Mayavada / Impersonalism / Sahajiya

Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has left behind Him Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā. Not referring to these authorized scriptures, rascals take shelter of man-made scriptures and try to compete with Lord Kṛṣṇa. That is the greatest difficulty one encounters when trying to promote spiritual consciousness in human society. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying its best to bring people back to Kṛṣṇa consciousness in its pure form, but the pāṣaṇḍīs and atheists, who are cheaters, are so numerous that sometimes we become perplexed and wonder how to push this movement forward. In any case, we cannot accept the unauthorized ways of so-called incarnations, gods, cheaters and bluffers, who are described here as crows, vultures, buzzards and herons. )sb 5.14.29 purport)

Prabhupada: Ah. So this is our one of the items, to vanquish all these rascals, so-called swamis. They say that “Why you criticize others also?” Because we have to vanquish them. Now these people cannot rise. When there is sunrise, there is no use of these glowworms. So this Krsna consciousness movement is Krsna Himself. Therefore they must be finished, all over the world. So-called religionists, so-called philosophers, so-called avataras, swamis, yogis–finished. Our program should be like that. (break) …all these rascals, anymore to flourish. That is one of our program.(Morning Walk Excerpts May 2, 1974, Bombay)


King Vena, the father of Pṛthu Mahārāja, was condemned by the brāhmaṇas and saintly persons because of his denying the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and rejecting the method of satisfying Him by performance of Vedic sacrifice. In other words, he was an atheist, who did not believe in the existence of God, and who consequently stopped all Vedic ritualistic ceremonies in his kingdom. Pṛthu Mahārāja considered King Vena’s character abominable because Vena was foolish regarding the execution of religious performances. Atheists are of the opinion that there is no need to accept the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be successful in religion, economic development, sense gratification or liberation. According to them, dharma, or religious principles, are meant to establish an imaginary God to encourage one to become moral, honest and just so that the social orders may be maintained in peace and tranquillity. Furthermore, they say that actually there is no need to accept God for this purpose, for if one follows the principles of morality and honesty, that is sufficient. Similarly, if one makes nice plans and works very hard for economic development, automatically the result of economic development will come. Similarly, sense gratification also does not depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for if one earns enough money by any process, one will have sufficient opportunity for sense gratification. Insofar as liberation is concerned, they say that there is no need to talk of liberation because after death everything is finished. Pṛthu Mahārāja, however, did not accept the authority of such atheists, headed by his father, who was the grandson of death personified. Generally, a daughter inherits the qualities of her father, and a son gets the qualities of his mother. Thus Mṛtyu’s daughter, Sunīthā, got all the qualities of her father, and Vena inherited the qualities of his mother. A person who is always subjected to the rules and regulations of repeated birth and death cannot accommodate anything beyond materialistic ideas. Since King Vena was such a man, he did not believe in the existence of God. Modern civilization agrees with the principles of King Vena, but factually if we scrutinizingly study all the conditions of religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, we must accept the principles of the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to Vedic literature, religion consists only of the codes of law given by God.

If one does not accept the authority of the Supreme Godhead in matters of religion and morality, one must explain why two persons of the same moral standard achieve different results. It is generally found that even if two men have the same moral standards of ethics, honesty and morality, their positions are still not the same. Similarly, in economic development it is seen that if two men work very hard day and night, still the results are not the same. One person may enjoy great opulence without even working, whereas another person, although working very hard, does not even get two sufficient meals a day. Similarly, in the matter of sense gratification, sometimes one who has sufficient food is still not happy in his family affairs or sometimes is not even married, whereas another person, even though not economically well off, has the greatest opportunity for sense gratification. Even an animal like a hog or a dog may have greater opportunities for sense gratification than a human being. Aside from liberation, even if we consider only the preliminary necessities of life—dharma, artha and kāma (religion, economic development and sense gratification)—we will see that they are not the same for everyone. Therefore it must be accepted that there is someone who determines the different standards. In conclusion, not only for liberation must one depend on the Lord, but even for ordinary necessities in this material world. Pṛthu Mahārāja therefore indicated that in spite of having rich parents, children are sometimes not happy. Similarly, in spite of valuable medicine administered by a competent physician, sometimes a patient dies; or in spite of having a big safe boat, sometimes a man drowns. We may thus struggle to counteract impediments offered by material nature, but our attempts cannot be successful unless we are favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (SB 4.21.30 purport)


Lord Śiva, speaking to Pārvatī-devī, foretold that he would spread the Māyāvāda philosophy in the guise of a sannyāsī brāhmaṇa just to eradicate Buddhist philosophy. This sannyāsī was Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya. In order to overcome the effects of Buddhist philosophy and spread Vedānta philosophy, Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya had to make some compromise with the Buddhist philosophy, and as such he preached the philosophy of monism, for it was required at that time. Otherwise there was no need for his preaching Māyāvāda philosophy. At the present moment there is no need for Māyāvāda philosophy or Buddhist philosophy, and Lord Caitanya rejected both of them. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading the philosophy of Lord Caitanya and rejecting the philosophy of both classes of Māyāvādī. Strictly speaking, both Buddhist philosophy and Śaṅkara’s philosophy are but different types of Māyāvāda dealing on the platform of material existence. Neither of these philosophies has spiritual significance. There is spiritual significance only after one accepts the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, which culminates in surrendering unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally people worship Lord Śiva for some material benefit, and although they cannot see him personally, they derive great material profit by worshiping him. (sb 4.24.17 purport)

Full explanation

The Māyāvādī philosophers in particular make certain hypotheses about the Absolute Truth. They reason that in the material world we experience that everything is created. If we trace the history of anything, we find a creator. Therefore there must be a creator of this huge cosmic manifestation. By such reasoning they come to the conclusion that a higher power has created this cosmic manifestation. The Māyāvādīs do not accept this great power to be a person. Their brains cannot accommodate the fact that this huge cosmic manifestation can be created by a person. They doubt this because as soon as they think of a person, they think of a person within the material world with limited potency. Sometimes theMāyāvādī philosophers will accept Lord Kṛṣṇa or Lord Rāma as Bhagavān, but they think of the Lord as a person having a material body. The Māyāvādīs do not understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, has a spiritual body. They think of Kṛṣṇa as a great personality, a human being, within whom there is the supreme impersonal power, Brahman. Therefore they finally conclude that the impersonal Brahman is the Supreme, not the personality Kṛṣṇa. This is the basis ofMāyāvādī philosophy. However, from the śāstras we can understand that the Brahman effulgence is the bodily rays ofKṛṣṇa:

yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-
kotiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam
tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi

“I serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, the primeval Lord, the effulgence of whose transcendental body is known as the brahmajyoti. That brahmajyoti, which is unlimited, unfathomed and all-pervasive, is the cause of the creation of unlimited numbers of planets with varieties of climates and specific conditions of life.” (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.40)

Māyāvādī philosophers study the Vedic literature, but they do not understand that the Absolute Truth in the last stage of realization is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. They do accept the fact that there is a creator of this cosmic manifestation, but that is anumāna (hypothesis). The Māyāvādī philosopher’s logic is something like seeing smoke on a hill. When there is a forest fire on a high hill, smoke is first of all visible. The smoke is created when there is fire. Just as one can conclude that there is fire from seeing smoke, from seeing this cosmic manifestation the Māyāvādī philosophers conclude that there must be a creator.

The disciples of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya wanted evidence to show that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was actually the creator of the cosmic manifestation. Only then would they accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original cause of creation. Gopīnātha Ācārya replied that one could not understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by guesswork. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.25):

nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya
mūḍho ‘yaṁ nābhijānāti
loko mām ajam avyayam

“I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency[yogamāyā]; and so the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible.” (Bg. 7.25) The Supreme Personality of Godhead reserves the right of not being exposed to nondevotees. He can only be understood by bona fide devotees. LordKṛṣṇa says elsewhere in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.55), bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: “One can understand Me only by the devotional process.” In the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā (4.3) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, bhakto ‘si me sakhā ceti rahasyaṁhy etad uttamam. Here Lord Kṛṣṇa informs Arjuna that He is disclosing the secrets of Bhagavad-gītā to him because he is His devotee. Arjuna was not a sannyāsī, nor was he a Vedāntist or brāhmaṇa. He was, however, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. The conclusion is that we have to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead from the devotees. Śrī CaitanyaMahāprabhu Himself says, guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja. (Cc. Madhya 19.151)

More evidence can be cited to show that without the mercy of a devotee or the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one cannot understand what is Kṛṣṇa and what is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in the next verse.

Cc Madhya 6.81 purport

Greatest offenders to Lord Krishna

The Māyāvādī philosophers stress the statements tat tvam asi, so ‘ham, etc., but they do not stress the real mahā-mantra, praṇava (oṁkāra). Therefore, because they misrepresent Vedic knowledge, they are the greatest offenders to the lotus feet of the Lord. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says clearly, māyāvādī kṛṣṇe aparādhī: “Māyāvādī philosophers are the greatest offenders to Lord Kṛṣṇa.” Lord Kṛṣṇa declares:

tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān
saṁsāreṣu narādhamān
kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān
āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu

“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among mankind, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Bg. 16.19) Life in demoniac species awaits the Māyāvādī philosophers after death because they are envious of Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.34), man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me”), one demoniac scholar says that it is not Kṛṣṇa to whom one must surrender. This scholar is already suffering in this life, and he will have to suffer again in the next if in this life he does not complete his prescribed suffering. One should be very careful not to be envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the next verse, therefore, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu clearly states the purpose of the Vedas. (CC ADI 7.130 purport)


To describe a man as an incarnation of God, or Nārāyaṇa, and at the same time present him as poverty-stricken is contradictory, and it is the greatest offense. The Māyāvādī philosophers, engaged in the missionary work of spoiling the Vedic culture by preaching that everyone is God, describe a poverty-stricken man as daridra-nārāyaṇa, or “poor Nārāyaṇa.” Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu never accepted such foolish and unauthorized ideas. He strictly warned, māyāvādi-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa: “Anyone who follows the principles of Māyāvāda philosophy is certainly doomed.” Such a fool needs to be reformed by punishment.

Although it is contradictory to say that the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His incarnation is poverty-stricken, we find in the revealed scriptures that when the Lord incarnated as Vāmana, He begged some land from Mahārāja Bali. Everyone knows, however, that Vāmanadeva was not at all poverty-stricken. His begging from Mahārāja Bali was a device to favor him. When Mahārāja Bali actually gave the land, Vāmanadeva exhibited His all-powerful position by covering the three worlds with three steps. One should not accept the so-called daridra-nārāyaṇas as incarnations because they are completely unable to show the opulence of the genuine incarnations of God. (CC ADI 12.35 purport)


Those who desire liberation by merging into the existence of God do not desire sense gratification within the material world. On the other hand, they have no information about serving the lotus feet of the Lord. Consequently, they are doomed to stand like trees for many thousands of years. Although trees are living entities, they are nonmoving. The liberated soul who merges into the existence of the Lord is no better than the trees. Trees also stand in the Lord’s existence because material energy and the Lord’s energy are the same. Similarly, the Brahman effulgence is also the energy of the Supreme Lord. It is the same whether one remains in the Brahman effulgence or in the material energy because in either there is no spiritual activity. (cc/madhya/8/255 purport)


A liberated person who hears about the loving affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is not inclined to have lusty desires. One mundane rogue once said that when the Vaiṣṇavas chant the name “Rādhā, Rādhā,” he simply remembers a barber’s wife named Rādhā. This is a practical example. Unless one is liberated, he should not try to hear about the loving affairs between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. If one is not liberated and listens to a relation of the rāsa dance, he may remember his mundane activities and illicit connections with some woman whose name may also be Rādhā. In the conditioned stage one should not even try to remember such things. By practicing the regulative principles, one should rise to the platform of spontaneous attraction for Kṛṣṇa. Then and only then should one hear about rādhā-kṛṣṇa-līlā. Although these affairs may be very pleasing both to conditioned and to liberated souls, the conditioned soul should not try to hear them. The talks between Rāmānanda Rāya and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are conducted on the platform of liberation. (cc madhya/8/255 purport)

This is the process for writing transcendental literature. A sentimentalist who has no Vaiṣṇava qualifications cannot produce transcendental writings. There are many fools who consider kṛṣṇa-līlā to be a subject of art and write or paint pictures about the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs, sometimes depicting them in a manner practically obscene. These fools take pleasure in material sense gratification, but one who wants to make advancement in spiritual life must scrupulously avoid their literature. Unless one is a servant of Kṛṣṇa and the Vaiṣṇavas, as Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī presents himself to be in offering respects to Lord Caitanya, His associates and His disciples, one should not attempt to write transcendental literature. (CC ADI 9.4 purport)

Prabhupada: These sahajiyas will come out of so many devotees. What can be done? From my Guru Maharaja’s disciples, so many sahajiyas came. These are called sahajiyas. Very easily they capture thing. So my Guru Maharaja used to say, “When my disciples will be sahajiya, it will be more dangerous.” He used to say like that. Take things very easily.” (Room Conversation — January 28, 1977, Bhuvanesvara)

Gradual steps of realizing the Absolute Truth – example given

People in general, who are under the influence of avidyā-śakti, or māyā, have neither knowledge nor devotion. But when a person who is a little advanced and is therefore called a jñānī advances even more, he is in the category of a jñāna-miśra-bhakta, or a devotee whose love is mixed with empiric knowledge. When he is still further advanced, he can realize that the Absolute Truth is a person with multienergies. An advanced devotee can understand the Lord and His creative energy. As soon as one accepts the creative energy of the Absolute Truth, the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are also understood. Devotees who are still further advanced, in full knowledge, can understand the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. Only on that platform can one fully enjoy transcendental bliss. An example is given in this connection by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura of a person proceeding towards a destination. As he approaches, he sees the destination from a distant place, just as we see a city from a distance. At that time he simply understands that the city is situated at a distance. When, however, he comes still nearer, he sees the domes and flags. But as soon as he enters the city, he sees various paths, gardens, lakes, and marketplaces with shops, and persons buying. He sees varieties of cinema houses, and he sees dancing and jubilation. When a person actually enters the city and personally sees the activities of the city, he becomes satisfied. (S.B. 4.9.16 purport)

Karmīs and jñānīs

Anyone who is a not a Vaiṣṇava, or an unalloyed devotee of the Supreme Lord, must be a materialist. A Vaiṣṇava living according to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s injunctions is certainly not on the materialistic platform. Caitanya means “spiritual force.” All of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s activities were carried out on the platform of spiritual understanding; therefore only those who are on the spiritual platform are able to understand the activities of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Materialistic persons who cannot are generally known as karmīs or jñānīs. The jñānīs are mental speculators who simply try to understand what is spirit and what is soul. Their process is neti neti: “This is not spirit, this is not Brahman.” The jñānīs are a little more advanced than the dull-headed karmīs, who are simply interested in sense gratification. Before becoming a Vaiṣṇava, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a mental speculator (jñānī), and being such, he always cut jokes with Vaiṣṇavas. A Vaiṣṇava never agrees with the speculative system of the jñānīs. Both the jñānīs and karmīs depend on direct sense perception for their imperfect knowledge. The karmīs never agree to accept anything not directly perceived, and the jñānīs put forth only hypotheses. However, the Vaiṣṇavas, the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, do not follow the process of acquiring knowledge by direct sense perception or mental speculation. Because they are servants of the Supreme Lord, devotees receive knowledge directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He speaks it in the Bhagavad-gītā, or sometimes as He imparts it from within as the caitya-guru. (cc madhya 7.66 purport)