Canto 1: CreationChapter 2: Divinity and Divine Service

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.11

vadanti tat tattva-vidas

tattvam yaj jnanam advayam

brahmeti paramatmeti

bhagavan iti sabdyate

SYNONYMS

vadanti -- they say; tat -- that; tattva-vidah -- the learned souls; tattvam -- the Absolute Truth; yat -- which; jnanam -- knowledge; advayam -- nondual; brahma iti -- known as Brahman; paramatma iti -- known as Paramatma; bhagavan iti -- known as Bhagavan; sabdyate -- it so sounded.

TRANSLATION

Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan.

PURPORT

The Absolute Truth is both subject and object, and there is no qualitative difference there. Therefore, Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan are qualitatively one and the same. The same substance is realized as impersonal Brahman by the students of the Upanishads, as localized Paramatma by the Hiranyagarbhas or the yogis, and as Bhagavan by the devotees. In other words, Bhagavan, or the Personality of Godhead, is the last word of the Absolute Truth. Paramatma is the partial representation of the Personality of Godhead, and impersonal Brahman is the glowing effulgence of the Personality of Godhead, as the sun rays are to the sun-god. Less intelligent students of either of the above schools sometimes argue in favor of their own respective realization, but those who are perfect seers of the Absolute Truth know well that the above three features of the one Absolute Truth are different perspective views seen from different angles of vision.

As it is explained in the first sloka of the First Chapter of the Bhagavatam, the Supreme Truth is self-sufficient, cognizant and free from the illusion of relativity. In the relative world the knower is different from the known, but in the Absolute Truth both the knower and the known are one and the same thing. In the relative world the knower is the living spirit or superior energy, whereas the known is inert matter or inferior energy. Therefore, there is a duality of inferior and superior energy, whereas in the absolute realm both the knower and the known are of the same superior energy. There are three kinds of energies of the supreme energetic. There is no difference between the energy and energetic, but there is a difference of quality of energies. The absolute realm and the living entities are of the same superior energy, but the material world is inferior energy. The living being in contact with the inferior energy is illusioned, thinking he belongs to the inferior energy. Therefore there is the sense of relativity in the material world. In the Absolute there is no such sense of difference between the knower and the known, and therefore everything there is absolute.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness