The quadruple forms have a spiritual existence that can be realized in vasudeva-sattva (shuddha-sattva), or unqualified goodness, which accompanies complete absorption in the understanding of Vasudeva. The quadruple forms, who are full in the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are the enjoyers of the internal potency. Thinking the absolute Personality of Godhead to be poverty-stricken or to have no potency—or, in other words, to be impotent—is simply rascaldom. This rascaldom is the profession of the conditioned soul, and it increases his bewilderment. One who cannot understand the distinctions between the spiritual world and the material world has no qualification to examine or know the situation of the transcendental quadruple forms. In his commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.42–45, His Holiness Sripada Shankaracharya has made a futile attempt to nullify the existence of these quadruple forms in the spiritual world.
Shankaracharya says (sutra 42) that devotees think the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, Sri Krishna, to be one, to be free from material qualities and to have a transcendental body full of bliss and eternal existence. He is the ultimate goal of the devotees, who believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself into four other eternal transcendental forms—Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. From Vasudeva, who is the primary expansion, come Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha in that order. Another name of Vasudeva is Paramatma, another name of Shankarshana is jiva (the living entity), another name of Pradyumna is mind, and another name of Aniruddha is ahankara (false ego). Among these expansions, Vasudeva is considered the origin of the material nature. Therefore Shankaracharya says that Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha must be creations of that original cause.
Great souls assert that Narayana, who is known as the Paramatma, or Supersoul, is beyond material nature, and this is in accordance with the statements of the Vedic literature. Mayavadis also agree that Narayana can expand Himself in various forms. Shankara says that he does not attempt to argue that portion of the devotees’ understanding, but he must protest the idea that Shankarshana is produced from Vasudeva, Pradyumna is produced from Shankarshana, and Aniruddha is produced from Pradyumna, for if Shankarshana is understood to represent the living entities created from the body of Vasudeva, the living entities would have to be non-eternal. The living entities are supposed to be freed from material contamination by engaging in prolonged temple worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, reading Vedic literature and performing yoga and pious activities to attain the Supreme Lord. But if the living entities had been created from material nature at a certain point, they would be non-eternal and would have no chance to be liberated and associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a cause is nullified, its results are nullified. In the second chapter of the Vedanta-sutra’s second khanda, Acharya Vedavyasa has also refuted the conception that the living beings were ever born (natma shruter nityatvach cha tabhyar). Because there is no creation for the living entities, they must be eternal.
Shankaracharya says (sutra 43) that devotees think that Pradyumna, who is considered to represent the senses, has sprung from Shankarshana, who is considered to represent the living entities. But we cannot actually experience that a person can produce senses. Devotees also say that from Pradyumna has sprung Aniruddha, who is considered to represent the ego. But Shankaracharya says that unless the devotees can show how ego and the means of knowledge can generate from a person, such an explanation of the Vedanta-sutra cannot be accepted, for no other philosophers accept the sutras in that way.
Shankaracharya also says (sutra 44) that he cannot accept the devotees’ idea that Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are equally as powerful as the absolute Personality of Godhead, full in the six opulences of knowledge, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation, and free from the flaw of generation at a certain point. Even if They are full expansions, the flaw of generation remains. Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, being distinct individual persons, cannot be one. Therefore if They are accepted as absolute, full and equal, there would have to be many Personalities of Godhead. But there is no need to accept that there are many Personalities of Godhead, because acceptance of one omnipotent God is sufficient for all purposes. The acceptance of more than one God is contradictory to the conclusion that Lord Vasudeva, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. Even if we agree to accept that the quadruple forms of Godhead are all identical, we cannot avoid the incongruous flaw of non-eternity. Unless we accept that there are some differences among the personalities, there is no meaning to the idea that Shankarshana is an expansion of Vasudeva, Pradyumna is an expansion of Shankarshana, and Aniruddha is an expansion of Pradyumna. There must be a distinction between cause and effect. For example, a pot is distinct from the earth from which it is made, and therefore we can ascertain that the earth is the cause and the pot is the effect. Without such distinctions, there is no meaning to cause and effect. Furthermore, the followers of the Pancharatric principles do not accept any differences in knowledge and qualities between Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The devotees accept all these expansions to be one, but why should they restrict oneness to these quadruple expansions? Certainly we should not do so, for all living entities, from Brahma to the insignificant ant, are expansions of Vasudeva, as accepted in all the shrutis and smritis.
Shankaracharya also says (sutra 45) that the devotees who follow the Pancharatra state that God’s qualities and God Himself, as the owner of the qualities, are the same. But how can the Bhagavata school state that the six opulences—wisdom, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation—are identical with Lord Vasudeva? This is impossible.
In his Laghu-bhagavatamrita (Purva 5.165–193), Srila Rupa Gosvami has refuted the charges directed against the devotees by Sripada Shankaracharya regarding their explanation of the quadruple forms Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Rupa Gosvami says that these four expansions of Narayana are present in the spiritual sky, where They are famous as Mahavastha. Among Them, Vasudeva is worshiped within the heart by meditation because He is the predominating Deity of the heart, as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.3.23).
Shankarshana, the second expansion, is Vasudeva’s personal expansion for pastimes, and since He is the reservoir of all living entities, He is sometimes called jiva. The beauty of Shankarshana is greater than that of innumerable full moons radiating light beams. He is worshipable as the principle of ego. He has invested Anantadeva with all the potencies of sustenance. For the dissolution of the creation, He also exhibits Himself as the Supersoul in Rudra, in Adharma (the personality of irreligion), in sarpa (snakes), in Antaka (Yamaraja, the lord of death) and in the demons.
Pradyumna, the third manifestation, appears from Shankarshana. Those who are especially intelligent worship this Pradyumna expansion of Shankarshana as the principle of the intelligence. The goddess of fortune always chants the glories of Pradyumna in the place known as Ilavrita-varsha, and she always serves Him with great devotion. His complexion appears sometimes golden and sometimes bluish like new monsoon clouds in the sky. He is the origin of the creation of the material world, and He has invested His creative principle in Cupid. It is by His direction only that all men and demigods and other living entities function with energy for regeneration.
Aniruddha, the fourth of the quadruple expansions, is worshiped by great sages and psychologists as the principle of the mind. His complexion is similar to the bluish hue of a blue cloud. He engages in the maintenance of the cosmic manifestation and is the Supersoul of Dharma (the deity of religiosity), the Manus (the progenitors of mankind) and the devatas (demigods). The Moksha-dharma Vedic scripture indicates that Pradyumna is the Deity of the total mind, whereas Aniruddha is the Deity of the total ego, but previous statements regarding the quadruple forms are confirmed in the Pancharatra tantras in all respects.
In the Laghu-bhagavatamrita (Purva 5.86–100), there is a lucid explanation of the inconceivable potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Negating Shankaracharya’s statements, the Maha-varaha Purana declares:
sarve nityar shashvatash cha dehas tasya paratmanar
hanopadana-rahita naiva prakriti-jar kvachit “All the varied expansions of the Personality of Godhead are transcendental and eternal, and all of them repeatedly descend to all the different universes of the material creation. Their bodies, composed of eternity, bliss and knowledge, are everlasting; there is no chance of their decaying, for they are not creations of the material world. Their forms are concentrated spiritual existence, always complete with all spiritual qualities and devoid of material contamination.”
Confirming these statements, the Narada-pancaratra asserts:
manir yatha vibhagena nila-pitadibhir yutar
rupa-bhedam avapnoti dhyana-bhedat tathachyutar
“The infallible Personality of Godhead can manifest His body in different ways according to different modes of worship, just as the vaidurya gem can manifest itself in various colors, such as blue and yellow.” Each incarnation is distinct from all the others. This is possible by the Lord’s inconceivable potency, by which He can simultaneously represent Himself as one, as various partial forms and as the origin of these partial forms. Nothing is impossible for His inconceivable potencies.
Krishna is one without a second, but He manifests Himself in different bodies, as stated by Narada in the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
chitram bataitad ekena vapusha yugapat prithak
griheshu dvy-ashta-sahashram striya eka udavahat “It is wonderful indeed that one Krishna has simultaneously become different Krishnas in 16,000 palaces to accept 16,000 queens as His wives.” (SB. 10.69.2) The Padma Purana also explains:
sa devo bahudha bhutva nirgunar purushottamar
eki-bhuya punar shete nirdosho harir adi-krit
“The same Personality of Godhead, Purushottama, the original person, who is always devoid of material qualities and contamination, can exhibit Himself in various forms and at the same time lie down in one form.”
In the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, yajanti tvan-mayas tvam vai bahu-murty-eka-murtikam: “O my Lord, although You manifest Yourself in varieties of forms, You are one without a second. Therefore pure devotees concentrate upon You and worship only You.” (SB. 10.40.7) In the Kurma Purana it is said:
asthulash chananush chaiva sthulo ’nush chaiva sarvatar
avarnar sarvatar proktar shyamo raktanta-lochanar “The Lord is personal although impersonal, He is atomic although great, and He is blackish and has red eyes although He is colorless.” By material calculation all this may appear contradictory, but if we understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has inconceivable potencies, we can accept these facts as eternally possible in Him. In our present condition we cannot understand the spiritual activities and how they occur, but although they are inconceivable in the material context, we should not disregard such contradictory conceptions.
Although it is apparently inconceivable, it is quite possible for the Absolute to reconcile all opposing elements. Srimad-Bhagavatam establishes this in the Sixth Canto (6.9.34–37):
“O my Lord, Your transcendental pastimes and enjoyments all appear inconceivable because they are not limited by the causal and effective actions of material thought. You can do everything without performing bodily work. The Vedas say that the Absolute Truth has multifarious potencies and does not need to do anything personally. My dear Lord, You are entirely devoid of material qualities. Without anyone’s help, You can create, maintain and dissolve the entire qualitative material manifestation, yet in all such activities You do not change. You do not accept the results of Your activities, unlike ordinary demons and demigods, who suffer or enjoy the reactions of their activities in the material world. Unaffected by the reactions of work, You eternally exist with Your full spiritual potency. This we cannot fully understand.
“Because You are unlimited in Your six opulences, no one can count Your transcendental qualities. Philosophers and other thoughtful persons are overwhelmed by the contradictory manifestations of the physical world and the propositions of logical arguments and judgments. Because they are bewildered by word jugglery and disturbed by the different calculations of the scriptures, their theories cannot touch You, who are the ruler and controller of everyone and whose glories are beyond conception.
“Your inconceivable potency keeps You unattached to the mundane qualities. Surpassing all conceptions of material contemplation, Your pure transcendental knowledge keeps You beyond all speculative processes. By Your inconceivable potency, there is nothing contradictory in You.
“People may sometimes think of You as impersonal or personal, but You are one. For persons who are confused or bewildered, a rope may appear to manifest itself as different kinds of snakes. For similar confused persons who are uncertain about You, You create various philosophical methods in pursuance of their uncertain positions.”
We should always remember the differences between spiritual and material actions. The Supreme Lord, being all-spiritual, can perform any act without extraneous help. In the material world, if we want to manufacture an earthen pot, we need the ingredients, a machine and also a laborer. But we should not extend this idea to the actions of the Supreme Lord, for He can create anything in a moment without that which appears necessary in our own conception. When the Lord appears as an incarnation to fulfill a particular purpose, this does not indicate that He is unable to fulfill it without appearing. He can do anything simply by His will, but by His causeless mercy He appears to be dependent upon His devotees. He appears as the son of Yashodamata not because He is dependent on her care but because He accepts such a role by His causeless mercy. When He appears for the protection of His devotees, He naturally accepts trials and tribulations on their behalf.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the Lord, being equally disposed toward every living being, has no enemies and no friends but that He has special affection for a devotee who always thinks of Him in love. Therefore neutrality and partiality are both among the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and they are properly adjusted by His inconceivable energy. The Lord is Parabrahman, or the source of the impersonal Brahma, which is His all-pervading feature of neutrality. In His personal feature, however, as the owner of all transcendental opulences, the Lord displays His partiality by taking the side of His devotees. Partiality, neutrality and all such qualities are present in God; otherwise they could not be experienced in the creation. Since He is the total existence, all things are properly adjusted in the Absolute. In the relative world such qualities are displayed in a perverted manner, and therefore we experience non-duality as a perverted reflection. Because there is no logic to explain how things happen in the realm of spirit, the Lord is sometimes described as being beyond the range of experience. But if we simply accept the Lord’s inconceivability, we can then adjust all things in Him. Non-devotees cannot understand the Lord’s inconceivable energy, and consequently for them it is said that He is beyond the range of conceivable expression. The author of the Brahma-sutras accepts this fact and says, shrutes tu shabda-mulatvat: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being inconceivable to an ordinary man, can be understood only through the evidence of the Vedic injunctions. The Skanda Purana confirms, achintyar khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet: “Matters inconceivable to a common man should not be a subject for argument.” We find very wonderful qualities even in such material things as jewels and drugs. Indeed, their qualities often appear inconceivable. Therefore if we do not attribute inconceivable potencies to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we cannot establish His supremacy. It is because of these inconceivable potencies that the glories of the Lord have always been accepted as difficult to understand.
Ignorance and the jugglery of words are very common in human society, but they do not help one understand the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we accept such ignorance and word jugglery, we cannot accept the Supreme Lord’s perfection in six opulences. For example, one of the opulences of the Supreme Lord is complete knowledge. Therefore, how could ignorance be conceivable in Him? Vedic instructions and sensible arguments establish that the Lord’s maintaining the cosmic manifestation and simultaneously being indifferent to the activities of its maintenance cannot be contradictory, because of His inconceivable energies. To a person who is always absorbed in the thought of snakes, a rope always appears to be a snake, and similarly to a person bewildered by material qualities and devoid of knowledge of the Absolute, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears according to diverse bewildered conclusions.
Someone might argue that the Absolute would be affected by duality if He were both all-cognizance (Brahman) and the Personality of Godhead with six opulences in full (Bhagavan). To refute such an argument, the aphorism svarupa-dvayam ikshyate declares that in spite of appearances, there is no chance of duality in the Absolute, for He is but one in diverse manifestations. Understanding that the Absolute displays varied pastimes by the influence of His energies at once removes the apparent incongruity of His inconceivably opposite energies. Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.4.16) gives the following description of the inconceivable potency of the Lord:
karmany anihasya bhavo ’bhavasya te / durgashrayo ’thari-bhayat palayanam
kalatmano yat pramada-yutashrayar / svatman-rater khidyati dhir vidam iha
“Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead has nothing to do, He nevertheless acts; although He is always unborn, He nevertheless takes birth; although He is time, fearful to everyone, He flees Mathura in fear of His enemy to take shelter in a fort; and although He is self-sufficient, He marries 16,000 women. These pastimes seem like bewildering contradictions, even to the most intelligent.” Had these activities of the Lord not been a reality, sages would not have been puzzled by them. Therefore such activities should never be considered imaginary. Whenever the Lord desires, His inconceivable energy (yogamaya) serves Him in creating and performing such pastimes.
