Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has misleadingly explained the quadruple form (catur-vyūha) in his interpretation of the forty-second aphorism of Chapter Two of the second khaṇḍa of the Vedānta-sūtra (utpatty-asambhavāt). In verses 41 through 47 of this chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī answers Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya’s misleading objections to the personal feature of the Absolute Truth.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is not like a material object that can be known by experimental knowledge or sense perception. In the Nārada-pañcarātra this fact has been explained by Nārāyaṇa Himself to Lord Śiva. But Śaṅkarācārya, the incarnation of Śiva, under the order of Nārāyaṇa, his master, had to mislead the monists, who favor ultimate extinction. In the conditioned stage of existence, all living entities have four basic defects, of which one is the cheating propensity. Śaṅkarācārya has carried this cheating propensity to the extreme to mislead the monists.
Actually, the explanation of the quadruple forms in the Vedic literature cannot be understood by the speculation of a conditioned soul. The quadruple forms should therefore be accepted just as They are described. The authority of the Vedas is such that even if one does not understand something by his limited perception, he should accept the Vedic injunction and not create interpretations to suit his imperfect understanding. In his Śārīraka-bhāṣya, however, Śaṅkarācārya has increased the misunderstanding of the monists.
The quadruple forms have a spiritual existence that can be realized in vasudeva-sattva (śuddha-sattva), or unqualified goodness, which accompanies complete absorption in the understanding of Vāsudeva. The quadruple forms, who are full in the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are the enjoyers of the internal potency. Thinking the absolute Personality of Godhead to be poverty-stricken or to have no potency—or, in other words, to be impotent—is simply rascaldom. This rascaldom is the profession of the conditioned soul, and it increases his bewilderment. One who cannot understand the distinctions between the spiritual world and the material world has no qualification to examine or know the situation of the transcendental quadruple forms. In his commentary on Vedānta-sūtra 2.2.42-45, His Holiness Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has made a futile attempt to nullify the existence of these quadruple forms in the spiritual world.
Śaṅkarācārya says (sūtra 42) that devotees think the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, to be one, to be free from material qualities and to have a transcendental body full of bliss and eternal existence. He is the ultimate goal of the devotees, who believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself into four other eternal transcendental forms—Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. From Vāsudeva, who is the primary expansion, come Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha in that order. Another name of Vāsudeva is Paramātmā, another name of Saṅkarṣaṇa is jīva (the living entity), another name of Pradyumna is mind, and another name of Aniruddha is ahaṅkāra (false ego). Among these expansions, Vāsudeva is considered the origin of the material nature. Therefore Śaṅkarācārya says that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha must be creations of that original cause.
Great souls assert that Nārāyaṇa, who is known as the Paramātmā, or Supersoul, is beyond material nature, and this is in accordance with the statements of the Vedic literature. Māyāvādīs also agree that Nārāyaṇa can expand Himself in various forms. Śaṅkara says that he does not attempt to argue that portion of the devotees’ understanding, but he must protest the idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa is produced from Vāsudeva, Pradyumna is produced from Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Aniruddha is produced from Pradyumna, for if Saṅkarṣaṇa is understood to represent the living entities created from the body of Vāsudeva, the living entities would have to be noneternal. The living entities are supposed to be freed from material contamination by engaging in prolonged temple worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, reading Vedic literature and performing yoga and pious activities to attain the Supreme Lord. But if the living entities had been created from material nature at a certain point, they would be noneternal and would have no chance to be liberated and associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a cause is nullified, its results are nullified. In the second chapter of the Vedānta-sūtra’s second khaṇḍa, Ācārya Vedavyāsa has also refuted the conception that the living beings were ever born (nātmā śruter nityatvāc ca tābhyaḥ). Because there is no creation for the living entities, they must be eternal.
Śaṅkarācārya says (sūtra 43) that devotees think that Pradyumna, who is considered to represent the senses, has sprung from Saṅkarṣaṇa, who is considered to represent the living entities. But we cannot actually experience that a person can produce senses. Devotees also say that from Pradyumna has sprung Aniruddha, who is considered to represent the ego. But Śaṅkarācārya says that unless the devotees can show how ego and the means of knowledge can generate from a person, such an explanation of the Vedānta-sūtra cannot be accepted, for no other philosophers accept the sūtras in that way.
Śaṅkarācārya also says (sūtra 44) that he cannot accept the devotees’ idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are equally as powerful as the absolute Personality of Godhead, full in the six opulences of knowledge, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation, and free from the flaw of generation at a certain point. Even if They are full expansions, the flaw of generation remains. Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, being distinct individual persons, cannot be one. Therefore if They are accepted as absolute, full and equal, there would have to be many Personalities of Godhead. But there is no need to accept that there are many Personalities of Godhead, because acceptance of one omnipotent God is sufficient for all purposes. The acceptance of more than one God is contradictory to the conclusion that Lord Vāsudeva, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. Even if we agree to accept that the quadruple forms of Godhead are all identical, we cannot avoid the incongruous flaw of noneternity. Unless we accept that there are some differences among the personalities, there is no meaning to the idea that Saṅkarṣaṇa is an expansion of Vāsudeva, Pradyumna is an expansion of Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Aniruddha is an expansion of Pradyumna. There must be a distinction between cause and effect. For example, a pot is distinct from the earth from which it is made, and therefore we can ascertain that the earth is the cause and the pot is the effect. Without such distinctions, there is no meaning to cause and effect. Furthermore, the followers of the Pañcarātric principles do not accept any differences in knowledge and qualities between Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The devotees accept all these expansions to be one, but why should they restrict oneness to these quadruple expansions? Certainly we should not do so, for all living entities, from Brahmā to the insignificant ant, are expansions of Vāsudeva, as accepted in all the śrutis and smṛtis.
Śaṅkarācārya also says (sūtra 45) that the devotees who follow the Pañcarātra state that God’s qualities and God Himself, as the owner of the qualities, are the same. But how can the Bhāgavata school state that the six opulences—wisdom, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation—are identical with Lord Vāsudeva? This is impossible.
In his Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (Pūrva 5.165-193), Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has refuted the charges directed against the devotees by Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya regarding their explanation of the quadruple forms Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Rūpa Gosvāmī says that these four expansions of Nārāyaṇa are present in the spiritual sky, where They are famous as Mahāvastha. Among Them, Vāsudeva is worshiped within the heart by meditation because He is the predominating Deity of the heart, as explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 4.3.23).
Saṅkarṣaṇa, the second expansion, is Vāsudeva’s personal expansion for pastimes, and since He is the reservoir of all living entities, He is sometimes called jīva. The beauty of Saṅkarṣaṇa is greater than that of innumerable full moons radiating light beams. He is worshipable as the principle of ego. He has invested Anantadeva with all the potencies of sustenance. For the dissolution of the creation, He also exhibits Himself as the Supersoul in Rudra, in Adharma (the personality of irreligion), in sarpa (snakes), in Antaka (Yamarāja, the lord of death) and in the demons.
Pradyumna, the third manifestation, appears from Saṅkarṣaṇa. Those who are especially intelligent worship this Pradyumna expansion of Saṅkarṣaṇa as the principle of the intelligence. The goddess of fortune always chants the glories of Pradyumna in the place known as Ilāvṛta-varṣa, and she always serves Him with great devotion. His complexion appears sometimes golden and sometimes bluish like new monsoon clouds in the sky. He is the origin of the creation of the material world, and He has invested His creative principle in Cupid. It is by His direction only that all men and demigods and other living entities function with energy for regeneration.
Aniruddha, the fourth of the quadruple expansions, is worshiped by great sages and psychologists as the principle of the mind. His complexion is similar to the bluish hue of a blue cloud. He engages in the maintenance of the cosmic manifestation and is the Supersoul of Dharma (the deity of religiosity), the Manus (the progenitors of mankind) and the devatās (demigods). The Mokṣa-dharma Vedic scripture indicates that Pradyumna is the Deity of the total mind, whereas Aniruddha is the Deity of the total ego, but previous statements regarding the quadruple forms are confirmed in the Pañcarātra tantras in all respects.
In the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (Pūrva 5.86-100), there is a lucid explanation of the inconceivable potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Negating Śaṅkarācārya’s statements, the Mahā-varāha Purāṇa declares:
- sarve nityāḥ śāśvatāś ca dehās tasya parātmanaḥ
- hānopādāna-rahitā naiva prakṛti-jāḥ kvacit
“All the varied expansions of the Personality of Godhead are transcendental and eternal, and all of them repeatedly descend to all the different universes of the material creation. Their bodies, composed of eternity, bliss and knowledge, are everlasting; there is no chance of their decaying, for they are not creations of the material world. Their forms are concentrated spiritual existence, always complete with all spiritual qualities and devoid of material contamination.” Confirming these statements, the Nārada-pañcarātra asserts:
- maṇir yathā vibhāgena nīla-pītādibhir yutaḥ
- rūpa-bhedam avāpnoti dhyāna-bhedāt tathācyutaḥ
“The infallible Personality of Godhead can manifest His body in different ways according to different modes of worship, just as the vaidūrya gem can manifest itself in various colors, such as blue and yellow.” Each incarnation is distinct from all the others. This is possible by the Lord’s inconceivable potency, by which He can simultaneously represent Himself as one, as various partial forms and as the origin of these partial forms. Nothing is impossible for His inconceivable potencies.
Kṛṣṇa is one without a second, but He manifests Himself in different bodies, as stated by Nārada in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
- citraṁ bataitad ekena vapuṣā yugapat pṛthak
- gṛheṣu dvy-aṣṭa-sāhasraṁ striya eka udāvahat
“It is wonderful indeed that one Kṛṣṇa has simultaneously become different Kṛṣṇas in 16,000 palaces to accept 16,000 queens as His wives.” (SB 10.69.2) The Padma Purāṇa also explains:
- sa devo bahudhā bhūtvā nirguṇaḥ puruṣottamaḥ
- ekī-bhūya punaḥ śete nirdoṣo harir ādi-kṛt
“The same Personality of Godhead, Puruṣottama, the original person, who is always devoid of material qualities and contamination, can exhibit Himself in various forms and at the same time lie down in one form.” In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said, yajanti tvan-mayās tvāṁ vai bahu-mūrty-eka-mūrtikam: “O my Lord, although You manifest Yourself in varieties of forms, You are one without a second. Therefore pure devotees concentrate upon You and worship only You.” (SB 10.40.7) In the Kūrma Purāṇa it is said:
- asthūlaś cānaṇuś caiva sthūlo ’ṇuś caiva sarvataḥ
- avarṇaḥ sarvataḥ proktaḥ śyāmo raktānta-locanaḥ
“The Lord is personal although impersonal, He is atomic although great, and He is blackish and has red eyes although He is colorless.” By material calculation all this may appear contradictory, but if we understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has inconceivable potencies, we can accept these facts as eternally possible in Him. In our present condition we cannot understand the spiritual activities and how they occur, but although they are inconceivable in the material context, we should not disregard such contradictory conceptions.
Although it is apparently inconceivable, it is quite possible for the Absolute to reconcile all opposing elements. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam establishes this in the Sixth Canto (SB 6.9.34-37):
“O my Lord, Your transcendental pastimes and enjoyments all appear inconceivable because they are not limited by the causal and effective actions of material thought. You can do everything without performing bodily work. The Vedas say that the Absolute Truth has multifarious potencies and does not need to do anything personally. My dear Lord, You are entirely devoid of material qualities. Without anyone’s help, You can create, maintain and dissolve the entire qualitative material manifestation, yet in all such activities You do not change. You do not accept the results of Your activities, unlike ordinary demons and demigods, who suffer or enjoy the reactions of their activities in the material world. Unaffected by the reactions of work, You eternally exist with Your full spiritual potency. This we cannot fully understand.
“Because You are unlimited in Your six opulences, no one can count Your transcendental qualities. Philosophers and other thoughtful persons are overwhelmed by the contradictory manifestations of the physical world and the propositions of logical arguments and judgments. Because they are bewildered by word jugglery and disturbed by the different calculations of the scriptures, their theories cannot touch You, who are the ruler and controller of everyone and whose glories are beyond conception.
“Your inconceivable potency keeps You unattached to the mundane qualities. Surpassing all conceptions of material contemplation, Your pure transcendental knowledge keeps You beyond all speculative processes. By Your inconceivable potency, there is nothing contradictory in You.
“People may sometimes think of You as impersonal or personal, but You are one. For persons who are confused or bewildered, a rope may appear to manifest itself as different kinds of snakes. For similar confused persons who are uncertain about You, You create various philosophical methods in pursuance of their uncertain positions.” We should always remember the differences between spiritual and material actions. The Supreme Lord, being all-spiritual, can perform any act without extraneous help. In the material world, if we want to manufacture an earthen pot, we need the ingredients, a machine and also a laborer. But we should not extend this idea to the actions of the Supreme Lord, for He can create anything in a moment without that which appears necessary in our own conception. When the Lord appears as an incarnation to fulfill a particular purpose, this does not indicate that He is unable to fulfill it without appearing. He can do anything simply by His will, but by His causeless mercy He appears to be dependent upon His devotees. He appears as the son of Yaśodāmātā not because He is dependent on her care but because He accepts such a role by His causeless mercy. When He appears for the protection of His devotees, He naturally accepts trials and tribulations on their behalf.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that the Lord, being equally disposed toward every living being, has no enemies and no friends but that He has special affection for a devotee who always thinks of Him in love. Therefore neutrality and partiality are both among the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and they are properly adjusted by His inconceivable energy. The Lord is Parabrahman, or the source of the impersonal Brahma, which is His all-pervading feature of neutrality. In His personal feature, however, as the owner of all transcendental opulences, the Lord displays His partiality by taking the side of His devotees. Partiality, neutrality and all such qualities are present in God; otherwise they could not be experienced in the creation. Since He is the total existence, all things are properly adjusted in the Absolute. In the relative world such qualities are displayed in a perverted manner, and therefore we experience nonduality as a perverted reflection. Because there is no logic to explain how things happen in the realm of spirit, the Lord is sometimes described as being beyond the range of experience. But if we simply accept the Lord’s inconceivability, we can then adjust all things in Him. Nondevotees cannot understand the Lord’s inconceivable energy, and consequently for them it is said that He is beyond the range of conceivable expression. The author of the Brahma-sūtras accepts this fact and says, śrutes tu śabda-mūlatvāt: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being inconceivable to an ordinary man, can be understood only through the evidence of the Vedic injunctions. The Skanda Purāṇa confirms, acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet: “Matters inconceivable to a common man should not be a subject for argument.” We find very wonderful qualities even in such material things as jewels and drugs. Indeed, their qualities often appear inconceivable. Therefore if we do not attribute inconceivable potencies to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we cannot establish His supremacy. It is because of these inconceivable potencies that the glories of the Lord have always been accepted as difficult to understand.
