च्चेतोऽलिवद्यदि नु ते पदयो रमेत ।
वाचश्च नस्तुलसिवद्यदि तेऽङ्घ्रि शोभा:
पूर्येत ते गुणगणैर्यदि कर्णरन्ध्र: ॥ ४९ ॥
ceto ’livad yadi nu te padayo rameta
vācaś ca nas tulasivad yadi te ’ṅghri-śobhāḥ
pūryeta te guṇa-gaṇair yadi karṇa-randhraḥ
kāmam — as much as deserved; bhavaḥ — birth; sva-vṛjinaiḥ — by our own sinful activities; nirayeṣu — in low births; naḥ — our; stāt — let it be; cetaḥ — minds; ali-vat — like bees; yadi — if; nu — may be; te — Your; padayoḥ — at Your lotus feet; rameta — are engaged; vācaḥ — words; ca — and; naḥ — our; tulasi-vat — like the tulasī leaves; yadi — if; te — Your; aṅghri — at Your lotus feet; śobhāḥ — beautified; pūryeta — are filled; te — Your; guṇa-gaṇaiḥ — by transcendental qualities; yadi — if; karṇa-randhraḥ — the holes of the ears.
O Lord, we pray that You let us be born in any hellish condition of life, just as long as our hearts and minds are always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet, our words are made beautiful [by speaking of Your activities] just as tulasī leaves are beautified when offered unto Your lotus feet, and as long as our ears are always filled with the chanting of Your transcendental qualities.
The four sages now offer their humility to the Personality of Godhead because of their having been haughty in cursing two other devotees of the Lord. Jaya and Vijaya, the two doorkeepers who checked them from entering the Vaikuṇṭha planet, were certainly offenders, but as Vaiṣṇavas, the four sages should not have cursed them in anger. After the incident, they became conscious that they had done wrong by cursing the devotees of the Lord, and they prayed to the Lord that even in the hellish condition of life their minds might not be distracted from the engagement of service to the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Those who are devotees of the Lord are not afraid of any condition of life, provided there is constant engagement in the service of the Lord. It is said of the nārāyaṇa-para, or those who are devotees of Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, na kutaścana bibhyati (Bhāg. 6.17.28). They are not afraid of entering a hellish condition, for since they are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, heaven or hell is the same for them. In material life both heaven and hell are one and the same because they are material; in either place there is no engagement in the Lord’s service. Therefore those who are engaged in the service of the Lord see no distinction between heaven and hell; it is only the materialists who prefer one to the other.
These four devotees prayed to the Lord that although they might go to hell because they had cursed devotees, they might not forget the service of the Lord. The transcendental loving service of the Lord is performed in three ways — with the body, with the mind and with words. Here the sages pray that their words may always be engaged in glorifying the Supreme Lord. One may speak very nicely with ornamental language or one may be expert at controlled grammatical presentation, but if one’s words are not engaged in the service of the Lord, they have no flavor and no actual use. The example is given here of tulasī leaves. The tulasī leaf is very useful even from the medicinal or antiseptic point of view. It is considered sacred and is offered to the lotus feet of the Lord. The tulasī leaf has numerous good qualities, but if it were not offered to the lotus feet of the Lord, tulasī could not be of much value or importance. Similarly, one may speak very nicely from the rhetorical or grammatical point of view, which may be very much appreciated by a materialistic audience, but if one’s words are not offered to the service of the Lord, they are useless. The holes of the ears are very small and can be filled with any insignificant sound, so how can they receive as great a vibration as the glorification of the Lord? The answer is that the holes of the ears are like the sky. As the sky can never be filled up, the quality of the ear is such that one may go on pouring in vibrations of various kinds, yet it is capable of receiving more and more vibrations. A devotee is not afraid of going to hell if he has the opportunity to hear the glories of the Lord constantly. This is the advantage of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. One may be put in any condition, but God gives him the prerogative to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. In any condition of life, if one goes on chanting he will never be unhappy.