"Sannyasins" who follow the philosophical path of Acharya Sripad Samkara are now generally known as the "Vedantist." And those who follow the philosophical paths of Vaishnava Acharyas such as Acharya Sripad Ramanujacharya, Sripad Madhyacharya, Sripad Vishnuswami, etc. are known as the "Bhagwats." The so-called "Vedantists" designate the followers of Vaishnava Acharyas as "Bhagwats" whereas for themselves they think that 'Vedanta' philosophy is the monopoly subject matter for the studies of the "Samkarites" only. Following this principle some other classes of Sannyasins who are not recognized either by the Sankarites or by the Vaisnavites also designate themselves as Vedantists. These latter class of "Vedantists" are now known all over the world as the preacher of Vedanta philosophy while they do know nothing of the transcendental science. Vedanta philosophy is not a combination of several Sanskrit alphabets so that anyone and everyone can understand it simply by the A.B.C.D. knowledge of Sanskrit language. Each and every letter of the Vedanta Philosophy is a symbolic representation of transcendental sound represented by the symbol of 'Omkar' and as such Vedanta Philosophy has to be learnt from one authority like Shri Krishna, the Godhead. In the "Bhagwat Geeta" the Personality of Godhead has emphatically asserted that He is the original compiler of "Vedanta" Philosophy and therefore He is the only Supreme Master of it. The exact wordings from the utterances of Shri Krishna are as follows:
Sarbasya, Cha, Aham, Hridi, Sannibista, Mattah, Smriti, Jnana, Apahanam, Cha.
Vedai, Cha, Sarbai, Aham, Eba, Vedya, Vedanta, Krit, Vedanta, Vid, Eba, Cha, Aham. (Bg. 15.15)
"I am the Person who lives as the Super Soul (Paramatma) in the heart of all living being. It is from Me only that one makes recollection of his past deeds and it is also from Me only that one forgets the same. So I am not only the all pervasive impersonal 'Brahman' but also I am living individually as the 'Paramatma' within every living entity.
"I am the awarding authority of everyone's fruitive actions. I do not exist simply as impersonal Brahman or the localized Paramatma but also I do appear as incarnations to instruct all the fallen souls for their deliverance. I am therefore the instructor of the Vedanta philosophy and the Vedic knowledge is meant for knowing Me only. As I am the Vedanta compiler and instructor, nobody knows Vedanta philosophy better than Me. I am the supreme Vedantist and I can deliver the fallen souls by disseminating the transcendental knowledge of Impersonal Brahman, the localized "Paramatma" and Myself as the Supreme Lord the Personality of Godhead."
The Personality of Godhead is the 'Supreme Brahman.' This has been recognized by Arjuna by himself and in pursuance of the authorities like the seven Rishis, Narada, Vyasa, Devala, Ashita, etc.
Now how does the Supreme authority of Vedanta Philosophy teaches us the great transcendental science in nutshell? He says like this.
'Dwou, Purushau, Loke, Kshara, Akshara, Eba, Cha, Kshara, Sarbani, Bhutani, Kutastha, Akshara, Uchyate. (Bg. 15.16).
The Supreme Vedantist utters in the beginning of His Vedanta teachings as Dwou or Dualism. In the universe (Loke) which contains lacs and crores of different earths and planets there are two classes of living entities. The one is called the Kshara or the fallible entity and the other is called Akshara or the infallible entity. The fallible entities are the ordinary living entities or the Jivas whereas the infallible entities are the expansions of Vishnu such as Rama, Nrsingha, Baraha, Kurma, Vamana, Valadeva, Kalki, etc. The ordinary living beings are susceptible to the influence of material Nature but the infallible incarnations as Vishnu Tatwas are non-susceptible by the laws of nature. In the Baraha Puranam it is said that the Supreme Lord expands Himself by multi-forms of living entities. Some of them are called the "Samsa" or He Himself whereas the others are called the "Bivinansa" or He in His one of the potencies. The Jivas or the living entities are therefore different potencies of the Supreme Lord whereas the Vishnu incarnations as above mentioned are non-different from Him with all His potencies. That is the difference between the "Kshara" or the fallibles and the "Aksharas" or the infallibles. The 'Kshara' living entities are undoubtedly parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord and as such they are qualitatively non-different from the Supreme Lord but so far the quantity is concerned there is a gulf of difference.