Ignorance and the jugglery of words are very common in human society, but they do not help one understand the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we accept such ignorance and word jugglery, we cannot accept the Supreme Lord’s perfection in six opulences. For example, one of the opulences of the Supreme Lord is complete knowledge. Therefore, how could ignorance be conceivable in Him? Vedic instructions and sensible arguments establish that the Lord’s maintaining the cosmic manifestation and simultaneously being indifferent to the activities of its maintenance cannot be contradictory, because of His inconceivable energies. To a person who is always absorbed in the thought of snakes, a rope always appears to be a snake, and similarly to a person bewildered by material qualities and devoid of knowledge of the Absolute, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears according to diverse bewildered conclusions.
Someone might argue that the Absolute would be affected by duality if He were both all-cognizance (Brahman) and the Personality of Godhead with six opulences in full (Bhagavān). To refute such an argument, the aphorism svarūpa-dvayam īkṣyate declares that in spite of appearances, there is no chance of duality in the Absolute, for He is but one in diverse manifestations. Understanding that the Absolute displays varied pastimes by the influence of His energies at once removes the apparent incongruity of His inconceivably opposite energies. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 3.4.16) gives the following description of the inconceivable potency of the Lord:
- karmāṇy anīhasya bhavo ’bhavasya te
- durgāśrayo ’thāri-bhayāt palāyanam
- kālātmano yat pramadā-yutāśrayaḥ
- svātman-rateḥ khidyati dhīr vidām iha
“Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead has nothing to do, He nevertheless acts; although He is always unborn, He nevertheless takes birth; although He is time, fearful to everyone, He flees Mathurā in fear of His enemy to take shelter in a fort; and although He is self-sufficient, He marries 16,000 women. These pastimes seem like bewildering contradictions, even to the most intelligent.” Had these activities of the Lord not been a reality, sages would not have been puzzled by them. Therefore such activities should never be considered imaginary. Whenever the Lord desires, His inconceivable energy (yogamāyā) serves Him in creating and performing such pastimes.
The scriptures known as the Pañcarātra-śāstras are recognized Vedic scriptures that have been accepted by the great ācāryas. These scriptures are not products of the modes of passion and ignorance. Learned scholars and brāhmaṇas therefore always refer to them as sātvata-saṁhitās. The original speaker of these scriptures is Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is especially mentioned in the Mokṣa-dharma (349.68), which is part of the Śānti-parva of the Mahābhārata. Liberated sages like Nārada and Vyāsa, who are free from the four defects of conditioned souls, are the propagators of these scriptures. Śrī Nārada Muni is the original speaker of the Pañcarātra-śāstra. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also considered a sātvata-saṁhitā. Indeed, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu declared, śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ purāṇam amalam: “Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is a spotless Purāṇa.” Malicious editors and scholars who attempt to misrepresent the Pañcarātra-śāstras to refute their regulations are most abominable. In the modern age, such malicious scholars have even commented misleadingly upon the Bhagavad-gītā, which was spoken by Kṛṣṇa, to prove that there is no Kṛṣṇa. How the Māyāvādīs have misrepresented the pāñcarātrika-vidhi will be shown below.
(1) In commenting on Vedānta-sūtra 2.2.42, Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has claimed that Saṅkarṣaṇa is a jīva, an ordinary living entity, but there is no evidence in any Vedic scripture that devotees of the Lord have ever said that Saṅkarṣaṇa is an ordinary living entity. He is an infallible plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Viṣṇu category, and He is beyond the creation of material nature. He is the original source of the living entities. The Upaniṣads declare, nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām: (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13) “He is the supreme living entity among all the living entities.” Therefore He is vibhu-caitanya, the greatest. He is directly the cause of the cosmic manifestation and the infinitesimal living beings. He is the infinite living entity, and ordinary living entities are infinitesimal. Therefore He is never to be considered an ordinary living being, for that would be against the conclusion of the authorized scriptures. The living entities are also beyond the limitations of birth and death. This is the version of the Vedas, and it is accepted by those who follow scriptural injunctions and who have actually descended in the disciplic succession.
