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Personal vs. Impersonal God

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The Personal God concept comes from Semitic religions - where the Creator God goes through varied emotions of anger and love. It is not clear what they mean by an impersonal God - or even if the concept is acknowledged by them.

 

For Vaishnavas, it is should farily clear that Krishna (as he has declared in BG 9.29) that he - unlike the Semitic God - does not go through bouts of anger to throw down lightning, rain, fire, etc.

 

Recently, the concept of a Personal God has been applied to Hindu Gods too - though the exact relevance is not clear to me and hence the question - What does personal god mean in a Hindu context? Do we mean an anthromorphic God who looks Human/Indian with a shape and size? If not, then what?

 

I ask because it appears most people who make such claims do not understand it themselves. They simply seem to be repeating what they heard, without thinking it through.

 

Thanks

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I remember a while back there was a study among North American Christians. I seem to recall being amazed that close to half of them believed God was impersonal, a force, the All.

 

So it really doesn't necessarily follow that the people will share the speculation of the theologians.

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The Personal God concept comes from Semitic religions - where the Creator God goes through varied emotions of anger and love. It is not clear what they mean by an impersonal God - or even if the concept is acknowledged by them.

 

For Vaishnavas, it is should farily clear that Krishna (as he has declared in BG 9.29) that he - unlike the Semitic God - does not go through bouts of anger to throw down lightning, rain, fire, etc.

 

Recently, the concept of a Personal God has been applied to Hindu Gods too - though the exact relevance is not clear to me and hence the question - What does personal god mean in a Hindu context? Do we mean an anthromorphic God who looks Human/Indian with a shape and size? If not, then what?

 

I ask because it appears most people who make such claims do not understand it themselves. They simply seem to be repeating what they heard, without thinking it through.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

"Personal God" - meaning that it is in the Lord's inherent nature to have personality, display emotions, have activity, interactions with devotees, etc.

 

"Impersonal God" - meaning an abstract idea of something being supreme without reference to eternal personality, attributes, activities, etc.

 

However, this terminology is not hard and fast. Some Vaishnavas believe that Brahman is "personal" but is at the same time beyond all forms, qualities, etc. Sri Vaishnavas in particular seem to take this view, although they are quick to say that the Lord's forms are still eternal and divine.

 

Some might argue that "personal" and "impersonal" refer to "approachability" rather than "personality." Thus, for example, the Judeo-Christian "God" is wrathful and demands unquestioning submission. Some have argued that this is an "impersonal" diety not in the sense of lacking personality but rather in the sense of demanding unquestioning submission that precludes genuine devotion.

 

I guess it depends on who is doing the talking. As far as Hare Krishnas are concerned, I believe they use the first set of definitions.

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Thanks for the clarification.

 

 

"Personal God" - meaning that it is in the Lord's inherent nature to have personality, display emotions, have activity, interactions with devotees, etc.

 

What drives the Lord's emotions? Would this not be similar to the Christian God who has mood swings? And what is the significance of a form (or forms) wrt a personal God?

 

 

"Impersonal God" - meaning an abstract idea of something being supreme without reference to eternal personality, attributes, activities, etc.

 

Interesting. A Supreme being with no activities can play no role in creation or sustaining the universe. Is such a concept existing in any religion?

 

 

However, this terminology is not hard and fast. Some Vaishnavas believe that Brahman is "personal" but is at the same time beyond all forms, qualities, etc. Sri Vaishnavas in particular seem to take this view, although they are quick to say that the Lord's forms are still eternal and divine.

 

Yes, it is this inconsistency that pushed me to raise this topic.

 

 

Some might argue that "personal" and "impersonal" refer to "approachability" rather than "personality." Thus, for example, the Judeo-Christian "God" is wrathful and demands unquestioning submission. Some have argued that this is an "impersonal" diety not in the sense of lacking personality but rather in the sense of demanding unquestioning submission that precludes genuine devotion.

 

I guess it depends on who is doing the talking. As far as Hare Krishnas are concerned, I believe they use the first set of definitions.

 

I believe the HKs (as usual) have varied opinions on this topic, with each person adding his own spin to it (as usual). Anyway, no one has come forward to answer the question thus far.

 

Cheers

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God is personal. And since everything is God, it can be safely assumed that everything is personal. Hence, a personal God refers to your personal consciousness or your Self..

 

I don't understand this primate. Please flush it out for me a bit.

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I remember a while back there was a study among North American Christians. I seem to recall being amazed that close to half of them believed God was impersonal, a force, the All.

 

So it really doesn't necessarily follow that the people will share the speculation of the theologians.

 

I believe this is due to a couple of things.

1. the shortage of specific philosophy in the Bible on this point

2. All the New Agey hodge podge impersonaist type philosophy that is now permeating North America.

 

Devotees are supposed to be helping the Christians into a more specific understanding of the Supreme Person instead of engaging in an infantile war of theology with them which some are doing.

 

This was Srila Prabhupada's vision.

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I don't understand this primate. Please flush it out for me a bit.

God is personal (that's a premise). If everything is God (another premise), then everything in reality must be personal (a logical conclusion). Since your consciousness is part of reality (an obvious fact), your sense of Self might be the manifestation of the personal aspect of God within your consciousness (a highly speculative proposition)..

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God is personal (that's a premise). If everything is God (another premise), then everything in reality must be personal (a logical conclusion). Since your consciousness is part of reality (an obvious fact), your sense of Self might be the manifestation of the personal aspect of God within your consciousness (a highly speculative proposition)..

 

Ok gotcha. I agree, we are parts of God and a certain partial manifestation of His Person. One and different.

 

Not at all a "highly speculative proposition."

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Recently, the concept of a Personal God has been applied to Hindu Gods too - though the exact relevance is not clear to me and hence the question - What does personal god mean in a Hindu context? Do we mean an anthromorphic God who looks Human/Indian with a shape and size? If not, then what?

 

Why do view it like that ??? can't it be that the human body is fashioned after the eternal form of God? ? Isn't that most sensible answer ??? That an intelligent Supreme Being created a specific form after Himself....it's almost common sense.

 

To think that the Ganpatyas worship a form of half elephant and half man,clearly indicates that the deity forms are not manufactured concoctions of the mind.The Ganpatyas strongly believe that Ganesh is God-Brahm.

 

It is quite naive to think that devout followers could ever 'design' a form decorated with human skulls on one hand and a beautiful,calm form on the other.

 

If i design a car,i want it to look the best-it should be marketable.

 

So your idea that the form of the Lord was only so-marketable,is flawed.

 

 

I ask because it appears most people who make such claims do not understand it themselves. They simply seem to be repeating what they heard, without thinking it through.

 

Thanks

 

Maybe we should look into the vedas-the Purusha is described clearly with thousands of heads and thousands of hands.

 

To think that the vasihnavas 'created' the form of Mahavishnu is quite a rational thought.

 

But then,why didn't shankarites 'create' Mahashankara as having a form that conforms with that of Purusha ???

 

So,yes,we DO repeat what our acharyas have said.But we have also THOUGHT IT THROUGH.

 

In india...we have mahatmas-great souls-Who actually see this great form situated permanently in the sky and so they describe Him in their works.

 

Be it bhagavatam or a poem of Surdas,the form is the same.Be it a Sri Vaishnava or a Madhavite,the form of Narayana is the same.

 

Sampradayas are very strict and usually proclaim their own doctrine to be the greatest.If the form of Narayana was 'concocted',it is FOOLISH to think it would be the same in any two sampradayas.

 

Also,the vedas have stated that Puranas are the fifth veda.So to think that the Bhagavatam lies,is another foolish thing.Obviously,there have been 'scholars' who think otherwise and who constantly try to date the inclusion of a PErsonal God in vedic religion...but that's hardly anything compared to the actual experiences of the practising devotees(people who are,in many cases,more intelligent than 'scholars' and more rational too).

 

So when the 'scholars' keep trying to establish the 'date' when Sri Krsna was invented,the devotees just laugh on them silently.

 

What else can be done ???

 

You tell a person whose mother is well alive in her native town,"I read in the newspaper that your mother is dead.Her name was this this.She lived in the same town.It can't be anyone else."

 

You feel you are right.You've got the facts straight.You've drawn an obvious conclusion.But the person has just spoken to his mother a minute ago.He knows How well his mother's health is.

 

She is well and alive.The proof of her existence is SOLID.He can't do anything but try to make you talk to her to convince you she is alive.

 

But the catch is,the mahatmas can't make any tom dick and harry see that God is actually a Person with a beautiful,eternal form.

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There is a always a personality behind the scene

 

 

{This analogy is adjusted for GMT + 3 Hrs USA EST . . . anyone can adjust it with ones own local region}

 

 

"The God is a Person Principle"

 

 

 

or

 

"Why mayavadi's can not deny a that there is a always a personality behind the scene"

 

or

 

"The Personification Principle"

 

 

 

Q. Who is the personification of the American Dollar Bill?

A. George Washington.

Q. Who is the Living Personification of the American Dollar Bill?

A. George Bush.

Q. Who is the personification of the State of New York'?

A. The Governor (Mr. David Patterson).

Q. Who is the personification of one of the many regional Counties of New York State?

A. The County Executive.

Q. Who is the personification of one of the many Congressional Districts of New York State?

A. The Congressman/State Representative.

Q. Who is the personification of New York City?

A. The Mayor (Mr. Blumberg).

Q. Who is the personification of one of the many Districts of New York City?

A. The Concilman/Ombudsman.

Q. Who is the personification of any 'Block and Lot' tax-parcel of land?

A. The title barer (The Land owner).

Q. Who is the personification of the any Apartment building?

A. "The Landlord".

Q. Who is the personification of any apartment?

A. The tenant.

Q. Who is the personification of the room with the football and the many toy Trains?

A. One of the male children.

Q. Who is the personification of nursery room?

A. The Baby.

 

 

The point of my illustration is:

 

"Without the presence of the persona, all paraphernalia is without meaning nor purpose for existing"

PS:

Q. Who is the personification of a mayavadi?

A. His temporary illusion? A Vaisnava to argue with?

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Yes to think the universal body runs without an intelligence shows no intelligence. Then the next question must be Whose intelligence? At this level form of God is not yet a question but that a person, an individual willing being must be behind it all. And that intelligence must indeed be Supreme.

 

Foolish mayavadi's want us to believe that impersonal Brahman wanted to enjoy lila so It expanded itself into all these individuals who are under going birth death old age and disease.

 

So many foolish things contained within this idea. The idea of Brahman wanting something to fulfill Itself says that Brahman is dissatisfied with Itself. How can that be? Dissatisfaction implies a person who is dissatisfied. And the act of seeking satisfaction also is only capable by a person.

 

Another point is if Brahman created birth and death to gain further satisfaction from what was previously supposed to be a perfect condition had why didn't it work? Having failed to find further bliss in samsara now Brahman wants to merge back into itself to stop further suffering.:rolleyes:

 

People will come up with the most ridiculous ideas to avoid admitting that God is a person and we are persons subordinate to Him.

Edited by theist
typos, missing words etc.

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Ok gotcha. I agree, we are parts of God and a certain partial manifestation of His Person. One and different.

 

Not at all a "highly speculative proposition."

How about this one:

 

Our consciousness is personal (an obvious fact). Our consciousness, including our sense of Self, is part of reality (another obvious fact). If everything in reality is God (a premise), then God must be total consciousness (a logical conclusion). And if all consciousness is personal (a speculative proposition), then God must be personal (a logical conclusion).. :)

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^ and to think that a complete indivisible Whole divided into innumerable seperate consious beings....is ahem...a bit stupid.

 

If mayavadis say no.They are not divided.Maya is illusion-non existent,then if a soul achieves Brahm gyan,why doesn't every living being get brahmgyan ????

 

There are innumerable other such problems.

 

Who the hell is the Purusha BEYOND maya Who is described in the vedas.

 

It's understandable that Personalities exist only in the mayic region then Who is this Virat Purusha Who is the Controller of Maya.

 

Who- Not What.He is a Person,Who is intelligent and has a will.Since maya is under His control,He doesn't display 'emotions' as Kaisersose said.

 

It's like saying I own the factory and they manager makes me work in it.

 

The mayic emotions do not even extend to the Purusha's region.The simple reason is,He controls Maya.It is illogical to believe He is subject to ordinary emotions.

 

Since He is independent of Maya,His Personal nature is different from that of Maya.

 

Since He is independent of Maya,He is independent of her temporariness.

 

Since there is only ONE controller of maya,He is Supreme amongst all other conscious beings.

 

Since the Jeevas are clearly affected by Maya,the Supreme Person is Superior to them in terms of Power.

 

Since He is different and superior to them,He is the controller of all that be.

 

Since maya herself pervades the entire creation,the Supreme Lord is obviously all-pervasive,Him being the controller of the energy AT ALL TIMES.

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Since He has the para-shakti(yogmaya),He can grant His own nature to the conscious beings,thus making their intelligence able to grasp His nature.

 

"Brhatvat Brighadtvat tat param Brahm."

Brahm is the One Who is Greatest of all and Who makes others great.

 

That means,He is the only one Who can remove the Conscious beings from under the thralldom of maya.

 

Since He is beyond the all the forms of Maya,the nature of His forms is completely different.

 

Tulsidas states,"Binu pag chalat,binu kar karm karat,..."

 

"My lord Ramcandra can smell without His nose,He can see without His eyes He can do anything and everything."

 

So also the svetasvatara upanishad states,"He can run without legs."

 

He also remains formless in His Brahmswarup,where His energies remain unmanifest,thus being unable to perform any work of creation,maintenance and destruction or to execute any other desire.

 

Like maya is His energy,so also,He has a chit sakti,Which is the mainstay of His region(spiritual abode).

 

Since this region is of Cit nature,maya doesn't extend to that region.

 

Since cit means sat.chit.anand by vedic definition,the sipiritual realm is ever existent and blissful.

 

Since the mayic world is "created",it is conclusive that it should reflect the structure of the Spiritual realm crudely.

 

So,to apply all the laws of this world,to the spiritual realm,is short sightedness and speculative.

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Perhaps only partial (material/human) consciousness has limitations, such as emotions (because of lack of holistic/spiritual knowledge) and physical limitations (because of material laws of nature).

 

Even Krishna avatar was subject to such limitations. Krishna died because a hunter shot him in the foot after mistaking him for a deer in the woods. And, for example, the need to do battle and other descriptions in the Mahabharata epic indicate that Krishna avatar was subject to human limitations and human emotions:

 

According to Mahabarata Drona Parva (182.41-43), Krishna , incarnate God, loses sleep over the threat to Arjuna’s life. He worries, as any other human being would do, over the possible death of his best friend, the man whom he loves above all else. He worries that he might fail in the mission he has set for himself. And worrying, he says: “I do not think it is so important to save my father, nor my mother, nor you my brothers, nor even my own life, as it is to save Arjuna in this war.”

 

What we see here is the distress, the torment that only a human being can feel – and not God. And the intense relief only a human being can feel when a terrible calamity has been averted on the brink of its happening. God does not lose sleep over the death of a mortal. God does not dance for joy when that mortal is pulled out from the jaws of death. Only a human being does. And if it is God who does these, it is God who has come under the limitations of being born a human being.

 

Krishna: Human Limitations of Incarnated God : Krishna: Human Limitations of Incarnated God, satya chaitanya blogs on sulekha, Religion blogs, satya chaitanya blog from india

 

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How about this one:

 

Our consciousness is personal (an obvious fact). Our consciousness, including our sense of Self, is part of reality (another obvious fact). If everything in reality is God (a premise), then God must be total consciousness (a logical conclusion). And if all consciousness is personal (a speculative proposition), then God must be personal (a logical conclusion).. :)

 

Ok, but God is not limited to being just consciousness. Just left at this statement is impersonalism. He has a variety of energies which are all under His control.

 

Your statements sometimes sound impersonal to me. I may be wrong though.

You often use the term Self which is good but along with Self there is always Superself. Do you agree?

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Any mayavadi here is asked to take on these points one by one or please take to a cave and practice silence.

 

 

^ and to think that a complete indivisible Whole divided into innumerable seperate consious beings....is ahem...a bit stupid.

 

If mayavadis say no.They are not divided.Maya is illusion-non existent,then if a soul achieves Brahm gyan,why doesn't every living being get brahmgyan ????

 

There are innumerable other such problems.

 

Who the hell is the Purusha BEYOND maya Who is described in the vedas.

 

It's understandable that Personalities exist only in the mayic region then Who is this Virat Purusha Who is the Controller of Maya.

 

Who- Not What.He is a Person,Who is intelligent and has a will.Since maya is under His control,He doesn't display 'emotions' as Kaisersose said.

 

It's like saying I own the factory and they manager makes me work in it.

 

The mayic emotions do not even extend to the Purusha's region.The simple reason is,He controls Maya.It is illogical to believe He is subject to ordinary emotions.

