avyaktaḿ vyaktim āpannaḿ
manyante mām abuddhayaḥ
paraḿ bhāvam ajānanto
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 7.24
Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Those who are worshipers of demigods have been described as less intelligent persons, and here the impersonalists are similarly described. Lord Krishna in His personal form is here speaking before Arjuna, and still, due to ignorance, impersonalists argue that the Supreme Lord ultimately has no form. Yamunacarya, a great devotee of the Lord in the disciplic succession of Ramanujacarya, has written two very appropriate verses in this connection. He says,
tvam sila-rupa-caritaih parama-prakrstaih
sattvena sattvikataya prabalais ca shastraih
prakhyata-daiva-paramartha-vidam matais ca
naivasura-prakritayah prabhavanti boddhum
“My dear Lord, devotees like Vyasadeva and Narada know You to be the Personality of Godhead. By understanding different Vedic literatures, one can come to know Your characteristics, Your form and Your activities, and one can thus understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance, the demons, the nondevotees, cannot understand You. They are unable to understand You. However expert such nondevotees may be in discussing Vedanta and the Upanishads and other Vedic literatures, it is not possible for them to understand the Personality of Godhead.” (Stotra-ratna 12)
In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that the Personality of Godhead cannot be understood simply by study of the Vedanta literature. Only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord can the Personality of the Supreme be known. Therefore in this verse it is clearly stated that not only are the worshipers of the demigods less intelligent, but those nondevotees who are engaged in Vedanta and speculation on Vedic literature without any tinge of true Krishna consciousness are also less intelligent, and for them it is not possible to understand God’s personal nature. Persons who are under the impression that the Absolute Truth is impersonal are described as abuddhayah, which means those who do not know the ultimate feature of the Absolute Truth. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that supreme realization begins from the impersonal Brahman and then rises to the localized Supersoul—but the ultimate word in the Absolute Truth is the Personality of Godhead. Modern impersonalists are still less intelligent, for they do not even follow their great predecessor Shankaracarya, who has specifically stated that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Impersonalists, therefore, not knowing the Supreme Truth, think Krishna to be only the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, or a prince, or a powerful living entity. This is also condemned in the Bhagavad-gita (9.11). Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam: “Only the fools regard Me as an ordinary person.”
The fact is that no one can understand Krishna without rendering devotional service and without developing Krishna consciousness. The Bhagavatam (10.14.29) confirms this:
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan
“My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years.” One cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, or His form, quality or name simply by mental speculation or by discussing Vedic literature. One must understand Him by devotional service. When one is fully engaged in Krishna consciousness, beginning by chanting the maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—then only can one understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nondevotee impersonalists think that Krishna has a body made of this material nature and that all His activities, His form and everything are maya. These impersonalists are known as Mayavadis. They do not know the ultimate truth.
The twentieth verse clearly states, kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante ’nya-devatah. “Those who are blinded by lusty desires surrender unto the different demigods.” It is accepted that besides the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are demigods who have their different planets, and the Lord also has a planet. As stated in the twenty-third verse, devan deva-yajo yanti mad-bhakta yanti mam api: the worshipers of the demigods go to the different planets of the demigods, and those who are devotees of Lord Krishna go to the Krishnaloka planet. Although this is clearly stated, the foolish impersonalists still maintain that the Lord is formless and that these forms are impositions. From the study of the Gita does it appear that the demigods and their abodes are impersonal? Clearly, neither the demigods nor Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are impersonal. They are all persons; Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He has His own planet, and the demigods have theirs.
Therefore the monistic contention that ultimate truth is formless and that form is imposed does not hold true. It is clearly stated here that it is not imposed. From the Bhagavad-gita we can clearly understand that the forms of the demigods and the form of the Supreme Lord are simultaneously existing and that Lord Krishna is sac-cid-ananda, eternal blissful knowledge. The Vedas also confirm that the Supreme Absolute Truth is ananda-mayo ’bhyasat, or by nature full of blissful pleasure, and that He is the reservoir of unlimited auspicious qualities. And in the Gita the Lord says that although He is aja (unborn), He still appears. These are the facts that we should understand from the Bhagavad-gita. We cannot understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be impersonal; the imposition theory of the impersonalist monist is false as far as the statements of the Gita are concerned. It is clear herein that the Supreme Absolute Truth, Lord Krishna, has both form and personality.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
What to speak of the worshippers of the devata being foolish and not recognizing me, even those who study all the scriptures such as the Vedas do not know the truth about me. Lord Brahma has said to me:
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvaih bhagavan mahimno
na canya eko ‘pi ciram vicinvan
My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many year SB 10.14.29
Thus, apart from my devotees, everyone else is foolish regarding knowledge of me. With this intention he speaks this verse.
The unintelligent think that the formless brahman beyond the material world (avyaktim) has taken birth as myself in the house of Vasudeva (vyaktim) with an illusory form. What is visible is just an illusory form. This is because they do not know my transcendental state. They do not know that my form, birth, activities, and pastimes are beyond maya (mama param bhavam). What type of state is this? It is eternal (avyayam) and most excellent (anuttamam).
