Tag Archives: Paramatma

Spiritual Personalities

Question: In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, there is Catuhślokī Bhāgavatam, which is spoken by the Lord Himself (SB 2.9.33–36). Was it spoken by the Lord on the first day (kalpa) of Lord Brahmā, or during the present kalpa?

Answer: On the first day of Brahmā.

Question: Do Sanatkumāra, Lord Śiva, and Śrī Nārada Muni take birth in every kalpa?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Are mother Sarasvatī and mother Gāyatrī two wives of Lord Brahmā?

Answer: Yes.

Question: In the Brahma-saṁhitā, we read that Lord Brahmā received kāma-gāyatrī from mother Sarasvatī.

Answer: There is also Sarasvatī in the spiritual world.

Question: In Bhāgavatam 3.12 28, are Vak (daughter of Lord Brahmā) and mother Sarasvatī the same person?

Answer: Sometimes they are described as the same and sometimes as different personalities. There are differences in the stories because they belong to different creation cycles. Creation cycles have no beginning. The stories from different kalpas are also merged and thus described as one cycle. The most important aspect is the teaching conveyed through stories. The teaching is the same but told in many ways. That is why the stories also vary from one Purāṇa to another.


Question: I’ve come across conflicting statements and thought to write you for clarity. 

Although Brahmā is a post, meaning many persons may fill that post, is there only one such person in each universe during its duration? Are there times when a Brahmā is liberated during the manifestation of that universe, and another fills the post of Brahmā?

Answer: Brahmā stays for his complete span of life. He is not liberated before that. For this reference, please refer to Vedanta Sutra 3.3.33—yāvad-adhikāram avasthitirīdhikāriṇām and also SB 12.4.5, which states that Brahmā stays for a period of dvi-parardha (his complete lifespan). There is only one person qualified for this post in a particular brahmāṇḍa. If there are more than one, they would be made in-charge in another brahmāṇḍa. When no one is qualified to take up the post, then Viṣṇu Himself accepts the post. When you read statements in some other texts that Viṣṇū manifestfrom Brahmā or Śiva, then it is to be understood that the specific Brahmā or Śiva is none other than Viṣṇu. In their unrestricted sense (mukta-pragraha nyāya) the words Brahmā and Śiva refer to Viṣṇu. But their popular meanings refer to the guṇavatāras of rajas and tamas.


Question: Who is Lord Śiva, and how did he manifest? What is his relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Who’s superior in tattva?

Answer: Please read the Twelfth Chapter of the Third Canto of the Bhāgavata.

Question: It says that Rudra was born out of the wrath of Brahmā. I have also heard other things about his origin; for example, He’s svayambhu, or in a different time period, he appeared first and expanded into Viṣṇu and Brahmā (ŚivaPurāṇa). I also read that Nārāyaṇa and Śiva are like milk and curd. Which version is correct?

Answer: We accept the Śrīmad Bhāgavata version. However, if you want to understand the true meaning of the statements that differ from the Bhāgavata description, then you have to study them in proper context. You did not give any references to your different descriptions, so I cannot comment on them.


Question: Only the Lord retains the two insignia of Śrīvatsa and Kaustubha. Śrīvatsa represents the consort of Lord, Śrī Lakṣmī Devī, the Goddess of Happiness. How can Lakṣmī Devī be understood in relation to Rādhārāṇī?

Answer: Rādhārāṇī is Mahālakṣmī.


Question: In Bhagavat Sandarbha, four types of sannyāsīs are mentioned. The most complete type is the paramahaṁsa. Can you explain the difference between a  jñānī-paramahaṁsa and a bhāgavata-paramahaṁsa?

Answer:Jñānī-paramahaṁsa means a sannyāsī following Advaitavāda, like Śaṅkarācārya. Bhāgavata-paramahaṁsameans a devotee sannyāsī, like the Gosvāmīs of Vrindavan.






