yasminn idaṁ sad-asad-ātmatayā vibhāti
māyā viveka-vidhuti sraji vāhi-buddhiḥ
yasmin—in which; idam—this; sat-asat—the Supreme Lord and His different energies; ātmatayā—being the root of all cause and effect; vibhāti—manifests; māyā—illusion; viveka-vidhuti—liberated by deliberate consideration; sraji—on the rope; vā—or; ahi—serpent; buddhiḥ—intelligence; tam—unto Him; nitya—eternally; mukta—liberated; pariśuddha—uncontaminated; viśuddha—pure; tattvam—truth; pratyūḍha—transcendental; karma—fruitive activities; kalila—impurities; prakṛtim—situated in spiritual energy; prapadye—surrender.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead manifests Himself as one with the cause and effect within this body, but one who has transcended the illusory energy by deliberate consideration, which clears the misconception of a snake for a rope, can understand that the Paramātmā is eternally transcendental to the material creation and situated in pure internal energy. Thus the Lord is transcendental to all material contamination. Unto Him only must one surrender.
This verse is specifically stated to defy the Māyāvāda conclusion of oneness without differentiation between the individual soul and the Supersoul. The Māyāvāda conclusion is that the living entity and the Supersoul are one; there is no difference. The Māyāvādīs proclaim that there is no separate existence outside the impersonal Brahman and that the feeling of separation is māyā, or an illusion, by which one considers a rope to be a snake. The rope-and-the-snake argument is generally offered by the Māyāvādī philosophers. Therefore these words, which represent vivarta-vāda, are specifically mentioned herein. Actually Paramātmā, the Supersoul, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is eternally liberated. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is living within this body along with the individual soul, and this is confirmed in the Vedas. They are likened to two friends sitting on the same tree. Yet Paramātmā is above the illusory energy. The illusory energy is called bahiraṅgā śakti, or external energy, and the living entity is called taṭasthā śakti, or marginal potency. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the material energy, represented as earth, water, air, fire, sky, etc., and the spiritual energy, the living entity, are both energies of the Supreme Lord. Even though the energies and the energetic are identical, the living entity, individual soul, being prone to be influenced by the external energy, considers the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be one with himself.
The word prapadye is also significant in this verse, for it refers to the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66): sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. In another place the Lord says: bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (Bg. 7.19). This prapadye or śaraṇaṁ vraja refers to the individual’s surrender to the Supersoul. The individual soul, when surrendered, can understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although situated within the heart of the individual soul, is superior to the individual soul. The Lord is always transcendental to the material manifestation, even though it appears that the Lord and the material manifestation are one and the same. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, He is one and different simultaneously. The material energy is a manifestation of His external potency, and since the potency is identical with the potent, it appears that the Lord and individual soul are one; but actually the individual soul is under the influence of material energy, and the Lord is always transcendental to it. Unless the Lord is superior to the individual soul, there is no question of prapadye, or surrender unto Him. This word prapadye refers to the process of devotional service. Simply by nondevotional speculation on the rope and the snake, one cannot approach the Absolute Truth. Therefore devotional service is stressed as more important than deliberation or mental speculation to understand the Absolute Truth.
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