In the conditional state, people are attracted to worshiping demigods, ghosts, or Yakṣas like Kuvera. The mode of goodness is better than the modes of passion and ignorance, but one who takes directly to Kṛṣṇa consciousness is transcendental to all three modes of material nature. Although there is a process of gradual elevation, if one, by the association of pure devotees, takes directly to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that is the best way. And that is recommended in this chapter. To achieve success in this way, one must first find the proper spiritual master and receive training under his direction. Then one can achieve faith in the Supreme. When that faith matures, in course of time, it is called love of God. This love is the ultimate goal of the living entities. One should therefore take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness directly.
There are two characteristics by which the seeds of love of Godhead can develop, and these are known as rati, or attachment, and bhāva, the condition immediately preceding love of Godhead. It is by such attachment and bhāva that the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is conquered by His devotees. These two characteristics are present before any symptoms of love of Godhead are manifest. This was all explained to Sanātana Gosvāmī by Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya told him that since there is really no end to describing the system of devotional service with attachment, He is simply trying to offer a sampling. Lord Caitanya then described the ultimate goal of devotional service, which is meant for one who wants to attain perfection. When one's attachment to Kṛṣṇa becomes very deep, one attains the condition called love of Godhead. Such a state of existence is considered a permanent situation for a devotee.
(TEACHINGS OF LORD CAITANYA).
There are three stages of transcendental development in devotional service, which are technically called sthāyi-bhāva, anubhāva and mahābhāva. Continual perfectlove of Godhead is called sthāyi-bhāva, and when it is performed in a particular type of transcendental relationship it is called anubhāva. But the stage of mahābhāva is visible amongst the personal pleasure potential energies of the Lord. It is understood that the grandson of Diti, namely Prahlāda Mahārāja, would constantly meditate on the Lord and reiterate His activities. Because he would constantly remain in meditation, he would easily transfer himself to the spiritual world after quitting his material body. Such meditation is still more conveniently performed by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord. This is especially recommended in this age of Kali.
If, due to some righteous activities which provoke devotional service, one is influenced by the service attitude and takes shelter of the good association of pure devotees, he develops attachment for hearing and chanting. By developing chanting and hearing, one can advance further and further in regulative devotional service to the Supreme Lord. As one so advances, his misgivings about devotional service and his attraction for the material world proportionately diminish. By advancing in hearing and chanting, a devotee becomes more firmly fixed in his faith, and gradually his initial faith develops into a taste for devotional service, and that taste gradually develops into attachment. When attachment becomes pure, it exhibits the two characteristics of bhāva and rati. When rati increases, it is called love of Godhead, and love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of human life.
(TEACHINGS OF LORD CAITANYA).
Hlādinī is the personal manifestation of the blissfulness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by which He enjoys pleasure. Because the pleasure potency is perpetually present in the Supreme Lord, the theory of the impersonalist that the Lord appears in the material mode of goodness cannot be accepted. The impersonalist conclusion is against the Vedic version that the Lord possesses a transcendental pleasure potency. When the pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is exhibited by His grace in the person of a devotee, that manifestation is called love of God. "Love of God" is an epithet for the pleasure potency of the Lord. Therefore devotional service reciprocated between the Lord and His devotee is an exhibition of the transcendental pleasure potency of the Lord.
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA--------1:4:60--------PURPORT).
"The essential part of love of Godhead is called mahābhāva, transcendental ecstasy, and that ecstasy is represented by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī."
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA-----2:8:160-------TRANSLATION).
The transcendental ecstatic attachment for Kṛṣṇa which results from perfectly understanding that Kṛṣṇa's person and name are identical is called bhāva. One who has attained bhāva is certainly not contaminated by material nature. He actually enjoys transcendental pleasure from bhāva, and when bhāva is intensified, it iscalled love of Godhead.
(TEACHINGS OF LORD CAITANYA).
"When affection for Kṛṣṇa becomes deeper, one attains love of Godhead in devotional service. Such a position is called sthāyi-bhāva, permanent enjoyment of the mellows of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa."
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA-----2:23:4-------TRANSLATION).
To regard Kṛṣṇa as one's superior is called reverential feeling, and when, in addition to this, a devotee feels that Kṛṣṇa is his protector, his transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa is increased, and his combined feelings are called reverential devotion. When this steady reverential devotion increases further, it is called love of Godhead in reverential devotion. Attraction and affection are two prominent symptoms of this stage. In this reverential devotional attitude, Pradyumna never talked to his father in a loud voice. In fact, he never so much as unlocked the lips of his mouth, nor did he ever show his face filled with tears. He would always glance only at the lotus feet of his father.
(NECTAR OF DEVOTION).
"When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure."
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura 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 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.
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA-----2:23:13-------TRANSLATION AND PURPORT).