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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mahabhava, MahAbhAva, Mahaabhaava

Mahābhāva literally means ‘the great emotion’.

This is a technical term especially used by the Bengal school of Vaiṣṇavism nourished by Śrīkṛṣṇa Caitanya (A. D. 1485-1533), his disciples and his followers.

An ordinary bhāva or emotion is the joy derived from enjoying the worldly objects. When the object is God Himself and the intensity of joy reaches such a height that the devotee feels himself as one with God, it is termed ‘mahābhāva’. The gopis of Vṛndāvana are normally given as the best example for this state. Śrīkṛṣṇa Caitanya also is believed to have experienced this state quite often.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore