pusnati yat-priya-cikirsaya vitanvan
svante sa-krcchram avaruddha-dhanah sa dehah
srstvasya bijam avasidati vrksa-dharmah
A man attached to the body accumulates money with great struggle to expand and protect the position of his wife, children, property, domestic animals, servants, homes, relatives, friends, and so on. He does all this for the gratification of his own body. As a tree before dying produces the seed of a future tree, the dying body manifests the seed of one’s next material body in the form of one’s accumulated karma. Thus assuring the continuation of material existence, the material body sinks down and dies.
One might argue, “Among all the gurus mentioned thus far, the material body is certainly the best, since it awards the detachment and fine intelligence that enable one to engage in the devotional service of the Lord. Thus, we should serve the body, although it is temporary, with great attachment, or risk the offense of ungratefulness. How can detachment from the body be recommended when the body is endowed with so many wonderful qualities?” The answer is given in this verse. The body does not award detachment and knowledge in the manner of some benevolent teacher; rather, it causes so much pain and misery that any commonsense person cannot help being convinced of the uselessness of material life. Just as a tree produces the seeds of the next tree and then dies, the body’s lusty desires induce the conditioned soul to create a further chain of karma. Finally the body, having paved the way for unlimited suffering in material existence, drops dead.
According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, deha indicates both the gross body and the subtle, mental body. Those who do not clearly understand the difference between body and soul falsely think that body and soul are identical and that one can find perfect happiness in bodily sense gratification. But those who foolishly accept the temporary body as all-important cannot be compared with self-realized souls who intelligently understand the superiority of the eternal soul.