(2) In answer to Śaṅkarācārya’s commentary on Vedānta-sūtra 2.2.43, it must be said that the original Viṣṇu of all the Viṣṇu categories, which are distributed in several ways, is Mūla-saṅkarṣaṇa. Mūla means “the original.” Saṅkarṣaṇa is also Viṣṇu, but from Him all other Viṣṇus expand. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā (BS 5.38), wherein it is said that just as a flame transferred from another flame acts like the original, so the Viṣṇus who emanate from Mūlasaṅkarṣaṇa are as good as the original Viṣṇu. One should worship that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who thus expands Himself.
(3) In reply to the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya on the forty-fourth aphorism, it may be said that no pure devotees strictly following the principles of the Pañcarātra will ever accept the statement that all the expansions of Viṣṇu are different identities, for this idea is completely false. Even Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya, in his commentary on the forty-second aphorism, has accepted that the Personality of Godhead can automatically expand Himself variously. Therefore his commentary on the forty-second aphorism and his commentary on the forty-fourth aphorism are contradictory. It is a defect of Māyāvāda commentaries that they make one statement in one place and a contradictory statement in another place as a tactic to refute the Bhāgavata school. Thus Māyāvādī commentators do not even follow regulative principles. It should be noted that the Bhāgavata school accepts the quadruple forms of Nārāyaṇa, but that does not mean that it accepts many Gods. Devotees know perfectly well that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. They are never pantheists, worshipers of many Gods, for this is against the injunction of the Vedas. Devotees completely believe, with strong faith, that Nārāyaṇa is transcendental and has inconceivable proprietorship of various transcendental potencies. We therefore recommend that scholars consult the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, where these ideas are explicitly stated. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has tried to prove that Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha expand through cause and effect. He has compared Them with earth and earthen pots. That is completely ignorant, however, for there is no such thing as cause and effect in Their expansions (nānyad yat sad-asat-param). The Kūrma Purāṇa also confirms, deha-dehi-vibhedo ’yaṁ neśvare vidyate kvacit: “There is no difference between body and soul in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Cause and effect are material. For example, it is seen that a father’s body is the cause of a son’s body, but the soul is neither cause nor effect. On the spiritual platform there are none of the differences we find in cause and effect. Since all the forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are spiritually supreme, They are equally controllers of material nature. Standing on the fourth dimension, They are predominating figures on the transcendental platform. There is no trace of material contamination in Their expansions because material laws cannot influence Them. There is no such rule as cause and effect outside of the material world. Therefore the understanding of cause and effect cannot approach the full, transcendental, complete expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vedic literature proves this:
- oṁ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
- pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
- (Īśo Invocation)
“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.” (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 5.1) It is most apparent that nondevotees violate the rules and regulations of devotional service to equate the whole cosmic manifestation, which is the external feature of Viṣṇu, with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the controller of māyā, or with His quadruple expansions. Equating māyā with spirit, or māyā with the Lord, is a sign of atheism. The cosmic creation, which manifests life in forms from Brahmā to the ant, is the external feature of the Supreme Lord. It comprises one fourth of the Lord’s energy, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (ekāṁśena sthito jagat (BG 10.42)). The cosmic manifestation of the illusory energy is material nature, and everything within material nature is made of matter. Therefore, one should not try to compare the expansions of material nature to the catur-vyūha, the quadruple expansions of the Personality of Godhead, but unfortunately the Māyāvādī school unreasonably attempts to do this.
