Impersonal philosophy

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 7 - 12

The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gītā.
BG 9.26, Purport:

Kṛṣṇa has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Kṛṣṇa. The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gītā. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Kṛṣṇa, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gītā. But, in actuality, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Kṛṣṇa is absolute.

In the impersonal philosophy there is no reciprocation between the Supreme and the living entity, but in the personalist philosophy there is.
BG 9.29, Purport:

The very phrase "Kṛṣṇa consciousness" suggests that those who are in such consciousness are living transcendentalists, situated in Him. The Lord says here distinctly, mayi te: "They are in Me." Naturally, as a result, the Lord is also in them. This is reciprocal. This also explains the words ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham: "Whoever surrenders unto Me, proportionately I take care of him." This transcendental reciprocation exists because both the Lord and the devotee are conscious. When a diamond is set in a golden ring, it looks very nice. The gold is glorified, and at the same time the diamond is glorified. The Lord and the living entity eternally glitter, and when a living entity becomes inclined to the service of the Supreme Lord he looks like gold. The Lord is a diamond, and so this combination is very nice. Living entities in a pure state are called devotees. The Supreme Lord becomes the devotee of His devotees. If a reciprocal relationship is not present between the devotee and the Lord, then there is no personalist philosophy. In the impersonal philosophy there is no reciprocation between the Supreme and the living entity, but in the personalist philosophy there is.

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

The impersonalist philosophers have given indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have overstressed the impersonality of the ultimate truth.
SB 1.1.1, Purport:

The material sex life is but a perverted reflection of the original fact. The original fact is in the Absolute Truth, and thus the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal. It is not possible to be impersonal and contain pure sex life. Consequently, the impersonalist philosophers have given indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have overstressed the impersonality of the ultimate truth. Consequently, man without information of the actual spiritual form of sex has accepted perverted material sex life as the all in all. There is a distinction between sex life in the diseased material condition and spiritual sex life.

SB Canto 2

In the Bhagavad-gītā, it is said that after many hundreds of births, the impersonal philosopher surrenders unto the Personality of Godhead.
SB 2.1.20, Purport:

Persons generally conducted by the modes of passion and ignorance cannot be bona fide candidates for being situated in the transcendental stage of God realization. Only persons conducted by the mode of goodness can have the knowledge of the Supreme Truth. Effects of the modes of passion and ignorance are manifested by too much hankering after wealth and women. And those who are too much after wealth and women can rectify their leanings only by constant remembrance of Viṣṇu in His potential impersonal feature. Generally the impersonalists or monists are influenced by the modes of passion and ignorance. Such impersonalists think of themselves as liberated souls, but they have no knowledge of the transcendental personal feature of the Absolute Truth. Actually they are impure in heart on account of being devoid of knowledge of the personal feature of the Absolute. In the Bhagavad-gītā, it is said that after many hundreds of births, the impersonal philosopher surrenders unto the Personality of Godhead. To acquire such a qualification of God realization in the personal feature, the neophyte impersonalist is given a chance to realize the relation of the Lord in everything by the philosophy of pantheism.

Impersonal meditation is therefore a source of suffering for the impersonalist. Here, the devotee has an advantage over the impersonalist philosopher.
SB 2.2.12, Purport:

In Bhagavad-gītā (12.5) it is said that the impersonalist undergoes a series of difficult programs on account of his impersonal meditation. But the devotee, due to the Lord's personal service, progresses very easily. Impersonal meditation is therefore a source of suffering for the impersonalist. Here, the devotee has an advantage over the impersonalist philosopher. The impersonalist is doubtful about the personal feature of the Lord, and therefore he always tries to meditate upon something which is not objective. For this reason there is an authentic statement in the Bhāgavatam regarding the positive concentration of the mind on the factual form of the Lord.

The process of meditation recommended herein is bhakti-yoga, or the process of devotional service after one is liberated from the material conditions. Jñāna-yoga is the process of liberation from the material conditions. After one is liberated from the conditions of material existence, i.e., when one is nivṛtta, as previously stated herein, or when one is freed from all material necessities, one becomes qualified to discharge the process of bhakti-yoga.

SB Canto 3

So many impersonal philosophers remain everlastingly under the influence of māyā because, although they indulge in theoretical knowledge of Brahman, they do not develop affection for Brahman.
SB 3.9.42, Purport:

The empiric philosophers, despite their theoretical knowledge of Brahman, cannot utilize the mercy of the Supreme Brahman because they lack affection. So many impersonal philosophers remain everlastingly under the influence of māyā because, although they indulge in theoretical knowledge of Brahman, they do not develop affection for Brahman nor do they have any scope for development of affection because of their defective method. A devotee of the sun-god, even though devoid of eyesight, can see the sun-god as he is even from this planet, whereas one who is not a devotee of the sun cannot even bear the glaring sunlight. Similarly, by devotional service, even though one is not on the level of a jñānī, one can see the Personality of Godhead within himself due to his development of pure love. In all circumstances one should try to develop love of Godhead, and that will solve all contending problems.

The material manifestation is therefore the objective manifestation of the Supreme Lord and exhibits His impersonal feature so much adored by impersonalist philosophers.
SB 3.10.12, Purport:

As stated previously by Nārada before Vyāsadeva (SB 1.5.20), idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaraḥ: this unmanifested world is the self-same Personality of Godhead, but it appears to be something else beyond or besides the Lord. It appears so because of its being separated from the Lord by means of kāla. It is something like the tape-recorded voice of a person who is now separated from the voice. As the tape recording is situated on the tape, so the whole cosmic manifestation is situated on the material energy and appears separate by means of kāla. The material manifestation is therefore the objective manifestation of the Supreme Lord and exhibits His impersonal feature so much adored by impersonalist philosophers.

The impersonalist philosophers cannot understand the activities of the Lord.
SB 3.19.37, Purport:

One should be very eager to hear about the activities of the Lord from the bona fide source, the pure devotee. If one simply gives aural reception to the narration and accepts the glories of the Lord, then he is qualified. The impersonalist philosophers cannot understand the activities of the Lord. They think that all His activities are māyā; therefore they are called Māyāvādīs. Since everything to them is māyā, these narrations are not for them. Some impersonalists are reluctant to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, although many of them are now taking an interest in it just for monetary gain. Actually, however, they have no faith. On the contrary, they describe it in their own way. We should not hear, therefore, from the Māyāvādīs. We have to hear from Sūta Gosvāmī or Maitreya, who actually present the narrations as they are, and only then can we relish the pastimes of the Lord; otherwise the effects on the neophyte audience will be poisonous.

SB Canto 4

Dhruva Mahārāja offered his prayers to the Lord not in the way of the impersonalist philosophers, but as a devotee.
SB 4.9.5, Purport:

Dhruva Mahārāja offered his prayers to the Lord not in the way of the impersonalist philosophers, but as a devotee. Therefore, it is clearly said here, bhakti-bhāva. The only prayers worth offering are those offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose reputation is spread far and wide. Dhruva Mahārāja wanted to have the kingdom of his father, but his father refused even to allow him to get on his lap. In order to fulfill his desire, the Lord had already created a planet known as the polestar, Dhruvaloka, which was never to be annihilated even at the time of the dissolution of the universe. Dhruva Mahārāja attained this perfection not by acting hastily, but by patiently executing the order of his spiritual master, and therefore he became so successful that he saw the Lord face to face. Now he was further enabled, by the causeless mercy of the Lord, to offer fitting prayers to the Lord. To glorify or offer prayers unto the Supreme, one needs the Lord's mercy. One cannot write to glorify the Lord unless one is endowed with His causeless mercy.

