सज्जतेऽस्मिन्नहंभावो देहे वै स हरे: प्रिय: ॥ ५१ ॥
sajjate ’sminn ahaṁ-bhāvo
dehe vai sa hareḥ priyaḥ
na — there is not; yasya — of whom; janma — by good birth; karmabhyām — or meritorious acts; na — not; varṇa-āśrama — by adherence to rules of occupational or religious duty; jātibhiḥ — or by belonging to a certain class of society; sajjate — attaches itself; asmin — in this (body); aham-bhāvaḥ — egotistic sentiment; dehe — in the body; vai — indeed; saḥ — he; hareḥ — to Lord Hari; priyaḥ — is dear.
Birth in an aristocratic family and the execution of austere and pious activities certainly cause one to take pride in himself. Similarly, if one enjoys a prestigious position within society because his parents are highly respected members of the varṇāśrama social system, one becomes even more infatuated with himself. But if despite these excellent material qualifications one does not feel even a tinge of pride within himself, he is to be considered the dearmost servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
According to Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, the word janma (“good birth”) refers to such classes as the mūrdhāvasiktas (children of brāhmaṇa fathers and kṣatriya mothers) and ambaṣṭhas (children of brāhmaṇa fathers and vaiśya mothers), both of which are considered anuloma since the father comes from a higher caste. Marriages in which the mother comes from a higher class than the father are called pratiloma. In any case, one who becomes proud of his so-called prestigious birth is certainly in the bodily concept of life. Birth in any material body is a serious problem, which one should solve by surrendering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can thereby release himself from the golden shackles of a so-called aristocratic material body.
According to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs think that karma-miśra bhakti, or devotional service mixed with material endeavor, is the ultimate in spiritual life. They become attached to verses such as this:
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varṇas and āśramas.” (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 3.8.9) Thus they think that material work in which a portion of the fruits are offered to God forms the highest platform of human life. According to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, there are several smṛti literatures that have encouraged such mixed devotional service. Such books are taken by materialistic devotees as facility for offending the holy name of the Lord because of egotistic attachment to the material body. Thus one thinks that a prestigious position in the varṇāśrama system according to birth and so-called pious activities is a prerequisite for becoming successful in life.
But those who have actually taken shelter of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa never boast about their birth in the material world, nor do they pride themselves on their so-called expertise in material work. As long as one’s mentality is encumbered by the material designations of the varṇāśrama system, one has very little chance of becoming free from material bondage and establishing himself as dear to the Lord. In this regard, Caitanya Mahāprabhu emphatically declared that He could not identify Himself with any varṇāśrama designation, such as that of a great intellectual or priest, a courageous warrior in the Lord’s army, a brilliant businessman making money for the Lord, or the hardest worker for the Lord. Nor could Caitanya Mahāprabhu identify Himself as a stalwart brahmacārī, a noble householder or an exalted sannyāsī. These designations reflect the material pride that can infiltrate the execution of devotional service. Although a devotee may carry out the standard duties of varṇāśrama, his only designation is gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ, the eternal servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord, the master of the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa.
According to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, when a devotee understands that the process of bhakti-yoga is complete in itself and he becomes absorbed in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, the supremely merciful Personality of Godhead affectionately lifts such a first-class devotee onto His own lap. The Supreme Lord can be pleased only by unalloyed devotion, and not by any arrangement of the gross body, composed of five material elements, or the subtle body, composed of innumerable speculations and bogus pride. In other words, Lord Kṛṣṇa can never be pleased by one’s so-called aristocratic body, which is due to be devoured by worms or vultures. If one becomes proud of his material birth and so-called pious activities, by such false pride one gradually develops the impersonal mentality of merely renouncing the fruit of work or else the karmī mentality of enjoying the fruits of work. Neither the karmīs nor the jñānī speculators are aware that the fruit of work actually belongs to Kṛṣṇa. The conclusion is that one should carefully give up all false pride and always remember that he is a humble servant of Kṛṣṇa. As stated by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ.