- yathendriyaiḥ pṛthag-dvārair
- artho bahu-guṇāśrayaḥ
- eko nāneyate tadvad
- bhagavān śāstra-vartmabhiḥ
yathā—as; indriyaiḥ—by the senses; pṛthak-dvāraiḥ—in different ways; arthaḥ—an object; bahu-guṇa—many qualities; āśrayaḥ—endowed with; ekaḥ—one; nānā—differently; īyate—is perceived; tadvat—similarly; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; śāstra-vartmabhiḥ—according to different scriptural injunctions.
A single object is appreciated differently by different senses due to its having different qualities. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is one, but according to different scriptural injunctions He appears to be different.
It appears that by following the path of jñāna-yoga, or empiric philosophical speculation, one reaches the impersonal Brahman, whereas by executing devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness one enriches his faith in and devotion to the Personality of Godhead. But it is stated here that both bhakti-yoga and jñāna-yoga are meant for reaching the same destination—the Personality of Godhead. By the process of jñāna-yoga the same Personality of Godhead appears to be impersonal. As the same object appears to be different when perceived by different senses, the same Supreme Lord appears to be impersonal by mental speculation. A hill appears cloudy from a distance, and one who does not know may speculate that the hill is a cloud. Actually, it is not a cloud; it is a big hill. One has to learn from authority that the sight of a cloud is not actually a cloud but a hill. If one makes a little more progress, then instead of a cloud he sees the hill and something green. When one actually approaches the hill, he will see many varieties. Another example is in perceiving milk. When we see milk, we see that it is white; when we taste it, it appears that milk is very palatable. When we touch milk, it appears very cold; when we smell milk, it appears to have a very good flavor; and when we hear, we understand that it is called milk. Perceiving milk with different senses, we say that it is something white, something very delicious, something very aromatic, and so on. Actually, it is milk. Similarly, those who are trying to find the Supreme Godhead by mental speculation may approach the bodily effulgence, or the impersonal Brahman, and those who are trying to find the Supreme Godhead by yoga practice may find Him as the localized Supersoul, but those who are directly trying to approach the Supreme Truth by practice of bhakti-yoga can see Him face to face as the Supreme Person.
Ultimately, the Supreme Person is the destination of all different processes. The fortunate person who, by following the principles of scriptures, becomes completely purified of all material contamination, surrenders unto the Supreme Lord as everything. Just as one can appreciate the real taste of milk with the tongue and not with the eyes, nostrils or ears, one can similarly appreciate the Absolute Truth perfectly and with all relishable pleasure only through one path, devotional service. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: (BG 18.55) if one wants to understand the Absolute Truth in perfection, he must take to devotional service. Of course, no one can understand the Absolute Truth in all perfection. That is not possible for the infinitesimal living entities. But the highest point of understanding by the living entity is reached by discharge of devotional service, not otherwise.
By following various scriptural paths, one may come to the impersonal effulgence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The transcendental pleasure derived from merging with or understanding the impersonal Brahman is very extensive because Brahman is ananta. Tad brahma niṣkalaṁ anantam: brahmānanda is unlimited. But that unlimited pleasure can also be surpassed. That is the nature of the Transcendence. The unlimited can be surpassed also, and that higher platform is Kṛṣṇa. When one deals directly with Kṛṣṇa, the mellow and the humor relished by reciprocation of devotional service is incomparable, even with the pleasure derived from transcendental Brahman. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī therefore says that kaivalya, the Brahman pleasure, is undoubtedly very great and is appreciated by many philosophers, but to a devotee, who has understood how to derive pleasure from exchanging devotional service with the Lord, this unlimited Brahman appears to be hellish. One should try, therefore, to transcend even the Brahman pleasure in order to approach the position of dealing with Kṛṣṇa face to face. As the mind is the center of all the activities of the senses, Kṛṣṇa is called the master of the senses, Hṛṣīkeśa. The process is to fix the mind on Hṛṣīkeśa, or Kṛṣṇa, as Mahārāja Ambarīṣa did (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ (SB 9.4.18)). Bhakti is the basic principle of all processes. Without bhakti, neither jñāna-yoga nor aṣṭāṅga-yoga can be successful, and unless one approaches Kṛṣṇa, the principles of self-realization have no ultimate destination.