There are two ways of advancing in spiritual culture—by the method of the impersonalist philosophers and by devotional service.
SB 4.22.37, Purport:

The individual soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His Paramātmā feature are both sitting within this body, which is covered by gross and subtle elements. To understand this is to attain actual spiritual culture. There are two ways of advancing in spiritual culture—by the method of the impersonalist philosophers and by devotional service. The impersonalist comes to the conclusion that he and the Supreme Spirit are one, whereas devotees, or personalists, realize the Absolute Truth by understanding that because the Absolute Truth is the supreme predominator and we living entities are predominated, our duty is to serve Him. The Vedic injunctions say, tat tvam asi, "You are the same," and so'ham, "I am the same." The impersonalist conception of these mantras is that the Supreme Lord, or the Absolute Truth, and the living entity are one, but from the devotee's point of view these mantras assert that both the Supreme Lord and ourselves are of the same quality. Tat tvam asi, ayam ātmā brahma. Both the Supreme Lord and the living entity are spirit. Understanding this is self-realization.

Because of their poor fund of knowledge, impersonalist philosophers cannot understand how everything comes out from the Supreme person and then merges into Him again.
SB 4.31.15, Purport:

Because of their poor fund of knowledge, impersonalist philosophers cannot understand how everything comes out from the Supreme person and then merges into Him again. As Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40) confirms:

yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-
koṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam
tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi

Transcendental rays emanate from the body of Kṛṣṇa, and within those rays, which are the Brahman effulgence, everything is existing. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.4). Mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni. Although Kṛṣṇa is not personally present everywhere, His energy is the cause of all creation. The entire cosmic manifestation is nothing but a display of Kṛṣṇa's energy.

SB Canto 7

The impersonalist philosophy, vivarta-vāda, generally cites the acceptance of a rope to be a snake as an example.
SB 7.15.58, Purport:

The impersonalists try to prove that the varieties in the vision of the empiric philosopher are false. The impersonalist philosophy, vivarta-vāda, generally cites the acceptance of a rope to be a snake as an example of this fact. According to this example, the varieties within our vision are false, just as a rope seen to be a snake is false. The Vaiṣṇavas say, however, that although the idea that the rope is a snake is false, the snake is not false; one has experience of a snake in reality, and therefore he knows that although the representation of the rope as a snake is false or illusory, there is a snake in reality. Similarly, this world, which is full of varieties, is not false; it is a reflection of the reality in the Vaikuṇṭha world, the spiritual world.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Preface and Introduction

Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that both the living entity and God Himself are under the control of māyā when they come into this material world.
CC Introduction:

An analogy will help us understand the distinction between ourselves and God. From the ground we may see only clouds in the sky, but if we fly above the clouds we can see the sun shining. From the sky, skyscrapers and cities seem very tiny; similarly, from God's position this entire material creation is insignificant. The tendency of the living entity is to come down from the heights, where everything can be seen in perspective. God, however, does not have this tendency. The Supreme Lord is not subject to fall down into illusion (māyā) any more than the sun is subject to fall beneath the clouds. Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that both the living entity and God Himself are under the control of māyā when they come into this material world. This is the fallacy of their philosophy.

CC Madhya-lila

Impersonal philosophy destroys the three phases of knowledge—jñāna, jñeya and jñātā.
CC Madhya 6.168, Purport:

The Māyāvādīs' conception of spiritual existence is almost identical to the negation of material existence. The Māyāvādīs believe that there is nothing positive in spiritual life. As a result, they cannot understand devotional service or the worship of the Supreme Person, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1). The Māyāvādī philosophers consider Deity worship in devotional service to be pratibimba-vāda, or the worship of a form that is the reflection of a false material form. Thus the Lord's transcendental form, which is eternally blissful and full of knowledge, is unknown to Māyāvādī philosophers. Although the term "Bhagavān" is explicitly described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, they cannot understand it. Brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate: "The Absolute Truth is called Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān." (SB 1.2.11) The Māyāvādīs try to understand Brahman only, or, at the most, Paramātmā. However, they are unable to understand Bhagavān. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, says, māyayāpahṛta-jñānāḥ (BG 7.15). Because of the temperament of the Māyāvādī philosophers, real knowledge is taken from them. Because they cannot receive the mercy of the Lord, they will always be bewildered by His transcendental form. Impersonal philosophy destroys the three phases of knowledge—jñāna, jñeya and jñātā. As soon as one speaks of knowledge, there must be a person who is the knower, the knowledge itself and the object of knowledge. Māyāvāda philosophy combines these three categories; therefore the Māyāvādīs cannot understand how the spiritual potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead act. Because of their poor fund of knowledge, they cannot understand the distinction in the spiritual world between knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge. Because of this, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu considers the Māyāvādī philosophers more dangerous than the Buddhists.

Impersonal monists are always attacked by the Tattvavādīs, who attempt to defeat their philosophy of impersonalism.
CC Madhya 9.11, Purport:

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura points out that the word "Tattvavādī" refers to the followers of Śrīla Madhvācārya. To distinguish his disciplic succession from the Māyāvādī followers of Śaṅkarācārya, Śrīla Madhvācārya named his party the Tattvavādīs. Impersonal monists are always attacked by these Tattvavādīs, who attempt to defeat their philosophy of impersonalism. Generally, they establish the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Actually the disciplic succession of Madhvācārya is known as the Brahmā Vaiṣṇava sect; that is the sect coming down from Lord Brahmā. Consequently the Tattvavādīs, or followers of Madhvācārya, do not accept the incident of Lord Brahmā’s illusion, which is recorded in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrīla Madhvācārya has purposefully avoided commenting on that portion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in which brahma-mohana, the illusion of Lord Brahmā, is mentioned. Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī was one of the ācāryas in the Tattvavāda disciplic succession, and he established the ultimate goal of transcendentalism to be attainment of pure devotional service, love of Godhead. Those Vaiṣṇavas belonging to the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, the disciplic succession following Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, are distinct from the Tattvavādīs, although they belong to the same Tattvavāda-sampradāya. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are therefore known as the Mādhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya.

Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are impersonalist philosophers, and they describe the form of the Lord as māyā, or false. How can one be purified by worshiping something false?
CC Madhya 17.104, Purport:

The Personality of Godhead is worshiped by exalted demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. The original Māyāvādī sannyāsī, Śaṅkarācārya, also accepted the fact that the Lord's form is transcendental: nārāyaṇaḥ paro ’vyaktāt. "Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is beyond the avyakta, the unmanifested material energy." Avyaktād aṇḍa-sambhavaḥ: "This material world is a creation of that unmanifested material energy." However, Nārāyaṇa has His own eternal form, which is not created by the material energy. Simply by worshiping the form of the Lord, one is purified. However, Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are impersonalist philosophers, and they describe the form of the Lord as māyā, or false. How can one be purified by worshiping something false? Māyāvādī philosophers have no sufficient reason for being impersonalists. They blindly follow a principle that cannot be supported by reason or argument. This was the situation with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, the chief Māyāvādī sannyāsī of Benares. He was supposed to teach Vedānta philosophy, but he would not accept the form of the Lord; therefore he was attacked with leprosy. Nonetheless, he continued to commit sins by describing the Absolute Truth as impersonal. The Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, always displays pastimes and activities, but Māyāvādī sannyāsīs claim that these activities are false.

For the jñānīs, the atheist Kapila, Vasiṣṭha, Durvāsā, Dattātreya and other impersonalist philosophers are mahājanas.
CC Madhya 17.185, Purport:

For the conditioned soul busy in sense gratification, a mahājana is recognized according to the proportion of sense gratification he offers. For instance, a businessman may consider a certain banker to be a mahājana, and karmīs desiring material enjoyment may consider philosophers like Jaimini to be mahājanas. There are many yogīs who want to control the senses, and for them Patañjali Ṛṣi is a mahājana. For the jñānīs, the atheist Kapila, Vasiṣṭha, Durvāsā, Dattātreya and other impersonalist philosophers are mahājanas. For the demons, Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa, Rāvaṇa's son Meghanāda, Jarāsandha and others are accepted as mahājanas. For materialistic anthropologists speculating on the evolution of the body, a person like Darwin is a mahājana. The scientists who are bewildered by Kṛṣṇa's external energy have no relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet they are accepted by some as mahājanas. Similarly, philosophers, historians, literary men, public speakers and social and political leaders are sometimes accepted as mahājanas. Such mahājanas are respected by certain men who have been described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.19):

śva-viḍ-varāhoṣṭra-kharaiḥ saṁstutaḥ puruṣaḥ paśuḥ
na yat-karṇa-pathopeto jātu nāma gadāgrajaḥ

"Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the deliverer from evils."

“From their very births, the nine great mystic yogīs (Yogendras) were impersonal philosophers of the Absolute Truth.
CC Madhya 24.118, Translation:

“From their very births, the nine great mystic yogīs (Yogendras) were impersonal philosophers of the Absolute Truth. But because they heard about Lord Kṛṣṇa's qualities from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the great sage Nārada, they also became Kṛṣṇa's devotees.

CC Antya-lila

Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya had studied Vedānta according to the way of the Śārīraka-bhāṣya, which expounds the Māyāvāda philosophy of the impersonalists.
CC Antya 2.89, Purport:

During those days and also at the present, Vedānta philosophy is understood through the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya, which is known as the Śārīraka-bhāṣya. Thus it appears that Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya, the younger brother of Bhagavān Ācārya, had studied Vedānta according to the way of the Śārīraka-bhāṣya, which expounds the Māyāvāda philosophy of the impersonalists.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Teachings of Lord Caitanya

Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that both the living entity and God Himself are under the control of māyā when they come into this material world.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter Intoduction:

On the ground we may see only clouds in the sky, but if we fly above the clouds we can see the sun shining. From the sky, skyscrapers and cities seem very tiny; similarly, from God's position this entire material creation is insignificant. The tendency of the conditioned living entity is to come down from the heights where everything can be seen in perspective. God, however, does not have this tendency. The Supreme Lord is not subject to fall down into illusion (māyā) any more than the sun is subject to fall beneath the clouds. Because the Supreme Lord is not subject to illusion, He is unconditioned; because we, as finite living entities, are prone to fall into illusion, we are called conditioned. Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that both the living entity and God Himself are under the control of māyā when they come into this material world. This may be true of the living entity, but it is not true of God, for in all instances the material energy is working under His direction. Those who consider the Supreme Lord to be subject to material conditioning are called fools by Kṛṣṇa Himself in Bhagavad-gītā:

avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā
mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
mama bhūta-maheśvaram

"Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." (BG 9.11)

During Caitanya Mahāprabhu's time there were also other impersonalist philosophers known as the Māyāvādī philosophers of Saranātha.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 17:

During Caitanya Mahāprabhu's time there were also other impersonalist philosophers known as the Māyāvādī philosophers of Saranātha. Saranātha is a place near Benares where Buddhist philosophers used to reside, and even today many stūpas of the Buddhist Māyāvādīs can be seen. The Māyāvādī philosophers of Saranātha are different from the impersonalists who believe in the impersonal manifestation of Brahman. According to the Saranātha philosophers, there is no spiritual existence at all. The fact is that both the Māyāvādī philosophers of Benares and the philosophers of Saranātha are entrapped by material nature. None of them actually know the nature of Absolute Transcendence. Although superficially accepting the Vedic principles and considering themselves to be transcendentalists, the philosophers of Benares do not accept spiritual variegatedness. Because they have no information about devotional service, they are called nondevotees, or those who are against the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

When people of the modern age come under the influence of Śaṅkarācārya's Māyāvādī (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedānta-sūtras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 19:

Lord Caitanya immediately informed Prakāśānanda that in the modern age people in general are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such people come under the influence of Śaṅkarācārya's Māyāvādī (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedānta-sūtras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked. The supreme source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but this natural tendency is hampered when one takes to the impersonalist conceptions of Śaṅkara. Thus the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya suggested that it is better that one not study the Śārīraka-bhāṣya of Śaṅkarācārya, for it is very harmful to people in general. Indeed, the common man does not even have the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. In this quarrelsome age of Kali there is no alternative for self-realization.

When impersonal philosophers refer to Vedānta and the Upaniṣads, they are actually referring to the commentaries of Śaṅkarācārya.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 19:

According to Māyāvādī philosophers, Vedānta refers to the Śārīraka commentary of Śaṅkarācārya. When impersonal philosophers refer to Vedānta and the Upaniṣads, they are actually referring to the commentaries of Śaṅkarācārya, the greatest teacher of Māyāvādī philosophy. After Śaṅkarācārya came Sadānanda-yogī, who claimed that the Vedānta and Upaniṣads should be understood through the commentaries of Śaṅkarācārya. Factually, this is not so. There are many commentaries on Vedānta and the Upaniṣads made by the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, and these are preferred to those of Śaṅkarācārya. However, the Māyāvādī philosophers influenced by Śaṅkarācārya do not attribute any importance to the Vaiṣṇava understandings.

The voidist philosophy of Buddha is more or less repeated in the Māyāvādī philosophy of impersonalism.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 19:

"The Māyāvādī philosophy is veiled Buddhism." In other words, the voidist philosophy of Buddha is more or less repeated in the Māyāvādī philosophy of impersonalism, although the Māyāvādī philosophy claims to be directed by the Vedic conclusions. Lord Śiva, however, admits that this philosophy is manufactured by him in the age of Kali in order to mislead the atheists. "Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His transcendental body," Lord Śiva states. "But I describe the Supreme as impersonal. I also explain the Vedānta-sūtra according to the same principles of Māyāvādī philosophy."

If one wrongly thinks that the material body is as perfect as the spiritual body and begins to imitate the damsels of Vṛndāvana, he becomes infested with the Māyāvādī impersonal philosophy.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 31:

If one wrongly thinks that the material body is as perfect as the spiritual body and begins to imitate the damsels of Vṛndāvana, he becomes infested with the Māyāvādī impersonal philosophy. The impersonalists recommend a process of ahaṁ grahopāsanā by which one worships his own body as the Supreme. Thinking in this way, such pseudo-transcendentalists dress themselves as the damsels of Vraja. Such activities are not acceptable in devotional service. Even Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the most authoritative ācārya in the Gauḍīya sampradāya, has condemned these imitators. The process of transcendental realization is to follow in the footsteps of the associates of the Supreme Lord; therefore if one thinks himself to be a direct associate of the Supreme Lord, he is condemned. According to authorized Vaiṣṇava principles, one should follow a particular devotee, and not think of himself as Kṛṣṇa's associate.

Nectar of Devotion

The impersonalist philosophers are in one sense like the enemies of the Lord.
Nectar of Devotion 15:

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is trying here to describe the different achievements of the impersonalists and the personalists. Generally, those who are impersonalists and are inimical to the Supreme Personality of Godhead get entrance only into the impersonal Brahman, when and if they reach spiritual perfection. The impersonalist philosophers are in one sense like the enemies of the Lord, because the out-and-out enemies of the Lord and the impersonalists are both allowed to enter only into the impersonal effulgence of the brahmajyoti. So it is to be understood that they are of similar classification. And actually the impersonalists are enemies of God, because they cannot tolerate the unparalleled opulence of the Lord. They try always to place themselves on the same level with the Lord. That is due to their envious attitude. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has proclaimed the impersonalists to be offenders of the Lord. The Lord is so kind, however, that even though they are His enemies, they are still allowed to enter into the spiritual kingdom and remain in the impersonal brahmajyoti, the undifferentiated light of the Absolute.

The attempt to directly become the father of Kṛṣṇa is not recommended. Such a development can become polluted with Māyāvāda (impersonal) philosophy.
Nectar of Devotion 16:

In the development of becoming either the father or friend of the Lord, there are two varieties. One method is that one may try to become the father of the Lord directly, and the other is that one may follow Nanda Mahārāja and cherish the ideal of being Kṛṣṇa's father. Out of these two, the attempt to directly become the father of Kṛṣṇa is not recommended. Such a development can become polluted with Māyāvāda (impersonal) philosophy. The Māyāvādīs, or monists, think that they themselves are Kṛṣṇa, and if one thinks that he himself has become Nanda Mahārāja, then his parental love will become contaminated with the Māyāvāda philosophy. The Māyāvāda philosophical way of thinking is offensive, and no offender can enter into the kingdom of God to associate with Kṛṣṇa.

There are impersonalist philosophers and mystics who by a show of devotional service want ultimately to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord.
Nectar of Devotion 18:

Such attraction for remembering Kṛṣṇa's activities is known as attachment for Kṛṣṇa. There are impersonalist philosophers and mystics, however, who by a show of devotional service want ultimately to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord. They sometimes try to imitate a pure devotee's sentiment for visiting the holy places where Kṛṣṇa had His pastimes, but they simply have a view for salvation, and so their activities cannot be considered attachment.

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

The impersonalist philosophers are in the mode of darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence.
Krsna Book 15:

Kṛṣṇa then spoke to His elder brother Balarāma as follows: “My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by the demigods. Just see how these trees, full with fruits and flowers, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet. It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness that has obliged them to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vṛndāvana are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal point of view in their past lives, they have been put into this stationary condition of life, but now they have the opportunity of seeing You in Vṛndāvana, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through Your personal association. Generally, living entities in the mode of darkness obtain the bodies of trees. The impersonalist philosophers are in that darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence. I think the drones that are buzzing all around You must have been Your devotees in their past lives. They cannot leave Your company because no one can be a better, more affectionate master than You. You are the supreme and original Personality of Godhead, and the drones are just trying to spread Your glories by chanting at every moment. I think some of them must be great sages, devotees of Your Lordship, and they are disguising themselves in the form of drones because they are unable to give up Your company even for a moment.

Renunciation Through Wisdom

Ordinary people thus embrace monistic, impersonal philosophy.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 2.8:

Puny human beings can manufacture only insignificant items like pots, pans, and factories. Therefore, when a personality who was born not so long ago in Mathurā and who looks like a human being is introduced as the Supreme Controller of the entire cosmic manifestation, the Lord of all lords and possessor of all absolute qualities, then, no matter how clearly one explains these truths, ordinary people cannot absorb them, due to their tiny dog's-bent-tail intelligence. Thus they embrace monistic, impersonal philosophy. Denying that Lord Kṛṣṇa alone is God, they insist that they are also "Gods." In this manner they embrace grossly foolish ideas about themselves and God and try to compete with Him, completely disregarding all etiquette and sound philosophical conclusions.

If an impersonalist philosopher engages in devotional service to the Supreme Lord, then only does he become dear to the Lord.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 3.3:

If an impersonalist philosopher, due to some piety, engages in devotional service to the Supreme Lord, then only does he become dear to the Lord. But as long as the impersonalists try to rob the Supreme Lord of His divine potencies, they can never be dear to Him, nor can they be called mahātmās. They will continue to be counted among the demoniac atheists deluded by the Lord's illusory potency. These atheists are not wise men: they are simply ordinary mortals who are offenders against the Lord.

Those who are learned only in impersonal philosophy, who are searching for the nondual Brahman, have even less access to Śrī Aurobindo's works.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 3.3:

Śrī Aurobindo rose beyond this limited sphere of thinking and talked about "supramental consciousness" in such books as Life Divine. We consider this book a hazy attempt to present the Supreme Lord's transcendental potencies. He accepted that the Supreme Lord is endowed with transcendental potency, and therefore we have some appreciation for him, but we feel that many persons cannot understand Śrī Aurobindo's explanation of transcendence in his books. Although he uses fairly simple English, the reader remains puzzled. Those who are unacquainted with such Vaiṣṇava philosophies as Viśiṣṭādvaita, Śuddhādvaita, Dvaitādvaita, and finally Lord Caitanya's acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, cannot understand Śrī Aurobindo. And those who are learned only in impersonal philosophy, who are searching for the nondual Brahman, have even less access to Śrī Aurobindo's works.

Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya was a brāhmaṇa who propagated the impersonalist philosophy.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 5.1:

In recent times we have heard two words being loudly voiced: Māyāvāda (impersonalist) and Advaita-vāda (monist). I deem it proper to write a few words about them. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya was a brāhmaṇa who propagated the impersonalist philosophy. But if he were to hear the pathetic version of his theory being espoused today, complete with nonbrahminical Western logic and mundane concepts, he would surely be struck dumb. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya taught and exhibited ideal brahminical behaviour. He propounded irrefutable arguments that destroyed materialistic views. Furthermore, his erudition, realization, and renunciation were of an extremely high caliber. Yet when his so-called followers dilute and mutilate his philosophy, we are moved simultaneously to tears and laughter.

Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya concluded that the monistic view, or the impersonal philosophy, was best suited for his contemporaries.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 5.1:

Through logic and sophistry one can never understand how the Supreme Lord created this unlimited cosmos, but the demoniac atheists will never tire of using these methods. Lord Kṛṣṇa describes their mentality in the Bhagavad-gītā (16.8): asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te. "They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control." In fact, the very brain that thinks these childish thoughts is also a most insignificant creation of the Supreme Lord. Hence to expect that such pea-brains can grasp the mysteries behind the Supreme Lord's extraordinary plans is to hope for the impossible. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya assessed the prevailing trends of his time and concluded that the monistic view, or the impersonal philosophy, was best suited for his contemporaries. But that was not his final conclusion. He went on to say, bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha-mate: "O fools, simply worship Govinda." From his use of the word bhaja, "worship," we understand him to mean that one should worship Lord Govinda's name, form, qualities, pastimes, and so on. The state of transcendence discussed here is far beyond impersonal realization, the ultimate goal of the monists. Indeed, those who worship Govinda enter into Śrī Vṛndāvana in Śrī Mathurā, the highest spiritual realm, where Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa enact Their quintessential pastimes.

Sri Isopanisad

The impersonalist philosophers of the Māyāvāda school accept only the Lord's impersonal activities and reject His personal feature.
Sri Isopanisad 5, Purport:

Here is a description of some of the Supreme Lord's transcendental activities, executed by His inconceivable potencies. The contradictions given here prove the inconceivable potencies of the Lord. "He walks, and He does not walk." Ordinarily, if someone can walk, it is illogical to say he cannot walk. But in reference to God, such a contradiction simply serves to indicate His inconceivable power. With our limited fund of knowledge we cannot accommodate such contradictions, and therefore we conceive of the Lord in terms of our limited powers of understanding. For example, the impersonalist philosophers of the Māyāvāda school accept only the Lord's impersonal activities and reject His personal feature. But the members of the Bhāgavata school, adopting the perfect conception of the Lord, accept His inconceivable potencies and thus understand that He is both personal and impersonal. The bhāgavatas know that without inconceivable potencies there can be no meaning to the words "Supreme Lord."

After surpassing the impersonal brahmajyoti and seeing the personal aspect of the Lord and His most auspicious eternal form, the devotee realizes the Absolute Truth in full.
Sri Isopanisad 16, Purport:

By realizing the impersonal brahmajyoti, one experiences the auspicious aspect of the Supreme, and by realizing the Paramātmā, or all-pervading feature of the Supreme, one experiences an even more auspicious enlightenment. But by meeting the Personality of Godhead Himself face to face, the devotee experiences the most auspicious feature of the Supreme. Since He is addressed as the primeval philosopher and maintainer and well-wisher of the universe, the Supreme Truth cannot be impersonal. This is the verdict of Śrī Īśopaniṣad. The word pūṣan ("maintainer") is especially significant, for although the Lord maintains all beings, He specifically maintains His devotees. After surpassing the impersonal brahmajyoti and seeing the personal aspect of the Lord and His most auspicious eternal form, the devotee realizes the Absolute Truth in full.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Madhudviṣa: Prabhupāda, in this Vedic verse, tat tvam asi, is this where the Māyāvādīs have begun their impersonal philosophy.
Lecture on BG 4.7-10 -- Los Angeles, January 6, 1969:

Madhudviṣa: Prabhupāda, in this Vedic verse, tat tvam asi, is this where the Māyāvādīs have begun their impersonal philosophy, "Thou art that," or...?

Prabhupāda: Yes. We also. We cannot deny the Vedic version. Tat tvam asi is a Vedic version. So either you are Māyāvādī or Vaiṣṇava, you cannot deny it.

Just like two lawyers are arguing in the court. The medium is the law court. So neither of them can deny the law court, but one has to establish his convictions by argument, by logic. So similarly, tat tvam asi is the code of Vedic principle or Vedas, "You are that." Tat tvam asi. Tat means that supreme spirit. "You are." So our philosophy, Vaiṣṇava philosophy, we begin from this point. As Kṛṣṇa began Bhagavad-gītā from the point that "You are not this body," we begin from this version, tat tvam asi. Tat tvam asi. "You are not this." That means "What I am?" Then I must be something; otherwise what is my identity? That reply is your identity is that "You are as good as God." That means you are qualitatively the same. Tat tvam asi. Qualitatively you are...

The mistake of the Māyāvāda philosophy is that "You are the same." You are the same in which way? I am the same in quality, not in quantity. Just like if I say, "You are as good as President Nixon," there is nothing wrong because you are American, he is American. Is there anything wrong? From the point of view, American citizenship, you are as good as President Nixon. But when you go deep into the matter, you will find, oh, you are far, far away from President Nixon. Similarly, we are identifying ourself with this matter, but Vedas says that "You are not matter. You are supreme spirit soul." Not supreme, "You are spirit soul."

This Buddha philosophy was driven out. The Śaṅkara, impersonal philosophy was established.
Lecture on BG 4.11 -- Bombay, March 31, 1974:

Then Śaṅkarācārya came. Śaṅkarācārya wanted... Because by the propagation of Lord Buddha, whole India became Buddhist. And Śaṅkarācārya wanted to establish Vedas again. So they were temporary necessities, for certain reason. Because people were addicted so much in violence, in killing the animals, therefore Buddha philosophy was needed. Again, this Buddha philosophy was driven out. The Śaṅkara, impersonal philosophy was established. But again, the ācāryas, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya and other Vaiṣṇava ācāryas.. . At last, Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They established that brahma satyam means brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate (SB 1.2.11). Both, three, Absolute Truth.

So these are the philosophical development. So Kṛṣṇa is summarizing this philosophical development here in this one line, that mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ. Either you follow Buddha philosophy or Śaṅkara philosophy or Vaiṣṇava philosophy, the ultimate goal is Kṛṣṇa. Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7). So you have to approach Kṛṣṇa through these different types of philosophy. They are partial realization. Just like Brahman realization means eternity realization. Paramātmā realization means eternity and knowledge. And Bhagavān realization means eternity, knowledge and blissfulness. Sac-cid-ānanda. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). If you realize Kṛṣṇa, then you realize simultaneously... Kasmin tu bhagavo vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati. You realize Brahman, you realize Paramātmā, and you realize Bhagavān.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that this impersonal philosophy is another phase of the void philosophy.
Lecture on BG 5.26-29 -- Los Angeles, February 12, 1969:

And nirvāṇa, nirvāṇa, the Buddha philosophy is just above the material conditional life but on the margin of spiritual existence. That is... Nirvāṇa means void of material existence. Nirvāṇa, this impersonal conception is also nirvāṇa. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that this impersonal philosophy is another phase of the void philosophy. Veda... Covered void philosophy. Impersonalism is covered void philosophy. They are all the same. Śaṅkara's philosophy of impersonalism and Lord Buddha's philosophy void is almost the same. Real life, real spiritual life is this Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Vaiṣṇava philosophy, to associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. Just like we are sitting here face to face. We are talking, you are hearing. You can have this perfection. That is personal conception of spiritual perfection.

