ya nirvrtis tanu-bhrtam tava pada-padma-
dhyanad bhavaj-jana-katha-sravanena va syat
sa brahmani sva-mahimany api natha ma bhut
kim tv antakasi-lulitat patatam vimanat
yathat which; nirvrtihbliss; tanu-bhrtamof the embodied; tavaYour; pada-padmalotus feet; dhyanatfrom meditating upon; bhavat-janafrom Your intimate devotees; kathatopics; sravanenaby hearing; vaor; syatcomes into being; sathat bliss; brahmaniin the impersonal Brahman; sva-mahimaniYour own magnificence; apieven; nathaO Lord; manever; bhutexists; kimwhat to speak of; tuthen; antaka-asiby the sword of death; lulitatbeing destroyed; patatamof those who fall down; vimanatfrom their airplanes.
My Lord, the transcendental bliss derived from meditating upon Your lotus feet or hearing about Your glories from pure devotees is so unlimited that it is far beyond the stage of brahmananda, wherein one thinks himself merged in the impersonal Brahman as one with the Supreme. Since brahmananda is also defeated by the transcendental bliss derived from devotional service, then what to speak of the temporary blissfulness of elevating oneself to the heavenly planets, which is ended by the separating sword of time? Although one may be elevated to the heavenly planets, he falls down in due course of time.
The transcendental bliss derived from devotional service, primarily from sravanam kirtanam, hearing and chanting, cannot be compared to the happiness derived by karmis by elevating themselves to the heavenly planets or by jnanis or yogis, who enjoy oneness with the supreme impersonal Brahman. Yogis generally meditate upon the transcendental form of Visnu, but devotees not only meditate upon Him but actually engage in the direct service of the Lord. In the previous verse we find the phrase bhavapyaya, which refers to birth and death. The Lord can give relief from the chain of birth and death. It is a misunderstanding to think, as do the monists, that when one gets relief from the process of birth and death he merges into the Supreme Brahman. Here it is clearly said that the transcendental bliss derived from sravanam kirtanam by pure devotees cannot be compared to brahmananda, or the impersonal conception of transcendental bliss derived by merging into the Absolute.
The position of karmis is still more degraded. Their aim is to elevate themselves to the higher planetary systems. It is said, yanti deva-vrata devan: persons who worship the demigods are elevated to the heavenly planets (Bg. 9.25). But elsewhere in Bhagavad-gita (9.21) we find, ksine punye martya-lokam visanti: those who are elevated to the higher planetary systems must come down again as soon as the results of their pious activities are exhausted. They are like the modern astronauts who go to the moon; as soon as their fuel is used up, they are obliged to come back down to this earth. As the modern astronauts who go to the moon or other heavenly planets by force of jet propulsion have to come down again after exhausting their fuel, so also do those who are elevated to the heavenly planets by force of yajnas and pious activities. Antakasi-lulitat: by the sword of time one is cut from his exalted position within this material world, and he comes down again. Dhruva Maharaja appreciated that the results of devotional service are far more valuable than merging into the Absolute or being elevated to the heavenly planets. The words patatam vimanat are very significant. Vimana means airplane. Those who are elevated to the heavenly planets are like airplanes, which drop when they run out of fuel.

Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/4/9/10

Previous: SB 4.9.9     Next: SB 4.9.11

If you Love Me Distribute My Books -- Srila Prabhupada