satataḿ kīrtayanto māḿ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māḿ bhaktyā
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 9.14
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The mahatma cannot be manufactured by rubber-stamping an ordinary man. His symptoms are described here: a mahatma is always engaged in chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. He has no other business. He is always engaged in the glorification of the Lord. In other words, he is not an impersonalist. When the question of glorification is there, one has to glorify the Supreme Lord, praising His holy name, His eternal form, His transcendental qualities and His uncommon pastimes. One has to glorify all these things; therefore a mahatma is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One who is attached to the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord, the brahmajyoti, is not described as mahatma in the Bhagavad-gita. He is described in a different way in the next verse. The mahatma is always engaged in different activities of devotional service, as described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, hearing and chanting about Vishnu, not a demigod or human being. That is devotion: shravanam kirtanam visnoh and smaranam, remembering Him. Such a mahatma has firm determination to achieve at the ultimate end the association of the Supreme Lord in any one of the five transcendental rasas. To achieve that success, he engages all activities—mental, bodily and vocal, everything—in the service of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. That is called full Krishna consciousness.
In devotional service there are certain activities which are called determined, such as fasting on certain days, like the eleventh day of the moon, Ekadasi, and on the appearance day of the Lord. All these rules and regulations are offered by the great acaryas for those who are actually interested in getting admission into the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the transcendental world. The mahatmas, great souls, strictly observe all these rules and regulations, and therefore they are sure to achieve the desired result.
As described in the second verse of this chapter, not only is this devotional service easy, but it can be performed in a happy mood. One does not need to undergo any severe penance and austerity. He can live this life in devotional service, guided by an expert spiritual master, and in any position, either as a householder or a sannyasi or a brahmacari; in any position and anywhere in the world, he can perform this devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus become actually mahatma, a great soul.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In the last verse it was mentioned that they worship me. What type of worship do they perform? They worship always (satatam), not as in karma yoga which is dependent on suitable time, place, person and purity for its execution. The smrti says:
na desa-niyamas tatra na kala-niyamas tatha
nocchisthadau nisedho’ sti sri-harer namni lubdhaka
For one eager for the name of Hari, there are no restrictions of time, place or impurity. Visnu Dharma
Just as poor householders strive for money at the door of a wealthy man in order to support their families, my devotees seek out (yatanti) the assembly of devotees in order to obtain devotional processes like chanting. Attaining that, they repeatedly recite the scriptures teaching bhakti. They have strict rules for themselves (drdha vratah), thinking “I must do this number of rounds of chanting, this many obeisance, this much service.” They offer their obeisance. The word ca indicates that they also perform all the other process of bhakti such as hearing, and serving the lotus feet, which were not mentioned. They desire to be in eternal association with me (nitya yuktah). There is a rule that desire can be expressed by the past tense. Here the past tense expresses the present condition of desiring. Singing about me, they worship me. This parallel construction indicates that the singing and other acts are their form of worship. Thus there is no fault in repetition of the word mam.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
9.14 Because of My being very dear to them, they are unable to find support for their souls even for a moment without ‘singing My praises,’ ‘striving for My sake and bowing to Me in reverence.’ Remembering My names connotative of My special attributes, they cry out My names — Narayana, Krsna, Vasudeva etc., with horripilations in every part of their bodies and with their voices tremulous and indistinct because of joy. They engage in activities for my sake, such as performing worship, and doing actions helpful to worship, lik building temples and cultivating temple gardens. They prostrate themselves on the earth like a stick, indifferent to dust, mud and the gravel, with all the eight members of their beings — the Manas, Buddhi, Ahankara, the two feet, two hands, and the head, which are bowed down under the influence of Bhakti. Aspiring for eternal communion with Me, desiring eternal union with Me, they worship Me, resolved to attain the state of servitude to Me for their entire being.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The qualities of the mahatmanas or great souls are perceived in the different ways they offer worship to the Supreme Lord as being stated by Lord Krishna in this verse and the next. The word satatam meaning always is noteworthy for it applies to all the activities. Always praising, glorifying and worshipping the Supreme Lord by devotional hymns and sacred syllables are the ways of some mahatmanas. Other mahatmanas always perform austere vows for the Supreme Lord’s satisfaction, following strict rules of conduct and rigidly controlling their senses. Still other mahatmanas always give propitiation to the Supreme Lord by bowing down and offering salutations with loving devotion. While other mahatmanas worship the Supreme Lord by always being alert and conscious of His presence within himself as paramatma the Supreme Soul and within all living entities also. The words bhaktya meaning with devotion and yatantah meaning fully endeavouring denote the fundamental qualities of the mahatmanas.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
To show that there are others who love Him dearly Lord Krishna speaks of those beings of great soul who worship Him with undeviated devotion.
