patatāṁ tamasi hy adhaḥ
ye śraddadhyur vacas te vai
majjanty aśma-plavā iva
teṣām — of them (the misleaders); ku-patha-deṣṭṝṇām — who show the path of danger; patatām — themselves falling; tamasi — in darkness; hi — indeed; adhaḥ — down; ye — anyone who; śraddadhyuḥ — place faith in; vacaḥ — the words; te — they; vai — indeed; majjanti — sink; aśma-plavāḥ — boats made of stone; iva — like.
Leaders who have fallen into ignorance and who mislead people by directing them to the path of destruction [as described in the previous verse] are, in effect, boarding a stone boat, and so too are those who blindly follow them. A stone boat would be unable to float and would sink in the water with its passengers. Similarly, those who mislead people go to hell, and their followers go with them.
As stated in the Vedic literature (Bhāg. 11.20.17):
plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru-karṇa-dhāram
We, the conditioned souls, have fallen in the ocean of nescience, but the human body fortunately provides us a good opportunity to cross the ocean because the human body is like a very good boat. When directed by a spiritual master acting as the captain, the boat can very easily cross the ocean. Furthermore, the boat is helped across by favorable winds, which are the instructions of Vedic knowledge. If one does not take advantage of all these facilities to cross the ocean of nescience, he is certainly committing suicide.
One who boards a boat made of stone is doomed. To be elevated to the stage of perfection, humanity must first give up false leaders who present boats of stone. All of human society is in such a dangerous position that to be rescued it must abide by the standard instructions of the Vedas. The cream of these instructions appears in the form of Bhagavad-gītā. One should not take shelter of any other instructions, for Bhagavad-gītā gives direct instructions on how to fulfill the aim of human life. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa therefore says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: “Give up all other processes of religion and simply surrender to Me.” Even if one does not accept Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His instructions are so exalted and beneficial for humanity that if one follows His instructions one will be saved. Otherwise one will be cheated by unauthorized meditation and gymnastic methods of yoga. Thus one will board a boat of stone, which will sink and drown all its passengers. Unfortunately, although the American people are extremely eager to get out of materialistic chaos, they are sometimes found to patronize the makers of stone boats. That will not help them. They must take the proper boat offered by Kṛṣṇa in the form of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Then they will be easily saved. In this regard Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments: aśmamayaḥ plavo yeṣāṁ te yathā majjantaṁ plavam anumajjanti tatheti rāja-nīty-upadeṣṭṛṣu sva-sabhyeṣu kopo vyañjitaḥ. If society is guided by political diplomacy, with one nation maneuvering against another, it will certainly sink like a stone boat. Political maneuvering and diplomacy will not save human society. People must take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness to understand the aim of life, to understand God, and to fulfill the human mission.