“And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable and eternal.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.27)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friend1: Alright, let’s discuss the impersonalists today.
Friend2: Brahmavadis or Mayavadis?
Friend1: Let’s go with Mayavadis. The Brahmavadis are at least honest. That is my opinion.
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: They know Brahman very well. It is the extent of their understanding of spirituality. They see the spiritual equality of all living beings. They have been taught that Brahman is the last word.
Friend2: What is different about the Mayavadis?
Friend1: They reject the idea of personalism when presented to them through authority. The actual fact is that both personalism and impersonalism are valid. They both exist. It’s just that the impersonal is an aspect of the personal. The spiritual energy is something that emanates from the source of all spirit.
Friend2: What do you mean by “reject”? How do they do that?
Friend1: Basically, they like to quote from the Bhagavad-gita and other works dealing with the Supreme Lord as Krishna. Yet the Bhagavad-gita says that Krishna is the source of Brahman. He, therefore, cannot be maya. The Mayavadi thus has to be dishonest in order to insist that Krishna is impersonal.
Friend2: And you notice they don’t worship Krishna, either? They are very averse to bhakti-yoga.
Friend1: What do you mean exactly?
Friend2: Think about it. They at least acknowledge that Krishna is Brahman, right?
Friend1: Yeah. They’ll say He is a Brahman-realized soul. He is like a prophet. Man, I want to puke when I hear that. What an offense! The mental speculation from these guys knows no limits. They have no shame.
Friend2: Worship Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha. It doesn’t really matter. All paths lead to the same place.
Friend1: That’s exactly what they say.
Friend2: So why don’t they worship Krishna? Why don’t they chant the holy names in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare?
Friend1: I’m going to say they think it’s too limiting. It’s sectarian. It’s dogmatic. They are above that.
Friend2: Right, but they say that Krishna is Brahman. If they really believed that, they would chant Hare Krishna. They would worship Him regularly. At the very least, they wouldn’t have a problem with people who do.
Friend1: Some of them don’t have a problem with it.
Friend2: Right, but they won’t try bhakti-yoga. They’ll chant anything else except Krishna, Vishnu, or Rama. The reason is that deep down they know that Krishna is not merely Brahman. They are averse to worshiping Him. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the impersonal philosophy is the last snare of maya.
Friend1: I’ve heard that before. Can you elaborate on the meaning?
Friend2: The first snare is bhoga, or material enjoyment. When that fails, as it is guaranteed to, eventually the last resort is impersonalism. Let me become God. I am equal to Brahman, and the divine personalities described in the Vedas are the goal. I can be just like them.
Friend1: I see. Of course, that is illusion as well.
Friend2: Hence the last snare of maya. They are interested in competing with Krishna, which makes them no different from the bhogi, or sense enjoyer. It would be one thing if they didn’t know any better. But they still reference the Bhagavad-gita, twisting the meanings to the verses to suit their agenda. For this reason Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was vehemently against even hearing the Mayavada philosophy.
Friend1: They feel threatened by the worship.
Friend2: Exactly. It’s like the famous atheists Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to try to stop other people’s worship of Vishnu. The Mayavadis make the same attempt by trying to weaken the will of the devotees. Imagine if someone said that your parents aren’t real. What would you think?
Friend1: I’d be offended. It’s a ridiculous assertion.
Friend2: So these speculators claim things like the Bhagavad-gita not being real, that Krishna is a mythological character meant to be understood symbolically. See, they are not wise enough to quell the doubts they have from within. Those doubts are there since they envy God. Once that envy goes away, then the real knowledge shines from within.
“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)
On quotes of sacred texts to rely,
But twisting the meanings to try.
Desire to compete in Mayavada camp,
So not shining within the knowledge lamp.
Enjoyment first when of human life aware,
To become one with God maya’s last snare.
Krishna is Brahman from Bhagavad-gita we know,
Still averse to worship Him are impersonalists so.