The personified Vedas continued: “Dear Lord, there are two classes of transcendentalists, the impersonalists and the personalists. The opinion of the impersonalists is that this material manifestation is false and that only the Absolute Truth is factual. The view of the personalists, however, is that the material world, although very temporary, is nevertheless not false but factual. Such transcendentalists have different arguments to establish the validity of their philosophies. Factually, the material world is simultaneously both truth and untruth. It is truth because everything is an expansion of the Supreme Absolute Truth, and it is untruth because the existence of the material world is temporary: it is created, and it is annihilated. Because of its different conditions of existence, the cosmic manifestation has no fixed position.” Those who advocate acceptance of this material world as false are generally known by the maxim brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā. They put forward the argument that everything in the material world is prepared from matter. For example, there are many things made of clay, such as earthen pots, dishes and bowls. After their annihilation, these things may be transformed into many other material objects, but in all cases their existence as clay continues. An earthen water jug, after being broken, may be transformed into a bowl or dish, but either as a dish, bowl or water jug, the earth itself continues to exist. Therefore, the forms of a water jug, bowl or dish are false, but their existence as earth is real. This is the impersonalists’ version. This cosmic manifestation is certainly produced from the Absolute Truth, but because its existence is temporary, it is false; the impersonalists’ understanding is that the Absolute Truth, which is always present, is the only truth. In the opinion of other transcendentalists, however, this material world, being produced of the Absolute Truth, is also truth. The impersonalists argue that this is fallacious because it is sometimes found that matter is produced from spirit soul and sometimes that spirit soul is produced from matter. Such philosophers push forward the argument that although cow dung is dead matter, sometimes it is found that scorpions come out of cow dung. Similarly, dead matter like nails and hair comes out of the living body. Therefore, things produced of a certain thing are not always of the same quality as that thing. On the strength of this argument, Māyāvādī philosophers try to establish that although this cosmic manifestation is certainly an emanation from the Absolute Truth, the cosmic manifestation does not necessarily have truth in it. According to this view, the Absolute Truth, Brahman, should therefore be accepted as truth, whereas the cosmic manifestation, although a product of the Absolute Truth, cannot be taken as truth.
The view of the Māyāvādī philosopher, however, is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā to be the view of the asuras, or demons. The Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā, asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te jagad āhur anīśvaram / aparaspara-sambhūtaṁ kim anyat kāma-haitukam: (BG 16.8) “The asuras’ view of this cosmic manifestation is that the whole creation is false. The asuras think that the mere interaction of matter is the source of the creation and that there is no controller or God.” But actually this is not the fact. From the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā we understand that the five gross elements—earth, water, fire, air and sky—plus the subtle elements—mind, intelligence and false ego—are the eight separated energies of the Supreme Lord. Beyond this inferior, material energy is a spiritual energy, known as the living entities. The living entities are accepted as the superior energy of the Lord. The whole cosmic manifestation is a combination of the inferior and superior energies, and the source of the energies is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has many different types of energies. This is confirmed in the Vedas: parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (CC Madhya 13.65, purport). “The transcendental energies of the Lord are variegated.” And because such varieties of energies have emanated from the Supreme Lord, they cannot be false. The Lord is ever-existing, and the energies are ever-existing. Some of the energy is temporary—sometimes manifested and sometimes unmanifested—but this does not mean that it is false. The example may be given that when a person is angry he does things which are different from his normal condition of life, but the fact that the mood of anger appears and disappears does not mean that the energy of anger is false. As such, the argument of the Māyāvādī philosophers that this world is false is not accepted by the Vaiṣṇava philosophers. The Lord Himself confirms that the view that there is no supreme cause of this material manifestation, that there is no God, and that everything is only the creation of the interaction of matter is a view of the asuras.The Māyāvādī philosopher sometimes puts forward the argument of the snake and the rope. In the dark of evening, a curled-up rope is sometimes, due to ignorance, taken for a snake. But mistaking the rope for a snake does not mean that the rope or the snake is false, and therefore this example, used by the Māyāvādīs to illustrate the falsity of the material world, is not valid. When a thing is taken as fact but actually has no existence at all, it is called false. But if something is mistaken for something else that exists, that does not mean it is false. The Vaiṣṇava philosophers use a very appropriate example, comparing this material world to an earthen pot. When we see an earthen pot, it does not at once disappear and turn into something else. It may be temporary, but the earthen pot is taken into use for bringing water, and we continue to see it as an earthen pot. Therefore, although the earthen pot is temporary and different from the original earth, we cannot say that it is false. We should therefore conclude that the earthen pot and the entire earth are both truths because one is the product of the other. We understand from the Bhagavad-gītā that after the dissolution of this cosmic manifestation, the material energy enters into the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is ever-existing with His varied energies. Because the material creation is an emanation from Him, we cannot say that this cosmic manifestation is a product of something void. Kṛṣṇa is not void. Whenever we speak of Kṛṣṇa, He is present with His form, qualities, name, entourage and paraphernalia. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa is not impersonal. The original cause of everything is neither void nor impersonal but is the Supreme Person. Demons may say that this material creation is anīśvara, without a controller or God, but such arguments ultimately cannot stand.