The Nature of Absolute Nondual Reality

Question: In Bhagavat Sandarbha, Anuccheda 3, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī cites Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.5.66–69):

That which is unmanifest, free from aging, inconceivable, unborn, never decaying, indefinable and formless, which is thus devoid of hands, legs and other such bodily limbs; which is supreme, all-pervading, eternal, the cause of all beings, yet without any cause; which is all-encompassing, but not itself encompassed, the source of everything, and known to the wise is called Brahman. It is the ultimate basis of everything and the Reality disclosed through meditation for the seekers of liberation. It is the subtle truth described in the words of the Vedas, the supreme seat of Śrī Viṣṇu. This Brahman is the essential nature of Paramātmā and is denoted by the word Bhagavān. The word Bhagavān expresses that original imperishable Lord directly.

This series of verses can be interpreted in two ways, according to Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. We can take the first part of the series to describe viśeṣya Brahman (unqualified substantive), with subsequent verses (aiśvaryasya, etc.) describing the viśeśaṇas (qualifiers), culminating in a description of Bhagavān as the viśiṣṭa (qualified substantive.) In another interpretation, this entire selection of verses refers to Bhagavān, because all words are His attributes. 

However, I’m confused by the sentence: “This Brahman is the essential nature of Paramātmā and is denoted by the word Bhagavān.” 

If we take that Brahman refers to viśeṣya Brahman, how can we say that Brahman is denoted by the word Bhagavān? Bhagavān is qualified Reality, and Brahman is not. When we use the word Bhagavān, we don’t mean viśeṣya Brahman at all. 

Answer: A qualified reality has two parts to it—the unqualified substantive and the qualifier.  The qualified Reality denotes both. So, if Bhagavān is the qualified Reality, it also must have two parts.  It must denote both Brahman, the substantive, viśeṣya, and the qualifiers, viśeśaṇas. The substantive is the essential nature of the qualified Reality. So, Brahman is the essential nature of Paramātmā.

Question: The second sentence is also not clear: “The word Bhagavān expresses that original imperishable Lord directly.” As Bhagavān has been called the vācaka (direct expression) of Brahman in the previous sentence, how is it now a vācaka of an imperishable Lord? 

Answer: Bhagavān is vācaka of both because it is the qualified reality. If you say, “red rose,” then the phrase “red rose” is vācaka of both, the red color and the rose.  

Question: If Bhagavān is the vācaka of the viśiṣṭa Supreme Reality, then why call it Brahman?

Answer: As said above, the viśiṣṭa or qualified has two part, the viseysa or substantive and the visesana, or qualifier. For example, red rose is a viśiṣṭa object, with rose as the substantive and red as its qualifier. Red rose can also be just be referred to as rose because it is a specific type of rose. Similary, Bhagavan has Brahman as its substantive, so it can also be referred to as Brahman. Moreover. although the words Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān have their special meanings, they are also used interchangeably.

Bṛṁhati bṛṁḥayati ca iti brahman—”that which expands and which makes others expand, or that which is great and makes others great—that is Brahman.,” Here the word Brahman actually refers to Bhagavān. Even in Vedānta-sūtra—athāto brahma jijñāsā, the word Brahman refers to Bhagavān and not to Brahman. You will see the word brahman used many times for Bhagavān, especially in Upaniṣads and even in the Purāṇas. 

Question: Frequently it said that Bhagavān’s svarūpa is His śaktishlādinī, saṁvit, and sandhinī. That is, the svarūpa of the red rose is its redness. In the above verse, however, the svarūpa would be defined as the rose. Please clarify this. 

Answer: We usually say that śaktis are part of His svarūpa. This is said by considering the viśeṣaṇa and viśeṣya as one. Remember that, in the ultimate sense, tattva is only one; otherwise you create duality by making a distinction between His svarūpa and His śaktis, which are the viśeṣaṇas.

Understanding the nature of Absolute Nondual Reality can be confusing. It is no wonder that even great scholars are confused, muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ (SB 1.1.1) If you try to understand Reality logically, you will get into trouble. Logic has its limitations. Logic is not rejected completely. However, we try to explain Reality logically, without contradicting śāstra. This explanation of viśeṣaṇa and viśeṣya is a logical explanation but it does not mean that viśeṣaṇa and viśeṣya are separate ontological entities. That is why Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī calls the relationship between Tattva and its śaktis acintya-bhedābheda, which transcends logic. This does not mean that Reality cannot be understood. It can be understood from śāstra and we make use of logic to understand śāstra. However, Reality cannot be grasped merely by logic, independent of śāstra.