What is that impersonal light? The whole Buddha philosophy, impersonal philosophy, is looking to that impersonal.
Lecture on BG 7.1 -- Los Angeles, March 12, 1970:

So everything... In the Brahma-saṁhitā, we understand, every planet has a different situation, not that everything of this nature. So it is... It is not complete idea. "Because you can know what is sunshine, therefore you can know what is sun-god or sun disc"—no, that can (not) be done. Similarly, because you have some spiritual light, impersonal light... What is that impersonal light? The whole Buddha philosophy, impersonal philosophy, is looking to that impersonal. What is that? That "Because here in this material world I have got bad experience of this personal existence, therefore I conclude that there must be something impersonal. That is nice." That is thinking in the opposite way. But that is not actual fact. Just like a diseased person. Lying in one side, he is getting pain. He thinks, "If I lie down on the other side I will be relieved." That he is thinking, but so long he is diseased, there is no question of relief. He is thinking like that, this way or that way. Just like in the materialistic way they are... Their last point of happiness is sex life. That's all. So they have enjoyed sex life in this way; now they are trying to enjoy sex life in that way. But the enjoyment is the same. There is no more enjoyment. That is finished. You can eschew in so many ways, but the result is the same. Similarly, unless you have got perfect knowledge of the Absolute Truth, if you think of the Absolute Truth as something opposite of your present status, that is not perfect knowledge. The impersonal knowledge is like that, something opposite of this material world.

The Māyāvāda philosophy and impersonalist philosophy is that they want to close their individual identity and merge into the existence of the Supreme.
Lecture on BG 8.22-27 -- New York, November 20, 1966:

So there are different kinds of liberation. Now, any one, any of these five kinds of liberations you can have. But out of the five, the sāyujya-mukti, or the liberation by becoming merged into the existence of the Supreme, is not accepted by the Vaiṣṇava philosophers. We belong to the Vaiṣṇava philosophical school, Vaiṣṇava. Vaiṣṇava means we want to worship God as He is, and we keep our separate identity eternally to serve Him. That is Vaiṣṇava philosophy. And the Māyāvāda philosophy and impersonalist philosophy is that they want to close their individual identity and merge into the existence of the Supreme.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

"If somebody thinks that he has become liberated after undergoing the process of impersonal philosophy and austerities and penances..."
Lecture on SB 1.5.14 -- New Vrindaban, June 18, 1969:

Enjoyment is the goal of everyone's life. But the difference is that the materialist is trying to hanker after flickering enjoyment, and the transcendentalists, they are hankering after the spiritual enjoyment, or eternal enjoyment. Enjoyment... Ānandamayo 'bhyāsāt (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12). Because enjoyment is our life. We cannot be void. That is not possible. Therefore the impersonalists, about impersonalists, this Bhāgavata version is that although they rise up almost to the spiritual platform, but because they cannot enjoy... Impersonalists means there is no enjoyment. There is simply light, a life of knowledge. But simply knowledge will not make me happy. I must enjoyment. I must have enjoyment. Ānandamayo 'bhyāsāt (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12), because my nature is to enjoy. That enjoyment cannot be done in the impersonal or void philosophy. That is not possible. Therefore Bhāgavata says, ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninaḥ: "If somebody thinks that he has become liberated after undergoing the process of impersonal philosophy and austerities and penances..." The impersonalists, they also practice severe penances to attain to that Brahman stage. That is also nice thing. But they cannot stay there, because there is no enjoyment.

Those who are attached to impersonal philosophy, they do not care to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lecture on SB 1.16.5 -- Los Angeles, January 2, 1974:

The impersonalist, impersonal person, those who are attached to impersonal philosophy, they do not care to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They say, "It is māyā. To become impersonal is perfection." So they cannot remain imper..., in the impersonal feature for very long time because nature... We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. The only fault is that we have tried to imitate Kṛṣṇa here in this material world. Otherwise, that instinct is there. Just like Kṛṣṇa is enjoying with gopīs and Rādhārāṇī. Now, because I am part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, that instinct must be in me also, in minute quantity. But that must be in me. Therefore we also want to enjoy with so-called lover or beloved or girls or boys, but we are trying to enjoy in a false platform—this material world. Therefore we are becoming baffled. The same enjoyment is, Kṛṣṇa is offering, by His descendance, that "If you want to enjoy like this in the society of beautiful young boys and girls, come to Me. Here it is, reality." But that they will not. That they will make impersonal. Being frustrated in this material platform, they want to make it zero, śūnyavādi, śūnyavādi, being disgusted... Because you cannot be happy in this material enjoyment. So at time it will be disgusting. That is jñāna-bhumika.(?) "So we have tried our best. What is the use of this enjoyment? Brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā. This is all false. Now let us become Brahman, become one with Brahman." But that is also false. That idea, to become one with the Brahman, that is also false.

Therefore this Māyāvāda philosophy, voidism, impersonal philosophy, is not very good.
Lecture on SB 2.1.3 -- Vrndavana, March 18, 1974:

So Māyāvādī's position is like that. Māyāvādīs, they have got a... Because we are sure that we are going to Kṛṣṇa. But they have no Kṛṣṇa. Aiye. They have no Kṛṣṇa. Therefore they again come to this material world. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adhaḥ (SB 10.2.32). Patanty adhaḥ anādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅ... Because they have no shelter, therefore they'll come back again within this material world. Because in the impersonal feature they cannot remain many days. You get freedom from the cage, but if you do not get to eat something, how long you'll live? Therefore they prefer again to come to the cage. That fiftil... Because they have no other way. Therefore this Māyāvāda philosophy, voidism, impersonal philosophy, is not very good. You cannot remain impersonal or in void because your position is..., because you are living entity, because you are part and parcel of the supreme living entity, Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is ānandamayo 'bhyāsāt (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12). He is always full of jubilation. So you also, being part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, you also want jubilation. But how you can get jubilation, how you can be jubilant in the sky, in the zero? This is the difference between Māyāvāda philosophy. Therefore you cannot be happy even by getting free from this encagement, material world, and if you place yourself in impersonalism and voidism, that will not help you. Try to understand it. That will not help you.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Guest (1): ...your description of the impersonalist philosophers does not correspond...
Lecture on CC Adi-lila 7.109-114 -- San Francisco, February 20, 1967:

Guest (1): (static) ...your description of the impersonalist philosophers does not correspond..., it's happening, say, by themselves they make a distinction how those things make... (static) ...a part of that philosophy that seems crucial to extending it, and that is sometimes called the "little self" and the "big self," the "big self" being the person who we are—personality, ego—and the other type of ego is the actual ego. And when one's ego is dissolved, he will wake up, as it were. As, like you wake up out of a dream and you find that you thought you were one of the characters in the dream while you were dreaming, when you wake up you realize that you didn't have this limited identity. You had a greater identity which encompassed all the characters in the dream.

Prabhupāda: Where you lose your personality? Either in dream or in awakened, you are person. When do you lose your personality? When you become imperson?

