He (Pradyumna) is the origin of the creation of the material world, and He has invested His creative principle in Cupid. It is by His direction only that all men and demigods and other living entities function with energy for regeneration
Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha constitute this second quadruple. They are purely transcendental.
Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has misleadingly explained the quadruple form (catur-vyūha) in his interpretation of the forty-second aphorism of Chapter Two of the second khaṇḍa of the Vedānta-sūtra (utpatty-asambhavāt). In verses 41 through 47 of this chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī answers Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya's misleading objections to the personal feature of the Absolute Truth.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is not like a material object that can be known by experimental knowledge or sense perception. In the Nārada Pañcarātra this fact has been explained by Nārāyaṇa Himself to Lord Śiva. But Śaṅkarācārya, the incarnation of Śiva, under the order of Nārāyaṇa, his master, had to mislead the monists, who favor ultimate extinction. In the conditioned stage of existence, all living entities have four basic defects, of which one is the cheating propensity. Śaṅkarācārya has carried this cheating propensity to the extreme to mislead the monists.
Actually, the explanation of the quadruple forms in the Vedic literature cannot be understood by the speculation of a conditioned soul. The quadruple forms should therefore be accepted just as They are described. The authority of the Vedas is such that even if one does not understand something by his limited perception, he should accept the Vedic injunction and not create interpretations to suit his imperfect understanding. In his Śārīraka-bhāṣya, however, Śaṅkarācārya has increased the misunderstanding of the monists.
The quadruple forms have a spiritual existence that can be realized in vasudeva-sattva (śuddha-sattva), or unqualified goodness, which accompanies complete absorption in the understanding of Vāsudeva. The quadruple forms, who are full in the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are the enjoyers of the internal potency. Thinking the absolute Personality of Godhead to be poverty-stricken or to have no potency—or, in other words, to be impotent—is simply rascaldom. This rascaldom is the profession of the conditioned soul, and it increases his bewilderment. One who cannot understand the distinctions between the spiritual world and the material world has no qualification to examine or know the situation of the transcendental quadruple forms. In his commentary on Vedānta-sūtra 2.2.42–45, His Holiness Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has made a futile attempt to nullify the existence of these quadruple forms in the spiritual world.
Śaṅkarācārya says (sūtra 42) that devotees think the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, to be one, to be free from material qualities and to have a transcendental body full of bliss and eternal existence. He is the ultimate goal of the devotees, who believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself into four other eternal transcendental forms—Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. From Vāsudeva, who is the primary expansion, come Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha in that order. Another name of Vāsudeva is Paramātmā, another name of Saṅkarṣaṇa is jīva (the living entity), another name of Pradyumna is mind, and another name of Aniruddha is ahaṅkāra (false ego). Among these expansions, Vāsudeva is considered the origin of the material nature. Therefore Śaṅkarācārya says that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha must be creations of that original cause.
Great souls assert that Nārāyaṇa, who is known as the Paramātmā, or Supersoul, is beyond material nature, and this is in accordance with the statements of the Vedic literature. Māyāvādīs also agree that Nārāyaṇa can expand Himself in various forms. Śaṅkara says that he does not attempt to argue that portion of the devotees' understanding, but he must protest the idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa is produced from Vāsudeva, Pradyumna is produced from Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Aniruddha is produced from Pradyumna, for if Saṅkarṣaṇa is understood to represent the living entities created from the body of Vāsudeva, the living entities would have to be noneternal. The living entities are supposed to be freed from material contamination by engaging in prolonged temple worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, reading Vedic literature and performing yoga and pious activities to attain the Supreme Lord. But if the living entities had been created from material nature at a certain point, they would be noneternal and would have no chance to be liberated and associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a cause is nullified, its results are nullified. In the second chapter of the Vedānta-sūtra's second khaṇḍa, Ācārya Vedavyāsa has also refuted the conception that the living beings were ever born (nātmā śruter nityatvāc ca tābhyaḥ). Because there is no creation for the living entities, they must be eternal.
Śaṅkarācārya says (sūtra 43) that devotees think that Pradyumna, who is considered to represent the senses, has sprung from Saṅkarṣaṇa, who is considered to represent the living entities. But we cannot actually experience that a person can produce senses. Devotees also say that from Pradyumna has sprung Aniruddha, who is considered to represent the ego. But Śaṅkarācārya says that unless the devotees can show how ego and the means of knowledge can generate from a person, such an explanation of the Vedānta-sūtra cannot be accepted, for no other philosophers accept the sūtras in that way.
Śaṅkarācārya also says (sūtra 44) that he cannot accept the devotees' idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are equally as powerful as the absolute Personality of Godhead, full in the six opulences of knowledge, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation, and free from the flaw of generation at a certain point. Even if They are full expansions, the flaw of generation remains. Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, being distinct individual persons, cannot be one. Therefore if They are accepted as absolute, full and equal, there would have to be many Personalities of Godhead. But there is no need to accept that there are many Personalities of Godhead, because acceptance of one omnipotent God is sufficient for all purposes. The acceptance of more than one God is contradictory to the conclusion that Lord Vāsudeva, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. Even if we agree to accept that the quadruple forms of Godhead are all identical, we cannot avoid the incongruous flaw of noneternity. Unless we accept that there are some differences among the personalities, there is no meaning to the idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa is an expansion of Vāsudeva, Pradyumna is an expansion of Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Aniruddha is an expansion of Pradyumna. There must be a distinction between cause and effect. For example, a pot is distinct from the earth from which it is made, and therefore we can ascertain that the earth is the cause and the pot is the effect. Without such distinctions, there is no meaning to cause and effect. Furthermore, the followers of the Pañcarātric principles do not accept any differences in knowledge and qualities between Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The devotees accept all these expansions to be one, but why should they restrict oneness to these quadruple expansions? Certainly we should not do so, for all living entities, from Brahmā to the insignificant ant, are expansions of Vāsudeva, as accepted in all the śrutis and smṛtis.
Śaṅkarācārya also says (sūtra 45) that the devotees who follow the Pañcarātra state that God's qualities and God Himself, as the owner of the qualities, are the same. But how can the Bhāgavata school state that the six opulences—wisdom, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation—are identical with Lord Vāsudeva? This is impossible.
In his Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (Pūrva 5.165–193), Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has refuted the charges directed against the devotees by Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya regarding their explanation of the quadruple forms Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Rūpa Gosvāmī says that these four expansions of Nārāyaṇa are present in the spiritual sky, where They are famous as Mahāvastha. Among Them, Vāsudeva is worshiped within the heart by meditation because He is the predominating Deity of the heart, as explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.3.23).
Saṅkarṣaṇa, the second expansion, is Vāsudeva's personal expansion for pastimes, and since He is the reservoir of all living entities, He is sometimes called jīva. The beauty of Saṅkarṣaṇa is greater than that of innumerable full moons radiating light beams. He is worshipable as the principle of ego. He has invested Anantadeva with all the potencies of sustenance. For the dissolution of the creation, He also exhibits Himself as the Supersoul in Rudra, in Adharma (the personality of irreligion), in sarpa (snakes), in Antaka (Yamarāja, the lord of death) and in the demons.
Pradyumna, the third manifestation, appears from Saṅkarṣaṇa. Those who are especially intelligent worship this Pradyumna expansion of Saṅkarṣaṇa as the principle of the intelligence. The goddess of fortune always chants the glories of Pradyumna in the place known as Ilāvṛta-varṣa, and she always serves Him with great devotion. His complexion appears sometimes golden and sometimes bluish like new monsoon clouds in the sky. He is the origin of the creation of the material world, and He has invested His creative principle in Cupid. It is by His direction only that all men and demigods and other living entities function with energy for regeneration.
Aniruddha, the fourth of the quadruple expansions, is worshiped by great sages and psychologists as the principle of the mind. His complexion is similar to the bluish hue of a blue cloud. He engages in the maintenance of the cosmic manifestation and is the Supersoul of Dharma (the deity of religiosity), the Manus (the progenitors of mankind) and the devatās (demigods). The Mokṣa-dharma Vedic scripture indicates that Pradyumna is the Deity of the total mind, whereas Aniruddha is the Deity of the total ego, but previous statements regarding the quadruple forms are confirmed in the Pañcarātra tantras in all respects.