SB 1.2 - Bhagavān, the original and ultimate aspect of the Absolute Truth

The word bhagavān may be understood by defining its syllables. Bha means ‘bhartā’, the maintainer and nourisher of devotees. Ga means gamayayitā, the leader of the devotees, or the original creator of the devotees’ good qualities. Va stands for the verb vas, to reside – all material elements and living beings reside in the Lord, and He resides in the hearts of all conditioned souls. Bhaga also means the six opulences. Thus Kṛṣṇa is known as Bhagavān because He possesses all opulences in full as well as the qualities bha, ga and va.

Bhagavān is the Lord’s original, primal nature. The great sages who seek the truth with thorough philosophical analysis have concluded that the Supreme truth is Lord Nārāyaṇa. Rāmānuja confirms that the one Supreme Lord is Nārāyaṇa. He is transcendental, self manifest and sinless. The earth, the soul, the unmanifest pradhāna, and the imperishable Brahman are all His body. He is the Supersoul present in all creatures. Thus the Bhagavān feature is the ultimate aspect of the Absolute truth.

The Supreme Truth is self-sufficient, cognizant and free from the illusion of relativity. In the relative world the knower, the living spirit, is different from the known, inert matter. Therefore there is a duality of inferior and superior energy. But in the Absolute Truth both the knower and the known are one and the same thing, both spirit, and thus there is no duality. There is no difference between the energy and energetic, but there is a difference of quality of energies. The absolute realm and the living entity are of the same superior energy, but the material world is inferior energy. The sense of relativity in the material world is because the living being in contact with the inferior energy is illusioned, thinking he belongs to the inferior energy. In the Absolute there is no such difference between the knower and the known.

Though the Lord is situated within and without in various forms of pure consciousness with two or four hands, and though there is eternally a difference between Himself and the jīva as the served and servant, He is still advaya or one. The word advayam negates any conception of difference since one must consider non difference between the Lord and His energies, spiritual actions and abodes.

The jñānī who selects the general form of the Lord is qualified for Brahman. The yogī who accepts the Lord as the soul within all beings, who possesses qualities, and who is different from the jīva, is qualified for realizing Paramātmā. The devotee who accepts the Lord – who possesses an inconceivable and infinite form of knowledge and bliss with infinite qualities and pastimes – is qualified for realizing Bhagavān. Actually He alone exists. Kṛṣṇa is the basis of Brahman (BG 14.27) and He pervades the universe by His one portion, Paramātmā (BG 10.42).

The worshipers of Brahman and Paramātmā do not attain prema, and thus it can be seen that Bhagavān is the root of the other forms, though Bhagavān is both Brahman and Paramātmā. The yogī is superior to the jñānī, but the worshiper of Bhagavān is superior to the yogī as confirmed in Bhagavad gītā (6.46-47).