The word caitanya means “living force,” carita means “character,” and amṛta means “immortal.” As living entities we can move, but a table cannot because it does not possess living force. Movement and activity may be considered signs or symptoms of the living force. Indeed, it may be said that there can be no activity without the living force. Although the living force is present in the material condition, this condition is not amṛta, immortal. The words Caitanya-caritāmṛta, then, may be translated as “the character of the living force in immortality.”
But how is this living force displayed immortally? It is not displayed by man or any other creature in this material universe, for none of us are immortal in these bodies. We possess the living force, we perform activities, and we are immortal by our nature and constitution, but the material condition into which we have been put does not allow our immortality to be displayed. It is stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad that eternality and the living force belong to both ourselves and God. Although this is true in that both God and ourselves are immortal, there is a difference. As living entities, we perform many activities, but we have a tendency to fall down into material nature. God has no such tendency. Being all-powerful, He never comes under the control of material nature. Indeed, material nature is but one display of His inconceivable energies.
An analogy will help us understand the distincion 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.