Canto 10: The Summum BonumChapter 84: The Sages' Teachings at Kuruksetra

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Srimad Bhagavatam 10.84.13

yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke

sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih

yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij

janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah


yasya -- whose; atma -- as his self; buddhih -- idea; kunape -- in a corpselike body; tri-dhatuke -- made of three basic elements; sva -- as his own; dhih -- idea; kalatra-adisu -- in wife and so on; bhaume -- in earth; ijya -- as worshipable; dhih -- idea; yat -- whose; tirtha -- as a place of pilgrimage; buddhih -- idea; salile -- in water; na karhicit -- never; janesu -- in men; abhijnesu -- wise; sah -- he; eva -- indeed; gah -- a cow; kharah -- or an ass.


One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks an earthen image or the land of his birth is worshipable, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there, but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth -- such a person is no better than a cow or an ass.


True intelligence is shown by one's freedom from false identification of the self. As stated in the Brhaspati-samhita,



naras te go-khara jneya

api bhu-pala-vanditah

"Men who do not know the principles of devotional service to the Supreme Lord should be known as cows and asses, even if they are expert in technically analyzing Vedic mantras and are adored by world leaders."

An imperfect Vaisnava advancing toward the second-class platform identifies himself with the sages who have established the true spiritual path, even while he still may have some inferior material attachments to body, family and so on. Such a devotee of the Lord is not a foolish cow or stubborn ass like the majority of materialists. But most excellent is the Vaisnava who has gained the special mercy of the Lord and broken free from the bondage of illusory attachments altogether.

According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, the words bhauma ijya-dhih, "who thinks an image made of earth is worshipable," refer not to the Deity form of the Supreme Lord in His temple but to deities of demigods, and the words yat-tirtha-buddhih salile, "who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there," refer not to sacred rivers like the Ganges or Yamuna but to lesser rivers.

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