Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Sri Isopanisad 15
tat tvam pusann apavrnu
hiranmayena -- by a golden effulgence; patrena -- by a dazzling covering; satyasya -- of the Supreme Truth; apihitam -- covered; mukham -- the face; tat -- that covering; tvam -- Yourself; pusan -- O sustainer; apavrnu -- kindly remove; satya -- pure; dharmaya -- unto the devotee; drstaye -- for exhibiting.
O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
In the Bhagavad-gita (14.27), the Lord explains His personal rays (brahmajyoti), the dazzling effulgence of His personal form, in this way:
brahmano hi pratisthaham
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
"I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness." Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan are three aspects of the same Absolute Truth. Brahman is the aspect most easily perceived by the beginner; Paramatma, the Supersoul, is realized by those who have further progressed; and Bhagavan realization is the ultimate realization of the Absolute Truth. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (7.7), where Lord Krsna says that He is the ultimate concept of the Absolute Truth: mattah parataram nanyat. Therefore Krsna is the source of the brahmajyoti as well as the all-pervading Paramatma. Later in the Bhagavad-gita (10.42) Krsna further explains:
atha va bahunaitena
kim jnatena tavarjuna
vistabhyaham idam krtsnam
ekamsena sthito jagat
"But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe." Thus by His one plenary expansion, the all-pervading Paramatma, the Lord maintains the complete material cosmic creation. He also maintains all manifestations in the spiritual world. Therefore in this sruti-mantra of Sri Isopanisad, the Lord is addressed as pusan, the ultimate maintainer.
The Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, is always filled with transcendental bliss (ananda-mayo 'bhyasat). When He was present at Vrndavana in India five thousand years ago, He always remained in transcendental bliss, even from the beginning of His childhood pastimes. The killings of various demons -- such as Agha, Baka, Putana and Pralamba -- were but pleasure excursions for Him. In His village of Vrndavana He enjoyed Himself with His mother, brother and friends, and when He played the role of a naughty butter thief, all His associates enjoyed celestial bliss by His stealing. The Lord's fame as a butter thief is not reproachable, for by stealing butter the Lord gave pleasure to His pure devotees. Everything the Lord did in Vrndavana was for the pleasure of His associates there. The Lord created these pastimes to attract the dry speculators and the acrobats of the so-called hatha-yoga system who wish to find the Absolute Truth.
Of the childhood play between the Lord and His playmates, the cowherd boys, Sukadeva Gosvami says in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.12.11):
ittham satam brahma-sukhanubhutya
dasyam gatanam para-daivatena
sakam vijahruh krta-punya-punjah
"The Personality of Godhead, who is perceived as the impersonal, blissful Brahman by the jnanis, who is worshiped as the Supreme Lord by devotees in the mood of servitorship, and who is considered an ordinary human being by mundane people, played with the cowherd boys, who had attained their position after accumulating many pious activities."
Thus the Lord is always engaged in transcendental loving activities with His spiritual associates in the various relationships of santa (neutrality), dasya (servitorship), sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parental affection) and madhurya (conjugal love).
Since it is said that Lord Krsna never leaves Vrndavana-dhama, one may ask how He manages the affairs of the creation. This is answered in the Bhagavad-gita (13.14-18): The Lord pervades the entire material creation by His plenary part known as the Paramatma, or Supersoul. Although the Lord personally has nothing to do with material creation, maintenance and destruction, He causes all these things to be done by His plenary expansion, the Paramatma. Every living entity is known as atma, soul, and the principal atma who controls them all is Paramatma, the Supersoul.
This system of God realization is a great science. The materialistic sankhya-yogis can only analyze and meditate on the twenty-four factors of the material creation, for they have very little information of the purusa, the Lord. And the impersonal transcendentalists are simply bewildered by the glaring effulgence of the brahmajyoti. If one wants to see the Absolute Truth in full, one has to penetrate beyond the twenty-four material elements and the glaring effulgence as well. Sri Isopanisad points toward this direction, praying for the removal of the hiranmaya-patra, the dazzling covering of the Lord. Unless this covering is removed so one can perceive the real face of the Personality of Godhead, factual realization of the Absolute Truth can never be achieved.
The Paramatma feature of the Personality of Godhead is one of three plenary expansions, or visnu-tattvas, collectively known as the purusa-avataras. One of these visnu-tattvas who is within the universe is known as Ksirodakasayi Visnu. He is the Visnu among the three principal deities -- Brahma, Visnu and Siva -- and He is the all-pervading Paramatma in each and every individual living entity. The second visnu-tattva within the universe is Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the collective Supersoul of all living entities. Beyond these two is Karanodakasayi Visnu, who lies in the Causal Ocean. He is the creator of all universes. The yoga system teaches the serious student to meet the visnu-tattvas after going beyond the twenty-four material elements of the cosmic creation. The culture of empiric philosophy helps one realize the impersonal brahmajyoti, which is the glaring effulgence of the transcendental body of Lord Sri Krsna. That the brahmajyoti is Krsna's effulgence is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (14.27) as well as the Brahma-samhita (5.40):
yasya prabha-prabhavato jagad-anda-koti-
kotisv asesa-vasudhadi vibhuti-bhinnam
tad brahma niskalam anantam asesa-bhutam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
"In the millions and millions of universes there are innumerable planets, and each and every one of them is different from the others by its cosmic constitution. All of these planets are situated in a corner of the brahmajyoti. This brahmajyoti is but the personal rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, whom I worship." This mantra from the Brahma-samhita is spoken from the platform of factual realization of the Absolute Truth, and the sruti-mantra of Sri Isopanisad under discussion confirms this mantra as a process of realization. The Isopanisad mantra is a simple prayer to the Lord to remove the brahmajyoti so that one can see His real face. This brahmajyoti effulgence is described in detail in several mantras of the Mundaka Upanisad (2.2.10-12):
hiranmaye pare kose
virajam brahma niskalam
tac chubhram jyotisam jyotis
tad yad atma-vido viduh
na tatra suryo bhati na candra-tarakam
nema vidyuto bhanti kuto 'yam agnih
tam eva bhantam anu bhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati
brahmaivedam amrtam purastad brahma
pascad brahma daksinatas cottarena
adhas cordhvam ca prasrtam brahmai-
vedam visvam idam varistham
"In the spiritual realm, beyond the material covering, is the unlimited Brahman effulgence, which is free from material contamination. That effulgent white light is understood by transcendentalists to be the light of all lights. In that realm there is no need of sunshine, moonshine, fire or electricity for illumination. Indeed, whatever illumination appears in the material world is only a reflection of that supreme illumination. That Brahman is in front and in back, in the north, south, east and west, and also overhead and below. In other words, that supreme Brahman effulgence spreads throughout both the material and spiritual skies."
Perfect knowledge means knowing Krsna as the root of this Brahman effulgence. This knowledge can be gained from such scriptures as Srimad-Bhagavatam, which perfectly elaborates the science of Krsna. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, the author, Srila Vyasadeva, has established that one will describe the Supreme Truth as Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan according to one's realization of Him. Srila Vyasadeva never states that the Supreme Truth is a jiva, an ordinary living entity. The living entity should never be considered the all-powerful Supreme Truth. If he were the Supreme, he would not need to pray to the Lord to remove His dazzling cover so that the living entity could see His real face.
The conclusion is that one who has no knowledge of the potencies of the Supreme Truth will realize the impersonal Brahman. Similarly, when one realizes the material potencies of the Lord but has little or no information of the spiritual potencies, he attains Paramatma realization. Thus both Brahman and Paramatma realization of the Absolute Truth are partial realizations. However, when one realizes
the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, in full potency after the removal of the hiranmaya-patra, one realizes vasudevah sarvam iti: [Bg. 7.19] Lord Sri Krsna, who is known as Vasudeva, is everything -- Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. He is Bhagavan, the root, and Brahman and Paramatma are His branches.
In the Bhagavad-gita (6.46-47) there is a comparative analysis of the three types of transcendentalists -- the worshipers of the impersonal Brahman (jnanis), the worshipers of the Paramatma feature (yogis) and the devotees of Lord Sri Krsna (bhaktas). It is stated there that the jnanis, those who have cultivated Vedic knowledge, are better than ordinary fruitive workers, that the yogis are still greater than the jnanis, and that among all yogis, those who constantly serve the Lord with all their energies are the topmost. In summary, a philosopher is better than a laboring man, a mystic is superior to a philosopher, and of all the mystic yogis, he who follows bhakti-yoga, constantly engaging in the service of the Lord, is the highest. Sri Isopanisad directs us toward this perfection.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness