The previous text (10.8) said, “I am the source of everything, everything comes from me. Wise people who understand this develop love for me and express that love.”

Then Arjuna (a.k.a. the reader) wants to know: “How do they express that love?”

This text (10.9) answers by defining the behavior of a wise person who is in love with Kṛṣṇa.

mac-cittā mad-gata-prāṇā
bodhayantaḥ parasparam
kathayantaś ca māḿ nityaḿ
tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca

Mac-citta

Mat means “me” and citta means the mentality, the inner self, the “mind”. So, mac-cittā means that the first and foremost quality of a devotee is that his or her heart is focused on Kṛṣṇa. Mac-citta means that our minds are in Kṛṣṇa, we are completely absorbed in contemplating him.

This is not technical or philosophical it is simple and quite romantic. When you are truly in love with someone your heart and mind (citta) becomes fully immersed in them. You are so thirsty and hungry to hear, see, feel and experience more of your beloved that you cannot withdraw your mind from him. That is the foremost quality of a real devotee.

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmī  Prabhupāda comments: “Their minds cannot be diverted from the lotus feet of Krishna.”

Mad-gata-prana

Gata means goal. Prānā means the life-breath. So mad-gata-prana means that the very goal of their life’s breath is Kṛṣṇa! How beautiful!!! Prāṇa is the force that brings life to our body, it is the type of air that oxygenates and invigorates our blood and keeps us alive. Ordinary people feel like they cannot live without breathing. In space or underwater, people feel very alarmed because they are suffocating. Suffocation means they are getting no prāṇa. Ordinary people therefore desire to breathe, and to get prana from food and water too.

A devotee does not suffocate in outer space, or drowning underwater. A devotee suffocates when they cannot find Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa is absent the devotee experiences a sensation of suffocation – they lose their prana, because mad-gata-prana, Kṛṣṇa is their prana.

This is so beautiful and romantic. Kṛṣṇa describes his devotee in such a romantic and richly emotional way.

Bodhayantah parasparam

Bodhayantah is related to the word budhi which we saw as a very important word in the previous text, 10.8. Budhi means wisdom. Bodhayantah means “creating enlightenment.” Interestingly, Srila Prabhupāda’s transliteration of bodhayantah is “preaching” indicating that his idea of “preaching” is not a Christian-style pulpit thumping, but an process of generating enlightenment.

Parasparam roughly means “back and forth.”

So bodhayantah parasparam means that the devotees enlighten one another. That is a very important quality of a devotee, they enlighten one another!

The devotee is undergoing suffocation due to not being satisfactorily in contact with Kṛṣṇa. Naturally they act in an urgent manner to rescue themselves. How? By enlightening one another. How do they enlighten one another? The next phrase answers:

Kathayantas ca mam nityam

Devotees enlighten one another by katha! Katha means kirtan. Kirtan means amplifying the wonderous qualities of Kṛṣṇa – his name, beauty, qualities, and activities.

How often do they do it? Nityam. As often as you breathe. Nityam –They always do it, because for them it is their breathing. It is what gives them oxygen and saves them from suffocation in the void world.

Prabhupāda comments, “Their talks are solely on the transcendental subjects… Devotees of the Supreme Lord are twenty-four hours daily engaged in glorifying the qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord.”

So – Devotees do three things, mainly –

1.       Smaranam – Remembering beloved Kṛṣṇa (mac-citta)

2.       Sravanam – Hearing about beloved Kṛṣṇa (bodhayanta parasparam)

3.       Kirtanam – Speaking about beloved Kṛṣṇa (kathayantas)

Again, it is all very beautifully romantic. The devotee is so deeply in love with Kṛṣṇa that their mind is entangled with him. As a result, they feel suffocation without Kṛṣṇa. To alleviate this suffocation they get together with others who are similarly smitten and discuss with one another how wonderful their beloved Kṛṣṇa is.

What is the result?

Tusyanti ca ramanti ca

Tusti means “satisfaction.” Rāma means “bliss.” As a result of talking about, hearing about, and remembering about their darling, Śrī Kṛṣṇa – the devotee first of all feels very satisfied and relieved (tusyanti). It is like you would feel if you were deep under the ocean, swimming a long way to reach the top, not sure if you would make it, you finally get there and you breath in the air. That sort of satisfaction is what a real devotee feels by getting the opportunity to talk about, hear about or even just think about Kṛṣṇa.

Surpassing even this satisfaction, the devotee actually feels bliss. Why? Because when they hear about their beloved Kṛṣṇa their hope to surely one day attain his direct company becomes a source of incalculable bliss.

Those stuck in vaidhi-sadhana (which is a practice of devotion that is only motivated by a sense of morality and rightness) only get tusyanti, satisfaction. But those who have specific hopes to attain a relationship with Śrī Krsna, they are in raganuga-sadhana. These devotees experience both tusyanti and ramanti.

Prabhupāda calls raganuga-sadhana the “mature postion” of devotional practice. “In the preliminary stage of devotional service they relish the transcendental pleasure from the service itself, and in the mature stage they are actually situated in love of God. Once situated in that transcendental position, they can relish the highest perfection which is exhibited by the Lord in His abode.”

Other Meanings

There are endless additional ways to mine exquisite jewels of meaning from this paramount text of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It is impossible to exhaust that mine, so one has to pick a point to stop.