TEXT 21
tad vai dhanus ta isavah sa ratho hayas te
so 'ham rathi nrpatayo yata anamanti
sarvam ksanena tad abhud asad isa-riktam
bhasman hutam kuhaka-raddham ivoptam usyam
SYNONYMS
tat—the same; vai—certainly; dhanuh te—the same bow; isavah—arrows; sah—the very same; rathah—chariot; hayah te—the very same horses; sah aham—I am the same Arjuna; rathi—the chariot-fighter; nrpatayah—all the kings; yatah—whom; anamanti—offered their respects; sarvam—all; ksanena—at a moment's notice; tat—all those; abhut—became; asat—useless; isa—because of the Lord; riktam—being void; bhasman—ashes; hutam—offering butter; kuhaka-raddham—money created by magical feats; iva—like that; uptam—sown; usyam—in barren land.
TRANSLATION
I have the very same Gandiva bow, the same arrows, the same chariot drawn by the same horses, and I use them as the same Arjuna to whom all the kings offered their due respects. But in the absence of Lord Krsna, all of them, at a moment's notice, have become null and void. It is exactly like offering clarified butter on ashes, accumulating money with a magic wand or sowing seeds on barren land.
PURPORT
As we have discussed more than once, one should not be puffed up by borrowed plumes. All energies and powers are derived from the supreme source, Lord Krsna, and they act as long as He desires and cease to function as soon as He withdraws. All electrical energies are received from the powerhouse, and as soon as the powerhouse stops supplying energy, the bulbs are of no use. In a moment's time such energies can be generated or withdrawn by the supreme will of the Lord. Material civilization without the blessing of the Lord is child's play only. As long as the parents allow the child to play, it is all right. As soon as the parents withdraw, the child has to stop. Human civilization and all activities thereof must be dovetailed with the supreme blessing of the Lord, and without this blessing all advancement of human civilization is like decoration on a dead body. It is said here that a dead civilization and its activities are something like clarified butter on ashes, the accumulation of money by a magic wand and the sowing of seeds in a barren land.

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