Guest (1): When do you lose it? When you wake up from the dream of this material world.

Prabhupāda: You are not imperson at that time. You are person. You are thinking, "I was dreaming." So your ego is there.

Guest (1): Yeah...

Prabhupāda: Then how...?

Guest (1): Well, they say...

Prabhupāda: Where do you lose your ego? Where your ego is dissolved?

Guest (1): Where is it dissolved?

Prabhupāda: Yes? It is never dissolved.

Guest (1): It is dissolved into a finer form of consciousness.

Prabhupāda: No, finer... Just now, your example: you were dreaming. Now you are awakening. You are now seeing, "Oh, I was dreaming." So the same person who was dreaming and who is thinking that "I was dreaming"—the same person. Where your identity is dissolved? In both the cases, you are standing, "I." This is...

Guest (1): Yeah, but they say at the next awakening you dissolve this "I."

Prabhupāda: This "I" is..., this "I" is not in dream. That is the difference. The "I" in dream and "I" in not-dream, but "I" is there. Where is your "I" dissolved?

Guest (1): Well, when you're chanting it's dissolved, actually.

Prabhupāda: Never.

Guest (1): Forget yourself?

Prabhupāda: No. We don't forget. We always remember that we are servants of God. We don't forget. We forget this material nonsense. That's all. But don't forget ourself. Our identity is there. We are all servants of God, Kṛṣṇa dāsa. And this is real ego. So ego is not dissolved. Ego is there, but it is purified. It is purified.

Impersonal philosophy does not appeal to the heart because by nature we want enjoyment.
Lecture on CC Adi-lila 7.149-171 -- San Francisco, March 18, 1967:

...Māyāvādī sannyāsīs of Benares. There are two kinds of Māyāvādīs. The word Māyāvādī is very significant. I saw yesterday in your iṣṭagoṣṭhī you have tried to understand what is this Māyāvādī. Māyāvādī means materialist. Māyā, this matter, the external energy, the inferior energy, and those who want to stick to this inferior energy, never mind what class of philosopher, what section of philosophers they belong, if their idea is only within the boundary of this material energy, they are called Māyāvādī. They have no information of the spiritual energy. They are called Māyāvādī. So chiefly the impersonalists and the void philosophers, they are called Māyāvādī, because they have no other information. They want to simply negate, nullify, but they have no positive information, so they are called Māyāvādī. So the Śaṅkarites... Śaṅkarites, of course, they give positive information. Brahma satya jagan mithyā. They say that this world is false and Brahman is reality. But because we want reality in variety, therefore impersonal philosophy, although we take it as a matter of sectarian philosophy, it does not appeal to the heart because by nature we want enjoyment. And whenever there is question of enjoyment, there must be variety. Variety is the mother of enjoyment. So philosophically or theoretically, we may accept voidness, negation, out of frustration. When we are frustrated in these material varieties we adopt the suicidal policy, "Let me commit suicide, finish." This is called Māyāvāda. Actual spiritual variegatedness, unless one is informed about it and one is situated in spiritual varieties, there is no satisfaction.

Festival Lectures

According to impersonal philosophy or void philosophy, it is twenty-four - (elements of the body).
Lecture-Day after Sri Gaura-Purnima -- Hawaii, March 5, 1969:

So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to clear that covered sense or this colored consciousness or adulterated consciousness. Then everything will be there. You cannot kill consciousness. That is not possible. The Buddha philosophy is to stop consciousness, nirvāṇa. According to Buddha's philosophy, this consciousness is production by combination of this matter. This body is combination of matter: earth, water, fire, air, ether, and, according to Bhagavad-gītā, further, mind, intelligence, ego. This is combination. They are very finely analyzed by the sāṅkhya philosophy system, by Vedic system, into twenty-four elements. And according to some, twenty-five, and according to some, twenty-six. According to our Vaiṣṇava philosophy, twenty-six. According to Māyāvāda philosophy, this is twenty-five. And according to impersonal philosophy or void philosophy, it is twenty-four. So originally, it is eight. So in this way... Buddha philosophy means that this whole existence of our body or our self is the combination of matter. That is the way of thinking of modern scientists also, that this body is a combination of matter. Under Darwin's theory also, like that, "organic matter, inorganic matter." They are studying evolution of this matter, organic matter. But actually that is not the fact. The fact is that use, individual soul, that is the real fact. And that individual soul is the seed, and upon that seed, this body has developed.

Initiation Lectures

The whole world is impersonal. They do not know anything, of course, but they have got an impersonal philosophy.
Initiation and Brahma-samhita Lecture -- New York, July 26, 1971:

Unless the origin of everything is a person, how so many persons are coming? Every one of us, all living entities, either man or animal or demigod, even trees, plants, they're all persons. Everyone, individual person. So if every living entity is a person, how the original of, origin of everything can be imperson? The origin must be person. Therefore ādi-puruṣam. The origin, original, or origin of everything, janmādy asya yataḥ, Absolute Truth, is that from whom or from which everything is emanating. So everything is a person, individual. So origin must be person. Ādi-puruṣam. Therefore Brahmā..., this Brahma-saṁhitā is made by Brahmā. He's the original creature within this universe. He's recommending that "My origin is also a person." Ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi: "I worship that original person." Therefore the origin of everything, the Absolute, the summum bonum, cannot be impersonal. What is the reason? Where is the experience that from imperson a person comes? There is no such instance within our experience. From person, a person comes. My father is a person, so I am a person. His father is a person; therefore my father is a person. Go on searching, you'll find the original person. Try to understand this philosophy. The whole world is impersonal. They do not know anything, of course, but they have got an impersonal philosophy. How the impersonal philosophy can stand? Every individual entity is a person; therefore origin must be a person, ādi-puruṣam. And it is recommended by the authority, Brahmā.

General Lectures

Even you achieve the liberation, perfectional stage, as the impersonal philosophers want. They want nirvāṇa. ... But our Vaiṣṇava philosophy is that you cannot keep yourself in spiritual consciousness unless you are fully engaged in spiritual activities.
Lecture -- London, September 14, 1969:

