śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 8, Issue 8
Posted: 3 September 2015

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Personality of Godhead - Part Two
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)

There is an old quarrel between those who assert that God has a material form and those who assert that God is the void – both of which are quite off the mark. It is unnecessary to pick a side in this futile and foolish debate. If humankind cannot rise above such palpably wrong ideas, we are sure to breed narrowness and sectarianism and to quarrel with one another.

We human-beings possess an intellect that is subject to error, oversight and self-deception, and that is liable to be led astray by the false testimony of our defective sense organs. And if we permit our judgement to be biased by anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and phytomorphic ideas that constitute the stock-in-trade of all human thought, we will surely become entangled in some form of idolatry.*

* Anthropomorphism, zoomorphism and phytomorphism refer respectively to the attribution of human, animal or plant characteristics and behaviour to God.

It will serve no good purpose if we seek to drag down into the jurisdiction of blundering, unspiritual thought the Entity who transcends such thought. Is the range of human thought really so unlimited that it can legitimately aspire to accommodate God? It is surely foolish to suppose that the apparent aspect is necessarily more important than the real entity.

The mischief that is likely to result from any attempt to evaluate the facts of spiritual experience when they are presented to the faculty of human judgement in an apparently tangible form by the inconclusive logic of mundane experience, may be illustrated by the following amusing story:

A poor widow put her boy through school and, by dint of begging from door to door, managed to find the wherewithal for his maintenance. The child of course began his studies with the alphabet, “A, B, C...”. After he had completed half a dozen years of schooling, the boy was promoted to study Euclid’s geometry. One day his mother overheard him as he recited a sentence from that mathematical treatise: “Let A, B, C be a triangle.”

Hearing this, the widow assumed that the boy had been unable to go beyond the alphabet even after so many years of school. She had been at her wits’ end to find the means of his subsistence during this long period, and fell into despair.

The poor widow made a great error of judgement. What she failed to understand was that the alphabet in the two cases were not the same, although they seemed identical to her.

We must not assume that the entity of the Absolute is a finite, fragmented object. Nor is He an unintelligible section of the Whole, although by the constitution of our present equipment for the acquisition of knowledge, we do not have access to the whole truth of anything.

There is both similarity and dissimilarity between the language and experience of self-realized souls and the language and experience of ignorant, worldly people. That dissimilarity is of a nature that cannot be understood by our present, defective judgement. If our existence was completely self-sufficient, there would be no God and no necessity of worship. We can be relieved of our native ineligibility for worship only by the causeless mercy of the Transcendental Object of worship.

Adapted from The Gaudiya, Volume 45, Number 10
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 8, Issue 8, "Personality of Godhead - Part Two" by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.