According to Medini, bhava means existence, nature, intention, endeavor, self, birth, action, pastime and meaning of a word. Sri Rupa Gosvami in his Bhagavatamrta has described this eternal nature of the Lord: the Lord’s form, qualities, birth, actions, and pastimes have no beginning and end. Sridhara Svami has said, “Bhavam means form, and avyayam means eternal. It is an eternal form of pure sattva.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
7.24 Ignorant people do not know My higher nature, immutable and unsurpassed. They do not know that it is I, who is worshipped through all rites, who is the Lord of all, and whose nature is beyond speech and mind, that has incarnated as the son of Vasudeva, without abandoning My divine nature, out of My supreme compassion and parental love for those who resort to Me and in order that I may be the refuge of all. They consider Me as only a worldly prince who was not manifest before and who has now become manifest by Karma and has secured a special form. Therefore, they do not resort to Me, nor do they worship Me. Why is He not manifest (to them)? Sri Krsna says:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
One may wonder if the concerted effort to ingratiate oneself to a lesser god or demigod of one’s choice is the same concerted effort as offering one’s devotion to the Supreme Lord; yet the result is so obviously a vast difference in rewards; then why doesn’t everyone worship Lord Krishna exclusively and abandon the worship of all other inferior gods. This question is answered by the word ajanantah meaning oblivious. They are unaware of Lord Krishna being totally transcendental to the material existence and beyond the phenomena of this phenomenal creation and regard His different avatars or incarnations as manifestations of prakriti or the material substratum comprising all existence. His Supreme Nature is eternal, immutable and unsurpassed. Therefore those who view the Supreme Lord whose form is made of pure spiritual energy and who by His will assumes various forms according to schedule for the protection of all the worlds and the devotees to be the same and equal to the material bodies of demigods which are acquired and fashioned as a result of reactions from previous activities is completely in ignorance and such dull-witted beings are incapable of worshipping the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations. Instead they worship lesser gods for quick results which are temporary and perishable and thus they stay bound in samsara the endless cycle of birth and death perpetually.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
What is so special that differentiates Lord Krishna from all other gods? He clarifies this by the word avyaktam meaning transcendent explaining by the words vyaktim apannam accepting a human like form for His lila or phenomenal pastimes. Superior and transcendental to prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence, He has never any actions to perform. The Supreme Lord who is eternally blissful is considered as having a spiritual body with personality, qualities and attributes. Therefore the Vedic scriptures have stated that without knowing the ultimate truth of the Supreme Lord’s existence everyone remains deluded.
Now begins the summation.
The Supreme Lord is transcendental to prakriti whereas the jiva or embodied living entity is not. Those who believe that there is equality between them or that there is a dependency shared between them surely in the next life go to the dark worlds of ignorance in obscurity.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
The question might be posed that if Lord Krishna is the only means for moksa or liberation from material existence and the best means for ultimate happiness then why does not everyone abandon the demigods and other lesser gods and with full faith worship Him alone, who is the Supreme Lord of all gods and the bountiful bestower of boundless blessings. Lord Krishna is beyond the perception of the physical mind and senses. The ignorant unaware of His Supreme, immutable, eternal transcendental nature are not qualified to percieve the Supreme Lord because they have not been graced by first approaching and then being accepted by the bonafide spiritual master in one of the four authorised Vedic lines of disciplic succession known as sampradayas as revealed in Vedic scriptures. The Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His Vedically authorised incarnations and expansions manifest themselves fully endowed with eternal transcendental qualities and attributes and are always the sole object of adoration from Brahma, Shiva and all the 33 million demigods. The Supreme Lord manifests Himself out of extreme affection and compassion for His devotees: but the ignorant unaware of the possibility for humans to have an actual relationship with Him, never worship Him wholeheartedly with love and devotion because they believe He has a human form, never realising He possesses a purely spiritual body which is immutable and eternal and transcendental to material existence. But the ignorant simply look at Him as a human being with exceptional powers who took birth as a ksatriya prince as the son of King Vasudeva of the lunar dynasty.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
7.24 Abuddhayah, the unintelligent, the non-discriminating ones; ajanantah, unaware; mama, of My; param, supreme; bhavam, state, My reality as the supreme Self; which is avyayam, immutable, undecaying; and anuttanam, unsurpassable; manyante, think; mam, of Me; as avyaktam, the unmanifest, the invisible; apannam, that has become; vyaktim, manifest, visible, at present [At present, after being embodied as an Incarnation.]-though I am the ever well-known God. They think so because they are unaware of My reality. This is the idea. What is the reason for their ignorance? This is being stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
7.24 Avyaktam etc. Becuase of their poor intellect, these [worshippers of other deities] do not at all recognise the unmanifest and ultimately true nature of Mine. On the contrary, they conceive Me merely as one, possessing only a manifest form with a particular knowledge and a particular innage nature, all suitable to their own desires. [They think] not otherwise. That is why, no name or form [of a deity] is insisted upon [by the Lord]. However, this is the established view [of the teachers of the school] in this regard : If a person holds fast to a specific form of a deity in order to get rid of desires, that [itself] results in his becoming pure and emancipated. If the case is reversed, [the result] would be a contrary one.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
avyaktam vyaktim apannam
manyante mam abuddhayah
param bhavam ajananto
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
avyaktam — nonmanifested; vyaktim — personality; āpannam — achieved; manyante — think; mām — Me; abuddhayaḥ — less intelligent persons; param — supreme; bhāvam — existence; ajānantaḥ — without knowing; mama — My; avyayam — imperishable; anuttamam — the ﬁnest.