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Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.4.34
yaḥ prākṛtair jñāna-pathair janānāḿ
yathāśayaḿ deha-gato vibhāti
yathānilaḥ pārthivam āśrito guṇaḿ
sa īśvaro me kurutāḿ manoratham
yaḥ — who; prākṛtaiḥ — lower grade; jñāna-pathaiḥ — by the paths of worship; janānām — of all living entities; yathā-āśayam — according to the desire; deha-gataḥ — situated within the core of the heart; vibhāti — manifests; yathā — just as; anilaḥ — the air; pārthivam — earthly; āśritaḥ — receiving; guṇam — the quality (like flavor and color); saḥ — He; īśvaraḥ — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; me — my; kurutām — may He fulfill; manoratham — desire (for devotional service).
As the air carries various characteristics of the physical elements, like the aroma of a flower or colors resulting from a mixture of dust in the air, the Lord appears through lower systems of worship according to one's desires, although He appears as the demigods and not in His original form. What is the use of these other forms? May the original Supreme Personality of Godhead please fulfill my desires.
The impersonalists imagine the various demigods to be forms of the Lord. For example, the Māyāvādīs worship five demigods (pañcopāsanā). They do not actually believe in the form of the Lord, but for the sake of worship they imagine some form to be God. Generally they imagine a form of Viṣṇu, a form of Śiva, and forms of Gaṇeśa, the sun-god and Durgā. This is called pañcopāsanā. Dakṣa, however, wanted to worship not an imaginary form, but the supreme form of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes the difference between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and an ordinary living being. As pointed out in a previous verse, sarvaḿ pumān veda guṇāḿś ca taj-jño na veda sarva jñam anantam īḍe: the omnipotent Supreme Lord knows everything, but the living being does not actually know the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, "I know everything, but no one knows Me." This is the difference between the Supreme Lord and an ordinary living being. In a prayer in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Queen Kuntī says, "My dear Lord, You exist inside and outside, yet no one can see You."
The conditioned soul cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by speculative knowledge or by imagination. One must therefore know the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He reveals Himself, but He cannot be understood by speculation. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.29):
athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leśānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaḿ bhagavan-mahimno
na cānya eko 'pi ciraḿ vicinvan
"My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years."
This is the verdict of the śāstra. An ordinary man may be a great philosopher and may speculate upon what the Absolute Truth is, what His form is and where He is existing, but be cannot understand these truths. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ: one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead only through devotional service. This is also explained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (18.55). Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ: "One can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is only by devotional service." Unintelligent persons want to imagine or concoct a form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but devotees want to worship the actual Personality of Godhead. Therefore Dakṣa prays, "One may think of You as personal, impersonal or imaginary, but I wish to pray to Your Lordship that You fulfill my desires to see You as You actually are."
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that this verse is especially meant for the impersonalist, who thinks that he himself is the Supreme because there is no difference between the living being and God. The Māyāvādī philosopher thinks that there is only one Supreme Truth and that he is also that Supreme Truth. Actually this is not knowledge but foolishness, and this verse is especially meant for such fools, whose knowledge has been stolen by illusion (māyayāpahṛta jñānāḥ). Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that such persons, jñāni-māninaḥ, think themselves very advanced, but actually they are unintelligent.
In regard to this verse, Śrīla Madhvācārya says:
svadeha-sthaḿ hariḿ prāhur
adhamā jīvam eva tu
madhyamāś cāpy anirṇītaḿ
jīvād bhinnaḿ janārdanam
There are three classes of men — the lowest (adhama), those in the middle (madhyama), and the best (uttama). The lowest (adhama) think that there is no difference between God and the living entity except that the living entity is under designations whereas the Absolute Truth has no designations. In their opinion, as soon as the designations of the material body are dissolved, the jīva, the living entity, will mix with the Supreme. They give the argument of ghaṭākāśa-paṭākāśa, in which the body is compared to a pot with the sky within and the sky without. When the pot breaks, the sky inside becomes one with the sky outside, and so the impersonalists say that the living being becomes one with the Supreme. This is their argument, but Śrīla Madhvācārya says that such an argument is put forward by the lowest class of men. Another class of men cannot ascertain what the actual form of the Supreme is, but they agree that there is a Supreme who controls the activities of the ordinary living being. Such philosophers are accepted as mediocre. The best, however. are those who understand the Supreme Lord (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]). Pūrṇānandādi-guṇakaḿ sarva jīva-vilakṣaṇam: His form is completely spiritual, full of bliss, and completely distinct from that of the conditioned soul or any other living entity. Uttamās tu hariḿ prāhus tāratamyena teṣu ca: such philosophers are the best because they know that the Supreme Personality of Godhead reveals Himself differently to worshipers in various modes of material nature. They know that there are thirty-three million demigods just to convince the conditioned soul that there is a supreme power and to induce him to agree to worship one of these demigods so that by the association of devotees he may be able to understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, mattaḥ parataraḿ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: [Bg. 7.7] "There is no truth superior to Me." Aham ādir hi devānām: "I am the origin of all the demigods." Ahaḿ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: "I am superior to everyone, even Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the other demigods." These are the conclusions of the śāstra, and one who accepts these conclusions should be considered a first-class philosopher. Such a philosopher knows that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Lord of the demigods (deva-deveśvaraḿ sūtram ānandaḿ prāṇa-vedinaḥ).
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness