Therefore, sanātana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord. Sanātana-dharma refers, as stated previously, to the eternal occupation of the living entity. Rāmānujācārya has explained the word sanātana as "that which has neither beginning nor end," so when we speak of sanātana-dharma, we must take it for granted on the authority of Śrī Rāmānujācārya that it has neither beginning nor end.
The English word "religion" is a little different from sanātana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanātana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity.
Sanātana-dharma is eternally integral with the living entity. When we speak of sanātana-dharma, therefore, we must take it for granted on the authority of Śrī Rāmānujācārya that it has neither beginning nor end. That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries. Yet those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanātana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanātana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world-nay, of all the living entities of the universe.Bhagavad-gita As It Is - Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg: introduction
The Gītā answers this question very frankly. Those really learned leaders of society like Brahmā, Śiva, Kapila, the Kumāras, Manu, Vyāsa, Devala, Asita, Janaka, Prahlāda, Bali, and later on Madhvācārya, Rāmānujācārya, Śrī Caitanya and many others-who are faithful philosophers, politicians, educators, scientists, etc.-surrender to the lotus feet of the Supreme Person, the all-powerful authority Books : Bhagavad-gita As It Is - Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg 7: Knowledge of the Absolute : Bg 7.15 : PURPORT
Those who are worshipers of demigods have been described as less intelligent persons, and here the impersonalists are similarly described. Lord Kṛṣṇa in His personal form is here speaking before Arjuna, and still, due to ignorance, impersonalists argue that the Supreme Lord ultimately has no form. Yāmunācārya, a great devotee of the Lord in the disciplic succession from Rāmānujācārya, has written two very appropriate verses in this connection.
He says, "My dear Lord, devotees like Vyāsadeva and Nārada know You to be the Personality of Godhead. By understanding different Vedic literatures, one can come to know Your characteristics, Your form and Your activities, and one can thus understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance, the demons, the nondevotees, cannot understand You. They are unable to understand You. However expert such nondevotees may be in discussing Vedānta and the Upaniṣads and other Vedic literatures, it is not possible for them to understand the Personality of Godhead." Books : Bhagavad-gita As It Is - Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg 7: Knowledge of the Absolute : Bg 7.24 : PURPORT
The statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are accepted by great ācāryas like Śrīdhara Svāmī, Rāmānujācārya and Vallabhācārya. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu specifically accepts Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the spotless Vedic authority, and as such no sane man can ignore the statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam when it is spoken by the self-realized soul Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who follows in the footsteps of his great father, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the compiler of all Vedic literatures Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 2: "The Cosmic Manifestation" : SB 2.2: The Lord in the Heart : SB 2.2.26 : PURPORT
The Vedas, however, are not written by any living creature within this material world. Therefore they are said to be apauruṣeya. No one can trace out the history of the Vedas. Of course, modern human civilization has no chronological history of the world or the universe, and it cannot present actual historical facts older than three thousand years. But no one has traced out when the Vedas were written, because they were never written by any living being within this material world.
All other systems of knowledge are defective because they have been written or spoken by men or demigods who are products of this material creation, but Bhagavad-gītā is apauruṣeya, for it was not spoken by any human being or any demigod of this material creation; it was spoken by Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is beyond the material creation. That is accepted by such stalwart scholars as Śaṅkarācārya, not to speak of other ācāryas such as Rāmānujācārya and Madhvācārya. Śaṅkarācārya has accepted that Nārāyaṇa and Kṛṣṇa are transcendental, and in Bhagavad-gītā also Lord Kṛṣṇa has established, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: [Bg. 10.8] “I am the origin of everything; everything emanates from Me.”
This material creation, including Brahmā and Śiva and all the demigods, has been created by Him, for everything has emanated from Him. He also says that the purpose of all the Vedas is to understand Him (vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ [Bg. 15.15]). He is the original veda-vit, or knower of the Vedas, and vedānta-kṛt, or compiler of Vedānta. Brahmā is not the compiler of the Vedas Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.2: Daksa Curses Lord Siva : SB 4.2.31 : PURPORT
The question may be raised that since the Lord is supposed to be worshiped by great demigods like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and others, how can an ordinary human being on this planet serve Him? This is clearly explained by Pṛthu Mahārāja by the use of the word yathādhikāra, “according to one’s ability.” If one sincerely executes his occupational duty, that will be sufficient. One does not need to become like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Indra, Lord Caitanya or Rāmānujācārya, whose capabilities are certainly far above ours. Even a śūdra, who is in the lowest stage of life according to the material qualities, can achieve the same success.
Anyone can become successful in devotional service provided he displays no duplicity. It is explained here that one must be very frank and open-minded (amāyinaḥ). To be situated in a lower status of life is not a disqualification for success in devotional service. The only qualification is that whether one is a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, he must be open, frank and free from reservations. Then, by performing his particular occupational duty under the guidance of a proper spiritual master, he can achieve the highest success in life. As confirmed by the Lord Himself, striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās te ’pi yānti parāṁ gatim (Bg. 9.32).
It does not matter what one is, whether a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra or a degraded woman. If one engages himself seriously in devotional service, working with body, mind and intelligence, he is sure to be successful in going back home, back to Godhead. The Lord’s lotus feet are described here as kāma-dughāṅghri-paṅkajam because they have all power to fulfill the desires of everyone Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.21: Instructions by Maharaja Prthu : SB-4.21.33 : PURPORT
In this verse the word tīrtha-pādīya indicates devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, or Vaiṣṇavas. As far as brāhmaṇas are concerned, in the previous verse the mode of reception has been already described. Now, in this verse, special stress is being given to the Vaiṣṇavas. Generally the sannyāsīs, or those in the renounced order of life, take trouble to enlighten the householders. There are ekadaṇḍī sannyāsīs and tridaṇḍī sannyāsīs. The ekadaṇḍī sannyāsīs are generally followers of Śaṅkarācārya and are known as Māyāvādī sannyāsīs, whereas the tridaṇḍī sannyāsīs are followers of Vaiṣṇava ācāryas—Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya and so on—and they take trouble to enlighten the householders. Ekadaṇḍī sannyāsīs can be situated on the platform of pure Brahman because they are aware that the spirit soul is different from the body, but they are mainly impersonalists.
The Vaiṣṇavas know that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person and that the Brahman effulgence is based on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (14.27): brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham. The conclusion is that tīrtha-pādīya refers to Vaiṣṇavas. In the Bhāgavatam (1.13.10) there is also another reference: tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni. Wherever he goes, a Vaiṣṇava immediately makes that place a tīrtha, a place of pilgrimage. The Vaiṣṇava sannyāsīs travel all over the world to make every place a place of pilgrimage by the touch of their lotus feet. It is mentioned here that any house which does not receive a Vaiṣṇava in the manner already explained in the previous verse is to be considered the residential quarters of venomous serpents. It is said that around the sandalwood tree, which is a very valuable tree, there is a venomous serpent. Sandalwood is very cold, and venomous serpents, because of their poisonous teeth, are always very warm, and they take shelter of the sandalwood trees to become cooler Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.22: Prthu Maharaja's Meeting with the Four Kumaras : SB 4.22.11 :
PURPORT Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya has also refuted the arguments of Śaṅkara in his own commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, which is known as the Śrī-bhāṣya: "Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has tried to equate the Pañcarātras with the philosophy of the atheist Kapila, and thus he has tried to prove that the Pañcarātras contradict the Vedic injunctions. The Pañcarātras state that the personality of jīva called Saṅkarṣaṇa has emerged from Vāsudeva, the supreme cause of all causes, that Pradyumna, the mind, has come from Saṅkarṣaṇa, and that Aniruddha, the ego, has come from Pradyumna. But one cannot say that the living entity (jīva) takes birth or is created, for such a statement is against the injunction of the Vedas. As stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2.18), living entities, as individual spiritual souls, can have neither birth nor death. All Vedic literature declares that the living entities are eternal. Therefore when it is said that Saṅkarṣaṇa is jīva, this indicates that He is the predominating Deity of the living entities. Similarly, Pradyumna is the predominating Deity of the mind, and Aniruddha is the predominating Deity of the ego.
