|Chapter 3: The Means of Achievement|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 41
tasmiḿs taj-jane bhedābhāvāt
tasmin — in Him; tat — His; jane — in the people; bheda — of difference; abhāvāt — because of the absence.
[One can attain bhakti either by the association of the Lord's pure devotees or directly by the Lord's mercy because] the Lord and His pure devotees are nondifferent.
The mercy of the Lord and that of His pure devotees are equally potent because the devotee and the Supreme Lord impart the same teachings. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, "Surrender to Me," and the pure devotee says, "Yes, I surrender to You," and tells others, "Surrender to Kṛṣṇa." Thus the mercy of the Lord and that of His loving servants have the same effect: the seed of devotion is planted in the hearts of receptive conditioned souls.
The Māyāvādīs are always seeking an opportunity to annihilate God's personal identity, and so they interpret this sūtra in the following way: "Just as a river loses its name and form after it enters the ocean, so a devotee loses his individuality when he merges himself in the Lord." Impersonalists consider annihilation of the self and merging with the Lord as the last word in divine love. As for the meaning intended by Nārada and the scriptures, the Māyāvādīs say that this is a concession "for the ordinary devotees."
Vaiṣṇavas, however, do not tolerate such blasphemous word jugglery. The oneness of God and guru (or God and all living beings) is a oneness in quality. The living entities are small samples of the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full, powerful, and opulent. The living beings tend to forget their qualitative oneness with the Lord, and so He appears in the form of scriptures, great souls, and the caitya-guru (Supersoul) to remind us of our spiritual identity. The Supersoul doesn't have to be reminded of His own divinity, because He is never designated by a material body. This is another difference between the jīvas and the Lord: The Lord is always self-enlightened in His spiritual form, while the jīvas are always prone to come under the influence of māyā. Another difference between the two is that the Supersoul is present in everyone's body, whereas the individual conditioned soul is present in one particular body.
The sac-cid-ānanda form of Godhead is different from that of the living entity in both his conditioned and liberated states. Although the Māyāvādīs will continue to misunderstand the philosophy of spiritual oneness, a kavi, or learned person, doesn't commit such mistakes. Śrīla Prabhupāda describes the position of the Māyāvādīs and those they influence:
Only atheists consider the living entity and the Personality of Godhead equal in all respects. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, māyāvādi-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa: "If one follows the instructions of Māyāvādī philosophers and believes that the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual soul are one, his understanding of real philosophy is forever doomed." [Bhāg. 4.28.63, purport]
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari