|Canto 5: The Creative Impetus||Chapter 18: The Prayers Offered to the Lord by the Residents of Jambūdvīpa|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.18.31
yad-rūpam etan nija-māyayārpitam
sańkhyā na yasyāsty ayathopalambhanāt
tasmai namas te 'vyapadeśa-rūpiṇe
yat — of whom; rūpam — the form; etat — this; nija-māyayā arpitam — manifested by Your personal potency; artha-svarūpam — this entire visible cosmic manifestation; bahu-rūpa-rūpitam — manifested in various forms; sańkhyā — the measurement; na — not; yasya — of which; asti — there is; ayathā — falsely; upalambhanāt — from perceiving; tasmai — unto Him (the Supreme Lord); namaḥ — my respectful obeisances; te — unto You; avyapadeśa — cannot be ascertained by mental speculation; rūpiṇe — whose real form.
My dear Lord, this visible cosmic manifestation is a demonstration of Your own creative energy. Since the countless varieties of forms within this cosmic manifestation are simply a display of Your external energy, this virāṭ-rūpa [universal body] is not Your real form. Except for a devotee in transcendental consciousness, no one can perceive Your actual form. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
Māyāvādī philosophers think the universal form of the Lord to be real and His personal form illusory. We can understand their mistake by a simple example. A fire consists of three elements: heat and light, which are the energy of the fire, and the fire itself. Anyone can understand that the original fire is the reality and that the heat and light are simply the fire's energy. Heat and light are the formless energies of fire, and in that sense they are unreal. Only the fire has form, and therefore it is the real form of the heat and light. As Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (9.4), mayā tatam idaḿ sarvaḿ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā: "By Me, in My unmanifested form. this entire universe is pervaded." Thus the impersonal conception of the Lord is like the expansion of heat and light from a fire. In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord also says, mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaḿ teṣv avasthitaḥ: the entire material creation is resting on Kṛṣṇa's energy, either material, spiritual or marginal, but because His form is absent from the expansion of His energy, He is not personally present. This inconceivable expansion of the Supreme Lord's energy is called acintya-śakti. Therefore no one can understand the real form of the Lord without becoming His devotee.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness