kurvanti govatsa-padaṁ bhavābdhim
tvayi — in You; ambuja-akṣa — O lotus-eyed Lord; akhila-sattva-dhāmni — who are the original cause of all existence, from whom everything emanates and in whom all potencies reside; samādhinā — by constant meditation and complete absorption (in thoughts of You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead); āveśita — fully absorbed, fully engaged; cetasā — but by such a mentality; eke — the one process of always thinking of Your lotus feet; tvat-pāda-potena — by boarding such a boat as Your lotus feet; mahat-kṛtena — by that action which is considered the most powerful original existence or which is executed by mahājanas; kurvanti — they make; govatsa-padam — like the hoofprint of a calf; bhava-abdhim — the great ocean of nescience.
O lotus-eyed Lord, by concentrating one’s meditation on Your lotus feet, which are the reservoir of all existence, and by accepting those lotus feet as the boat by which to cross the ocean of nescience, one follows in the footsteps of mahājanas [great saints, sages and devotees]. By this simple process, one can cross the ocean of nescience as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf.
The true mission in life is to cross the ocean of nescience, of repeated birth and death. Those in the darkness of ignorance, however, do not know this mission. Instead, being carried away by the waves of material nature (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ), they are undergoing the tribulations of mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani, repeated birth and death. But persons who have achieved knowledge by the association of devotees follow the mahājanas (mahat-kṛtena). Such a person always concentrates his mind upon the lotus feet of the Lord and executes one or more of the nine varieties of devotional service (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam). Simply by this process, one can cross the insurmountable ocean of nescience.
Devotional service is powerful in any form. Śrī-viṣṇoḥ śravaṇe parīkṣid abhavad vaiyāsakiḥ kīrtane (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.265). According to this verse, Mahārāja Parīkṣit became liberated by fully concentrating his mind on hearing the Lord’s holy name, attributes and pastimes. Similarly, Śukadeva Gosvāmī simply glorified the Lord, and by speaking on the subject matters of Kṛṣṇa that constitute the entire Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, he too was liberated. One may also be liberated simply by sakhya, friendly behavior with the Lord. Such is the power of devotional service, as we learn from the examples set by the Lord’s many pure devotees.
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam
We have to follow in the footsteps of such devotees, for by this one easy process one can cross the great ocean of nescience just as one might cross a small hole created by the hoof of a calf.
Here the Lord is described as ambujākṣa, or lotus-eyed. By seeing the eyes of the Lord, which are compared to lotus flowers, one becomes so satisfied that one does not want to turn his eyes to anything else. Simply by seeing the transcendental form of the Lord, a devotee is at once fully absorbed in the Lord in his heart. This absorption is called samādhi. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (Bhāg. 12.13.1). A yogī is fully absorbed in thoughts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for he has no other business than to think of the Lord always within the heart. It is also said:
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the demon Mura, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. His goal is paraṁ padam, or Vaikuṇṭha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.” (Bhāg. 10.14.58) This process is recommended here by authorities like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva (svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ), and therefore we must take to this process in order to transcend nescience. This is very easy, but we must follow in the footsteps of great personalities, and then success will be possible.
In regard to the word mahat-kṛtena, it is also significant that the process shown by great devotees is not only for them but also for others. If things are made easy, this affords facility for the person who has made them easy and also for others who follow the same principles. The process recommended in this verse for crossing the ocean of nescience is easy not only for the devotee but also for common persons who follow the devotee (mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ).