Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has explained the word bhagavān in his Bhagavat-sandarbha. The Personality of Godhead, being full of all conceivable and inconceivable potencies, is the absolute Supreme Whole. Impersonal Brahman is a partial manifestation of the Absolute Truth realized in the absence of such complete potencies. The first syllable of the word bhagavān is bha, which means “sustainer” and “protector.” The next letter, ga, means “leader,” “pusher” and “creator.” Va means “dwelling” (all living beings dwell in the Supreme Lord, and the Supreme Lord dwells within the heart of every living being). Combining all these concepts, the word bhagavān carries the import of inconceivable potency in knowledge, energy, strength, opulence, power and influence, devoid of all varieties of inferiority. Without such inconceivable potencies, one cannot fully sustain or protect. Our modern civilization is sustained by scientific arrangements devised by many great scientific brains. We can just imagine, therefore, the gigantic brain whose arrangements sustain the gravity of the unlimited number of planets and satellites and who creates the unlimited space in which they float. If one considers the intelligence needed to orbit man-made satellites, one cannot be fooled into thinking that there is not a gigantic intelligence responsible for the arrangements of the various planetary systems. There is no reason to believe that all the gigantic planets float in space without the superior arrangement of a superior intelligence. This subject is clearly dealt with in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 15.13), where the Personality of Godhead says, “I enter into each planet, and by My energy they stay in orbit.” Were the planets not held in the grip of the Personality of Godhead, they would all scatter like dust in the air. Modern scientists can only impractically explain this inconceivable strength of the Personality of Godhead.
The potencies of the syllables bha, ga and va apply in terms of many different meanings. Through His different potent agents, the Lord protects and sustains everything, but He Himself personally protects and sustains only His devotees, just as a king personally sustains and protects his own children, while entrusting the protection and sustenance of the state to various administrative agents. The Lord is the leader of His devotees, as we learn from the Bhagavad-gītā, which mentions that the Personality of Godhead personally instructs His loving devotees how to make certain progress on the path of devotion and thus surely approach the kingdom of God. The Lord is also the recipient of all the adoration offered by His devotees, for whom He is the objective and the goal. For His devotees the Lord creates a favorable condition for developing a sense of transcendental love of Godhead. Sometimes He does this by taking away a devotee’s material attachments by force and baffling all his material protective agents, for thus the devotee must completely depend on the Lord’s protection. In this way the Lord proves Himself the leader of His devotees.
The Lord is not directly attached to the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world, for He is eternally busy in the enjoyment of transcendental bliss with paraphernalia composed of His internal potencies. Yet as the initiator of the material energy as well as the marginal potency (the living beings), He expands Himself as the puruṣa-avatāras, who are invested with potencies similar to His. The puruṣa-avatāras are also in the category of bhagavat-tattva because each and every one of them is identical with the original form of the Personality of Godhead. The living entities are His infinitesimal particles and are qualitatively one with Him. They are sent into this material world for material enjoyment, to fulfill their desires to be independent individuals, but still they are subject to the supreme will of the Lord. The Lord deputes Himself in the state of Supersoul to supervise the arrangements for such material enjoyment. The example of a temporary fair is quite appropriate in this connection. If the citizens of a state assemble in a fair to enjoy for a short period, the government deputes a special officer to supervise it. Such an officer is invested with all governmental power, and therefore he is identical with the government. When the fair is over, there is no need for such an officer, and he returns home. The Paramātmā is compared to such an officer.
The living beings are not all in all. They are undoubtedly parts of the Supreme Lord and are qualitatively one with Him, yet they are subject to His control. Thus they are never equal to the Lord or one with Him. The Lord who associates with the living being is the Paramātmā, or supreme living being. No one, therefore, should view the tiny living beings and supreme living being to be on an equal level.
The all-pervading truth that exists eternally during the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the material world and in which the living beings rest in trance is called the impersonal Brahman.