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Questions and Answers (A garland of Vaishnava Truths)
Institute for Gaudiya Vaishnavism

A garland of Vaishnava Truths.

Q. Who is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead?

A. Bhagavan is the one Who expands all jivas and all matter by His own inconceivable energy (acintya-sakti), and then enters into thise creations as the Supreme Lord (isvara-svarupa); He also transcendes all souls and matter as the impersonal brahman effulgence (brahma-svarupa), which is far beyond all imagination; and moreover, it is He (Krsna) Who manifests His divine potency (para-sakti) to reveal His form of eternity, knowledge and bliss (sac-cid-ananda-svarupa), thereby becoming the object of devotion for all souls.

Q. What are the different types of the Lord's potencies?

A. We are unable to fully describe the Lord's potencies. The reason for this is that His saktis have no boundries, but we have boundaries, therefore, His energies are called para-sakti . This sakti is completely imperceptible to us, but on the other side of the veil of matter, in the divine realm of His para-sakti, all things are accomplished effortlessly. Thus the para-sakti simultaneously conducts the opposing affairs of spirit and matter automatically.

Q. Then is Bhagavan subordinate to the sakti?

A. It's not that Bhagavan is one thing and the sakti is another thing: just as the burning power of fire is inseparable from the fire, so Bhagavan's sakti is similarly inseparable from Bhagvan Sri Krsna.

Q. If Bhagavan is the one and only Supreme Truth, then why did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu give His followers instructions about devotional service to Sri Krsna (Krsna Bhakti)?

A. Bhagavan has six eternal quallities--He posesses all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowldege, and renunciation. Different forms of the Lord (bhagavat-svarupa) manifest according to whether certain of these qualities are being expressed to greater or lesser degrees. For example, when He wealth feature is foremost, then He manifests as Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha; and when His beauty or sweetness preominate, then He manifests as Vrindavana-candra Sri Krsna. Therefore, only Sri Krsnais the topmost supreme manifestation of Bhagavan.

Q. How many types of forms does the Lord have?

A. All of His forms are fully conscious, supremely beautiful, overflowing withdivine bliss, all attractive, vibrantly active, and perceivable by pure love. According to the different natures of different souls, the Lord's eternal form manifests in an infinite number of ways. Thus, according to these differences in the Lord's manifestation, different natured souls are eternally attachedto Him in their own original forms. Only the form of Sri Krsna is the eternal blissful svarupa.

Q. What is Sri Krsna's lila?

A. Among the limitless variegated realms of the entire spiritual world, the most supremely charming portion is called Sri Vrndavana. There, Sac-cidananda Sri Krsna is present in the form of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna for the purpose of performing eternal pastimes. When souls manifest their own form of divine bliss, then they live in Vrndavana in the mood of Sri Radhika's girlfriends (since She is the personification of supreme bliss), and thus they attain the qualification for participating in Sri Krsna's eternal pastimes.

Q. What are the obstacles to the attainment of Sri Krsna lila?

A. There are two types of obstacles: 1) material consciousness (jada-buddhi), 2)impersonal consciousness (nirvisesa-buddhi).

Q. What is material consciousness?

A. Material consciousness is an awareness that is limited to material place, time, objects, aspirations, thoughts, and activities. According to material consciousness, one sees the realm of Vrndavana-dhama to be a material place. Time is divided into three parts: past, present and futrue. Objects refers to al pershable things. Aspiration refers to the hopes for impermanent happiness, such as attaining the heavenly planets, etc. In this condition, the soul can think only material thoughts. Such a soul imagines the following temporary activities to be worthwhile, the culture of civilization, moral ethics, scientific learning, industrial development, and the increase of domestic prosperity, etc.

Q. What is impersonal consciousness?

A. First, the principle in the material world which separates all things is called visesa (distinction based upon material quality). By merely renouncing material thinking, one only gives up the conception of material distinction, and thereby one's consciousness falls into the realm of nirvesesa (no-distinction). In this condition, one is not able to perceive the differences between material objects, since the self is situated in nirvana or merging witht he impersonal abode of Brahman. This state is not a happyone at all: being bereft of the natural bliss of the eternally conscious soul, the prema or ecstatic love for the Lord remains concealed. The eternal pastimes of Sri Krsna are certainly beyond matter; indeed, they are endowed with cin-maya-visesa, or divinely conscious distinction.

Q. Why do we always hear condemnation of the philosophy of "oneness"?

A. Because those who propound the philosophy of oneness say that only he oneness of the soul with the supreme is eternal, and that all difference is temporary. Sri Madhvacarya has established that the difference is also eternal, and by proving this , he has correctly ascertained the doubtless truth of acintya-bhedabheda (simultaneous oneness and differences; as propounded by Sri Caitanya). Those who preach the philosophy of bhedabheda are faultless, whereas those who propound only bheda or abheda are condemned by their adherence to a one-sidee truth.