The Pearl Necklace of Truths: 100 Refutations of the Mayavada Fallacy
All glories to Lord Krishna, who is simultaneously the protector of the faithful devotees and the devastating eternal time factor destroying the cruel demon kings. Krishna, the son of Maharaja Nanda, is as splendid as a young tamala tree. He is the source of the limitless Brahman effulgence. He is the master of all potencies. He is decorated with a vaijayanti flower garland, and His forehead is splendidly decorated with tilaka.
A devotee has full faith in the words of the Puranas. Every morning he faithfully and happily studies the Puranas, and in this way his mind penetrates the actual meaning of the scriptures.
A certain imaginative Vedanta commentator has presented a false theory that the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are one in all respects. A devotee scholar, learned in the Puranas, rejects this fallacy and, with expert logic, establishes the eternal distinction between the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Quoting abundant evidence from the shruti and smriti, the devotee scholar presents many arguments to conclusively prove the difference between the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The individual spirit soul is always limited. The Supreme is always unlimited. The difference is clearly established in the descriptions of Vedic literature. Because the natures of the Supreme and the individual spirit soul are so different, it must be concluded that they are eternally different entities. They cannot be the same.
The Mayavadis may object: “The individual spirit souls are not different from the Supreme, just as the air in a pot and the air in the sky are not different. Indeed, simply by citing this analogy, I have proved that the individual spirit souls are identical with the Supreme.” To this statement I reply: “This is not a very good argument. The Supreme is unlimited and cannot be compared to any limited material manifestation, such as the material sky. He is not at all like the material sky and, therefore, your analogy is not very good evidence to support your views.”
The Mayavadi commentator on the Vedanta claimed that the words tat tvam asi are the maha-vakya, the most important statement in the Vedas. According to this explanation, tat means “the Supreme,” tvam means “you,” and asi means “are.” He interpreted the phrase to mean “you are the Supreme” and he claimed that there is no difference between the Supreme and the individual spirit souls.
The Vaishnava commentator on Vedanta interpreted these words in a different way, saying that tat-tvam is a possessive compound word (sasthi-tatpurusa-samasa). According to his explanation, tat means “of the Supreme,” and the entire phrase means “you are the servant of the Supreme.” In this way the proper meaning of the scriptural statement is clearly shown.
O friend, the Supreme is all-knowing and He sees everything. From Him, this entire astonishing and variegated material cosmos has emanated. He creates, maintains, and destroys the entire universe by slightly moving His eyebrow. O friend, you are not like Him. You are ignorant of so many things and your vision is limited, although you wish to see everything. The Supreme is full of all opulences, and He is the ultimate witness who observes everyone. O friend, the individual living entities are numerous, but the Supreme is one only. You are stunted and impure by material contact, but He remains always pure and free from the touch of matter. O friend, your nature is completely different from His in these ways.
The objection may be raised: “The Vedas say brahmaham asmi (‘I am Brahman’). The word brahman is certainly in the nominative case (prathama vibhakti). You cannot say it is possessive (sasthi) and thus change the meaning. How is it that you have foolishly interpreted tat tvam asi as a possessive compound (sasthi-tatpurusa-samasa)? How can you avoid interpreting the quote api ca so ‘yam devadattah (‘O Devadatta, you are that’) in the nominative (prathama) and try to make it genitive (sasthi)?”
To this I reply: “When the scriptures explain that the individual spirit soul is Brahman, the proper understanding is that the individual souls are like tiny sparks that have emanated from the great fire of the Supreme Brahman. As far as the possessive compound (sasthi-tatpurusa) interpretation of tat tvam asi: you may not like it, but it is certainly grammatically sound. Why do you not accept it?”
Accustomed to speak in metaphors, poets say: “This youthful brahmana is a blazing fire,” “This beautiful face is the disc of the full moon,” “These breasts are Mount Meru,” or “These hands are blossoming twigs.” The charm of these metaphors lies in considering two things, which are actually different, to be completely equal because they have one common feature. The poetic author of the Vedas has used this device in the phrase brahmaham asmi. The spiritual living entities have emanated from the Supreme Brahman, but they are not equal to Him in all respects.
Innumerable waves splash within the great ocean and, in the same way, countless spirit souls exist within the Supreme Brahman. A single wave can never become the ocean. O individual spirit soul, how do you think you will become the Supreme Brahman?
Everywhere in the Vedic scriptures pairs of opposites are described. Spiritual enlightenment and spiritual darkness, religion and irreligion, knowledge and ignorance are all described as different. The Vedic scriptures also describe the Supreme Brahman and the individual spirit soul as different in the same way. O saintly audience, how can anyone, with an honest heart, claim that the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Brahman are identical in all respects?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the foundation upon which everything rests. He is the supreme monarch and the independent controller of the illusory potency (maya). O individual spirit soul, you are simply a reflection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Only one moon shines in the sky, although innumerable reflections of that moon may appear in the water or other places. O individual spirit soul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is like that single original moon, and the individual spirit souls are like innumerable reflections of Him. Just as the reflections remain always distinct from the moon itself, in the same way the individual spirit souls remain eternally different from their original source, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O individual spirit soul, this is the eternal distinction between you and the Supreme.
The Vedic scriptures say that the Supreme Brahman is immeasurable, inconceivable, and without any material activities or duty. O individual spirit soul, you are very easily perceivable by the material mind and describable by material words. How is it possible, then, that you are the same as the inconceivable Supreme Brahman?
O individual spirit soul, your intelligence has been stolen by the darkness of the Mayavada theory, and for this reason you continually mutter brahmaham asmi (“I am the Supreme Brahman”) as if you have become mad. I say to you, “If you are the Supreme Brahman, where is you unparalleled opulence? Where is you supreme dominion over all? If you are the Supreme Brahman, where is you all-pervasiveness and all-knowledge? Your equality with the Supreme Brahman is like the equality of a mustard seed with Mount Meru!”
O individual spirit soul, you are by nature very limited, but the Supreme Lord is unlimited. You can only be at one place at one time, but the Supreme is eternally everywhere. At one moment you enjoy, and at another moment you suffer. In this way, your happiness and suffering is all temporary, but the Supreme Lord experiences the perfection of transcendental bliss at every moment. O individual spirit soul, why are you not embarrassed to speak these words so ‘ham (“I am the Supreme”)?
Glass is glass. A jewel is a jewel. An oyster is an oyster. Silver is silver. They will never lose their nature and become each other. If one thinks that glass is a jewel, or an oyster is silver, he is mistaken. Impelled by the same kind of illusion, the individual spirit soul imagines he is the same as the Supreme Brahman. Illusioned in this way, the spirit soul propounds the Mayavada interpretation of tat tvam asi and other statements of the Vedas.
The Vedic statement tat tvam asi should be interpreted in the following way: tat means “the Supreme Brahman who is like a nectar ocean of perfect transcendental bliss.” Tvam means “the distressed individual spirit soul, whose mind is anguished by the fears produced by continued residence in the material world.” Because the natures of the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Brahman are different in this way, they cannot be equated. In reality the Supreme Brahman is the supreme object of worship for innumerable universes, and the individual spirit soul is His servant. This is the actual meaning of tat-tvam asi.
The Mayavadis claim that when the Supreme Person is described in the Vedic literatures, one should reject the literal meanings of such descriptions, and instead accept them allegorically, or not in the sense conveyed by the primary meaning of the words.
O Mayavadis, if you insist on interpreting the Vedic description of the Supreme in an allegorical, or indirect, sense, then please tell us why you abandon the direct literal meaning in favor of this indirect interpretation?
There are three reasons for rejecting a word’s primary meaning and accepting a secondary meaning instead. They are: 1. If the primary meaning makes no sense; 2. If tradition or common usage supplants the primary meaning with a generally accepted secondary meaning; 3. If an authorized commentary explains that a secondary meaning should be understood. In these circumstances one may reject the primary meaning and accept the secondary meaning of a word.
If the primary meaning is senseless, one must find a secondary meaning that makes sense.
One should not accept the primary meaning if it makes no sense. For example, the primary meaning of grama is “village,” but if the grama is described as unlimited, one must reject the primary meaning and accept a secondary one (“multitude”). In the same way, the primary meaning of putra is “son,” but if the putra is described as appearing without a father, the primary meaning should be rejected and a secondary one (“that which rescues from hell”) should be accepted.
The sentence kumbha-khadga-dhanur-banah pravisanti is an example of the use of secondary meaning. Pravisanti means “enter” and kumbha, khadga, dhanuh, and bana mean “pitchers, swords, bows and arrows” respectively. The primary meaning of the sentence is “pitchers, swords, bows, and arrows enter.” This interpretation clearly makes no sense. In these circumstances, the secondary meaning should be accepted. If the first two words are accepted as bahuvrihi-samasas, then the secondary interpretation “men carrying pitchers, swords, bows, and arrows enter” may be accepted to replace the rejected primary meaning.