"It has been said that Pradyumna, the mind, was produced from Saṅkarṣaṇa. But if Saṅkarṣaṇa were a living entity, this could not be accepted, because a living entity cannot be the cause of the mind. The Vedic injunctions state that everything-including life, mind and the senses-comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is impossible for the mind to be produced by a living entity, for the Vedas state that everything comes from the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord.
"Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha have all the potent features of the absolute Personality of Godhead, according to the revealed scriptures, which contain undeniable facts that no one can refute. Therefore these quadruple forms are never to be considered ordinary living beings. Each of Them is a plenary expansion of the Absolute Godhead, and thus each is identical with the Supreme Lord in knowledge, opulence, energy, influence, prowess and potencies. The evidence of Pañcarātra cannot be neglected. Only untrained persons who have not genuinely studied the Pañcarātras think that the Pañcarātras contradict the śrutis regarding the birth or beginning of the living entity.
In this connection, we must accept the verdict of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which says: 'The absolute Personality of Godhead, who is known as Vāsudeva and who is very affectionate toward His surrendered devotees, expands Himself in quadruple forms who are subordinate to Him and at the same time identical with Him in all respects.' The Pauṣkara-saṁhitā states: 'The scriptures that recommend that brāhmaṇas worship the quadruple forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called āgamas [authorized works of Vedic literature].' In all Vaiṣṇava literature it is said that worshiping these quadruple forms is as good as worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva, who in His different expansions, complete in six opulences, can accept offerings from His devotees of the results of their prescribed duties.
Worshiping the expansions for pastimes, such as Nṛsiṁha, Rāma, Śeṣa and Kūrma, promotes one to the worship of the Saṅkarṣaṇa quadruple. From that position one is raised to the platform of worshiping Vāsudeva, the Supreme Brahman. In the Pauṣkara-saṁhitā it is said: 'If one fully worships according to the regulative principles, one can attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva.' It is to be accepted that Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are as good as Lord Vāsudeva, for They all have inconceivable power and can accept transcendental forms like Vāsudeva. Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are never born, but They can manifest Themselves in various incarnations before the eyes of pure devotees. This is the conclusion of all Vedic literature.
That the Lord can manifest Himself before His devotees by His inconceivable power is not against the teaching of the Pañcarātra. Since Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are actually the predominating Deities of all living entities, the total mind and the total ego, the descriptions of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha as jīva, mind and ego are never contradictory to the statements of the scriptures. These names identify these Deities, just as the terms 'sky' and 'light' sometimes identify the Absolute Brahman.
"The scriptures completely deny the birth or production of the living entity. In the Parama-saṁhitā it is described that material nature, which is used for others' purposes, is factually inert and always subject to transformation. The field of material nature is the arena of the activities of fruitive actors, and since the material field is externally related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is also eternal. In every saṁhitā, the jīva (living entity) has been accepted as eternal, and in the Pañcarātra the birth of the jīva is completely denied. Anything that is produced must also be annihilated.
Therefore if we accept the birth of the living entity, we also have to accept his annihilation. But since the Vedic literature says that the living entity is eternal, one should not think the living being to be produced at a certain time. In the beginning of the Parama-saṁhitā it is definitely stated that the face of material nature is constantly changeable. Therefore 'beginning,' 'annihilation' and all such terms are applicable only in the material nature.
"Considering all these points, one should understand that Śaṅkarācārya's statement that Saṅkarṣaṇa is born as a jīva is completely against the Vedic statements. His assertions are completely refuted by the above arguments. In this connection the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.1.34) is very helpful.
"For a detailed refutation of Śaṅkarācārya's arguments to prove Saṅkarṣaṇa an ordinary living being, one may refer to Śrīmat Sudarśanācārya's commentary on Śrī-bhāṣya, which is known as the Śruta-prakāśikā
The original quadruple forms Kṛṣṇa, Baladeva, Pradyumna and Aniruddha expand into another quadruple, which is present in the Vaikuṇṭha planets of the spiritual sky. Therefore the quadruple forms in the spiritual sky are the second manifestation of the original quadruple in Dvārakā. As explained above, Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are all changeless, transcendental plenary expansions of the Supreme Lord who have no relation to the material modes. The Saṅkarṣaṇa form in the second quadruple is not only a representation of Balarāma but also the original cause of the Causal Ocean, where Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu lies asleep, breathing out the seeds of innumerable universes.
In the spiritual sky there is a spiritual creative energy technically called śuddha-sattva, which is a pure spiritual energy that sustains all the Vaikuṇṭha planets with the full opulences of knowledge, wealth, prowess, etc. All these actions of śuddha-sattva display the potencies of Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa, who is the ultimate reservoir of all individual living entities who are suffering in the material world. When the cosmic creation is annihilated, the living entities, who are indestructible by nature, rest in the body of Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa is therefore sometimes called the total jīva. As spiritual sparks, the living entities have the tendency to be inactive in the association of material energy, just as sparks of a fire have the tendency to be extinguished as soon as they leave the fire. The spiritual nature of the living being can be rekindled, however, in association with the Supreme Being. Because the living being can appear either in matter or in spirit, the jīva is called the marginal potency.
Saṅkarṣaṇa is the origin of Kāraṇa Viṣṇu, who is the original form who creates the universes, and that Saṅkarṣaṇa is but a plenary expansion of Śrī Nityānanda RāmaBooks
: Sri Caitanya-caritamrta - 1975 Edition : Cc. Adi-lila : Adi 5: The Glories of Lord Nityananda Balarama : Adi 5.41 :
The purpose of the discussions in the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra is to philosophically establish the personal feature of the Absolute Truth. The impersonalists, however, in order to establish their philosophy, accept these discussions in terms of lakṣaṇā-vṛtti, or indirect meanings. Thus instead of being tattva-vāda, or in search of the Absolute Truth, they become Māyāvāda, or illusioned by the material energy. When Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī, one of the four ācaryas of the Vaiṣṇava cult, presented his thesis on the subject matter of śuddhādvaita-vāda, immediately the Māyāvādīs took advantage of this philosophy and tried to establish their advaita-vāda or kevalādvaita-vāda.
To defeat this kevalādvaita-vāda, Śrī Rāmānujācārya presented his philosophy as viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda, and Śrī Madhvācārya presented his philosophy of tattva-vāda, both of which are stumbling blocks to the Māyāvādīs because they defeat their philosophy in scrupulous detail. Students of Vedic philosophy know very well how strongly Śrī Rāmānujācārya's viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda and Śrī Madhvācārya's tattva-vāda contest the impersonal Māyāvāda philosophy. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, however, accepted the direct meaning of the Vedānta philosophy and thus defeated the Māyāvāda philosophy immediately. He opined in this connection that anyone who follows the principles of the Śārīraka-bhāṣya is doomed Books : Sri Caitanya-caritamrta - 1975 Edition : Cc. Adi-lila : Adi 7: Lord Caitanya in Five Features : Adi 7.110 : PURPORT
This verse indicates that oṁkāra, or praṇava, is a direct representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore if at the time of death one simply remembers oṁkāra, he remembers the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore immediately transferred to the spiritual world. Oṁkāra is the basic principle of all Vedic mantras, for it is a representation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, understanding of whom is the ultimate goal of the Vedas, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ).
Māyāvādī philosophers cannot understand these simple facts explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, and yet they are very proud of being Vedāntīs. Sometimes, therefore, we refer to the Vedāntī philosophers as Vidantīs, those who have no teeth (vi means "without," and dantī means "possessing teeth"). The statements of the Śaṅkara philosophy, which are the teeth of the Māyāvādī philosopher, are always broken by the strong arguments of Vaiṣṇava philosophers such as the great ācāryas, especially Rāmānujācārya. Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya and Madhvācārya break the teeth of the Māyāvādī philosophers, who can therefore be called Vidantīs, "toothless.
"Books : Sri Caitanya-caritamrta - 1975 Edition : Cc. Adi-lila : Adi 7: Lord Caitanya in Five Features : Adi 7.128 : TRANSLATION
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Sri Krsna Caitanya Prabhu Nityananda Sri Advaita
Gadadhara Srivasa adi Gaura Bhakta Vrinda
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare hare