|Chapter 12||The Path of Devotion||Verse 3, 4|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The question might arise why is not the impersonal path superior. Lord Krishna answers this in this verse and the next. Although those who contemplate, reflect upon, meditate on and worship the abstract, impersonal, imperishable brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence can eventually attain Lord Krishna as well; it is extremely difficult to do so. This is because the characteristics of the brahman are beyond the ability of the mind to comprehend. Why so? Because although it is a reality the brahman is avyaktam or devoid of material qualities and attributes. Thus it is acintyam or inconceivable and not possible to be conceptualized. It is anirdesyam or indescribable and cannot be expressed by words because it is unable to be conceived. Although it is sarvatra-gam or all pervading it is unmanifest possessing no form and cannot be perceived, As it is kuta-stham it is unchanging and thus never changing it is dhruvam or eternal and everlasting. The rest is clear.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
So it has been established that the devotees who with full faith focus their minds on the Supreme Lord Krishna and offer bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Him are the most superior. But what about the other votaries of the Vedic culture who follow the path of worshipping the imperishable brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is unmanifest being imperceptible? What are there rewards? This Lord Krishna elucidates in these two verses.
In the Bhagavat Purana, the attribute of imperceptibility has been ascribed to illusion because it is acintyam or inconceivable and incapable of being rationalized although it is able to be perceived by some advanced beings. The word aksaram is not referring directly to the Supreme Lord but rather to His impersonal unmanifest aspect known as the imperishable brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. In the very beginning there was neither existence or non-existence, there was neither superior elements or inferior elements. Then there existed only tamas or the obscurity of darkness and within this obscurity alone was the unmanifest, inconceivable, ever renewable and was none other then prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence which is imperceptible, possessing no distinctive atributes to distinguish her by.
Similarly it has been stated in the Moksa Dharma: That being supported by the attributes of the Supreme Lord, Sri Laxsmi is ever fresh and inaccessible to the senses. Beyond the mind, unborn, existing even after universal dissolution are her special subsidiary attributes. The Manu Samhita states that Sri Laxsmi is: Harmful to none, unaffected by time, without enmity to any, immutable, without loss of form, manifested in everything, performing every action, she is always existing, symbolizing the principles of tamas and inactivity, dormant during dissolution, beyond the scope of logic and reason, unknowable and passive in all activities.
Later in chapter 15, verse 16 Lord Krishna states: kutastho 'ksara ucyate meaning those who are personal associates of the Supreme Lord are eternal and infallible like the atma or soul. The Rig Veda states: That which is abiding within that space is kutastho of an eternal nature. So Sri Laxsmi is eternal because she abides there within that space. The Gautama section of the Sama Veda states: The consort of the Supreme Lord is Sri Laxsmi and she is all pervading, immutable, inscrutable, the progenitor and support of creation the same as the Supreme Lord which is accomplished without any influence of rajas or passion. According to the Agni Purana as Sri Laxsmi is never leaving her place at the feet of the Supreme Lord, she is achala or stationary. The Narada Purana states that: Sri Laxsmi and the Supreme Lord are unperceivable, unmanifest and beyond the scope of the mind.
Now begins the summation.
It has been shown how the Supreme Lord and His sakti or spiritual feminine potency known as Sri Laxsmi are both unborn and eternal. When all else ceases to exist at the time of universal dissolution the Supreme Lord and His sakti being unaffected facilitate the next cycle to start creation anew. The Supreme Lord is called akshara the absolute and ultimate source of all. His sakti is called kshara who is limited to the extent that she remains dormant until the Supreme Lord begins creation. At that time the dual nature of the Supreme Lord and His sakti activates the creative energy by which such interaction causes the phenomena in the material nature for unlimited plethora's of species, forms and names of beings pouring into existence. The internal unified form of the Supreme Lord and Sri Laxsmi are known as akshara and kshara and their external manifestations are know as Purusha the Supreme Personality and prakriti the material substratum pervading all physical existence.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Those who are attracted to meditation and upasate or worship on the avyakta or the unmanifest, impersonal brahman being the spiritual substratum pervading all existence or are devoted to realising the imperishable nature of their atma or eternal soul which is indefinable by the mind and imperceptible find that both ways are completely impossible to be perceived by any of the senses. The phrase sarvatra-gam acintyam means all pervading and inconceivable, respectively. The understanding is that despite the atma or eternal soul being present in the etheric heart of every living entity everywhere in creation in the demigods, the humans, the animals, the fish, the plants etc. It is completely inconceivable how the total aggregate of all these trillions upon trillions of souls approaching even an infinite amount actually comprise the transcendental, spiritual body of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Not only is it not possible to conceive this, it is also impossible to imagine what such an infinite spiritual form would appear like so it is completely indescribable. Even if one achieved atma- tattva or soul realisation and were able to perceive the form of their individual atma it would not be of any consequence in conceiving by any stretch of the imagination such an infinite and phenomenal spiritual form. The word kutastham means stable or uniform denoting that essence which never changes in form regardless of the constant changing of bodies of all living beings every life, thus it is acalam or immutable because of its singular unmoving nature and thus dhruvam or everlasting. Along with this must be sanniyamyendriya-gramam meaning all the senses must be fully controlled and restrained from absorption in their accustomed sense objects. The phrase sarvatra sama-buddhayah means equanimity towards all living entities which manifests itself when the cognition of the atma residing in the etheric heart of all living entities being of variegated and diverse species seen specifically as consciousness although concealed by various forms becomes a reality. Firmly fixed in this understanding one automatically becomes sarva-bhuta-hite ratah or favourably disposed to the welfare of all living entities or it can mean well removed from wishing any enmity towards any jiva or embodied being, for enmity is a product engendered by false ego due to imagining gradations in the atma's between jivas because of external differences in their physical bodies.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
One should not consider that those votaries of the impersonal unmanifest brahman which is the spiritual substratum pervading all existence or seekers of the imperceptible atma or eternal soul who without requisite faith do not propitiate the Supreme Lord Krishna are in any way superior to those who perform bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Him. In these two verses Lord Krishna explains that even those adherents of the Vedic culture who are not His devotees that rigidly control their senses from pursuing their objects of attraction with equanimity of mind towards all because they behold everything as part of the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. This understanding makes them sympathetic to the well being of all jivas or embodied beings: plants, animals, humans and demigods while meditating incessantly upon the imperceptible atma or eternal soul within themselves and within all sentient beings. Such aspirants also reach unto the brahman and are released from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death achieving moksa or liberation from material existence. Because the atma is eternal it is imperishable and different from the physical body which is perishable. Because the atma has a spiritual form it is immutable and changeless whereas the physical body is changing from birth to death. The conclusion is that the votaries of the impersonal brahman who worship the imperishable unmanifest attain that which they meditate upon being the impersonal brahman which is the effulgence of the Supreme Lord's energy and this affirms the ancient Vedic aphorism: As one worships the Supreme Lord so does one become.