(4) To answer Śaṅkarācārya’s commentary on Vedānta-sūtra 2.2.45, the substance of the transcendental qualities and their spiritual nature is described in the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (Pūrva 5.208-214) as follows: “Some say that transcendence must be void of all qualities because qualities are manifested only in matter. According to them, all qualities are like temporary, flickering mirages. But this is not acceptable. Since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is absolute, His qualities are nondifferent from Him. His form, name, qualities and everything else pertaining to Him are as spiritual as He is. Every qualitative expansion of the absolute Personality of Godhead is identical with Him. Since the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure, all the transcendental qualities that expand from Him are also reservoirs of pleasure. This is confirmed in the scripture known as Brahma-tarka, which states that the Supreme Lord Hari is qualified by Himself, and therefore Viṣṇu and His pure devotees and their transcendental qualities cannot be different from their persons. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa Lord Viṣṇu is worshiped in the following words: ‘Let the Supreme Personality of Godhead be merciful toward us. His existence is never infected by material qualities.’ In the same Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is also said that all the qualities attributed to the Supreme Lord, such as knowledge, opulence, beauty, strength and influence, are known to be nondifferent from Him. This is also confirmed in the Padma Purāṇa, which explains that whenever the Supreme Lord is described as having no qualities, this should be understood to indicate that He is devoid of material qualities. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 1.16.29) it is said, ‘O Dharma, protector of religious principles, all noble and sublime qualities are eternally manifested in the person of Kṛṣṇa, and devotees and transcendentalists who aspire to become faithful also desire to possess such transcendental qualities.’” It is therefore to be understood that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental form of absolute bliss, is the fountainhead of all pleasurable transcendental qualities and inconceivable potencies. In this connection we may recommend references to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, Chapter Twenty-six, verses 21, 25, 27 and 28.
Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya has also refuted the arguments of Śaṅkara in his own commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, which is known as the Śrī-bhāṣya: “Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has tried to equate the Pañcarātras with the philosophy of the atheist Kapila, and thus he has tried to prove that the Pañcarātras contradict the Vedic injunctions. The Pañcarātras state that the personality of jīva called Saṅkarṣaṇa has emerged from Vāsudeva, the supreme cause of all causes, that Pradyumna, the mind, has come from Saṅkarṣaṇa, and that Aniruddha, the ego, has come from Pradyumna. But one cannot say that the living entity (jīva) takes birth or is created, for such a statement is against the injunction of the Vedas. As stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2.18), living entities, as individual spiritual souls, can have neither birth nor death. All Vedic literature declares that the living entities are eternal. Therefore when it is said that Saṅkarṣaṇa is jīva, this indicates that He is the predominating Deity of the living entities. Similarly, Pradyumna is the predominating Deity of the mind, and Aniruddha is the predominating Deity of the ego.
“It has been said that Pradyumna, the mind, was produced from Saṅkarṣaṇa. But if Saṅkarṣaṇa were a living entity, this could not be accepted, because a living entity cannot be the cause of the mind. The Vedic injunctions state that everything—including life, mind and the senses—comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is impossible for the mind to be produced by a living entity, for the Vedas state that everything comes from the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord.
“Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha have all the potent features of the absolute Personality of Godhead, according to the revealed scriptures, which contain undeniable facts that no one can refute. Therefore these members of the quadruple manifestation are never to be considered ordinary living beings. Each of Them is a plenary expansion of the Absolute Godhead, and thus each is identical with the Supreme Lord in knowledge, opulence, energy, influence, prowess and potencies. The evidence of the Pañcarātras cannot be neglected. Only untrained persons who have not genuinely studied the Pañcarātras think that the Pañcarātras contradict the śrutis regarding the birth or beginning of the living entity. In this connection, we must accept the verdict of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which says, ‘The absolute Personality of Godhead, who is known as Vāsudeva and who is very affectionate toward His surrendered devotees, expands Himself in quadruple forms who are subordinate to Him and at the same time identical with Him in all respects.’ The Pauṣkara-saṁhitā states, ‘The scriptures that recommend that brāhmaṇas worship the quadruple forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called āgamas [authorized Vedic literatures].’ In all Vaiṣṇava literature it is said that worshiping these quadruple forms is as good as worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva, who in His different expansions, complete in six opulences, can accept offerings from His devotees of the results of their prescribed duties. Worshiping the expansions for pastimes, such as Nṛsiṁha, Rāma, Śeṣa and Kūrma, promotes one to the worship of the Saṅkarṣaṇa quadruple. From that position one is raised to the platform of worshiping Vāsudeva, the Supreme Brahman. In the Pauṣkara-saṁhitā it is said, ‘If one fully worships according to the regulative principles, one can attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva.’ It is to be accepted that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are as good as Lord Vāsudeva, for They all have inconceivable power and can accept transcendental forms like Vāsudeva. Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are never born, but They can manifest Themselves in various incarnations before the eyes of pure devotees. This is the conclusion of all Vedic literature. That the Lord can manifest Himself before His devotees by His inconceivable power is not against the teaching of the Pañcarātras. Since Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are, respectively, the predominating Deities of all living entities, the total mind and the total ego, the designation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha as ‘jīva,’ ‘mind’ and ‘ego’ are never contradictory to the statements of the scriptures. These terms identify these Deities, just as the terms ‘sky’ and ‘light’ sometimes identify the Absolute Brahman.
