Srimad Bhagavatam 11.22.11 - Theory of 25 Elements as a Preliminary understanding of Spiritual Knowledge (download mp3)
by Radha Dyuti Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
na vailaksanyam anv api
jñanam ca prakrter gunah
According to knowledge in the material mode of goodness, there is no qualitative difference between the living entity and the supreme controller. The imagination of qualitative difference between them is useless speculation.
According to certain philosophers there are twenty-five elements, among which a single category is stipulated for both the individual living entity and the Supreme Lord. Such impersonal knowledge is declared by the Lord to be material: jñanam ca prakrter gunah. Such knowledge can, however, be accepted to establish the qualitative identity of the Supreme Lord and the living entities who expand from Him. Materialistic persons sometimes believe that there is a supreme spirit in heaven but also think that human beings are identical with their material bodies and thus qualitatively and perpetually separated from the Supreme Lord. Knowledge of the Lord’s qualitative oneness with the living entity, as described in this verse, refutes the materialistic concept of life and partially establishes the Absolute Truth. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu described the actual situation as acintya-bhedabheda-tattva: the supreme controller and the controlled living entities are simultaneously one and different. In the material mode of goodness the oneness is perceived. As one proceeds further, to the stage of visuddha-sattva, or purified spiritual goodness, one finds spiritual variety within the qualitative oneness, completing one’s knowledge of the Absolute Truth. The words na vailaksanyam anv api boldly affirm that the individual living entity is indisputably part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and qualitatively one with Him. Any philosophical attempt to separate the living entity from the Supreme Lord and deny his eternal servitude to the Lord is thus refuted. Speculation arriving at the conclusion that the living entity has independent existence separate from the Lord is described here as apartha, useless. Nevertheless, the theory of twenty-five elements is acceptable to the Lord as a preliminary phase in the evolution of spiritual knowledge.