Now begins the summation.
Even though Lord Krishna is the Supreme Lord by His own will He has assumed a form of a human being although possessing a purely spiritual eternal body. To consider other lesser gods as equal or the same as the Supreme Lord and not separately distinct and dependent upon the Supreme Lord is offensive. To also consider any incompleteness or impersonal conceptions about Him likewise. Any differences between the Supreme Lords dharma or principles of eternal righteousness and His descent into a spiritual body is also offensive. All such unpropitious mentalities and subsequent actions have no value for those who know not the glory of the Supreme Lord Krishna for all they obtain is the worlds of darkness. Therefore the Bhavishya Purana states that the Supreme Lord should always be considered as pure consciousness in full completeness with the fullness of all attributes.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Exactly in what manner do the mahatmanas or the great souls worship the Supreme Lord? The word satatam means always. Lord Krishna by the use of this word is emphasising that the mahatmanas are incessantly worshipping Him in all ways. Such devotees of Lord Krishna with choked up voices and tear filled eyes from ecstatic feelings of joy and love due to meditating upon His form and attributes within their hearts. Because Lord Krishna is extremely dear they always chant His holy names such as Keshava, Madhava, Vasudeva, Mukunda, Hari which are synonymous with Him specifically expressing His attributes and glories. These attributes and glories are described in Vedic literatures and devotional hymns and the Supreme Lord is worshipped through the chanting and singing of His glories, in propitiation and salutations, by offering humble obeisance’s and worship, enlightening one another and enacting His lilas or divine pastimes which are all factually the cause of His grace.
The purpose of life for the mahatmanas is to attain the Supreme Lord as their only goal and they bow down to Him always again and again upon the ground in temples and in courtyards, falling down outstretched like sticks with the eight parts of their body being the head, the two hands, the two feet, their heart, their intellect and their ego. Such great devotees are of firm resolve and so full of bhakti or loving devotion for Lord Krishna that they are unable to bear even the slightest separation from Him in their minds and action. It is also not possible for them to tolerate any kind of diversion or deviation in their devotional service to the Supreme Lord, rejecting even relatives and family members if they cause hindrances and disturbances.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
9.14 Satatam, always; kirtayantah, glorifying; mam, Me, God, who am Brahman in reaility; ca, and; yatantah, striving, endeavouring with the help of such virtues as withdrawal of the organs, control of mind and body, kindness, non-injury, etc.; drdha-vratah, the men of firm vows those whose vows [Vows such as celibacy], those whosevows are unshakable; upasate, worship Me; namasyantah, by paying obeisance; mam, to Me, to the Self residing in the heart, ca, and; nitya-yuktah, being ever endowed; bhaktya, with devotion. The various ways in which they adore are being stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
9.13-15 Mahatmanah etc., upto Visvato-mukham. Divine nature i.e., of goodness. Offering sacrifices : i.e., by means of sacrifices with the external materials. But others worship Me with knowledge-sacrifice only. Hence through knowledge some [worship Me] as One, while others [worship Me] as Many through the action-Yoga. However all conceive Me alone, as their highest goal. But, action certainly abounds in the idea of duality, because it is coextensive with hosts of different causes (karakas). So how can it lead to the Absolute state ? It is answered [as] :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca drdha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
satatam — always; kīrtayantaḥ — chanting; mām — about Me; yatantaḥ — fully endeavoring; ca — also; dṛḍha-vratāḥ — with determination; namasyantaḥ — offering obeisances; ca — and; mām — Me; bhaktyā — in devotion; nitya-yuktāḥ — perpetually engaged; upāsate — worship.