aho bata mamanatmyam
gatva yace yad antavat
aho—oh; bata—alas; mama—my; anatmyam—bodily consciousness; manda-bhagyasya—of the unfortunate; pasyata—just see; bhava—material existence; chidah—of the Lord, who can cut off; pada-mulam—the lotus feet; gatva—having approached; yace—I prayed for; yat—that which; anta-vat—perishable.
Alas, just look at me! I am so unfortunate. I approached the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can immediately cut the chain of the repetition of birth and death, but still, out of my foolishness, I prayed for things which are perishable.
The word anatmyam is very significant in this. verse. Atma means “the soul,” and anatmya means “without any conception of the soul.” Srila Rsabhadeva instructed his sons that unless a human being comes to the point of understanding the atma, or spiritual position, whatever he does is ignorance, and this brings only defeat in his life. Dhruva Maharaja regrets his unfortunate position, for although he approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is always able to give His devotee the highest benediction of cessation of the repetition of birth and death, which is impossible for any demigod to offer, he foolishly wanted something perishable. When Hiranyakasipu asked immortality from Lord Brahma, Lord Brahma expressed his inability to offer such a benediction because he himself is not immortal; therefore immortality, or complete cessation of the chain of repeated birth and death, can be offered by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead Himself, not by others. Harim vina na srtim taranti. It is said that without the blessings of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can stop the continuous chain of birth and death within this material world. Therefore the Supreme Lord is also called bhava-cchit. The Vaisnava philosophy in the process of Krsna consciousness prohibits the devotee from all kinds of material aspirations. A Vaisnava devotee should always be anyabhilasita-sunya, free from all material aspirations for the results of fruitive activities or empiric philosophical speculation. Dhruva Maharaja was actually initiated by Narada Muni, the greatest Vaisnava, in the chanting of om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. This mantra is a visnu-mantra, for by practicing the chanting of this mantra one is elevated to the Visnuloka. Dhruva Maharaja regrets that although he was initiated in the visnu-mantra by a Vaisnava, he still aspired for material benefits. That was another cause for lamentation. Although he got the result of the visnu-mantra by the causeless mercy of the Lord, he lamented how foolish he was to have strived for material benefits while practicing devotional service. In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Krsna consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Maharaja.
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