आत्मौपम्येन भूतानि दरिद्र: परमीक्षते ॥ १३ ॥
dāridryaṁ param añjanam
daridraḥ param īkṣate
asataḥ — of such a foolish rascal; śrī-mada-andhasya — who is blinded by temporarily possessing riches and opulence; dāridryam — poverty; param añjanam — the best ointment for the eyes, by which to see things as they are; ātma-aupamyena — with comparison to himself; bhūtāni — living beings; daridraḥ — a poverty-stricken man; param — perfectly; īkṣate — can see things as they are.
Atheistic fools and rascals who are very much proud of wealth fail to see things as they are. Therefore, returning them to poverty is the proper ointment for their eyes so they may see things as they are. At least a poverty-stricken man can realize how painful poverty is, and therefore he will not want others to be in a painful condition like his own.
Even today, if a man who was formerly poverty-stricken gets money, he is inclined to utilize his money to perform many philanthropic activities, like opening schools for uneducated men and hospitals for the diseased. In this connection there is an instructive story called punar mūṣiko bhava, “Again Become a Mouse.” A mouse was very much harassed by a cat, and therefore the mouse approached a saintly person to request to become a cat. When the mouse became a cat, he was harassed by a dog, and then when he became a dog, he was harassed by a tiger. But when he became a tiger, he stared at the saintly person, and when the saintly person asked him, “What do you want?” the tiger said, “I want to eat you.” Then the saintly person cursed him, saying, “May you again become a mouse.” A similar thing is going on all over the universe. One is going up and down, sometimes becoming a mouse, sometimes a tiger, and so on. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said:
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
(Cc. Madhya 19.151)
The living entities are promoted and degraded by the laws of nature, but if one is very, very fortunate, by association with saintly persons he gets the seed of devotional service, and his life becomes successful. Nārada Muni wanted to bring Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva to the platform of devotional service through poverty, and thus he cursed them. Such is the mercy of a Vaiṣṇava. Unless one is brought to the Vaiṣṇava platform, one cannot be a good man. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ (Bhāg. 5.18.12). An avaiṣṇava never becomes a good man, however severely he is punished.