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Please note: The synonyms, translation and purport of this verse were composed by disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda
yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
yasya—whose; ātma—as his self; buddhiḥ—idea; kuṇape—in a corpselike body; tri-dhātuke—made of three basic elements; sva-as his own; dhīḥ—idea; kalatra-ādiṣu—in wife and so on; bhaume—in earth; ijya—as worshipable; dhīḥ—idea; yat—whose; tīrtha—as a place of pilgrimage; buddhiḥ—idea; salile—in water; na karhicit—never; janeṣu—in men; abhijñeṣu—wise; saḥ—he; eva—indeed; gaḥ—a cow; kharaḥ—or an ass.
Translation and purport composed by disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda
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 Bṛhaspati-saṁhitā,
- narās te go-khara jñeyā
- api bhū-pāla-vanditāḥ
"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 Vaiṣṇava 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 Vaiṣṇava who has gained the special mercy of the Lord and broken free from the bondage of illusory attachments altogether.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the words bhauma ijya-dhīḥ, "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-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile, "who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there," refer not to sacred rivers like the Ganges or Yamunā but to lesser rivers.