If a scholar likes to present something in a different way... Just like an expert lawyer, he can get out of the entanglement of law by jugglery of words and interpretation, he is called a big lawyer, similarly, there are philosophers who can put different theories and not admit the existence of God. So Śaṅkarācārya's real purpose was no existence of God, because he had a very thankless task. He was dealing with the persons who are Buddhists. They did not believe anything except matter. So for them, to establish that there is God, it is very difficult. Therefore he adopted this means that "There is no separate God. We are all God. You are God, I am God." And a demonic person, if he is addressed, "Oh, you are God," oh, he becomes very happy because he does not become responsible to any higher authority. He becomes God. He can do anything. He can perform any nonsense. Nobody is going to punish him. It is very nice theory, that "I have become God. Because I have no more..." Suppose you yourself become the government of United States. Then you can do anything. It is very nice. "I am everything: I am president, I am secretary, I am everything. Therefore who is going to check me? I can do any nonsense." This is the basic principle of godlessness—to avoid the higher authority. Just like already in your country, that class of youngsters who are defying any authority. Not only in your country—in other countries also—that has become a fashion, to defy authorities. So this godlessness is also like that, to defy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no practically difference between Buddha philosophy and Śaṅkara's philosophy. Buddha philosophy says that the matter is everything. Beyond matter there is nothing, everything void, and the combination of matter is the source of our miseries. So you make a dismantlement of the matter, nirvāṇa—there will be no more miseries. And Śaṅkara's philosophy says that brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā. It is little, little farther advanced, admitting the spirit, but he says that spirit is impersonal. "There is no God. It is impersonal." So practically the same thing: ultimately, it is void or there is no God.
But Vedānta philosophy does not say that. Vedānta philosophy, from the very beginning it asserts that athāto brahma jijñāsā, "Now it is the time for discussing on the Absolute Truth." And what is that Absolute Truth? Janmādy asya yataḥ: (SB 1.1.1) "Absolute Truth is the summum bonum substance from which everything emanates."
- yei grantha-kartā cāhe sva-mata sthāpite
- śāstrera sahaja artha nahe tāṅhā haite
This is the secret of modern fashionable interpretation. If you want to establish... Suppose you have got some conviction, and if you want to establish it by evidence of an approved literature... An approved literature. Just like Gandhi. Gandhi wanted to establish nonviolence from Bhagavad-gītā. He was a... He is known to be a great student of Bhagavad-gītā, but he was not at all. His political theory was that he wanted to conquer over the enemies by nonviolence method. Nonviolent noncooperation, that was his, I mean to say, theory. He wanted to get away all kinds of nonviolence from the world, all kinds of violence from the world. So he wanted to prove from Bhagavad-gītā nonviolence. But how you can prove nonviolence from Bhagavad-gītā? Because Bhagavad-gītā is being spoken in the violent battlefield. But because he wanted to prove nonviolence, therefore he says, "Oh, these Pāṇḍavas means this. This Kṛṣṇa means this. This chariot means this. These Kurus means this. Dharmakṣetra means this. Kurukṣetra means this." He has invented and manufactured so many rascal meaning that it is very difficult... He said that dharmakṣetre... In the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā there is the verse, dharmakṣetre kurukṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ (BG 1.1). Now the very word yuyutsavaḥ means persons who are desiring to fight with one another. Now, how you can prove nonviolence? But he extracts some meaning: "These Pāṇḍava means five senses and the Kurukṣetra means this body." In this way, his interpretation.
Therefore, all different interpretation... The Vedic literature, either take Bhāgavata or Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, or any Upaniṣad, the meaning is very clear. It is sheer foolishness to understand that "The meaning is vague, now I am clearing. I am a great scholar. I can interpret in a different way." So... As if Vyāsadeva left the meaning to be cleared by some rascal. You see? He was not himself competent to clear the meaning, but he left the work to be done by some rascal. That is their interpretation. But actually it is not. In every śloka, if you know Sanskrit, you'll see the meaning is clear.