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Paramatma compared with the Holy Ghost

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Crucified for these words by the pundits years ago, I now find that they also emanated from the lotus lips of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:

Philosophical discussion of the ideas of Origen:


HayagrIva: This is Origen, who lived from 185–254 A.D., and he studied at Alexandria, Egypt, during the same time as Plotinus. In fact he knew Plotinus, but Origen was a Christian and is considered the founder of Christian philosophy. He believed that ultimate reality, which is spiritual, consists of the Supreme Infinite Person, God, as well as individual personalities. Ultimate reality is the interrelationships of persons with each other and with the Infinite Person, God. So he differed from Plotinus in the belief that God has personality.

PrabhupAda: Yes. God is personal. He is also believing personality. "Father," he says, Plotinus, but his ideas are not very clear. Did he not, Plotinus, say "the fatherland"?

HayagrIva: He mentioned the father, but that...

PrabhupAda: The father is person. Anyway, we shall discuss this tomorrow.

HayagrIva: The...

PrabhupAda: What is this philosopher?

HayagrIva: Origen.

PrabhupAda: Origen. All right. We shall discuss tomorrow.

HayagrIva: You want to discuss tomorrow? [break] I'm just touching the main points in these, but since we're not interested in comparative theology, I'm just touching the main philosophical differences in these early Christian theologian philosophers. Origen believed that the ultimate reality, which is spiritual, consists of the Supreme Infinite Person, God, as well as individual personalities. Ultimate reality is the interrelationships of persons with each other and with the Infinite Person, God. So here he differs from the Greeks, who were basically impersonal.

PrabhupAda: Our Vedic conception is almost the same, that the individual souls, or living entities, innumerable, and each one of them has an intimate relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the material condition of life the living entity has forgotten his relationship, and when, by the process of devotional service, he comes to his liberated position, at that time he revives his old relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

HayagrIva: Origen ascribed to the doctrine of the Trinity. In the Trinity, God the father is Supreme, God the son, who's called the logos, L-O-G-O-S, which is Greek for word, is subordinate to the father, and he brings the material world into existence.

PrabhupAda: Who?

HayagrIva: The son. God the son brings the material world into existence. God the father is not the direct creator; it is the son who is the direct creator. The Ho... The third aspect of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, and he is in turn subordinate to the, to the son. So these Holy Spirits, they liken unto the...

PrabhupAda: Holy Spirit, he is the son?

HayagrIva: There's the father.

PrabhupAda: Father.

HayagrIva: There's the son, who is the direct creator of the material, like BrahmA.

PrabhupAda: The son, the son.

HayagrIva: Like BrahmA, the perfect son. And then there's the Holy Spirit, that is all-pervasive. And all three of these aspects are divine and co-eternal. They exist..., they've always existed within the Trinity of God. They've always existed simultaneously.

PrabhupAda: So our conception is--"our" means Vedic conception--that KRSNa is the original Personality of Godhead, as it is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gItA, ahaM sarvasya prabhavaH: [bg. 10.8] "I am the origin of everyone." Either you call the son or the Holy Ghost, it doesn't matter, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin. Then, He has got expansion. That expansion is not actually His son... Or there are two kinds of expansion: His personal expansions and His expansion as part and parcel. His personal expansion is called ViSNu-tattva, and the part and parcel expansion is called jIva-tattva--in Sanskrit technical words, svAMza and vibhinnAMza. The personal expansion there are also many varieties--puruSa-avatAra, saktyAveza-avatAra, manvantara-avatAra, many varieties. So generally, His personal expansion for creation of this material world are three also, accepted as BrahmA, ViSNu, Mahezvara. ViSNu is personal expansion, and BrahmA is expansion of the living entity, or the vibhinnAMza. And another expansion, via-media between the personal expansion and expansion of jIva, the via-media expansion is called Siva. So the material creation is done by personal expansion primarily--the whole material ingredients, and then with the ingredients the guNa-avatAra, BrahmA, he creates particularly. And Lord Siva, when the time is right, he annihilates. So this creation, material creation, is created, maintained for sometimes, and again dissolved or annihilated. BhUtvA bhUtvA pralIyate [bg. 8.19]. This is the nature of the external potency. There are others, detailed information, described in the Caitanya-caritAmRta, but the jIvas, or the living entities, they are considered as the sons, and they have got two positions: one liberated position, one conditioned position. Those who are liberated, they are personally associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and those who are fallen in this material world, they have, almost all of them, have forgotten, and suffering within this material world in different forms of material body. But they can be delivered from this material conditioned life to liberated position by KRSNa consciousness understanding, which means that there are zAstras, Vedic knowledge, and the guru which..., who is fully cognizant of Vedic knowledge and preaches and delivers the conditioned soul on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the Vedic conception.

