sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
True intelligence is shown by one’s freedom from false identification of the self. As stated in the Bṛhaspati-saṁhitā:
narās te go-khara jñeyā
“Men who do not know the principles of devotional service to the Supreme Lord should be known as cows and asses, even if they are expert in technically analyzing Vedic mantras and are adored by world leaders.”
An imperfect Vaiṣṇava advancing toward the second-class platform identifies himself with the sages who have established the true spiritual path, even while he still may have some inferior material attachments to body, family and so on. Such a devotee of the Lord is not a foolish cow or stubborn ass like the majority of materialists. But most excellent is the Vaiṣṇava who has gained the special mercy of the Lord and broken free from the bondage of illusory attachments altogether.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the words bhauma ijya-dhīḥ, “who thinks an image made of earth is worshipable,” refer not to the Deity form of the Supreme Lord in His temple but to deities of demigods, and the words yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile, “who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there,” refer not to sacred rivers like the Ganges or Yamunā but to lesser rivers.