The Sankarite philosophers' theory that we have to imagine a shape of God is more dangerous than denial of the existence of God
SB Canto 4
My dear respectable ladies and gentlemen, according to the authoritative statements of śāstra, there must be a supreme authority who is able to award the respective benefits of our present activities. Otherwise, why should there be persons who are unusually beautiful and powerful both in this life and in the life after death?
Pṛthu Mahārāja's sole aim in ruling his kingdom was to raise the citizens to the standard of God consciousness. Since there was a great assembly in the arena of sacrifice, there were different types of men present, but he was especially interested in speaking to those who were not atheists. It has already been explained in the previous verses that Pṛthu Mahārāja advised the citizens to become adhokṣaja-dhiyaḥ, which means God conscious, or Kṛṣṇa conscious, and in this verse he specifically presents the authority of śāstra, even though his father was a number one atheist who did not abide by the injunctions mentioned in the Vedic śāstras, who practically stopped all sacrificial performances and who so disgusted the brāhmaṇas that they not only dethroned him but cursed and killed him. Atheistic men do not believe in the existence of God, and thus they understand everything which is happening in our daily affairs to be due to physical arrangement and chance. Atheists believe in the atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophy of the combination of prakṛti and puruṣa. They believe only in matter and hold that matter under certain conditions of amalgamation gives rise to the living force, which then appears as puruṣa, the enjoyer; then, by a combination of matter and the living force, the many varieties of material manifestation come into existence. Nor do atheists believe in the injunctions of the Vedas. According to them, all the Vedic injunctions are simply theories that have no practical application in life. Taking all this into consideration, Pṛthu Mahārāja suggested that theistic men will solidly reject the views of the atheists on the grounds that there cannot be many varieties of existence without the plan of a superior intelligence. Atheists very vaguely explain that these varieties of existence occur simply by chance, but the theists who believe in the injunctions of the Vedas must reach all their conclusions under the direction of the Vedas.
In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is said that the entire varṇāśrama institution is meant to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The rules and regulations set up for the execution of the duties of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras or brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs are all meant to satisfy the Supreme Lord. At the present moment, although the so-called brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras have lost their original culture, they claim to be brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras by birthright. Yet they have rejected the proposition that such social and spiritual orders are especially meant for worship of Lord Viṣṇu. The dangerous Māyāvāda theory set forth by Śaṅkarācārya—that God is impersonal—does not tally with the injunctions of the Vedas. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore described the Māyāvādī philosophers as the greatest offenders against the Personality of Godhead. According to the Vedic system, one who does not abide by the orders of the Vedas is called a nāstika, or atheist. When Lord Buddha preached his theory of nonviolence, he was obliged to deny the authority of the Vedas, and for this reason he was considered by the followers of the Vedas to be a nāstika. But although Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu very clearly enunciated that the followers of Lord Buddha's philosophy are nāstikas, or atheists, because of their denial of the authority of the Vedas, He considered the Śaṅkarites, who wanted to establish Vedic authority by trickery and who actually followed the Māyāvāda philosophy of Buddha's school, to be more dangerous than the Buddhists themselves. The Śaṅkarite philosophers' theory that we have to imagine a shape of God is more dangerous than denial of the existence of God. Notwithstanding all the philosophical theorizing by atheists or Māyāvādīs, the followers of Kṛṣṇa consciousness rigidly live according to the injunctions given in Bhagavad-gītā, which is accepted as the essence of all Vedic scripture. In Bhagavad-gītā (18.46) it is said:
- yataḥ pravṛttir bhūtānāṁ
- yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
- sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya
- siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ
"By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, man can, in the performance of his own duty, attain perfection." This indicates that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original source of everything, as described in the Vedānta-sūtra (janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1)). The Lord Himself also confirms in Bhagavad-gītā, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: (BG 10.8) "I am the origin of everything." The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original source of all emanations, and at the same time, as Paramātmā, He is spread all over existence. The Absolute Truth is therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and every living being is meant to satisfy the Supreme Godhead by performing his respective duty (sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya (BG 18.46)). Mahārāja Pṛthu wanted to introduce this formula amongst his citizens.