The Vedantist, therefore, who proclaims that the ordinary living entities are both qualitatively and quantitatively equal with the Supreme Lord is certainly misguided for his having not consulted the Supreme Lord "Shri Krishna" the original compiler of Vedanta. If Vedanta is an authority, one must accept its original compiler as the Supreme authority of Vedanta.
These novel Vedantists who generally follow the path of Sripad Samkaracharya were called formerly as 'Mayavadins of Kashi' (Banaras). Banaras was, and perhaps still it is so, the breeding and nursing place of these Mayavadi Vedantists. The reason is that Banaras is the holy place resided by Vishwanath 'Shiva.' Acharya Sankara was the incarnation of 'Shiva' by the order of the Lord. He preached Mayavada philosophy in this age of 'Kali' in the form of a "Brahman Sannyasi" and this statement is confirmed in the Padma Purana as follows:
Mayavada, Ashat, Shastram, Prachchanna
Boudhyam, Uchyate, Moya, Eba, Godidam
Devi, Kalou, Brahmana, Murtina.
Therefore the followers of Samkara were known as the Mayavadins of the 'Banaras School.' They were counterparts of the Mayavadins of 'Saranath.' This 'Saranath' is adjacent to Banaras and in the older days the Mayavadins of 'Bodh Gaya' or that of 'Saranath' were always in arguments with the Mayavadins of Kashi.
The Mayavadins of Saranath or the Buddhist did not recognize the existence of spirit soul and they preached matter as all in all. Whereas the Mayavadins of Kashi preached that spirit soul is the basic principle of existence and matter is a superfluous false representation of the Reality Spirit. So the fight was there between the two sections of Mayavadins and as a result of this, the Mayavadins of Bodh Gaya or 'Saranatha' were gradually driven out of India; and the Mayavadins of Kashi became predominant in India. Gradually these Mayavadins took up Vedanta philosophy after they had come out victorious in the fight with the Buddhist Mayavadins and as such the Mayavadins of Kashi began to be known as Vedantist.
These Vedantist interpreted Vedanta in the impersonal feature in order to take in the then converted Buddhist philosophers in their own fold. Lord Buddha preached nothing of the spirit and He stressed on the principles of Ahinsa only the preliminary and basic qualification for spiritual culture. We have already discussed this point in our article "Lord Buddha" in the "Back to Godhead." Sripad Sankaracharya gave further more push to spiritual realization by the conception of Brahman the first vision of the Supreme Lord. (1) 'Brahman' (2) 'Paramatma' and (3) 'Bhagwan' all these three are one and the same "Absolute Truth" but they appear to be different by the different stages of realization only. How this different stages are realized is explained by the Supreme Vedantist Shri Krishna who alone only knows Vedanta in its reality.
Thus He explains the first realization of 'Brahman' in the Kshara and the 'Akshara' aspects. The Kshara, or the fallen souls as we are, have to learn Vedanta for knowing the Akshara or the infallible "Brahman." "Akshara" means "Brahman." 'Akshara Paramam Brahman.' The Kshara are also undoubtedly "Brahman" in quality but they are not Paramam Brahman because they are fallible to the influence of Maya (Nescience).
The Mayabadi's statement of all the two categories of Brahmans being equal in all respects, is mistaken. It is a sort of class-argument but it is not defacto truth. In order to clear the matter more distinctly the Supreme Vedantist Shri Krishna says that 'Sarbani Bhutani' i.e., all the living common entities beginning from 'Brahma,' the original grandfather of the living being, down to the insignificant ant all are fallible creatures whereas the Supreme Brahman is 'Kutastha' or one who never changes his place or position. In the "Amarkosha" the word "Kutastha" is explained as follows: "That which remains in perfect order for all the time is called 'Kutastha.'" So the Kutastha Purusha or the "Akshara Purusha" or the Vishnu Tatwa is different from the Kshara Purusha or the ordinary living being subjected to the conditions of material nature. This distinction between the ordinary living being and the Supreme Lord is explained in the Bhagwat (11.16.11) as follows:
Aparimita, Dhruba, Tanubhrita, Jadi, Sarbagata, Tarhi, Na, Sashyata, Iti, Niyama, Na, Dhruba, Itaratha,
Ajani, Cha, Jat, Mayam, Tat, Vimuchya, Niyantri, Bhabet, Samam, Anujanatam, Jat, Matam, Mata, Dustataya.
