Monday, 14 May 2012

Is God a Person or a Reservoir of energy?

Q. In many lectures and discourses I have heard that just as we are persons, GOD is also a person. But I could not understand this concept as I as a soul have been in different bodies in different lifetimes. Does that mean that this personal theory applies only in the present lifetime since I am a person now?
Similarly how do we understand that Krishna is a person and not a reservoir of energy? Sometimes we are told that the concept of reciprocation is only  possible in case of GOD as a person but I think (please correct me if I am wrong) that in all the impersonal faith/religions, the seeker interacts with the impersonal energy (brahman if we may call it) and it reciprocates. So how come reciprocation is just a feature of the personal theory? I am confused, please help.

According to Vaishnava philosophy, both the living entity and Supreme Lord are eternally persons. This is confirmed by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. (BG 2.12)

Your confusion appears to be founded on a preconceived idea that "Soul" is impersonal, and in the human body alone it assumes personality. In reality, the soul or jiva is a person always, regardless of what body he enters in conditional life. The soul has his original, eternal form which is unaffected by the material body.
We can know for certain that God is a Person by hearing His own description of Himself, which is the most authoritative and conclusive. Krishna repeatedly confirms unequivocally that He is a person.

“Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.” (BG 7.24)

“Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect.

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that  discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (BG 12.2,12.5)

“I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman <>, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness.” (BG 14.27)

“O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real *face* is covered by Your dazzling impersonal effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.” (Isopanishad 15)
...and numerous such direct assertions leave no room for misinterpretation.

By hearing directly from the Supreme Lord with faith, we can become free from all doubts. Hearing from unauthorized interpreters who have no perfect knowledge leads to confusion and bewilderment. Due to their faulty and incomplete understandings, their spiritual-sounding philosophy is fraught with inconsistencies. The idea of reciprocation from impersonal energy is one such example.

It is quite misleading to speak of interaction with an impersonal energy, and furthermore reciprocations from such an energy. Practically, we have no such experience in any sphere of life where an inert energy can either perceive or reciprocate. As soon as we speak of reciprocation, we are dealing with perception, feelings, qualities - someone perceives your desires or inquisitiveness, hears your prayers, feels your distress and sincerity of purpose; and that entity must feel pleased and impelled to reciprocate, which implies that entity has feelings like compassion, kindness etc. It is unreasonable to consider something that is endowed with so many characteristics, feelings, perception, knowledge etc -- all of which make up the very definition of personality – as simply a featureless, formless energy. Krishna is the basis of the impersonal energy which is but His bodily effulgence, and because He is the reservoir of all good qualities, He reciprocates with every living entity out of His boundless mercy, just as they approach Him.

- HH Romapada Swami

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