raso ’ham apsu kaunteya
shabdah khe paurusam nrsu
O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.
Commentary by Srila Prabhupada
This verse explains how the Lord is all-pervasive by His diverse material and spiritual energies. The Supreme Lord can be preliminarily perceived by His different energies, and in this way He is realized impersonally. As the demigod in the sun is a person and is perceived by his all-pervading energy, the sunshine, so the Lord, although in His eternal abode, is perceived by His all-pervading diffusive energies. The taste of water is the active principle of water. No one likes to drink sea water, because the pure taste of water is mixed with salt. Attraction for water depends on the purity of the taste, and this pure taste is one of the energies of the Lord. The impersonalist perceives the presence of the Lord in water by its taste, and the personalist also glorifies the Lord for His kindly supplying tasty water to quench man’s thirst. That is the way of perceiving the Supreme. Practically speaking, there is no conflict between personalism and impersonalism. One who knows God knows that the impersonal conception and personal conception are simultaneously present in everything and that there is no contradiction. Therefore Lord Caitanya established His sublime doctrine: acintya bheda-and-abheda-tattva—simultaneous oneness and difference.
The light of the sun and the moon is also originally emanating from the brahmajyoti, which is the impersonal effulgence of the Lord. And pranava, or the omkara transcendental sound in the beginning of every Vedic hymn, addresses the Supreme Lord. Because the impersonalists are very much afraid of addressing the Supreme Lord Krishna by His innumerable names, they prefer to vibrate the transcendental sound omkara. But they do not realize that omkara is the sound representation of Krishna. The jurisdiction of Krishna consciousness extends everywhere, and one who knows Krishna consciousness is blessed. Those who do not know Krishna are in illusion, and so knowledge of Krishna is liberation, and ignorance of Him is bondage.
Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur
Just as I have entered into the universe, my effect, in the form as paramatma, also I exist in the form of the cause of those effects (as sound in ether), or in the form of the essence of those things (as in success in man). This is expressed in four verses. The water’s taste, which is its cause, is a manifestation of my power (vibhuti). Likewise one can find a similar meaning in the items following. I am light itself which gives light to the sun and moon. I am omkara, the source of the Vedas. I am sound in the ether, the cause of the ether. I am the distinguishing efforts (paurusam) of men, the essence of humans.