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CC Adi-lila 02-011 - SB 01.02.11
SB Canto 1
Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.
The Absolute Truth is both subject and object, and there is no qualitative difference there. Therefore, Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are qualitatively one and the same. The same substance is realized as impersonal Brahman by the students of the Upaniṣads, as localized Paramātmā by the Hiraṇyagarbhas or the yogīs, and as Bhagavān by the devotees. In other words, Bhagavān, or the Personality of Godhead, is the last word of the Absolute Truth. Paramātmā is the partial representation of the Personality of Godhead, and impersonal Brahman is the glowing effulgence of the Personality of Godhead, as the sun rays are to the sun-god. Less intelligent students of either of the above schools sometimes argue in favor of their own respective realization, but those who are perfect seers of the Absolute Truth know well that the above three features of the one Absolute Truth are different perspective views seen from different angles of vision.
As it is explained in the first śloka of the First Chapter of the Bhāgavatam, the Supreme Truth is self-sufficient, cognizant and free from the illusion of relativity. In the relative world the knower is different from the known, but in the Absolute Truth both the knower and the known are one and the same thing. In the relative world the knower is the living spirit or superior energy, whereas the known is inert matter or inferior energy. Therefore, there is a duality of inferior and superior energy, whereas in the absolute realm both the knower and the known are of the same superior energy. There are three kinds of energies of the supreme energetic. There is no difference between the energy and energetic, but there is a difference of quality of energies. The absolute realm and the living entities are of the same superior energy, but the material world is inferior energy. The living being in contact with the inferior energy is illusioned, thinking he belongs to the inferior energy. Therefore there is the sense of relativity in the material world. In the Absolute there is no such sense of difference between the knower and the known, and therefore everything there is absolute.
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth say that it is nondual knowledge and is called impersonal Brahman, the localized Paramātmā and the Personality of Godhead."
This Sanskrit verse appears as the eleventh verse of the First Canto, Second Chapter, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Sūta Gosvāmī answers the questions of the sages headed by Śaunaka Ṛṣi concerning the essence of all scriptural instructions. Tattva-vidaḥ refers to persons who have knowledge of the Absolute Truth. They can certainly understand knowledge without duality because they are on the spiritual platform. The Absolute Truth is known sometimes as Brahman, sometimes as Paramātmā and sometimes as Bhagavān. Persons who are in knowledge of the truth know that one who tries to approach the Absolute simply by mental speculation will ultimately realize the impersonal Brahman, and one who tries to approach the Absolute through yoga practice will be able to realize Paramātmā, but one who has complete knowledge and spiritual understanding realizes the spiritual form of Bhagavān, the Personality of Godhead.
Devotees of the Personality of Godhead know that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Absolute Truth. They do not discriminate between Śrī Kṛṣṇa's name, form, qualities and pastimes. One who wants to separate the Lord's absolute name, form and qualities from the Lord Himself must be understood to be lacking in absolute knowledge. A pure devotee knows that when he chants the transcendental name "Kṛṣṇa," Śrī Kṛṣṇa is present as transcendental sound. He therefore chants with full respect and veneration. When he sees the forms of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he does not see anything different from the Lord. If one sees otherwise, he must be considered untrained in absolute knowledge. This lack of absolute knowledge is called māyā. One who is not Kṛṣṇa conscious is ruled by the spell of māyā under the control of a duality in knowledge. In the Absolute, all manifestations of the Supreme Lord are nondual, just as the multifarious forms of Viṣṇu, the controller of māyā, are nondual. Empiric philosophers who pursue the impersonal Brahman accept only the knowledge that the personality of the living entity is not different from the personality of the Supreme Lord, and mystic yogīs who try to locate the Paramātmā accept only the knowledge that the pure soul is not different from the Supersoul. The absolute conception of a pure devotee, however, includes all others. A devotee does not see anything except in its relationship with Kṛṣṇa, and therefore his realization is the most perfect of all.