Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī explains that the variegated personal feature of the Absolute Truth is the viṣṇu-tattva and that the material energy, which creates this cosmic manifestation, is the energy of Lord Viṣṇu. The creative force is merely the energy of the Lord, but the foolish conclude that because the Lord has distributed Himself in an impersonal form He has no separate existence. The impersonal Brahman, however, cannot possess energies, nor do the Vedic literatures state that māyā (the illusory energy) is covered by another māyā. There are hundreds and thousands of references, however, to viṣṇu-māyā (parāsya śaktiḥ), or the energy of Lord Viṣṇu. In the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.14) Kṛṣṇa refers to mama māyā (“My energy”). Māyā is controlled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; it is not that He is covered by māyā. Therefore Lord Viṣṇu cannot be a product of the material energy. In the beginning of the Vedānta-sūtra it is said, janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1), indicating that the material energy is also an emanation of the Supreme Brahman. How then could He be covered by the material energy? If that were possible, material energy would be greater than the Supreme Brahman. Even these simple arguments, however, cannot be understood by the Māyāvādī philosophers, and therefore the term māyayāpahṛta-jñāna, which is applied to them in the Bhagavad-gītā, is extremely appropriate. Anyone who thinks that Lord Viṣṇu is a product of the material energy, as explained by Sadānanda Yogīndra, should immediately be understood to be insane, for his knowledge has been stolen by the illusory energy.
Lord Viṣṇu cannot be placed within the category of the demigods. Those who are actually bewildered by the Māyāvāda philosophy and are still in the darkness of ignorance consider Lord Viṣṇu to be a demigod, in defiance of the Ṛg-vedic mantra oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam (“Viṣṇu is always in a superior position”). This mantra is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā: mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat (BG 7.7)—there is no truth superior to Lord Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu. Thus only those whose knowledge has been bewildered consider Lord Viṣṇu to be a demigod and therefore suggest that one may worship either Lord Viṣṇu, the goddess Kālī (Durgā) or whomever one likes and achieve the same result. This is an ignorant conclusion that is not accepted in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.25), which distinctly says, yānti deva-vratā devān . . . yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām: The worshipers of the demigods will be promoted to the respective planets of the demigods, but devotees of the Supreme Lord will go back home, back to Godhead. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains very clearly in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.14) that His material energy is very difficult to overcome: daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā. Māyā’s influence is so strong that even learned scholars and spiritualists are also covered by māyā and think themselves to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Actually, however, to free oneself from the influence of māyā one must surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as Kṛṣṇa also states in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.14): mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te. It is to be concluded, therefore, that Lord Viṣṇu does not belong to this material creation but to the spiritual world. To misconceive Lord Viṣṇu to have a material body or to equate Him with the demigods is the most offensive blasphemy against Lord Viṣṇu, and offenders against the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu cannot advance in spiritual knowledge. They are called māyayāpahṛta-jñāna, or those whose knowledge has been stolen by the influence of illusion.
One who thinks that there is a difference between Lord Viṣṇu’s body and His soul dwells in the darkest region of ignorance. There is no difference between Lord Viṣṇu’s body and Viṣṇu’s soul, for they are advaya-jñāna, one knowledge. In this world there is a difference between the material body and the spiritual soul, but in the spiritual world everything is spiritual and there are no such differences. The greatest offense of the Māyāvādī philosophers is to consider Lord Viṣṇu and the living entities to be one and the same. In this connection the Padma Purāṇa states, arcye viṣṇau śilā-dhir guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhiḥ . . yasya vā nārakī saḥ: “One who considers the arcā-mūrti, the worshipable Deity of Lord Viṣṇu, to be stone, the spiritual master to be an ordinary human being, and a Vaiṣṇava to belong to a particular caste or creed is possessed of hellish intelligence.” One who follows such conclusions is doomed.