gatvā yāce yad antavat
aho — oh; bata — alas; mama — my; anātmyam — bodily consciousness; manda-bhāgyasya — of the unfortunate; paśyata — just see; bhava — material existence; chidaḥ — of the Lord, who can cut off; pāda-mūlam — the lotus feet; gatvā — having approached; yāce — I prayed for; yat — that which; anta-vat — perishable.
Alas, just look at me! I am so unfortunate. I approached the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can immediately cut the chain of the repetition of birth and death, but still, out of my foolishness, I prayed for things which are perishable.
The word anātmyam is very significant in this verse. Ātmā means “the soul,” and anātmya means “without any conception of the soul.” Śrīla Ṛṣabhadeva instructed his sons that unless a human being comes to the point of understanding the ātmā, or spiritual position, whatever he does is ignorance, and this brings only defeat in his life. Dhruva Mahārāja regrets his unfortunate position, for although he approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is always able to give His devotee the highest benediction of cessation of the repetition of birth and death, which is impossible for any demigod to offer, he foolishly wanted something perishable. When Hiraṇyakaśipu asked immortality from Lord Brahmā, Lord Brahmā expressed his inability to offer such a benediction because he himself is not immortal; therefore immortality, or complete cessation of the chain of repeated birth and death, can be offered by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead Himself, not by others. Hariṁ vinā na mṛtiṁ taranti. It is said that without the blessings of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can stop the continuous chain of birth and death within this material world. Therefore the Supreme Lord is also called bhava-cchit. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy in the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness prohibits the devotee from all kinds of material aspirations. A Vaiṣṇava devotee should always be anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya, free from all material aspirations for the results of fruitive activities or empiric philosophical speculation. Dhruva Mahārāja was actually initiated by Nārada Muni, the greatest Vaiṣṇava, in the chanting of oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. This mantra is a viṣṇu-mantra, for by practicing the chanting of this mantra one is elevated to the Viṣṇuloka. Dhruva Mahārāja regrets that although he was initiated in the viṣṇu-mantra by a Vaiṣṇava, he still aspired for material benefits. That was another cause for lamentation. Although he got the result of the viṣṇu-mantra by the causeless mercy of the Lord, he lamented how foolish he was to have strived for material benefits while practicing devotional service. In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Mahārāja.