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Mayavadi philosophers, they think the Absolute Truth is impersonal

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 7 - 12

Persons who are under the impression that the Absolute Truth is impersonal are described as abuddhayaḥ, which means those who do not know the ultimate feature of the Absolute Truth.
BG 7.24, Purport:

In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that the Personality of Godhead cannot be understood simply by study of the Vedānta literature. Only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord can the Personality of the Supreme be known. Therefore in this verse it is clearly stated that not only are the worshipers of the demigods less intelligent, but those nondevotees who are engaged in Vedānta and speculation on Vedic literature without any tinge of true Kṛṣṇa consciousness are also less intelligent, and for them it is not possible to understand God's personal nature. Persons who are under the impression that the Absolute Truth is impersonal are described as abuddhayaḥ, which means those who do not know the ultimate feature of the Absolute Truth.

Ultimately those using a material process think that the Absolute Truth is impersonal; therefore they think that from His impersonal feature He assumed a personal feature attached to material nature.
BG 11.52, Purport:

For one using a material process, Kṛṣṇa is considered to be a great historical personality and very learned philosopher, but He is an ordinary man, and even though He was so powerful He had to accept a material body. Ultimately they think that the Absolute Truth is impersonal; therefore they think that from His impersonal feature He assumed a personal feature attached to material nature. This is a materialistic calculation of the Supreme Lord.

Those who speculate believe that in the ultimate issue, the Absolute Truth is not a person.
BG 11.52, Purport:

Another calculation is speculative. Those who are in search of knowledge also speculate on Kṛṣṇa and consider Him to be less important than the universal form of the Supreme. Thus some think that the universal form of Kṛṣṇa which was manifested to Arjuna is more important than His personal form. According to them, the personal form of the Supreme is something imaginary. They believe that in the ultimate issue, the Absolute Truth is not a person. But the transcendental process is described in Bhagavad-gītā, Chapter Four: to hear about Kṛṣṇa from authorities. That is the actual Vedic process, and those who are actually in the Vedic line hear about Kṛṣṇa from authority, and by repeated hearing about Him, Kṛṣṇa becomes dear.

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Preface and Introduction

Lord Caitanya said, "When such mantras are indirectly interpreted, it is wrongly thought that the Absolute Truth is impersonal."
SB Introduction:

"Brahman, therefore, is never impersonal, but when such mantras are indirectly interpreted, it is wrongly thought that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. The Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is full of all opulences, and therefore He has a transcendental form of full existence, knowledge and bliss. How then can one establish that the Absolute Truth is impersonal?"

SB Canto 3

Although the first realization of the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal Brahman, one should not remain satisfied with experiencing the impersonal effulgence of the Supreme Lord.
SB 3.15.46, Purport:

Those so-called yogīs who, although engaged in meditation, are not broad hearted cannot find the four-handed Nārāyaṇa form, even though He is seated within their heart. Although the first realization of the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal Brahman, one should not remain satisfied with experiencing the impersonal effulgence of the Supreme Lord. In the Īśopaniṣad also, the devotee prays that the glaring effulgence of Brahman may be removed from his eyes so that he can see the real, personal feature of the Lord and thus satisfy himself fully. Similarly, although the Lord is not visible in the beginning because of His glaring bodily effulgence, if a devotee sincerely wants to see Him, the Lord is revealed to him.

There are many so-called devotees who think that in the conditioned state we may worship the Personality of Godhead but that ultimately there is no personality; they say that since the Absolute Truth is impersonal, one can imagine a personal form of the impersonal Absolute Truth for the time being, but as soon as one becomes liberated the worship stops.
SB 3.25.34, Purport:

There are many so-called devotees who think that in the conditioned state we may worship the Personality of Godhead but that ultimately there is no personality; they say that since the Absolute Truth is impersonal, one can imagine a personal form of the impersonal Absolute Truth for the time being, but as soon as one becomes liberated the worship stops. That is the theory put forward by the Māyāvāda philosophy. Actually the impersonalists do not merge into the existence of the Supreme Person but into His personal bodily luster, which is called the brahmajyoti. Although that brahmajyoti is not different from His personal body, that sort of oneness (merging into the bodily luster of the Personality of Godhead) is not accepted by a pure devotee because the devotees engage in greater pleasure than the so-called pleasure of merging into His existence. The greatest pleasure is to serve the Lord. Devotees are always thinking about how to serve Him; they are always designing ways and means to serve the Supreme Lord, even in the midst of the greatest obstacles of material existence.

Devotees are very much attached to glorifying the activities of the Lord, whereas the Māyāvādīs cannot even think of these activities. According to them the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
SB 3.25.34, Purport:

The Māyāvādīs accept the description of the pastimes of the Lord as stories, but actually they are not stories; they are historical facts. Pure devotees accept the narrations of the pastimes of the Lord not as stories but as Absolute Truth. The words mama pauruṣāṇi are significant. Devotees are very much attached to glorifying the activities of the Lord, whereas the Māyāvādīs cannot even think of these activities. According to them the Absolute Truth is impersonal. Without personal existence, how can there be activity? The impersonalists take the activities mentioned in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and other Vedic literatures as fictitious stories, and therefore they interpret them most mischievously. The have no idea of the Personality of Godhead. They unnecessarily poke their noses into the scripture and interpret it in a deceptive way in order to mislead the innocent public. The activities of Māyāvāda philosophy are very dangerous to the public, and therefore Lord Caitanya warned us never to hear from any Māyāvādī about any scripture. They will spoil the entire process, and the person hearing them will never be able to come to the path of devotional service to attain the highest perfection, or will be able to do so only after a very long time.

SB Canto 4

We should learn from Mahārāja Pṛthu that a Vaiṣṇava, or devotee, must not only be fixed in the service of the Lord, but, if required, must be prepared to argue with the impersonalist Māyāvādīs with all logic and philosophy and defeat their contention that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
SB 4.22.62, Purport:

When Lord Caitanya talked to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, the Lord honored him as the incarnation of Bṛhaspati. Bṛhaspati is the chief priest of the heavenly kingdom, and he is a follower of the philosophy known as brahma-vada, or Māyāvāda. Bṛhaspati is also a great logician. It appears from this statement that Mahārāja Pṛthu, although a great devotee constantly engaged in the loving service of the Lord, could defeat all kinds of impersonalists and Māyāvādīs by his profound knowledge of Vedic scriptures. We should learn from Mahārāja Pṛthu that a Vaiṣṇava, or devotee, must not only be fixed in the service of the Lord, but, if required, must be prepared to argue with the impersonalist Māyāvādīs with all logic and philosophy and defeat their contention that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.

They believe that since the Absolute Truth is impersonal, they can call Him by any name. Otherwise, they maintain, He has no name.
SB 4.29.3, Purport:

Although there are thousands of names of Lord Viṣṇu, the karmīs and jñānīs intermingle the names of the Supreme Godhead with the names of demigods and human beings. Because they cannot understand the actual name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they take for granted that any name can be accepted. They believe that since the Absolute Truth is impersonal, they can call Him by any name. Otherwise, they maintain, He has no name. This is not a fact. Here it is clearly stated: nāmabhir vā kriyā-guṇaiḥ. The Lord has specific names such as Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu and Adhokṣaja. There are indeed many names, but the conditioned soul cannot understand them.

SB Canto 7

One class of transcendentalists concludes that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and another class concludes that the Absolute Truth is a person.
SB 7.10.49, Purport:

There is always a difference of opinion about the Absolute Truth. One class of transcendentalists concludes that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and another class concludes that the Absolute Truth is a person. In Bhagavad-gītā, the Absolute Truth is accepted as the Supreme Person. Indeed, that Supreme Person Himself, Lord Kṛṣṇa, instructs in Bhagavad-gītā, brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham (BG 14.27), mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat (BG 7.7). "The impersonal Brahman is My partial manifestation, and there is no truth superior to Me."

