jñāna-mātraṁ paraṁ brahma
dṛśy-ādibhiḥ pṛthag bhāvair
bhagavān eka īyate
jñāna—knowledge; mātram—only; param—transcendental; brahma—Brahman; parama-ātmā—Paramātmā; īśvaraḥ—the controller; pumān—Supersoul; dṛśi-ādibhiḥ—by philosophical research and other processes; pṛthak bhāvaiḥ—according to different processes of understanding; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ekaḥ—alone; īyate—is perceived.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead alone is complete transcendental knowledge, but according to the different processes of understanding He appears differently, either as impersonal Brahman, as Paramātmā, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead or as the puruṣa-avatāra.
The word dṛśy-ādibhiḥ is significant. According to Jīva Gosvāmī, dṛśi means jñāna, philosophical research. By different processes of philosophical research under different concepts, such as the process of jñāna-yoga, the same Bhagavān, or Supreme Personality of Godhead, is understood as impersonal Brahman. Similarly, by the eightfold yoga system He appears as the Paramātmā. But in pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or knowledge in purity, when one tries to understand the Absolute Truth, one realizes Him as the Supreme Person. The Transcendence is realized simply on the basis of knowledge. The words used here, paramātmeśvaraḥ pumān, are all transcendental, and they refer to Supersoul. Supersoul is also described as puruṣa, but the word Bhagavān directly refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full of six opulences: wealth, fame, strength, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. He is the Personality of Godhead in different spiritual skies. The various descriptions of paramātmā, īśvara and pumān indicate that the expansions of the Supreme Godhead are unlimited.
Ultimately, to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead one has to accept bhakti-yoga. By executing jñāna-yoga or dhyāna-yoga one has to eventually approach the bhakti-yoga platform, and then Paramātmā, īśvara, pumān, etc., are all clearly understood. It is recommended in the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that whether one is a devotee or fruitive actor or liberationist, if he is intelligent enough he should engage himself with all seriousness in the process of devotional service. It is also explained that whatever one desires which is obtainable by fruitive activities, even if one wants to be elevated to higher planets, can be achieved simply by execution of devotional service. Since the Supreme Lord is full in six opulences, He can bestow any one of them upon the worshiper.
The one Supreme Personality of Godhead reveals Himself to different thinkers as the Supreme person or impersonal Brahman or Paramātmā. Impersonalists merge into the impersonal Brahman, but that is not achieved by worshiping the impersonal Brahman. If one takes to devotional service and at the same time desires to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord, he can achieve that. If someone desires at all to merge into the existence of the Supreme, he has to execute devotional service.
The devotee can see the Supreme Lord face to face, but the jñānī, the empiric philosopher or yogī cannot. They cannot be elevated to the positions of associates of the Lord. There is no evidence in the scriptures stating that by cultivating knowledge or worshiping the impersonal Brahman one can become a personal associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nor by executing the yogic principles can one become an associate of the Supreme Godhead. Impersonal Brahman, being formless, is described as adṛśya because the impersonal effulgence of brahmajyoti covers the face of the Supreme Lord. Some yogīs see the four-handed Viṣṇu sitting within the heart, and therefore in their case also the Supreme Lord is invisible. Only for the devotees is the Lord visible. Here the statement dṛśy-ādibhiḥ is significant. Since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is both invisible and visible, there are different features of the Lord. The Paramātmā feature and Brahman feature are invisible, but the Bhagavān feature is visible. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa this fact is very nicely explained. The universal form of the Lord and the formless Brahman effulgence of the Lord, being invisible, are inferior features. The concept of the universal form is material, and the concept of impersonal Brahman is spiritual, but the highest spiritual understanding is the Personality of Godhead. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa states, viṣṇur brahma-svarūpeṇa svayam eva vyavasthitaḥ: Brahman’s real feature is Viṣṇu, or the Supreme Brahman is Viṣṇu. Svayam eva: that is His personal feature. The supreme spiritual conception is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā: yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama [Bg. 15.6]. That specific abode called paramaṁ mama is the place from which, once one attains it, one does not return to this miserable, conditional life. Every place, every space and everything belongs to Viṣṇu, but where He personally lives is tad dhāma paramam, His supreme abode. One has to make one’s destination the supreme abode of the Lord.
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