned, I have nothing to take from him, because he is simply a boy. Therefore I do not expect anything from anyone else. I simply expect the favorable glance of Kṛṣṇa upon me, and so I am not even afraid of Satyabhāmā, who is so dear to Kṛṣṇa."
In the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 20th Chapter, 25th verse, King Pṛthu addresses the Lord, saying, "My dear Lord, it may happen that the goddess of fortune becomes dissatisfied with my work, or I may even have some misunderstanding with her, but I will not mind this because I have full confidence in You. You are always causelessly merciful to Your servants, and You consider even their menial service to be very much advanced. So I have confidence that You will accept my humble service, although it is not worthy of being recognized. My dear Lord, You are self-sufficient. You can do anything You like without the help of anyone else. So even if the goddess of fortune is not satisfied with me, I know You will always accept my service anyway."
Devotees attached to the transcendental loving service of the Lord may be described either as surrendered souls, as souls advanced in devotional knowledge, or as souls completely engaged in the transcendental loving service. Such devotees are called, respectively, neophyte, perfect and eternally perfect.