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Madhya-lila

It is clearly stated that the Blessed Lord is the Supreme Person, but Māyāvādī atheists still try to prove that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
CC Madhya 6.132, Translation and Purport:

"You do not explain the direct meaning of the Brahma-sūtras. Indeed, it appears that your business is to cover their real meaning."

This is typical of all Māyāvādīs or atheists who interpret the meaning of Vedic literature in their own imaginative way. The real purpose of such foolish people is to impose the impersonalist conclusion on all Vedic literature. The Māyāvādī atheists also interpret the Bhagavad-gītā. In every verse of Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In every verse Vyāsadeva says, śrī-bhagavān uvāca, "the Supreme Personality of Godhead said," or "the Blessed Lord said." It is clearly stated that the Blessed Lord is the Supreme Person, but Māyāvādī atheists still try to prove that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. In order to present their false, imaginary meanings, they must adopt so much word jugglery and grammatical interpretation that they finally become ludicrous. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu remarked that no one should hear the Māyāvādī commentaries or purports to any Vedic literature.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Teachings of Lord Caitanya

When explaining the first aphorism of the Vedānta-sūtra, Śaṅkara most unceremoniously tried to explain that Brahman, or the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 20:

When explaining the first aphorism of the Vedānta-sūtra, Śaṅkara most unceremoniously tried to explain that Brahman, or the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal. He also cunningly tried to switch the doctrine of by-product into the doctrine of change. For the Supreme Absolute Truth, there is no change. It is simply that a by-product results from His inconceivable powers of action. In other words, a relative truth is produced out of the Supreme Truth. When a chair is produced out of crude wood, it is said that a by-product is produced. The Supreme Absolute Truth, Brahman, is immutable, and when we find a by-product—the living entity or this cosmic manifestation—it is a transformation, or a by-product of the Supreme. It is like milk being transformed into yogurt. In this way, if we study the living entities in the cosmic manifestation, it will appear that they are not different from the original Absolute Truth, but from Vedic literatures we understand that the Absolute Truth has varieties of energy and that the living entities and the cosmic manifestation are but a demonstration of His energies. The energies are not separate from the energetic; therefore the living entity and cosmic manifestation are inseparable truths, part of the Absolute Truth. Such a conclusion regarding the Absolute Truth and the relative truth should be acceptable to any sane man.

By misunderstanding the inconceivable energies of the Supreme, one may falsely conclude that the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 20:

By misunderstanding the inconceivable energies of the Supreme, one may falsely conclude that the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal. Such a deluded conclusion is experienced by a living being when he is in an acute stage of disease. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also there are statements to the effect that the supreme ātmā, the Lord, has inconceivable and innumerable potencies. (SB 3.33.3) It is also stated in Brahma-sūtra that the supreme spirit has many variegated and inconceivable energies. Nor should one think that there is any possibility of ignorance existing in the Absolute Truth. Ignorance and knowledge are conceptions in this world of duality, but in the Absolute there is no duality. It is simply foolishness to consider that the Absolute is covered by ignorance. If the Absolute Truth can possibly be covered by ignorance, how can it be said to be Absolute? Understanding the inconceivability of the Absolute is the only solution to the question of duality.

If we say that the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal, we mean that His personality is not material.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 24:

Whenever we speak of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we add the word śrī, indicating that He is full with six opulences. In other words, He is eternally a person; if He were not a person, the six opulences could not be present in fullness. If we say that the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal, we mean that His personality is not material. Thus in order to distinguish His transcendental body from ordinary material bodies, some philosophers have explained Him as being impersonal from the material point of view. In other words, material personality is denied, and spiritual personality is established. In the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (3.19) it is clearly explained that the Absolute Truth has no material legs and hands, but in that scripture it is indicated that He has spiritual hands by which He accepts everything offered to Him. Similarly, He has no material eyes, but He does have spiritual eyes by which He can see everything and anything. Although He has no material ears, He can hear everything and anything. Having perfect senses, He knows past, future and present. Indeed, He knows everything, but no one can understand Him, for by material senses He cannot be understood. Being the origin of all emanations, He is the supreme, the greatest, the Personality of Godhead.

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

The gross materialist, without seeing the hand of God in such artistic manifestations as the actual flowers blooming in nature, concludes that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
Krsna Book 87:

The fact is that ultimately the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person. But because He acts through His different potencies, which are impossible for the gross materialists to see, the materialists accept Him as impersonal. For example, one can observe the personal artistic work in a painting of a flower, and one can understand that the color adjustment, the shape and so on have demanded the minute attention of an artist. The artist's work is clearly exhibited in a painting of different blooming flowers. But the gross materialist, without seeing the hand of God in such artistic manifestations as the actual flowers blooming in nature, concludes that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. Actually, the Absolute is personal, but He is independent. He does not require to personally take a brush and colors to paint the flowers, for His potencies act so wonderfully that it appears as if flowers have come into being without the aid of an artist. The impersonal view of the Absolute Truth is accepted by less intelligent men, because unless one is engaged in the service of the Lord one cannot understand how the Supreme is acting—one cannot even know the Lord's name. Everything about the Lord's activities and personal features is revealed to the devotee only through his loving service attitude.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

The Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that when impersonal Absolute Truth comes, appears, they also accept the incarnation, but their philosophy is that ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal. When He appears as a person, He accepts the māyā body. This is Māyāvāda.
Lecture on BG 2.28 -- London, August 30, 1973:

Therefore, Vyāsadeva saw, apaśyat puruṣaṁ pūrṇam. He saw... Just like in airplane, you go above the cloud. The sun is not affected at all by the cloud. Although below the airplane you'll see vast mass of cloud. Similarly, māyā cannot affect Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, Bhagavad-gītā says daivī hy eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā. Mama māyā (BG 7.14), Kṛṣṇa says, "My illusory energy." Kṛṣṇa is never affected by the illusory energy. Exactly like the cloud. But the Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that when impersonal Absolute Truth comes, appears, they also accept the incarnation, but their philosophy is that ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal. When He appears as a person, He accepts the māyā body. This is Māyāvāda. Kṛṣṇa may be accepted as the Supreme God, but He has accepted a material body. That means they want to compare Kṛṣṇa with ordinary living entity, and that is condemned in the Bhagavad-gītā.

"Well, whatever is Nārāyaṇa, that is also Lord Śiva, that is also Lord Brahmā, that is also goddess Kālī." This is Māyāvāda. Because the Māyāvāda philosophy is that "The Absolute Truth is impersonal. That is the final understanding. So because we cannot think of impersonal, meditate upon that, let us imagine some form."
Lecture on BG 4.20 -- Bombay, April 9, 1974:

So Vaiṣṇavas also say, yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ brahma-rudrādi-daivataiḥ. Brahmā, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, they are demigods of this material world. So if one puts Nārāyaṇa even with the label of Brahmā and Rudra, Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā... They are very exalted, big demigods. Lord Śiva is almost like Nārāyaṇa. Nārāyaṇa is ninety-five percent complete God, and Lord Śiva is eighty-five percent and Kṛṣṇa is cent percent. There is analysis. So yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ brahma-rudrādi-daivataiḥ, samatvenaiva vīkṣeta. Samatvena, equal "Well, whatever is Nārāyaṇa, that is also Lord Śiva, that is also Lord Brahmā, that is also goddess Kālī." This is Māyāvāda. Because the Māyāvāda philosophy is that "The Absolute Truth is impersonal. That is the final understanding. So because we cannot think of impersonal, meditate upon that, let us imagine some form." Sādhakānāṁ hitvārthāya brahmaṇo rūpa-kalpanaḥ.(?) The Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that kalpana, "You just imagine any form." Therefore they especially recommend the five forms, the five form: the Sūrya, sun-god, Gaṇeśa and Durgā, Viṣṇu and Lord Śiva.

There are many, they think the Absolute Truth is impersonal. But the Absolute Truth is person. Impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth is partial.
Lecture on BG 7.1-3 -- Paris, June 13, 1974:

So yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. This yoga system should be practiced, the mad-āśraya... Mad-āśraya means "under My direct supervision." This yoga system means it is not impersonal—personal. And therefore the word is used, bhagavān uvāca: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead said." Bhagavān, the Absolute Truth, He's a person. Sometimes we think... There are many, they think the Absolute Truth is impersonal. But the Absolute Truth is person. Impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth is partial. It is not complete realization. Therefore it is mentioned here, asaṁśayam, "without any doubt" and samagram, "in full." After all, yoga system means an endeavor to understand the Absolute Truth. Yoga means linking, connecting.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

The Māyāvādī philosophers, they think the Absolute Truth is impersonal. Śūnyavādi. No. Absolute cannot be zero or impersonal because controller, controller must have brain. Without brain, how he can control?
Lecture on SB 1.2.6 -- Delhi, November 11, 1973:

He has got His form. God has got His form. The Māyāvādī philosophers, they think the Absolute Truth is impersonal. Śūnyavādi. No. Absolute cannot be zero or impersonal because controller, controller must have brain. Without brain, how he can control? And as soon as you have got brain, you have got other limbs of the body to carry out the order of the brain. So as soon as you have got senses, as soon as you have got sense organs, as soon as you have got brain, as soon as you have got activities, you are a person. This is the conclusion of the śāstra. Therefore the absolute controller cannot be impersonal. By our practical life we see, government. "Government" is an impersonal word, but at the end of the government, there is a governor or president, a person. A person is required, who will apply his brain. So how is that that without brain the whole cosmic manifestation it is controlled? That is not very reasonable. And that is not according to śāstra.

The impersonalists, they think the ultimate goal, ultimate truth, Absolute Truth, is not a person. So there is no activity.
Lecture on SB 1.2.18 -- Calcutta, September 26, 1974:

In the Vedic literature the same thing is spoken in a different way, in different circumstances. But the ultimate goal is how to know Kṛṣṇa. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ (BG 15.15). So if we follow this principle, hear Bhāgavatam... Bhāgavatam means the words or the activities of Bhagavān. But the impersonalists, they think the ultimate goal, ultimate truth, Absolute Truth, is not a person. So there is no activity. If one is person, he has got activities. But if one is not person, void, just like a sky... In the sky, there is no activity. The only activity is the sky is covered with cloud, and you cannot see the sun. That is the only activity.

So that kind of activity is not required. Regular, varieties of activities. Therefore we have to hear about Kṛṣṇa. You'll hear about Kṛṣṇa in so many varieties of activities. Bhagavad-gītā, you hear. It's so many activities of Kṛṣṇa. So we have to hear about these. And unless there are activities, what you will hear? Simply "Brahman, Brahman, Brahman... nirākāra." How long you will hear? And how long you will enjoy? That is... There is no enjoyment. Therefore they, these Brahmavādīs, these Nirākāravādī, although by austerities and penances they may rise up to the Brahman effulgence, still, they will fall down. Because we are living entities, we want varieties of enjoyment. We are not satisfied in void, in zero. That is not possible. Therefore śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ (SB 1.2.17). One has to hear about Kṛṣṇa, varieties of activities. Varieties of activities. Not nirākāra, without any activities. No. That activity is different from material activity. Janma karma me divyam (BG 4.9). Therefore it is called divyam. They are not ordinary activities. They are all transcendental, spiritual activities. The Māyāvādī philosophers, they cannot understand.

There are some theories—that is not fact—that ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
Lecture on SB 1.2.25 -- Vrndavana, November 5, 1972:

So bhejire munayaḥ athāgre bhagavantam adhokṣajam. There are some theories—that is not fact—that ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal. But here we find that agre, in the beginning, after creation, all the sages... First of all, there was Brahmā. And then he created so many saintly persons. Marīcyādi, great sages. And they also engaged themselves in worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not impersonal, from the very beginning. Bhejire munayaḥ atha agre. From the very beginning. Bhagavantam adhokṣajam. Adhokṣajam, we have described many times: "beyond our sense perception." The Absolute Truth is a person, it is very difficult to understand. "Beyond our sense perception." They, generally they think that "How a person can create such huge cosmic manifestation?" That is their bewilderment. They cannot accommodate, accommodate in the teeny, poor brain that the original Absolute Truth is a person. That is their problem. So their idea is that by personal worship, one has to reach again to the impersonal transcendence. But we don't find from the śāstra like that.

So the Māyāvādī rascals' theory is that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and when He comes to be present before us as person, He accepts a material body.
Lecture on SB 1.3.28 -- Los Angeles, October 3, 1972:

And another thing is that ete ca aṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ. Puṁsaḥ means the person, the Supreme Person. So the Māyāvādī rascals' theory is that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and when He comes to be present before us as person, He accepts a material body. This is their theory, māyā, Māyāvāda, that Kṛṣṇa's body is also bone and skin. That is their theory. They accept, "Yes, Kṛṣṇa is God, but He has accepted a body of flesh and bone." This is Māyāvāda theory. But the śāstra does not say. Kṛṣṇa Himself says, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: (BG 9.11) "These rascals, they also consider Me like one ordinary human being because I have come here just like human being." He, He has said, mūḍho nābhijānāti: "Deride at Me." This is their... To consider Kṛṣṇa's body as made of flesh and bone, that means minimizing the value of Kṛṣṇa. Dr. Radhakrishnan has done it. No. Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute is, Absolute Truth is always person. Puṁsaḥ, here it is said. Ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ (SB 1.3.28).

If somebody thinks that "I can worship Brahmā, I can worship Kālī, I can worship Śiva, or many other demigods, and still the same thing," this is impersonalist view. It is not a fact. Because according to them, "The Absolute Truth is impersonal."
Lecture on SB 1.5.15 -- New Vrindaban, June 19, 1969:

The Bhagavad-gītā also, in the last instruction, Bhagavān says, mām ekam. Ekam means one. "Only surrender to Me." So this is the verdict of all Vedic literatures. But if somebody thinks that "I can worship Brahmā, I can worship Kālī, I can worship Śiva, or many other demigods, and still the same thing," this is impersonalist view. It is not a fact. Because according to them, "The Absolute Truth is impersonal. There is no question of personality. But because we cannot concentrate our devotional energy or attention in the impersonal feature, therefore let us imagine some form of God." This is the, I mean to say, principle of the impersonalists. They imagine some form of God, and they get perfection. And ultimately they become impersonal, merge into the effulgence, brahmajyoti. That is their philosophy. The Māyāvāda philosophy and Vaiṣṇava philosophy differs here. Our Bhāgavata says that ultimate truth, Absolute Truth, is a person. Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. Brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti (SB 1.2.11). Vyāsadeva says that "You direct people, attention, to the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Just like Māyāvādī philosophers, they take it, they concoct like that, that "Ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal, but when He descends..." I do not know how the impersonal can be "He."
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 6.149-50 -- Gorakhpur, February 13, 1971:

So Kṛṣṇa automatically became their very, very dear friend. That is the significance of the residents of Vṛndāvana. They... Their love for Kṛṣṇa was so ecstatic that they did not know anything except Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Brahmā says, aho bhāgyam aho bhāgyam: "How fortunate these residents of Vṛndāvana are that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has become their friend." And Kṛṣṇa is pūrṇa-brahma sanātanam, not that He has assumed a body like a human being and He is imperson. No. Just like Māyāvādī philosophers, they take it, they concoct like that, that "Ultimately the Absolute Truth is impersonal, but when He descends..." I do not know how the impersonal can be "He." So that theory is refuted hereby because it is the statement of Brahmā, and he says that Kṛṣṇa is pūrṇa-brahma sanātanam.