“The scriptures completely deny the birth or production of the living entity. In the Parama-saṁhitā it is described that material nature, which is used for others’ purposes, is factually inert and always subject to transformation. The field of material nature is the arena of the activities of fruitive actors, and since the material field is externally related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is also eternal. In every saṁhitā, the jīva (living entity) has been accepted as eternal, and in the Pañcarātras the birth of the jīva is completely denied. Anything that is produced must also be annihilated. Therefore if we accept the birth of the living entity, we also have to accept his annihilation. But since the Vedic literatures say that the living entity is eternal, one should not think the living being to be produced at a certain time. In the beginning of the Parama-saṁhitā it is definitely stated that the face of material nature is constantly changeable. Therefore ‘beginning,’ ‘annihilation’ and all such terms are applicable only in the material nature.
“Considering all these points, one should understand that Śaṅkarācārya’s statement that Saṅkarṣaṇa is born as a jīva is completely against the Vedic statements. His assertions are completely refuted by the above arguments. In this connection the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 3.1.34) is very helpful.” For a detailed refutation of Śaṅkarācārya’s arguments attempting to prove Saṅkarṣaṇa an ordinary living being, one may refer to Śrīmat Sudarśanācārya’s commentary on the Śrī-bhāṣya, which is known as the Śruta-prakāśikā.
The original quadruple forms—Kṛṣṇa, Baladeva, Pradyumna and Aniruddha—expand into another quadruple, which is present in the Vaikuṇṭha planets of the spiritual sky. Therefore the quadruple forms in the spiritual sky are the second manifestation of the original quadruple in Dvārakā. As explained above, Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are all changeless, transcendental plenary expansions of the Supreme Lord who have no relation to the material modes. The Saṅkarṣaṇa form in the second quadruple is not only a representation of Balarāma but also the original cause of the Causal Ocean, where Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu lies asleep, breathing out the seeds of innumerable universes.
In the spiritual sky there is a spiritual creative energy technically called śuddha-sattva, which is a pure spiritual energy that sustains all the Vaikuṇṭha planets with the full opulences of knowledge, wealth, prowess, etc. All these actions of śuddha-sattva display the potencies of Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa, who is the ultimate reservoir of all individual living entities who are suffering in the material world. When the cosmic creation is annihilated, the living entities, who are indestructible by nature, rest in the body of Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa is therefore sometimes called the total jīva. As spiritual sparks, the living entities have the tendency to be inactive in the association of the material energy, just as sparks of a fire have the tendency to be extinguished as soon as they leave the fire. The spiritual nature of the living being can be rekindled, however, in association with the Supreme Being. Because the living being can appear either in matter or in spirit, the jīva is called the marginal potency.
Saṅkarṣaṇa is the origin of Kāraṇa Viṣṇu, who is the original form who creates the universes, and that Saṅkarṣaṇa is but a plenary expansion of Śrī Nityānanda Rāma.