HayagrIva: Origen believed that it is through divine grace and man's free will working together that the individual soul attains perfection, and perfection consists of attaining a personal relationship with the Infinite Person.

<h2>PrabhupAda: Yes. That is called Bhakti-mArga. The Absolute Truth is manifested in three features: Brahman, ParamAtmA, and BhagavAn. BhagavAn is the personal feature, and ParamAtmA feature may be compared with the Holy Ghost when situated in everyone's heart.</h2> And Brahman feature, everywhere. By His energy He is present everywhere. So the perfection, highest perfection of spiritual life, is to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the person, personal feature of the Lord, and engages himself, the living entity engages himself in His service. Then he is situated in his original, constitutional position, and he is eternally happy and blissful.

HayagrIva: Just as man's free will brought about his fall, man's free will can also bring about his salvation. By becoming detached from matter, man can return to God, but this detachment from matter is brought about by the assistance of the Christ.

PrabhupAda: Yes. That is our conception also, that the fallen soul is rotating within this material world, within this universe, up and down in different forms of life, and in his developed condition of understanding he is enlightened by God as it is instructed in the Bhagavad-gItA, and the spiritual master gives him full enlightenment. Then what he says, the perfection?

HayagrIva: His detachment from matter...

PrabhupAda: Yes. When he understands his pleasing, as situation with God, paraM dRSTvA nivartate... When he understands the transcendental pleasing situation of his life, he automatically gives up this material bodily attachment. That is his freedom. And when he actually, in his spiritual identity, engaged in the service of the Lord, that is his normal position. [break]

HayagrIva: This is the continuation of Origen. Origen believed that all the elements that are found in the material body are also found in the spiritual body, which he called the interior man. He says, "God created man not taking the dust of the earth like the second time, but He created him after the image of God," that is initially, "this being after the likeness of God was immaterial, superior to any corporeal hypothesis. There are thus two men in each one of us, as every exterior man has for homonym the interior man. So it is for all His members, and one can say that every member of the exterior man can be found under this name in the interior man." So that for every corresponding sense that we have in the exterior body, there's a corresponding sense in the interior or the spiritual body which exists within.

PrabhupAda: The spirit soul is within this material body, but the spirit soul has no material body originally. There is a spiritual body of the spirit soul eternally existing, and the material body is simply coating of the spiritual body. This material body is considered as coating, shirt-coat. It is cut according to the bodily shape. Just ordinarily we can see the tailor makes the shirt and coat according to the shape of the body. Similarly, these material elements, earth, water, fire, etc., mixed together, becomes like a clay, and it is coated over the spiritual body. The spiritual body has no connection with the material body. So because the spiritual body has got shape, the material body also takes a shape. That is understanding. But material body has nothing to do with the spiritual body. It is simply external coating, or it is a kind of contamination for suffering of the spirit soul. As soon as he is coated with this material contamination, he identifies himself with the coating and he forgets his real, spiritual body. That is called mAyA, ignorance, and this ignorance continues so long he is not fully KRSNa conscious. When one becomes fully KRSNa conscious, then he understands that this material body is the external coating; he is different from this material body. That condition, that uncontaminated understanding, is called brahma-bhUtaH. The spirit soul is Brahman. He was under the illusion of bodily concept of life--that is called jIva-bhUtaH--and when he understands that he is not this body, he is the spirit soul within the body, that is called brahma-bhUtaH. So when one comes to this understanding of his spiritual identity, he becomes joyful, brahma-bhUtaH prasannAtmA na zocati na kAGkSati [bg. 18.54], he has no more any hankering or lamentation. In that position he sees all other living entities as spirit soul. He does not see the outward covering. Even in a dog he sees the spirit soul covered by the body of a dog, and similarly a learned brAhmaNa, he also sees the spirit soul covered by the material body designated as learned brAhmaNa. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gItA this conception is summarized,


brahmaNe gavi hastini

zuni caiva zva-pAke ca

paNDitAH sama-darzinaH

[bg. 5.18]

So up to the animal bodily concept of life, one is unable to understand his spiritual identity. But in the civilized form of life, when the society is divided into eight divisions, varNa and Azrama--four varNas and four Azramas--brahman, kSatriya, vaizya, zUdra, four varNas, brahmacArI, and gRhastha, vAnaprastha, and sannyAsI... So a brAhmaNa from the social status, when he becomes elevated to the position of a sannyAsI, that is the highest perfectional stage in this material world, and at that stage only he can realize his original constitutional position and he acts accordingly, and thus he becomes delivered, which is called mukti. Mukti means to understand his own constitutional position and act accordingly, and conditional life means to identify with the body and act accordingly. So in the mukti state the activities are different from the conditional state. Therefore the devotional service is the activity of the liberated stage. So anyone who is engaged in devotional service, he maintains his spiritual identity, and therefore he is called liberated even though in this conditional material body.

HayagrIva: Origen believed that the interior man, or the spiritual body, also has spiritual senses which enable the soul to taste, see, touch and contemplate the things of God.

PrabhupAda: Yes, that is devotional life.

HayagrIva: During his lifetime Origen was a great teacher and was very much in demand. For him, preaching simply meant explaining the words of God and no more. He believed that first of all a preacher must be a man of prayer and must be in contact with God, and that he should pray for a better understanding of the scriptures.

PrabhupAda: Yes. That is real preacher. That is explained in the Vedic literature, zravaNaM kIrtanam. First of all he becomes perfect by hearing. This is called zravaNam. And when he is perfectly situated in spiritual life by hearing perfectly from the perfectly authorized person, then his next stage begins, kIrtanam. That is preaching. That zravaNaM kIrtanam, everyone is hearing in this material world. Everyone is hearing. Even this material educationist, he also hears from the material person, professor. That hearing is there. Then he acts when he is grown-up, passed his examination, sometimes acts as professor. The same process: if one hears from the perfect spiritualized person, he becomes perfect, then he becomes actual preacher. Preaching, zravaNaM kIrtanam, about ViSNu, not for any other person within this material world. The Supreme Person, transcendental Personality of Godhead, to hear about Him and to preach about Him, that is the duty of a liberated soul.

HayagrIva: As far as seeming contradictions and seeming absurdities in scripture are concerned, Origen considered these as stumbling blocks allowed by God to exist in order for man to go beyond the literal meaning. He says, "In some cases no useful meaning attaches to the obvious interpretation, but everything in scripture has a spiritual meaning, but not all of it has a literal meaning."

PrabhupAda: Literal... Generally, every word in the scripture there is literal meaning, but one who cannot understand properly because one does not hear from the proper person, he makes some interpretation. But there is no need of interpretation in the words of God. It may be that the words of God sometimes cannot be understood by ordinary person; therefore he requires to understand through the via-media of transparent guru. Guru is fully cognizant of the words spoken by God. One has to accept, therefore, a guru to go through the scripture properly. Generally there is no ambiguity in the words of God, but due to our lack of perfect knowledge we sometimes cannot understand and try to interpret. But this is, this interpretation is not at all feasible, because imperfect person interpreting means whatever he interprets, that is imperfect. So the proper import of the words of scripture or words of God should be understood from a person who has realized God.

HayagrIva: For Origen there are two rebirths. One is a baptism, which is something like an initiation, and then there is a complete purification, a rebirth in the spiritual world with Christ. So baptism is compared to a shadow of the ultimate rebirth, and when the soul is reborn with Christ, it receives a spiritual body like Christ and beholds Christ face to face.

PrabhupAda: Christ behold?

HayagrIva: The individual soul can then see Christ face to face when he attains his spiritual body.

PrabhupAda: What is the position of Christ?

HayagrIva: What is the position of Christ?

PrabhupAda: He, does he describe anything?

HayagrIva: Well, not Origen. The position of Christ is that he is seated at the right hand of the father, that he is in the spiritual sky with the father.

PrabhupAda: No, here, when Christ was present, so so many persons saw him. So what is the position?

HayagrIva: What was the position of those people? Well those who saw him were very special people, but they saw him in many different ways, just as they saw KRSNa in different ways when He was on this earth. Different people saw Him differently.

PrabhupAda: (aside Posted Image This is, that, disturbing.

HayagrIva: Hm? Is this clear?

PrabhupAda: No, I am talking to him. (pause) So different persons, so that is all right. According to the status of a person, he sees another person individually. That is all right. So Christ is in his full spiritual body, that is the idea?

HayagrIva: That's the idea.

PrabhupAda: Oh, yes. We also think like that.

HayagrIva: He didn't believe that the individual soul existed from all eternity. It was created. The...

PrabhupAda: No.

HayagrIva: The rational natures that were made in the beginning did not always exist. They came into being when they were created.

PrabhupAda: That is not correct. The living entity is eternally existing, as God is eternally existing, the living entity who is the part and parcel of God. But the living entity, as we have several times..., being a small spark, sometimes the illumination is extinguished or stopped for the time being, but he is eternally existing, changing the body, na hanyate hanyamAne zarIre [bg. 2.20], after the destruction of the body. The material life means the body is destructed, one body after another, but the living being is eternally existing, na hanyate hanyamAne zarIre [bg. 2.20].

HayagrIva: He uses this metaphor. He writes, "The human body has unity because its various members are all made for specific functions in it, and it is bounded by a single soul. In the same way, it seems to me, the whole immense, gigantic world should be regarded as one being kept alive by God's power and logos, as by a single soul."

PrabhupAda: But single soul is created, he says. But that single soul, his spiritual identity is never created. That is the difference between matter and spirit. Anything material, that is created. Spiritual is never created.

HayagrIva: At the same time...

PrabhupAda: (aside Posted Image You go and wash your face with water, running.

HayagrIva: At the same time Origen differed from the later Church tradition in his belief in the transmigration of the soul. Although he believed that the soul was originally created, he believed that it transmigrated, and it transmigrated because the soul, the individual soul, could always refuse to give itself to God, although he believed that ultimately the time will come when everyone will return, and God's rule will be restored to its original integrity. This differed from later Christian tradition, which said that the choice one made in this one lifetime was decisive for all eternity. Origen doesn't believe this. He believes that you can be reincarnated at the end of this lifetime if you don't attain the ultimate goal. You'd be reincarnated in some other form.

PrabhupAda: Yes. That is our version of the Vedas. Unless he is liberated or goes to the kingdom of God, he is, repeats, transforms, or transmigrates from one material body to another, because material body is not eternal. You can enter one material body; the material body grows or it remains for sometime; then it becomes old, and then it is useless for any purpose; you have to give up this material body and enter again into a new material body. Then you continue or fulfill your desire in that body, again it becomes old, again you have to give up, and again you have to accept another new body. Because everything material deteriorates, and the soul, being eternal, it cannot remain in the deteriorated body to function materially; therefore transmigration of the soul is essential. As the example is given that when you have got a material shirt and coat, when it is old enough, it cannot be used, you have to throw it out and accept another new shirt and coat. The material conditional life is like that. That is called transmigration.

HayagrIva: It's interesting that Origen did not reject transmigration, neither did Christ reject transmigration. It wasn't until later, until the next philosopher that we take up, Augustine, that the idea of...

PrabhupAda: Transmigration is...

HayagrIva: Transmigration (indistinct).

PrabhupAda: ...philosophical and, I mean, fact. The example is very nicely given in the Bhagavad-gItA, with dress. As a person cannot continue the same dress perpetually--the dress becomes old, useless, and he has to change his dress--so the living being is eternal, but he has to accept a material body for material sense gratification. But the body cannot endure perpetually. Therefore it is very natural to understand that he has to change the body exactly like he has to change the dress.

HayagrIva: So that's the conclusion of Origen. (end)

All glories to the devotees who created this wonderful Folio Vedabase. I had never backed down from my position, but now there can be no further anguish from my superiors about it.






Gary Stevason

Seeking the Kingdom of God

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You may have happily noticed how Origen embraced reincarnation. If anyone else enjoyed this philosophical discussion of the concepts of Origen, considered the founder of Christian philosophy, I would be happy to post the other dozen or so involving Srila Prabhupada's take on the theories of Kant, Augustine, and the other biggies. It seems that Hayagriva das had a very strong philosophy background and was able to present these ideas very capably.


There are even some very informative discussions relating to modern thinkers like Skinner, Jung and Freud. Here it seems that Syamasundara das had a strong psychology background.


But for now, please indulge me as I post a few more Paramatma slash Holy Ghost references:


<ul>Excerpt from Bhagavad-gita Chapter 7 lecture May 24, 1975:

The spiritual understanding is partial in this way, brahmeti paramAtmA iti bhagavAn iti zabdyate. The Absolute Truth is realized in three features, Brahman, beginning from Brahman, then ParamAtmA, Supersoul. I think in Christian world they call holy ghost. Anyway, ParamAtmA, the Supersoul. And ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead, KRSNa. That is the statement of the zAstra. KRSNas tu bhagavAn svayam [sB 1.3.28]. If you want to know, here is BhagavAn. In many other places,


IzvaraH paramaH kRSNaH


anAdir Adir govindaH


[bs. 5.1]


During a morning walk on May 15th 1976:

PrabhupAda: Because they do not know the karma. KarmaNA daiva netreNa [sB 3.31.1]. According to one's activities, pious or impious, he gets the next birth. That is quite reasonable. But they do not believe in karma. When I was student in Scottish Churches College, so we had to attend class, half an hour, Bible. So the Dr. Urquhart, he did.... The argument was: "So if karma is there and I am suffering for my karma, who is the witness?" But because they do not know that the witness is God.