Ultimately, the Māyāvādī philosophers they say that God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal, and the Vaiṣṇava philosophers, they say in the ultimate end, the Absolute Truth is Person and He is, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Kṛṣṇa.
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.353-354 -- New York, December 26, 1966:

Vedānta philosophy, there are different parties in India. The Māyā... Generally, two parties: the Māyāvāda philosophers and the Vaiṣṇava philosophers, or the impersonalists and the personalists. Otherwise, there is no difference. Ultimately, the Māyāvādī philosophers they say that God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal, and the Vaiṣṇava philosophers, they say in the ultimate end, the Absolute Truth is Person and He is, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). This is little difference, and they stick to their position and they fight. Fight means by philosophical arguments. That is going on since a very long time. But both of them belong to the sanātana Hindu dharma because both of them will talk on the Vedānta philosophy. They'll simply, they can give different interpretation, but they cannot say that "We don't accept Vedānta." Oh, that will..., then it is at once rejected. So one must give an interpretation on the Vedānta philosophy; then he'll be accepted as ācārya. Three things: Vedānta philosophy, Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One must be able to explain these three books. Then he'll be accepted ācārya. These are the principles.

Festival Lectures

There are Māyāvādīs. Their ultimate understanding is that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and you can imagine any form. It doesn't matter.
Radhastami, Srimati Radharani's Appearance Day -- Bhagavad-gita 18.5 -- London, September 5, 1973:

Vivekananda also said that "Why you are finding out God? Don't you see, so many gods are loitering in the street?" So God has become a funny thing for them. No. We do not accept such God. Our God is different. Our God is:

yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ
brahma-rudrādi-daivataiḥ
samatvenaiva vīkṣeta
sa pāṣaṇḍī bhaved dhruvam
(CC Madhya 18.116)

Our Nārāyaṇa—that is real Nārāyaṇa, exalted—we cannot even compare with that supreme Nārāyaṇa with such demigods like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, what to speak of these rascals. Yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ brahma-rudrādi-daivataiḥ, samatvena vīkṣeta. Any person, rascal, if he thinks that Nārāyaṇa is equal to Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva... There are Māyāvādīs. They say "Any demigod is as good as Viṣṇu. You can worship any demigod. It doesn't matter. You..." Because their ultimate understanding is that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and you can imagine any form. It doesn't matter. You ultimately reach that impersonal, merge into the impersonal.

Wedding Ceremonies

The Vaiṣṇava, they accept that the Absolute Truth is person, and the Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that Absolute Truth is impersonal. That is the difference.
Paramananda & Satyabhama's Wedding -- Montreal, July 22, 1968:

There are two section of philosophers in India, approved; not, I mean to say, manufactured philosopher, mental speculators, but actually those who are counted valuable. There are two classes of philosophers, namely the impersonalist and personalist. The Vaiṣṇava, they accept that the Absolute Truth is person, and the Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that Absolute Truth is impersonal. That is the difference. Otherwise their process of other paraphernalia, execution of understanding, is almost the same. Now our Vaiṣṇava philosopher's argument is that how the Absolute Truth can be impersonal? Because here, in this world, in our experience, we see everything personal. So unless the personality, the individuality, or the individual attraction is there in the Absolute Truth, how they can be represented here in the relative truth?

General Lectures

So it is poor fund of knowledge only that these impersonalists conclude that the ultimate Absolute Truth is impersonal.
Lecture -- Seattle, October 7, 1968:

There are many planets within the sunshine, millions of planets, but you cannot see. Similarly, persons who cannot see beyond the brahmajyoti, the transcendental rays of the spiritual sky, they are impersonalists. They are impersonalists. But one who goes to the transcendental planets, Vaikuṇṭhas, Goloka Vṛndāvana, they see God is there person. As you are person, I am person, you'll find person.