Oh my Lord the infallible! had it been so that the innumerable living beings are by themselves all in all without anything Supreme, then they would not have been put under Your subjection. Even though it is accepted that the living entities are parts and parcels of the Eternal Being, still they are under Your subjection. Their qualitatively being one with You is never to be given up because that will alone make them one with the absolute. It is being so, persons who consider that the ordinary living being and the Supreme Lord are equal in all respects are suffering from a malady of a wrong Thesis polluted with poor fund of knowledge.
So the quantitative difference between the living being is ever to be maintained even after the attainment of 'Mukti,' because after 'Mukti' only the 'nityayukta' or the eternal 'upashava' service begins.
So far the impersonalists are concerned, they can know this much distinction between the Kshara and the Akshara Purushas. And above the Impersonalists and empiric philosophers, there is the 'Yogi' who meditates upon the 'Paramatma' feature. For them it is said like this
Utama, Purusha, Tu, Anya, Paramatma, Iti, Udahrita.
Ja, Loka, Trayam, Avishya, Bibharti, Iswara, Abyaya. (Bg. 15.17).
Paramatma is clearly mentioned here as 'Anya' or different from Atma and His realization by the 'yogins' is still more perfect vision of the Supreme truth than that of the Impersonal 'Brahman.' The 'yogins' are better class of spiritualists than the impersonalists or the Mayavadis of Kashi. The Mayavadis of Kashi are higher than the Mayavadins of Bodhgaya or Saranatha and the yogins of Prayag like 'Bharadwaj Muni' etc. are still more higher spiritualists than the Mayavadins of Kashi. The Bhagwat Geeta accepts this fact in the following sloka namely
Tapasvikhya, Adhika, Yogi,
Jnanibhya, Api, Mata, Adhika,
Karmibhya, Cha, Adhika, Yogi,
Tasmat, Yogi, Bhava, Arjuna. (Bg. 6.46)
The Yogis are better class of spiritualists than the ascetics and the empiric philosophers. The yogis are undoubtedly better than the ordinary fruitive worker and therefore oh Arjuna! you just try to become a 'yogi.'
So the ordinary 'yogins' in the state of trance do experience the presence of localized aspect of 'Paramatma.' This Paramatma is Iswara or the Supreme Lord but not the 'Jivas' or the controlled being. 'Paramatma' is the Super Soul. The thesis that 'Paramatma' and 'Atma' is equal and the same is a wrong theory. Had it been so then there was no need of adding the word 'Param' or the superior to the word 'Atma.' That makes the difference more clear. Paramatma is Abyaya i.e., Akshara or Kutastha without any change. He does not become subjected to the conditions of material nature. This is the truth in all Upanishad. The Paramatma and the Atma both have been compared with two birds sitting on the tree of this material body. But one is observing the activities of the other as witness and not taking part in the action. The neutral observer is therefore Paramatma and the stage actor is the Atma. When the Atma stops his material activities in the state of nirvikalpa samadhi, he is called a perfect yogi. So this 'yogi' is better spiritualist than Jnanin who will after many births of speculation become a Mahatma to observe the lotus feet of Vasudeva.
And next to this are the devotees who render directly transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord. This realization of the Absolute Truth is the highest realization of spiritual value and this is confirmed in the Bhagwat Geeta as follows:
"Amongst all the yogins the topmost yogi is he who has always within him the feature of (Shri Krishna) Me and thus he has the required devotion and performs devotional activities (Bhajate). He is the highest yogi in My opinion."
So these Bhakta yogins are better than the ordinary yogins and their feature of spiritual realization is still more greater. The 'Bhakta yogins' do accept Shri Krishna as the 'Purushottam' or more perfectly clear than Paramatma realization. The Absolute Truth is realized by the Jnanins as impersonal Brahma, by the yogins as the localized 'Paramatma' and by the devotees as 'Bhagwan' Who is full with all the potencies of Brahma and Paramatma as confirmed in all the scriptures including Bhagwat Geeta.
So realization of 'Shri Krishna' transcendentally is the highest realization of Vedanta. Shri Krishna is the highest realization of the Vishnu Tatwa because all other incarnations are, although equal in potency, either plenary parts or parts of the plenary parts of Shri Krishna but Shri Krishna is the Primeval Lord and cause of all causes; that is the verdict of 'Brahma Samhita,' 'Bhagwat' and Mahabharat etc. But we should always remember that there is no difference of potencies between the different 'Samsa' incarnations of Godhead.
Realization of "Brahman" and "Paramatma" is also a transcendental mellow (Rasa) which is called 'Santa Rasa,' a transcendental stage where the transcendental activities are non-manifest. Manifestation of transcendental activities is visible from the transcendental 'Dasya' Rasa and this Rasa increases more and more in the 'Sakhya Rasa,' 'Vatsalya Rasa' and 'Madhurya Rasa.'
The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is full with all the twelve mellows. Out of these twelve Rasas, five are direct transactions with the Supreme Lord whereas the remaining seven are indirectly connected. Kansa, Jarasandha and many other enemies of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna dealt with Him indirectly in the 'Bibhatsa Rasa' or the method of fearfulness. But because the Rasa a mellow was employed indirectly in the Supreme Being, the enemies also were awarded 'Brahman Sayujya Mukti,' i.e. to become one with the Lord in existence. The impersonal monists aspire after this 'Brahmasayujya Mukti' which was obtained even by the inimical Jivas. Therefore Mukti or liberation is a byproduct of devotional service. The yoga system is also a mixed up devotional service. As long as the Jnanins indulge in dry speculations only they have no chance of Mukti. When they mix up devotional service also with metaphysical speculations-it is then only Mukti or liberation becomes possible. But for pure devotional service neither Jnana or yoga is necessary at all. Such processes may be helpful to a certain extent, but they are not absolutely a necessary requirement. On the contrary such processes sometimes become a great hinderance to the progress of pure devotional service. Sannyas is the process of the 'Jnanis' or 'yogins' but for the devotee there is no necessity of accepting the order 'Sannyas.'
Devotional service can be offered from any stage of life and by devotional service only one can obtain the result, if he at all desires, like that of Jnana, Yoga, Karma, Tapasya or any other thing in the category of Yajna.
"Sarbom, Mad, Bhakti, Yogena, Mad, Bhakta, Lavate, Anjasa."
Ordinary yoga system culminates in trance for experiencing the presence of 'Paramatma' within us. But still more better system of yoga is the system of Purushottam yoga. The Supreme Vedantist describes this system of Purushottam yoga as follows:
Jasmat, Ksharam, Ateeta, Aksharat, Api, Eba, Uttam, Atah, Asmi, Loke, Veda, Cha, Pratitha, Purushottam.
"Because I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I am not only higher than the ordinary (Kshara) living being but I am above the Akshara Brahman as also above the Uttam Purusha Paramatma.As such everywhere either in the Vedic literature or by popular conception, I am famous as the Purushottam or the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
The Vedanta conclusion is therefore like this. Primarily there are two classes of living entities namely the Kshara and Akshara. The Ksharas are the ordinary Jivas and the Akshara is the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is realized by the Kshara Jivas in three different phases. The phases are (1) Impersonal Brahman (2) Localized Paramatma and (3) The Supreme Lord Bhagwan. This realization may be described by the example of seeing a mountain. The Himalayan mountain when it is observed from a long distance, it appears like big cloudy object. When one goes still more nearer it appears like a big hilly land but when one actually enters into the region he sees Himalaya in all its natural beauty with all the living entities residing there. Similarly if Vedanta is studied by one's A.B.C.D. academic qualification of speculative habit one can know the Absolute Truth as Impersonal Brahman or something just opposite to our sensuous knowledge. When Vedanta is studied from the angle of vision of a Yogi, who has completely stopped in sense indulgence, the Absolute Truth becomes visible in his ownself by the Paramatma feature. But above all these when Vedanta is studied from the angle of Sree Vyasadeva (who is a power incarnation of Godhead) the original compiler of Vedanta Sutras and its annotation Sreemad Bhagwatam, there the Absolute Truth is revealed in His substantial feature or Param Satya. The Vedanta Sutra begins with the Sutra of Janmadyasya Jatah and with this Sutra also the genuine commentation 'Sreemad Bhagwatam' also begins. Sreemad Bhagwatam excludes carefully the four primary principles of common Vedas namely practice of religiosity, planning of economic conditions, fulfillment of sense desire and at the end to get salvation by mental speculation. The Vedanta Sutra and Sreemad Bhagwatam are one and the same thing and the purpose is explained in the Bhagwat Geeta in the chapter of Purushottam Yoga. So a perfect Vedantist is a devotee of Sree Krishna. Impersonal Brahman is the glowing effulgence of the Supreme Person as the light is to the fire. Bhagwan Shree Krishna the Purushottam is fire Himself, Brahman and Paramatma are therefore emanations of Shri Krishna, and that is the verdict of the great philosophy of Vedanta Sutra so much adored all over the world along with Bhagwat Geeta.