The scriptures known as the Pancharatra-shastras are recognized Vedic scriptures that have been accepted by the great acharyas. These scriptures are not products of the modes of passion and ignorance. Learned scholars and brahmanas therefore always refer to them as satvata-samhitas. The original speaker of these scriptures is Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is especially mentioned in the Moksha-dharma (349.68), which is part of the Shanti-parva of the Mahabharata. Liberated sages like Narada and Vyasa, who are free from the four defects of conditioned souls, are the propagators of these scriptures. Sri Narada Muni is the original speaker of the Pancharatra-shastra. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also considered a satvata-samhita. Indeed, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu declared, shrimad-bhagavatam puranam amalam: “Srimad-Bhagavatam is a spotless Purana.” Malicious editors and scholars who attempt to misrepresent the Pancharatra-shastras to refute their regulations are most abominable. In the modern age, such malicious scholars have even commented misleadingly upon the Bhagavad-gita, which was spoken by Krishna, to prove that there is no Krishna. How the Mayavadis have misrepresented the pancharatrika-vidhi will be shown below.
(1) In commenting on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.42, Sripada Shankaracharya has claimed that Shankarshana is a jiva, an ordinary living entity, but there is no evidence in any Vedic scripture that devotees of the Lord have ever said that Shankarshana is an ordinary living entity. He is an infallible plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Vishnu category, and He is beyond the creation of material nature. He is the original source of the living entities. The Upanishads declare, nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam: (Katha Upanishad 2.2.13) “He is the supreme living entity among all the living entities.” Therefore He is vibhu-chaitanya, the greatest. He is directly the cause of the cosmic manifestation and the infinitesimal living beings. He is the infinite living entity, and ordinary living entities are infinitesimal. Therefore He is never to be considered an ordinary living being, for that would be against the conclusion of the authorized scriptures. The living entities are also beyond the limitations of birth and death. This is the version of the Vedas, and it is accepted by those who follow scriptural injunctions and who have actually descended in the disciplic succession.
(2) In answer to Shankaracharya’s commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.43, it must be said that the original Vishnu of all the Vishnu categories, which are distributed in several ways, is Mula-shankarshana. Mula means “the original.” Shankarshana is also Vishnu, but from Him all other Vishnus expand. This is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita (5.46), wherein it is said that just as a flame transferred from another flame acts like the original, so the Vishnus who emanate from Mulashankarshana are as good as the original Vishnu. One should worship that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who thus expands Himself.
(3) In reply to the commentary of Shankaracharya on the forty-fourth aphorism, it may be said that no pure devotees strictly following the principles of the Pancharatra will ever accept the statement that all the expansions of Vishnu are different identities, for this idea is completely false. Even Sripada Shankaracharya, in his commentary on the forty-second aphorism, has accepted that the Personality of Godhead can automatically expand Himself variously. Therefore his commentary on the forty-second aphorism and his commentary on the forty-fourth aphorism are contradictory. It is a defect of Mayavada commentaries that they make one statement in one place and a contradictory statement in another place as a tactic to refute the Bhagavata school. Thus Mayavadi commentators do not even follow regulative principles. It should be noted that the Bhagavata school accepts the quadruple forms of Narayana, but that does not mean that it accepts many Gods. Devotees know perfectly well that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. They are never pantheists, worshipers of many Gods, for this is against the injunction of the Vedas. Devotees completely believe, with strong faith, that Narayana is transcendental and has inconceivable proprietorship of various transcendental potencies. We therefore recommend that scholars consult the Laghu-bhagavatamrita of Srila Rupa Gosvami, where these ideas are explicitly stated. Sripada Shankaracharya has tried to prove that Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha expand through cause and effect. He has compared Them with earth and earthen pots. That is completely ignorant, however, for there is no such thing as cause and effect in Their expansions (nanyad yat sad-asat-param). The Kurma Purana also confirms, deha-dehi-vibhedo ’yam neshvare vidyate kvachit: “There is no difference between body and soul in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Cause and effect are material. For example, it is seen that a father’s body is the cause of a son’s body, but the soul is neither cause nor effect. On the spiritual platform there are none of the differences we find in cause and effect. Since all the forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are spiritually supreme, They are equally controllers of material nature. Standing on the fourth dimension, They are predominating figures on the transcendental platform. There is no trace of material contamination in Their expansions because material laws cannot influence Them. There is no such rule as cause and effect outside of the material world. Therefore the understanding of cause and effect cannot approach the full, transcendental, complete expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vedic literature proves this:
om purnam adar purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavashishyate “The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.” (Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 5.1) It is most apparent that non-devotees violate the rules and regulations of devotional service to equate the whole cosmic manifestation, which is the external feature of Vishnu, with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the controller of maya, or with His quadruple expansions. Equating maya with spirit, or maya with the Lord, is a sign of atheism. The cosmic creation, which manifests life in forms from Brahma to the ant, is the external feature of the Supreme Lord. It comprises one fourth of the Lord’s energy, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (ekamshena sthito jagat [Bg. 10.42]). The cosmic manifestation of the illusory energy is material nature, and everything within material nature is made of matter. Therefore, one should not try to compare the expansions of material nature to the chatur-vyuha, the quadruple expansions of the Personality of Godhead, but unfortunately the Mayavadi school unreasonably attempts to do this.