Therefore our prayer should be how we shall be twenty-four hours engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Bhavantam evānucaran nirantaraḥ praśānta-niḥśeṣa. I'm just trying to explain the word praśānta, pacifism, how one can be pacified, fully satisfied. Just like Dhruva Mahārāja, a boy. He wanted the kingdom of his father and he underwent severe penances to see God, Nārāyaṇa, so that he may ask His benediction to be, I mean to say, seated on the throne of his father. That was his desire. He went to forest to undertake severe penances to see Nārāyaṇa so that he can ask from Him the benediction that he should have..., seated on the throne of his father. Because by the intrigue of his stepmother, he was rejected by his father. He wanted... That material desire we, every one of us in conditioned state, we want. Sometimes we compete. We become very much obstinate, that "I must have this," and we work very hard. Just like in Europe, that Hitler, he wanted supremacy over Europe, and he fought very valiantly. But at the end he became vanquished. Similarly, in the material world we have got so many desires and we want to fulfill it—and for which we work very hard. But at the end it becomes frustrated. That is the nature of the material world. You cannot have anything here permanent, however hard you work... You may achieve that. Not only in this material world. Even you achieve the liberation, perfectional stage, as the impersonal philosophers want. They want nirvāṇa. Just like Buddhists, they want nirvāṇa, extinction of this material conditional life. That is called nirvāṇa. And the Māyāvādī philosophers, impersonalists, they want not only extinction of these material pangs but they want to be situated in spiritual consciousness only. But our Vaiṣṇava philosophy is that you cannot keep yourself in spiritual consciousness unless you are fully engaged in spiritual activities. That is the perfect philosophy.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Prabhupada: Then mother came, (Mother Sacidevi speaking to little Nimai), "My dear boy, why you are eating dirt? Here is sandeśa. I have given you." "Mother, what is the difference between sandeśa and dirt? They are all the same. (laughing) They are all the same." "Yes, my dear boy, You are impersonalist philosopher."
Morning Walk -- December 20, 1973, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: That's all right. Then there is no question of philosophy. Finish. Everything one. That... This philosophy was discussed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His mother. He was eating dirt, and mother gave Him sandeśa. So He did not care to take sandeśa. He was eating dirt. Then mother came, "My dear boy, why you are eating dirt? Here is sandeśa. I have given you." "Mother, what is the difference between sandeśa and dirt? They are all the same. (laughing) They are all the same." "Yes, my dear boy, You are impersonalist philosopher. But it is required. Just like the water jug is also earth, made of earth. It is earth. And this ground is also earth. But when you have to keep water you require this water jug, not this earth." That is relativity. If you have to take work, then you cannot say, "Well, this is also earth, this is also... Why...? The pot is not required. Put water here." Then you will suffer, no water. So this kind of philosophy was discussed when Caitanya Mahāprabhu was a child. (break) ...and the tree is the same thing. But when I walk, I require the stick, not this tree. (break) ...The dogs must be on lash (leash). If somebody does not do that, he is criminal. So if he pleads in the court, "There is no difference, dogs on the lash or without lash. Why you are punishing me?" But will that be accepted?

Karandhara: Well, the judge says, "There is no difference whether I put you in jail or not."

Prabhupāda: (laughs) That's it. Then he has to accept jail. He should not defend himself. "Never mind. I go to jail."

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Prabhupāda: Impersonal philosophers are more dangerous than the atheist.
Morning Walk -- January 12, 1976, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: Well, impersonal philosophers are more dangerous than the atheist.

Dr. Patel: That you think.

Prabhupāda: No, Caitanya Mahāprabhu says. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says.

Dr. Patel: Let's not discuss about this, not go into it.

Prabhupāda: He said, veda na maniyā bauddha haila nāstika. Vedāśraya bauddha-vāda nāstika ke adhika. We accept atheist, one who does not believe in the Vedas. Therefore we have rejected the Buddha philosophy. They could not exist in India. But those who are preaching atheism through Vedas, impersonal, they are more dangerous.

Dr. Patel: That impersonal preaching is not atheism.

Indian man: For example?

Prabhupāda: Anyone impersonalist—"God has no form." There are so many rascals. So he has got form to speak against God, and God has no form. This is going on all over the world. He speaks against the God, that "God is not a person." So he is person, and God is not person. Just see their foolishness. He is made by God, and he is a person, and who made him, he is not a person. This is foolishness.

Correspondence

1968 Correspondence

The Impersonalist philosopher wants to stop the difficult reactions of the senses but they don't know how to place the senses in healthy life.
Letter to Janardana -- Los Angeles 21 January, 1968:

Our devotional activities are executed by transferring epithet; our senses are there, they are acting pervertedly and putting us into difficulty. The Impersonalist philosopher wants to stop this difficult reactions of the senses but they don't know how to place the senses in healthy life. For example: one may try to get out of diseased condition. This attempt does not mean that one should be killed so that one may get out of miserable condition of diseased life. The real method is to remove diseased condition and be placed in healthy life. Krishna Consciousness means to get out of the material qualities and be reinstated in the spiritual nirguna activities. When one can understand nirguna he can understand nirakara, also. This akar or form of material existence is temporary. When we get out of this temporary changes of different forms as we are transmigrating from one form to another and be placed in our real spiritual form, or purified our existence, that is called nirakara. Or in other words nirakara means absence of material form.

The voidness philosophy is worse than Impersonalist philosophy.
Letter to Janardana -- Los Angeles 21 January, 1968:

The marginal position of voidness between Brahmajyoti and the material world manifestation is the destination of the Buddhist philosophers. Therefore the voidness philosophy is worse than Impersonalist philosophy. This voidness philosophy is simply nirvana, or absence of material manifestation, but actually it is a material stand whereas Impersonalist monism is transcendental to material manifestation and voidness. Therefore the conception of Brahmajyoti is advanced realization than conception of nirvana. Nobody can be satisfied in void or Impersonalist philosophy; they are against the nature of the spirit soul. We understand from Vedanta philosophy that the spirit soul is by nature joyful. There is no joy in voidness or Impersonalism and because such imperfect philosophers do not know of the association of Krishna which is full of bliss and knowledge, they will fall down repeatedly into voidness and Impersonalism with the result that they cannot stay there and they fall down to the material atmosphere. In Bhagavad-gita it is said by the Lord that these people, void and Impersonalist philosophers, are in great trouble. If they are fortunate enough to meet a pure devotee of Krishna and if they are sincere in their search for the absolute truth, they will find Krishna Consciousness as the last resort of their philosophical researches. Try to help these bewildered philosophers by presentation of your nice Krishna Consciousness thesis which you have prepared, and I am sure Krishna will help you in all respects. Simply your sincerity of service is required and He will dictate from within you how to make your thesis. It will be a great service to the humanity, especially to the Western world.

1969 Correspondence

The swami order is certainly introduced by Sankaracarya, because almost all sannyasis of impersonal philosophy take this name, Swami.
Letter to Dayananda -- Allston, Mass 1 May, 1969:

Regarding your questions, the swami order is certainly introduced by Sankaracarya, because almost all sannyasis of impersonal philosophy take this name, Swami. But the Swami title offered to me is equivalent to Goswami. Swami and Goswami are actually the same, synonomous. Swami means the master, and master means the master of the senses. Goswami directly explains master of senses. Go means senses. So this name, Goswami, is not the Sankaracarya's order.

1970 Correspondence

Lord Caitanya has warned us that anyone who listens to or tries to understand the impersonalist philosophy is doomed, his devotion will become dried up.
Letter to Upendra -- Amritsar 26 October, 1970:

Regarding the impersonalist swamis, don't try to mix with any Swami who has no knowledge of Krsna Consciousness. So their speaking is simply maya, therefore they are called Mayavadis. Lord Caitanya has warned us that anyone who listens to or tries to understand the impersonalist philosophy is doomed, his devotion will become dried up.

Facts about "Impersonal philosophy"
Compiled byVisnu Murti + and Madri +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryDecember 16, 0008 JL +
Date of last entryMay 7, 0010 JL +
Total quotes55 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 2 +, SB: 10 +, CC: 7 +, OB: 17 +, Lec: 13 +, Conv: 2 + and Let: 4 +