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The Supreme Absolute

"Even the greatest philosophical speculators cannot have access to the region of the Lord. It is said in the Upanisads that the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, is beyond the range of the thinking power of the greatest philosopher. He is unknowable by great learning or by the greatest brain. He is knowable only by one who has His mercy. Others may go on thinking about Him for years together, yet He is unknowable."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:8:20 Purport

Understanding the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, may be approached in various ways. For example, Absolute Truth may be realized in three features known as para-tattva: impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma, and Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is impersonal, personal and localized. By His impersonal feature He is all-pervading Brahman, by His localized feature He is present in everyone's heart as the Supreme Soul (Paramatma), and by His ultimate personal feature (Krsna) He is the object of transcendental loving service by His fortunate associates, the pure devotees.

The Supreme Being's manifest form is explained in the Vedas as sat-cit-ananda vigraha, "an embodiment (vigraha) of absolute eternity (sat), absolute cognizance (cit), and absolute bliss (ananda)." Impersonal Brahman realization is the realization of His sat (being) feature. Paramatma realization is the realization of cit (eternal knowledge). But realization of the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is realization of all the transcendental features: sat, cit and ananda (being, knowledge, bliss) in complete vigraha (form).

The Absolute Personality may also be understood as the perfect person who has manifold energies, out of which the internal, external and marginal energies are primary. The spiritual world is the manifestation of the Lord's internal potency. By expanding his internal energies, He manifests as so many personalities, and exchanges or accepts transcendental loving service from them in the spiritual world. The material world is the manifestation of His external potency. The living entities are manifestations of His marginal potency, and by their own choice they can live in either the transcendental or material worlds.

While these philosophical approaches to understanding the Absolute may be taken, the Absolute Personality is beyond the range of philosophical thinking, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam. He is knowable only by one who has His mercy. In other words, we must love the Lord before we can fully know him. This approach was examplified by the gopis of Vrindaban. Without understanding the philosophy of the Absolute, they simply loved Krsna without a motive for material or spiritual gain. That was all. They were not educated Vedantists, but they learned to love Krsna. That was their qualification. They did not know, or even care to know, whether or not Krsna is God. They simply loved Krsna without any identification, thereby enjoying the topmost level of approach to Absolute Truth. We, on the other hand, may be worshiping God because we are impressed that He is the Supreme Lord. While we may be a little inclined to serve God under this condition, the Gopis loved Krsna unconditionally. They came to know the Absolute simply by virtue of their love.

While we may try to understand that Krsna is the source of everything, knowing the Absolute Truth also requires us to understand how Krsna's manifested energies impact our daily, personal lives. The Lord, the living entities, the material nature, time and karma are all working together, and the relationship of these five basic truths is described in Bhagavad-gita. The individual living entities, by their free will and desire nature, suffer from material conditioning. When at last our conditioned desires are channeled towards love of God through devotional service, our understanding of the Absolute becomes pure and complete.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from text and purport of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Five Basic Truths

Para-tattva: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan


Anandamaya: Vishnu, Shiva and Jiva Tattvas

The Spiritual Sky