The sentence gangayam ghosah is another example of the use of secondary meaning. The primary meaning here is “the River Ganges spoke.” This primary meaning should be rejected because a body of water cannot speak. Here the secondary interpretation “he spoke the word Ganges” is more appropriate.
The sentence ayur ghrtam is another example of the use of secondary meaning. Taken literally, the sentence means, “Clarified butter is identical with long life.” In this sentence clarified butter and long life are equated although they are not at all the same thing. In this sentence, the secondary interpretation “Eating foods prepared with clarified butter prolongs one’s life” must be accepted if the sentence is to make sense.
A text may be interpreted in three ways: 1. The literal (primary) meaning may be accepted; 2. One may reject the literal meaning and accept a secondary, not so commonly used, meaning of the words, or 3. One may accept the statements as metaphorical or allegorical. In order to establish their theory, the Mayavadis have diligently rejected the literal interpretation of the Vedic statements and have put forward an interpretation based on accepting the secondary meanings of the words.
Taken literally, the Vedic statements do not at all support the theory that the individual spirit soul is the same as the Supreme Brahman. For this reason, the Mayavadis have rejected the literal meaning of the texts and concocted a figurative interpretation based on accepting obscure definitions of words and rejecting the commonly used meanings of words. How do the Mayavadis expect to understand the truth about Brahman if they adopt this devious policy?
The Vedas directly state that the Supreme Brahman is the original creator of the universe (jagat-karta). From this statement it is only logical to infer that the one Supreme is the cause of the many living entities. The many living entities thus have the Supreme as their creator. This is the direct meaning of the Vedic statement.
The sruti and smrti give abundant evidence to support this interpretation: that the one Supreme Brahman is the creator of the many living entities. That the Vedas describe the distinct individuality of the one Supreme Brahman and the many individual spirit souls is confirmed by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita, where He said (15.15): vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah (“by all the Vedas I am to be known”).
The Mayavadis claim that the Vedas say that the material world is unreal. O Mayavadis, even if this is so, how can you infer from it that the Supreme Brahman, who is full of all opulences and the origin of all moving and unmoving entities is also unreal?
The Mayavadis may say that the Vedic scriptures clearly state that the Supreme cannot be understood by the mind or described in words.
To this I respond: “O Mayavadis, please hear my reply. This statement means that the Supreme cannot be understood by the mental gymnastics of foolish speculators. The Supreme can only be understood when one hears about Him from the right source and with the proper devotional spirit. Furthermore, because the Supreme Brahman possesses infinite and unfathomable transcendental qualities, no one is able to completely know or describe Him.”
The Mayavadis claim that the Vedic statement avan- manasa-gocaram (“the Supreme cannot be understood by the mind or described in words”) proves that the Supreme cannot be described or understood. To this I reply: “This description may apply to ordinary words or thoughts, but not to the words of the Vedas. The Vedas elaborately describe the Supreme Brahman. Please do not think that the statements of the Vedas are like a limping cripple who cannot describe the Supreme.”
O proud Mayavadis, you think yourselves to be great scholars although you actually have no place in the company of the learned. The Vedas say, sabda-brahmani nisnatah para-brahmadhigacchati (“expert in understanding the Supreme, they who are actually learned attain the spiritual realm”). There is no error in these words of the Vedic sages. Please do not say that no one can understand or describe the Supreme.
The word ghata has a specific meaning, and the word pata also has a specific meaning. Various words indicate specific objects. In the Vedas the words sat (“eternity”), cit (“knowledge”), and ananda (“bliss”) are used to directly indicate the Supreme Brahman.
Words have both primary and secondary meanings. If the meaning of a word is ambiguous, then in the course of the conversation the proper meaning will become clear by the context. If one enters a conversation when someone asks a boy, “please bring the saindhava,” the meaning of the man’s statement may be unclear, for the word saindhava may mean either “salt” or “horse.” However, when the boy returns with the saindhava the person’s intention will be at once understood. In the same way, the proper meaning of ambiguous words in the Vedas become clear when the serious student studies the entire body of Vedic literature and sees the ambiguous statement in the proper perspective.
By repeatedly hearing the words of the spiritual master and by thoroughly studying the Vedic literature, the sincere student will be able to understand the proper meaning of brahman and the other words in the Vedic vocabulary.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is also the supreme controller and the supreme performer of activities and, therefore, His form is perfect and eternal. A performer of activities always has a form. No one has ever seen a formless performer of activities.
If the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is also the supreme controller, has a form and is not formless, then we may easily conclude that He has a human-like form similar to the forms that we ourselves bear. This may be concluded because al performers of activity have forms that are quite similar. We do not see why the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be an exception in this regard.
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