Srimad-Bhagavatam > Canto 2 Chapter Nine Answers by Citing the Lord's Version
The Personality of Godhead said: Knowledge about Me as described in the scriptures is very confidential, and it has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service. The necessary paraphernalia for that process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully.(31)
All of Me, namely My actual eternal form and My transcendental existence, color, qualities and activities-let all be awakened within you by factual realization, out of My causeless mercy. (32)
Lord Brahmā is the topmost devotee of the Lord within the universe, and therefore the Personality of Godhead replied to his four principal inquiries in four important statements, which are known as the original Bhāgavatam in four verses. These were Brahmā's questions: (1) What are the forms of the Lord both in matter and in transcendence? (2) How are the different energies of the Lord working? (3) How does the Lord play with His different energies? (4) How may Brahmā be instructed to discharge the duty entrusted to Him? The prelude to the answers is this verse under discussion, wherein the Lord informs Brahmā that knowledge of Him, the Supreme Absolute Truth, as it is stated in the revealed scriptures, is very subtle and cannot be understood unless one is self-realized by the grace of the Lord. The Lord says that Brahmā may take the answers as He explains them. This means that transcendental knowledge of the absolute Supreme Being can be known if it is made known by the Lord Himself. By the mental speculation of the greatest mundane thinkers, the Absolute Truth cannot be understood. The mental speculators can reach up to the standard of impersonal Brahman realization, but, factually, complete knowledge of transcendence is beyond the knowledge of impersonal Brahman. Thus it is called the supreme confidential wisdom. Out of many liberated souls, someone may be qualified to know the Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also said by the Lord Himself that out of many hundreds of thousands of people, one may try for perfection in human life, and out of many liberated souls, one may know Him as He is. Therefore, the knowledge of the Personality of Godhead may be attained by devotional service only. Rahasyam means devotional service. Lord Kṛṣṇa instructed Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gītā because He found Arjuna to be a devotee and friend. Without such qualifications, one cannot enter into the mystery of the Bhagavad-gītā Therefore, one cannot understand the Personality of Godhead unless one becomes a devotee and discharges devotional service. This mystery is love of Godhead. Therein lies the main qualification for knowing the mystery of the Personality of Godhead. And to attain the stage of transcendental love of Godhead, regulative principles of devotional service must be followed. The regulative principles are called vidhi-bhakti, or the devotional service of the Lord, and they can be practiced by a neophyte with his present senses. Such regulative principles are mainly based on hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord. And such hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord can be made possible in the association of devotees only. Lord Caitanya therefore recommended five main principles for attaining perfection in the devotional service of the Lord. The first is association with devotees (hearing); second is chanting the glories of the Lord; third, hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the pure devotee; fourth, residing in a holy place connected with the Lord; and fifth, worshiping the Deity of the Lord with devotion. Such rules and regulations are parts of devotional service. So, as requested by Lord Brahmā, the Personality of Godhead will explain all about the four questions put forward by Brahmā, and others also which are parts and parcels of the same questions.
The secret of success in understanding the intricacies of knowledge of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is the causeless mercy of the Lord. Even in the material world, the father of many sons discloses the secret of his position to the pet sons. The father discloses the confidence unto the son whom he thinks worthy. An important man in the social order can be known by his mercy only. Similarly, one must be very dear to the Lord in order to know the Lord. The Lord is unlimited; no one can know Him completely, but one's advancement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord can make one eligible to know the Lord. Here we can see that the Lord is sufficiently pleased with Brahmājī, and therefore He offers His causeless mercy to him so that Brahmājī may have the factual realization of the Lord by His mercy only.
In the Vedas also it is said that a person cannot know the Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead simply by dint of mundane education or intellectual gymnastics. One can know the Supreme Truth if one has unflinching faith in the bona fide spiritual master as well as in the Lord. Such a faithful person, even though illiterate in the mundane sense, can know the Lord automatically by the mercy of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā also, it is said that the Lord reserves the right of not being exposed to everyone, and He keeps Himself concealed from the faithless by His yoga-māyā potency.
To the faithful the Lord reveals Himself in His form, quality and pastimes. The Lord is not formless, as wrongly conceived by the impersonalist, but His form is not like one that we have experienced. The Lord discloses His form, even to the extent of measurement, to His pure devotees, and that is the meaning of yāvān, as explained by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the greatest scholar of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The Lord discloses the transcendental nature of His existence. The mundane wranglers make mundane conceptions of the form of the Lord. It is said in the revealed scriptures that the Lord has no mundane form; therefore persons with a poor fund of knowledge conclude that He must be formless. They cannot distinguish between the mundane form and the spiritual form. According to them, without a mundane form one must be formless. This conclusion is also mundane because formlessness is the opposite conception of form. Negation of the mundane conception does not establish a transcendental fact. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord has a transcendental form and that He can utilize any one of His senses for any purpose. For example, He can eat with His eyes, and He can see with His leg. In the mundane conception of form, one cannot eat with one's eyes or see with his leg. That is the difference between the mundane body and the spiritual body of sac-cid-ānanda [Bs. 5.1]. A spiritual body is not formless; it is a different type of body, of which we cannot conceive with our present mundane senses. Formless therefore means devoid of mundane form, or possessing a spiritual body of which the nondevotee can have no conception by the speculative method.
The Lord discloses to the devotee His unlimited varieties of transcendental bodies, all identical with one another with different kinds of bodily features. Some of the transcendental bodies of the Lord are blackish, and some of them are whitish. Some of them are reddish, and some are yellowish. Some of them are four-handed and some of them two-handed. Some of them are like the fish, and some are like the lion. All these different transcendental bodies of the Lord, without any differential category, are disclosed to the devotees of the Lord by the mercy of the Lord, and thus the impersonalists' false arguments claiming the formlessness of the Supreme Truth do not appeal to a devotee of the Lord, even though such a devotee may not be very advanced in devotional service.
The Lord has unlimited numbers of transcendental qualities, and one of them is His affection for His unalloyed devotee. In the history of the mundane world we can appreciate His transcendental qualities. The Lord incarnates Himself for the protection of His devotees and for the annihilation of the faithless. His activities are in relationship with His devotees. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of such activities of the Lord in relationship with His devotees, and the nondevotees have no knowledge of such pastimes. The Lord lifted the Govardhana Hill when He was only seven years old and protected His pure devotees at Vṛndāvana from the wrath of Indra, who was overflooding the place with rain. Now this lifting of the Govardhana Hill by a seven-year-old boy may be unbelievable for the faithless, but for the devotees it is absolutely believable. The devotee believes in the almighty potency of the Lord, while the faithless say that the Lord is almighty but do not believe it. Such men with a poor fund of knowledge do not know that the Lord is the Lord eternally and that one cannot become the Lord by meditation for millions of years or by mental speculation for billions of years.
The impersonal interpretation of the mundane wranglers is completely refuted in this verse because it is clearly stated here that the Supreme Lord has His qualities, form, pastimes and everything that a person has. All these descriptions of the transcendental nature of the Personality of Godhead are factual realizations by the devotee of the Lord, and by the causeless mercy of the Lord they are revealed to His pure devotee, and to no one else.