ह्यतत्त्यजन्तो मृगयन्ति सन्त: ।
सन्तं गुणं तं किमु यन्ति सन्त: ॥ २८ ॥
hy atat tyajanto mṛgayanti santaḥ
asantam apy anty ahim antareṇa
santaṁ guṇaṁ taṁ kim u yanti santaḥ
antaḥ-bhave — within the body; ananta — O unlimited Lord; bhavantam — Yourself; eva — indeed; hi — certainly; atat — everything separate from You; tyajantaḥ — rejecting; mṛgayanti — search out; santaḥ — the saintly devotees; asantam — unreal; api — even; anti — present nearby; ahim — (the illusion of) a snake; antareṇa — without (negating); santam — real; guṇam — the rope; tam — that; kim u — whether; yanti — appreciate; santaḥ — persons who are spiritually situated.
O unlimited Lord, the saintly devotees seek You out within their own bodies by rejecting everything separate from You. Indeed, how can discriminating persons appreciate the real nature of a rope lying before them until they refute the illusion that it is a snake?
One may argue that a person should cultivate self-realization and at the same time pursue sense gratification for the material body. This proposition is herein refuted by the example of misidentifying a rope as a snake. One who mistakes a rope for a snake becomes fearful and thinks of the so-called snake. But upon discovering that the so-called snake is actually a rope, he experiences a different emotion — relief — and can then ignore the rope. Similarly, because we misunderstand the material body to be the self, we are experiencing many emotions in relation to the body. Upon discovering, however, that the body is simply a bag of material chemicals, we carefully note how this illusion was created and then lose interest in the body. Discovering that we are actually an eternal soul within the body, we naturally focus our attention on that real self.
Those who are saintly and wise always cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness, spiritual knowledge, having transcended the foolish misidentification of the body as the self. Such Kṛṣṇa conscious persons go on to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who dwells within the material body as the Supersoul — the witness and guide of every living entity. Realization of the Supersoul and the individual soul is so pleasing and satisfying that a self-realized person automatically gives up everything irrelevant to his spiritual advancement.