So it is poor fund of knowledge only that these conclude that the ultimate Absolute Truth is impersonal. No. Because Vedānta says, Vedānta-sūtra says, janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1). The Supreme Absolute Truth, or Brahman, is that from whom everything generates, everything is born. Now, everything is born. Then you have got personality, I have got my personality, everyone has got personality. How you can think of Him that He is not person? We have got experience that a father is person, therefore his son is also person. So if we are born of the supreme father, then if we are person, how He can be imperson? It is simple reason. But His personality is different, our personality is different. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). His body is different, sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ. His power is different, His potency is different. Different means that is all spiritual.

Philosophy Discussions

Material body changes, but God has no material body. Māyāvādī conception that Absolute Truth is impersonal, when He comes as a person He accepts a material body, that is not understood by those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge or take information from Kṛṣṇa.
Philosophy Discussion on Carl Gustav Jung:

Hayagrīva: He says, "On a higher level the process of resurrection is no longer understood in a gross material sense. It is assumed that the resurrection of the dead is the raising up of the corpus glorificaciones, that is the glorified body, the subtle body, in the state of incorruptibility."

Prabhupāda: That I said, the spiritual body. The spiritual body never changes. When one comes with the spiritual body there is no change. Material body changes, but God has no material body. The conception of..., Māyāvādī conception that Absolute Truth is impersonal, when He comes as a person He accepts a material body, that is not understood by those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge or take information from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritāḥ (BG 9.11). Because He appears as a human being, rascals think that He is a human being, but He is not. Paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto. He has no knowledge of the spiritual body.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Pañcopāsanam means that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. "You just imagine one form." But Vaiṣṇava, he's not like that.
Morning Walk -- March 29, 1974, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: Pañcopāsanam means that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. You can imagine as person like this. This is pañcopāsanam. Sādhu kanam hita taya brāhmaṇa rūpa kalpana, kalpana.(?) "You just imagine one form." But Vaiṣṇava, he's not like that. Sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). (aside:) Hare Kṛṣṇa. Jaya. Sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ.

It's clearly stated there that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, but when He comes here, He appears as a person. So this conclusion is for the abuddhayaḥ, less intelligent class of men, poor fund of knowledge.
Morning Walk -- June 14, 1974, Paris:

Puṣṭa-kṛṣṇa: "But they also come to Me." So what does this "come to Me" mean? They use this to mean that the same result is there, whether you worship...

Prabhupāda: They come to Me after much trouble. That's all. So a foolish man will take much trouble. And intelligent man will take the short-cut, harer nāma harer nāma harer nāma eva kevalam (CC Adi 17.21). Much trouble means he's a foolish man. And this is also stated, avyaktaṁ vyaktim āpannaṁ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ (BG 7.24). It's clearly stated there that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, but when He comes here, He appears as a person. So this conclusion is for the abuddhayaḥ, less intelligent class of men, poor fund of knowledge. Avyaktaṁ vyaktim āpannaṁ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ (BG 7.24).

1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

Śaṅkarācārya's theory is the ultimate, the Absolute Truth is impersonal. And one can imagine a personal form for the benefit of the worshiper.
Conversation with Professor Hopkins -- July 13, 1975, Philadelphia:

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śaṅkarācārya's theory is the ultimate, the Absolute Truth is impersonal. And one can imagine a personal form for the benefit of the worshiper.

Prof. Hopkins: But there are some worshipers of Śiva who would be personalists.

Prabhupāda: No.

Prof. Hopkins: You would deny that.

Prabhupāda: They are all impersonalists. They are pañcopāsana. Pañcopāsana means the ultimate, Absolute Truth is impersonal and Śaṅkarācārya recommended that you cannot worship the impersonal, so you conceive a personal form. So that he recommended five: the sun-god, Lord Śiva, Durgā, and Gaṇeśa, and? What else? And Viṣṇu.

Prof. Hopkins: Viṣṇu. Pañca (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: But after you are per..., become, you are perfect, then you merge into the impersonal. That is Śaṅkara.

Madhavananda +  and Labangalatika +
December 13, 0008 JL +
December 6, 0009 JL +
BG: 3 +, SB: 7 +, CC: 1 +, OB: 4 +, Lec: 14 +, Conv: 3 +  and Let: 0 +