Srimad Bhagavatam 11.28.06-07 - Events Leading to Krishna speaking Advaita Philosophy to Uddhava (download mp3)
by Narasimha Tirtha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
ātmaiva tad idaṁ viśvaṁ
sṛjyate sṛjati prabhuḥ
trāyate trāti viśvātmā
tasmān na hy ātmano ’nyasmād
anyo bhāvo nirūpitaḥ
nirūpite ’yaṁ tri-vidhā
nirmūlā bhātir ātmani
idaṁ guṇa-mayaṁ viddhi
tri-vidhaṁ māyayā kṛtam
The Supersoul alone is the ultimate controller and creator of this world, and thus He alone is also the created. Similarly, the Soul of all existence Himself both maintains and is maintained, withdraws and is withdrawn. No other entity can be properly ascertained as separate from Him, the Supreme Soul, who nonetheless is distinct from everything and everyone else. The appearance of the threefold material nature, which is perceived within Him, has no actual basis. Rather, you should understand that this material nature, composed of the three modes, is simply the product of His illusory potency.
The Absolute Truth, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, expands His external potency and thus creates the material cosmos. As with the sun globe and its expanded rays, the Lord and His expanded potency are simultaneously one and different. Although to conditioned souls material duality seems to be based on the modes of nature, the entire material manifestation is actually nondifferent from the Lord and is of one ultimately spiritual nature. The modes of nature create sense objects, demigods, human beings, animals, friends, enemies and so forth. But in reality, everything is simply an expansion of the potency of the Supreme Lord.
Foolishly, the conditioned soul tries to lord it over material nature, but the Lord Himself, being nondifferent from that nature, is its only true proprietor. In several places the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has given the example of the spider spinning its web by expanding thread from its own mouth. Similarly, through His own potency the Lord manifests the material world, maintains it and eventually withdraws it within Himself. Although the Lord is the unique Supreme Personality of Godhead, above everyone and everything, He is simultaneously and inconceivably nondifferent from everything. Therefore it is the Lord Himself who is manifested when the Lord creates, it is the Lord Himself who is maintained when the Lord maintains, and it is the Lord Himself who is withdrawn at the time of annihilation.
Although the Lord is nondifferent from both His spiritual abode and His material creation, still the spiritual abode, Vaikuṇṭha, is always superior to the material manifestation. Both matter and spirit are energies of the Lord, yet the spiritual energy is molded into the eternal forms of bliss and knowledge, whereas the temporary forms of matter are symbols of ignorance and frustration for the conditioned souls who covet them. The Supreme Lord is Himself the reservoir of all pleasure and is thus dear to His devotees. The presumption that the Lord cannot give us complete pleasure is due to our misidentifying Him as a product of the material modes of nature. As a result, we pursue false happiness in the deadly embrace of māyā and thus deviate from our eternal loving relationship with Lord Kṛṣṇa.