(4) To answer Shankaracharya’s commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.45, the substance of the transcendental qualities and their spiritual nature is described in the Laghu-bhagavatamrita (Purva 5.208–214) as follows: “Some say that transcendence must be void of all qualities because qualities are manifested only in matter. According to them, all qualities are like temporary, flickering mirages. But this is not acceptable. Since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is absolute, His qualities are non-different from Him. His form, name, qualities and everything else pertaining to Him are as spiritual as He is. Every qualitative expansion of the absolute Personality of Godhead is identical with Him. Since the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure, all the transcendental qualities that expand from Him are also reservoirs of pleasure. This is confirmed in the scripture known as Brahma-tarka, which states that the Supreme Lord Hari is qualified by Himself, and therefore Vishnu and His pure devotees and their transcendental qualities cannot be different from their persons. In the Vishnu Purana Lord Vishnu is worshiped in the following words: ‘Let the Supreme Personality of Godhead be merciful toward us. His existence is never infected by material qualities.’ In the same Vishnu Purana it is also said that all the qualities attributed to the Supreme Lord, such as knowledge, opulence, beauty, strength and influence, are known to be non-different from Him. This is also confirmed in the Padma Purana, which explains that whenever the Supreme Lord is described as having no qualities, this should be understood to indicate that He is devoid of material qualities. In the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.16.29) it is said, ‘O Dharma, protector of religious principles, all noble and sublime qualities are eternally manifested in the person of Krishna, and devotees and transcendentalists who aspire to become faithful also desire to possess such transcendental qualities.’” It is therefore to be understood that Lord Sri Krishna, the transcendental form of absolute bliss, is the fountainhead of all pleasurable transcendental qualities and inconceivable potencies. In this connection we may recommend references to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Third Canto, Chapter Twenty-six, verses 21, 25, 27 and 28.
Sripada Ramanujacharya has also refuted the arguments of Shankara in his own commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, which is known as the Sri-bhashya:
“Sripada Shankaracharya has tried to equate the Pancharatras with the philosophy of the atheist Kapila, and thus he has tried to prove that the Pancharatras contradict the Vedic injunctions. The Pancharatras state that the personality of jiva called Shankarshana has emerged from Vasudeva, the supreme cause of all causes, that Pradyumna, the mind, has come from Shankarshana, and that Aniruddha, the ego, has come from Pradyumna. But one cannot say that the living entity (jiva) takes birth or is created, for such a statement is against the injunction of the Vedas. As stated in the Katha Upanishad (2.18), living entities, as individual spiritual souls, can have neither birth nor death. All Vedic literature declares that the living entities are eternal. Therefore when it is said that Shankarshana is jiva, this indicates that He is the predominating Deity of the living entities. Similarly, Pradyumna is the predominating Deity of the mind, and Aniruddha is the predominating Deity of the ego.
“It has been said that Pradyumna, the mind, was produced from Shankarshana. But if Shankarshana were a living entity, this could not be accepted, because a living entity cannot be the cause of the mind. The Vedic injunctions state that everything—including life, mind and the senses—comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is impossible for the mind to be produced by a living entity, for the Vedas state that everything comes from the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord.
“Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha have all the potent features of the absolute Personality of Godhead, according to the revealed scriptures, which contain undeniable facts that no one can refute. Therefore these members of the quadruple manifestation are never to be considered ordinary living beings. Each of Them is a plenary expansion of the Absolute Godhead, and thus each is identical with the Supreme Lord in knowledge, opulence, energy, influence, prowess and potencies. The evidence of the Pancharatras cannot be neglected. Only untrained persons who have not genuinely studied the Pancharatras think that the Pancharatras contradict the shrutis regarding the birth or beginning of the living entity. In this connection, we must accept the verdict of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which says, ‘The absolute Personality of Godhead, who is known as Vasudeva and who is very affectionate toward His surrendered devotees, expands Himself in quadruple forms who are subordinate to Him and at the same time identical with Him in all respects.’ The Paushkara-samhita states, ‘The scriptures that recommend that brahmanas worship the quadruple forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called agamas [authorized Vedic literatures].’ In all Vaishnava literature it is said that worshiping these quadruple forms is as good as worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, who in His different expansions, complete in six opulences, can accept offerings from His devotees of the results of their prescribed duties. Worshiping the expansions for pastimes, such as Nrisimha, Rama, Shesha and Kurma, promotes one to the worship of the Shankarshana quadruple. From that position one is raised to the platform of worshiping Vasudeva, the Supreme Brahman. In the Paushkara-samhita it is said, ‘If one fully worships according to the regulative principles, one can attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva.’ It is to be accepted that Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are as good as Lord Vasudeva, for They all have inconceivable power and can accept transcendental forms like Vasudeva. Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are never born, but They can manifest Themselves in various incarnations before the eyes of pure devotees. This is the conclusion of all Vedic literature. That the Lord can manifest Himself before His devotees by His inconceivable power is not against the teaching of the Pancharatras. Since Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are, respectively, the predominating Deities of all living entities, the total mind and the total ego, the designation of Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha as ‘jiva,’ ‘mind’ and ‘ego’ are never contradictory to the statements of the scriptures. These terms identify these Deities, just as the terms ‘sky’ and ‘light’ sometimes identify the Absolute Brahman.
“The scriptures completely deny the birth or production of the living entity. In the Parama-samhita it is described that material nature, which is used for others’ purposes, is factually inert and always subject to transformation. The field of material nature is the arena of the activities of fruitive actors, and since the material field is externally related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is also eternal. In every samhita, the jiva (living entity) has been accepted as eternal, and in the Pancharatras the birth of the jiva is completely denied. Anything that is produced must also be annihilated. Therefore if we accept the birth of the living entity, we also have to accept his annihilation. But since the Vedic literatures say that the living entity is eternal, one should not think the living being to be produced at a certain time. In the beginning of the Parama-samhita it is definitely stated that the face of material nature is constantly changeable. Therefore ‘beginning,’ ‘annihilation’ and all such terms are applicable only in the material nature.
“Considering all these points, one should understand that Shankaracharya’s statement that Shankarshana is born as a jiva is completely against the Vedic statements. His assertions are completely refuted by the above arguments. In this connection the commentary of Sridhara Svami on Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.1.34) is very helpful.”
For a detailed refutation of Shankaracharya’s arguments attempting to prove Shankarshana an ordinary living being, one may refer to Srimat Sudarshanacharya’s commentary on the Sri-bhashya, which is known as the Shruta-prakashika.
The original quadruple forms—Krishna, Baladeva, Pradyumna and Aniruddha—expand into another quadruple, which is present in the Vaikuntha planets of the spiritual sky. Therefore the quadruple forms in the spiritual sky are the second manifestation of the original quadruple in Dvaraka. As explained above, Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are all changeless, transcendental plenary expansions of the Supreme Lord who have no relation to the material modes. The Shankarshana form in the second quadruple is not only a representation of Balarama but also the original cause of the Causal Ocean, where Karanodakashayi Vishnu lies asleep, breathing out the seeds of innumerable universes.