PuSTa KRSNa: He asked that question?

PrabhupAda: Yes, he asked that question. [break] ParamAtmA.... They say "Holy Ghost." What is that Holy Ghost?

PuSTa KRSNa: The Holy Ghost is supposed to give knowledge to persons who have embraced the teaching.

PrabhupAda: Therefore He is seeing what you are doing. So according to your action, the Holy Ghost gives you another birth. [break] ...sarva-bhUtAnAM hRd-deze arjuna tiSThati. [break]...dictating everyone's heart, and He is observing. BhrAmayan sarva-bhUtAni yantrArUDhAni mAyayA [bg. 18.61].


Portion of a conversation with Wayne University President on June 15th 1976:

George Gullen: My father used to speak of the Oversoul that I think had some similarity to these words that we just read, that the soul that is...

PrabhupAda: We call Supersoul, that is God. The idea is in Christianity also, "Holy Ghost" like that. Supersoul and the ordinary soul. We living entities, we are ordinary souls, and God in His all-pervading feature, He is Supersoul.


Part of a letter to Sivananda das on April 19th 1968:

Regarding the Christian's Trinity, I believe it is called God, the Holy Ghost, and the son. Person in Krishna Consciousness accepts this by the name Visnu, Paramatma, and Jiva. God is a Person, the holy spirit or the supersoul is a person, and the living entity is also a person. Also, Mary is the representation of the energy of God. Either as internal energy Radharani or as external energy Durga, the energy of Godhead can be considered the mother of the living entities. But there is no clash between the Bible and the Vedas, simply some people formulate their personal ideas and cause quarrelings. Nobody can say the Bible was meant for the same class of men as the Bhagavad-gita. And Bhagavad-gita is the ABC's of spiritual knowledge. Beyond that is Srimad-Bhagavatam. How great Srimad-Bhagavatam is nobody can imagine. And beyond that is Caitanya Caritamrta. But beginning from the Bible or Koran, on up the principle remains the same.


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Very interesting parallels. The whole notion of The Trinity in Christianity is quite interesting. I can see how the Holy Ghost, which works to guide a person, can be similar to the paramatma - oversoul. Nice parallel.



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Originally posted by Gauracandra:

... the Holy Ghost, which works to guide a person, ...

Haribol Gauracandra,


Much more than similar. I think 'which' should be 'who', as Srila Prabhupada highlights in his letter above: "the holy spirit or the supersoul is a person". I'm no English professor, but I have a thing about Him. 'Which' may well be the typical Christian misunderstanding of a force or feeling in the heart, but let us dispel this limitation completely, always.


It is all very sensible, as you suggest. Jesus could not describe something not known to the Vedas; after all, reality is reality is reality is reality. Caitya Guru, Holy Spirit, Paramatma, Holy Ghost, Supersoul, Holy Comforter, Ksirodakasayi Vishnu is an essential personality in the topology of reality, especially for us earthbound jiva folks.




[P.S. -- Then there is also "which art in heaven" versus "who art in heaven", but let us first consider that wonderful captivating username of yours and float in some of the gentle waves of Sri Caitanya Bhagavata Madhya 3]


<font color=blue><blockquote><blockquote>Lord Gauracandra became totally absorbed in love of Krsna. He exhibited different devotional moods, finding inspiration from the topics the devotees discussed. In the devotional mellow of servitude, He would cry for hours as if Mother Ganga had descended through His eyes. Then, in a jolly mood, He laughed for hours; and when He fell unconscious, He remained without breathing for several hours.


At times when He became aware of His Supreme Personality, He would, with real arrogance(?) say, "I am Him, I am Him, the Supreme Lord," and laugh. "Where is that old man, Advaita Acarya, the one who brought Me here from My spiritual abode? I will fulfill his desire and distribute love of Godhead to every home."


The next moment the Lord cried out, "Oh Krsna, Oh my beloved Lord!", and weeping, He would tie His feet with His long curly tresses. Then He repeated the sloka from the Srimad Bhagavatam where Akrura came to take away Krsna and Balarama to Mathura. He fell to the ground like a stick offering His obeisances, as if He were Akrura. Absorbed in ecstatic trance, He said, "Oh Nanda, let us take Krsna and Balarama to Mathura and see the great festivals at the palace where they are performing the Dhama Yajna sacrifice." In this way, Lord Caitanya exhibited so many ecstatic moods. This gave unlimited joy to all of the devotees present there. </font>

</blockquote></blockquote><font color="#f7f7f7">


[This message has been edited by gHari (edited 12-14-2001).]

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