 

Since He is independent of Maya,His Personal nature is different from that of Maya.

 

Since He is independent of Maya,He is independent of her temporariness.

 

Since there is only ONE controller of maya,He is Supreme amongst all other conscious beings.

 

Since the Jeevas are clearly affected by Maya,the Supreme Person is Superior to them in terms of Power.

 

Since He is different and superior to them,He is the controller of all that be.

 

Since maya herself pervades the entire creation,the Supreme Lord is obviously all-pervasive,Him being the controller of the energy AT ALL TIMES.

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Ok, but God is not limited to being just consciousness. Just left at this statement is impersonalism. He has a variety of energies which are all under His control.

 

Your statements sometimes sound impersonal to me. I may be wrong though.

You often use the term Self which is good but along with Self there is always Superself. Do you agree?

Yes, I agree. This is implied by the proposition that "total consciousness remains personal"..

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Yes, I agree. This is implied by the proposition that "total consciousness remains personal"..

 

I don't get the implication though. Maybe it's just me but I find it helpful to always stress that even though consciousness means personal that there is a clear distintion in consciousness even though there is also a unity.

 

In liberated consciousness there is still unlimited variety because we are distinct living beings eternally. For instance when liberated you will have one type of liberated conscious experience and I will have another.

 

Why the distinction? Because liberation in theism really means liberation in relationship to the Supreme Person. Relationship here means rasa. You may have the relationship of being His most intimate friend and I may have a more passive relationship.

 

This is how it is with Krishna and all His unlimited parts and parcels. He relates to us all and has His own personal conscious experience with each of us personally and individually.

 

In these times when the death cult of impersonalism is trying to swallow the world I believe it very necessary to stress the distinction aspect of liberation and not leave it to implication because the implication will be missed 90% of the time.

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Theist, what are you? You are nothing but consciousness! And if God is total consciousness, then the ultimate question must be: Is God anything like us? If the answer is: Yes; then God must be personal, or a Person..

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Theist, what are you? You are nothing but consciousness! And if God is total consciousness, then the ultimate question must be: Is God anything like us? If the answer is: Yes; then God must be personal, or a Person..

 

Yes I am conscious that is not in doubt. Sorry I couldn't word my last post any clearer for you.

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^ dear Primate,

 

Actually it is very bewildering and i personally do not (if i may even say so.But it is in my mind and i might as well say it.) approve the ascension technique of Sri KRsna/sri Rama (I know I know !!! Who am i to even say so but..).

 

But these two....they could've just ascended in front of material eyes as well.

This is all very clearly described in Bhagavatam : Sri Krsna ascended to His region with Yogmaya. (Yogmaya is not independent of Sri Krsna but we have to state the fact 'He did this with Yogamaya ' in order to establish the spiritual nature of His being and His work.)

However ordinary eyes saw Him 'dead'.

 

It's very simple.The vedas state,"KArtum akartum anyatha kartum samarth."

With His para shakti(Para shaktir vividhaivashuyate..) The Lord can do anything whatsoever.

 

To project a mayic body.To make it show getting shot by an arrow...the possiblities are just too many to concieve...

 

It's not known widely that Sri krsna sent the hunter vali,in his hunter's body,to heaven just before departing.

 

You know how stupid that is ??? To send a lowly hunter to heaven...is TRANSGRESSION of all the karma laws...It's not acceptable..When Ravana tried to connect heaven to earth,The Lord descended to kill him and now,He Himself is sending Vali to Heaven...Who will oppose Him.. ?? Yamraj ?? Or Brahma ??? Brahma came and cried making loud noises and touched his head to Sri Krsna's feet.

 

And then when we hear,He got shot,He 'died',doesn't it strike any alarms ???

We should burst in giggles that anyone could think He could 'die'.

 

Sri Maharajji says on this point,"This Personality Who defeated

 

Shankarji,Who can destroy the entire universe by just opening His third

 

eye,can He even die?It is foolish to think so.Yeh dimag se nikaal

 

daalo.He went up,straight to Goloka.Bhagavan ka deh anand hai.Woh

 

nasht nahi ho sakta !!!(His body is Ananda.It doesn't ever get

 

destroyed !).He just didn't go alone.He took everyone-the entire

 

Vrindavan-the Dwarika vasis and the Mathura-vasis."

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