From the very beginning of the Vedānta-sūtra it is accepted that the cosmic manifestation is a display of the Supreme Lord's energies. The aphorism janmādy asya yataḥ (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.2) describes the Supreme Brahman as He from whom everything emanates, He by whom everything is maintained, and He into whom everything is dissolved. Thus the Absolute Truth is the cause of creation, maintenance and dissolution. The cause of a fruit is the tree, but when a tree produces a fruit one cannot say that the tree is impersonal or that it vanishes. The tree may produce hundreds and thousands of fruits, but it remains as it is. The fruit is produced, and then it develops, stays for some time, dwindles and finally vanishes. This does not mean that the tree also vanishes. Thus from the very beginning the Vedānta-sūtra explains the doctrine of by-products. The activities of production, maintenance and dissolution are carried out by the inconceivable energy of the Supreme Lord. Thus the cosmic manifestation is a transformation of the energy of the Supreme Lord, although the energy of the Supreme Lord and the Supreme Lord Himself are nondifferent and inseparable. A touchstone may produce great quantities of gold in contact with iron, but still the touchstone remains as it is. Similarly the Supreme Lord, despite His producing the huge material cosmic manifestation, always remains in His transcendental form.
The Māyāvādīphilosophers have the audacity to reject the purport of what Vyāsadeva explained in the Vedānta-sūtra and to say he attempted to establish a doctrine of transformation of the Supreme, which is totally imaginary. According to the Māyāvāda philosophy, the cosmic manifestation is an illusory transformation of the Absolute Truth, which has no separate existence outside the cosmic manifestation. This is not the message of the Vedānta-sūtra. The cosmic manifestation has been explained by Māyāvādī philosophers as false, but it is not false—it is temporary. The Māyāvādī philosophers maintain that the Absolute Truth is the only truth and that this material manifestation known as the world is false. Actually, this is not so. The material manifestation is not false; it is truth, but because it is relative truth it is temporary.
Praṇava, or oṁkāra, is the chief sound vibration found in the Vedic hymns, and it is considered to be the sound form of the Supreme Lord. From oṁkāra all Vedic hymns have emanated, and the world itself has also emanated from this oṁkāra sound. The vibration tat tvam asi, also found in the Vedic hymns, is not the chief vibration but is an explanation of the constitutional position of the living entity. Tat tvam asi means that the living entity is a spiritual particle of the supreme spirit, but this is not the chief motif of the Vedānta-sūtra or the Vedic literature. The chief sound representation of the Supreme is oṁkāra.
All these faulty explanations of the Vedānta-sūtra are considered atheistic. Because the Māyāvādī philosophers do not accept the eternal transcendental form of the Supreme Lord, they are unable to engage in real devotional service. Thus the Māyāvādī philosopher is forever bereft of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and Kṛṣṇa's devotional service. The pure devotee of the Personality of Godhead never accepts the Māyāvāda philosophy as an actual path to transcendental realization. The Māyāvādī philosophers hover in the moral and immoral material atmosphere of the cosmic world and are thus always engaged in rejecting and accepting material enjoyment. They have falsely accepted the nonspiritual as the spiritual, and as a result they have forgotten the eternal spiritual form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as well as His name, qualities and entourage. They consider the transcendental pastimes, name, form and qualities of the Supreme to be products of material nature. Because of their acceptance and rejection of material pleasure and misery, the Māyāvādī philosophers are eternally subjected to material misery.
The actual devotees of the Lord are always in disagreement with the Māyāvādī philosophers. Impersonalism cannot possibly represent eternity, bliss and knowledge. Being situated in imperfect knowledge of liberation, the Māyāvādīs decry the eternity, knowledge and bliss of the devotees as materialism. Because they reject devotional service, they are unintelligent and unable to understand the effects of devotional service. The word jugglery they use in an attempt to amalgamate knowledge, the knowable and the knower simply proves that they are unintelligent. The doctrine of by-products is the real purport of the beginning of the Vedānta-sūtra. The Lord possesses innumerable unlimited energies, and He displays the by-products of these energies in different ways. Everything is under His control. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is also the supreme controller, and He is manifested in innumerable energies and expansions.