Persons who are not devotees take to the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies for materialistic reasons, and then they are bewildered. A vivid example may be given: an intelligent person possessing one million dollars in currency notes does not hold the money without using it, even though he knows perfectly well that the currency notes in themselves are nothing but paper. When one has one million dollars in currency notes, he is actually holding only a huge bunch of papers, but if he utilizes it for a purpose, then he benefits. Similarly, although this material world may be false, just like the paper, it has its proper beneficial utilization. Because the currency notes, although paper, are issued by the government, they have full value. Similarly, this material world may be false or temporary, but because it is an emanation from the Supreme Lord, it has its full value. The Vaiṣṇava philosopher acknowledges the full value of this material world and knows how to utilize it properly, whereas the Māyāvādī philosopher fails to do so, just as those who mistake a currency note for ordinary paper discard it and cannot utilize the money. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī therefore declares that if one rejects this material world as false, not considering the importance of this material world as a means to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, such renunciation has very little value. A person who knows the intrinsic value of this material world for the service of the Lord, who is not attached to the material world, and who renounces the material world by not accepting it for sense gratification is situated in real renunciation. This material world is an expansion of the material energy of the Lord. Therefore it is real. It is not false, as sometimes concluded from the example of the snake and the rope.
The personified Vedas continued: “The cosmic manifestation, because of the flickering nature of its impermanent existence, appears to less intelligent men to be false.” The Māyāvādī philosophers take advantage of the flickering nature of this cosmic manifestation to try to prove their thesis that this world is false. According to the Vedic version, before the creation this world had no existence, and after dissolution the world will no longer be manifested. Voidists also take advantage of this Vedic version and conclude that the cause of this material world is void. But the Vedic injunctions do not say that it is void. The Vedic injunctions define the source of creation and dissolution as yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante, “He from whom this cosmic manifestation has emanated and in whom, after annihilation, everything will merge.” The same is explained in the Vedānta-sūtra and in the first verse of the First Chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by the words janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1), “He from whom all things emanate.” All these Vedic injunctions indicate that the cosmic manifestation is due to the Supreme Absolute Personality of Godhead and that when it is dissolved it merges into Him. The same principle is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā: “The cosmic manifestation comes into existence and again dissolves, and after dissolution it merges into the existence of the Supreme Lord.” This statement definitely confirms that the particular energy known as bahir-aṅgā-māyā, or the external energy, although of flickering nature, is the energy of the Supreme Lord, and as such it cannot be false. It simply appears false. The Māyāvādī philosophers conclude that because the material nature has no existence in the beginning and is nonexistent after dissolution, it is false. But by the example of the earthen pots and dishes the Vedic version is presented: although the existence of the particular by-products of the Absolute Truth is temporary, the energy of the Supreme Lord is permanent. The earthen pot or water jug may be broken or transformed into another shape, such as that of a dish or bowl, but the ingredient, or the material basis, namely the earth, continues to be the same. The basic principle of the cosmic manifestation is always the same: Brahman, or the Absolute Truth; therefore, the Māyāvādī philosophers’ theory that it is false is certainly only a mental concoction. That the cosmic manifestation is flickering and temporary does not mean that it is false. The definition of falsity is “that which never had any existence but which exists only in name.” For instance, the eggs of a horse or the horn of a rabbit or the flower in the sky are phenomena which exist only in name. There are no horse’s eggs, there is no rabbit’s horn, and there are no flowers growing in the sky. There are many things which exist in name or imagination but actually have no factual manifestation. Such things may be called false. But the Vaiṣṇava cannot take this material world to be false simply because of its temporary nature, its manifesting and again dissolving.