maitrah karuna eva ca
santustah satatam yogi
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.
Commentary by Srila Prabhupada
Coming again to the point of pure devotional service, the Lord is describing the transcendental qualifications of a pure devotee in these two verses. A pure devotee is never disturbed in any circumstances. Nor is he envious of anyone. Nor does a devotee become his enemy’s enemy; he thinks, “This person is acting as my enemy due to my own past misdeeds. So it is better to suffer than to protest.” In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8) it is stated: tat te ’nukampam susamiksamano bhunjana evatma-kritam vipakam. Whenever a devotee is in distress or has fallen into difficulty, he thinks that it is the Lord’s mercy upon him. He thinks, “Thanks to my past misdeeds I should suffer far, far greater than I am suffering now. So it is by the mercy of the Supreme Lord that I am not getting all the punishment I am due. I am just getting a little, by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Therefore he is always calm, quiet and patient, despite many distressful conditions. A devotee is also always kind to everyone, even to his enemy.
Nirmama means that a devotee does not attach much importance to the pains and trouble pertaining to the body because he knows perfectly well that he is not the material body. He does not identify with the body; therefore he is freed from the conception of false ego and is equipoised in happiness and distress. He is tolerant, and he is satisfied with whatever comes by the grace of the Supreme Lord. He does not endeavor much to achieve something with great difficulty; therefore he is always joyful. He is a completely perfect mystic because he is fixed in the instructions received from the spiritual master, and because his senses are controlled he is determined. He is not swayed by false arguments, because no one can lead him from the fixed determination of devotional service. He is fully conscious that Krishna is the eternal Lord, so no one can disturb him. All these qualifications enable him to fix his mind and intelligence entirely on the Supreme Lord. Such a standard of devotional service is undoubtedly very rare, but a devotee becomes situated in that stage by following the regulative principles of devotional service. Furthermore, the Lord says that such a devotee is very dear to Him, for the Lord is always pleased with all his activities in full Krishna consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur
What is the description of the devotee who has attained such peace? In response, different natures of many types of devotees are described in eight verses.
Advesta means that one does not have hatred even for those who hate you. Rather one has friendliness towards them (maitrah). One is merciful to them, thinking that they should not end up in unfortunate circumstances (karunah).
“But by making what type of discriminating powers can one have friendliness and mercy even to enemies?”
“One should not make distinctions at all. By non-possessiveness of children and wife (nirmamah), by not thinking of the body as the self (nirahankarah), my devotee never develops hatred. Why should he accept such distinctions if he wants to reduce suffering produced from hatred (a distinction)?”
“But then one will be suffering pain in the body by getting punched or kicked.”
“It is said by Siva:
narayana-parah sarve na kutascana bibhyati
svargapavarga-narakesv api tulyartha-darsinah
Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord. SB 6.17.28
“One should consider happiness and distress equally (sama duhkha sukham). Moreover, that person thinks that he should necessarily endure his prarabdha karmas. In being equal to happiness and distress, he should be tolerant of the suffering (ksami).” Ksami means having tolerance, coming from the root ksam meaning to endure.
“But how will such a devotee be able to maintain his life?”
“He is satisfied to eat what comes of its own accord, or with very little effort (santusthah).”
“But since you have said that one should be equal in happiness and distress, then how can one express satisfaction (santusthah) with getting something to eat?”
“That person is constantly engaged in bhakti yoga (satatam yogi). He is acting for the purpose of attaining perfection in bhakti. It is said:
aharartham yatataiva yuktam tat-prana-dharanam
tattvam vimrsyate tena tad vijnaya param vrajet
If required, one should endeavor to get sufficient foodstuffs, because it is always necessary and proper to maintain one’s health. When the senses, mind and life air are fit, one can contemplate spiritual truth, and by understanding the truth one is liberated. SB 11.18.34
“Moreover, by chance he does not attain required food, his mind is restrained (yata atma), without agitation. If his mind happens to become disturbed, he does not resort to astanga yoga or other processes to bring about peace. He remains convinced that he should only perform ananya bhakti (drdha niscayah). His devotion does not become weakened. The cause of all of this is mentioned: he should be absorbed in meditating on and contemplating me (mayy arpita mano buddhih). Such a devotee greatly pleases me (me priyah).”