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Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 7.24 states:

avyaktaḿ vyaktim āpannaḿ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ paraḿ bhāvam ajānanto mamāvyayam anuttamam

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 lack of knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.

How do Advaitins interpret the above verse? Whatever I have learned so far in Advaita is that all the forms of God are illusory and that only Nirguna Brahman is the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead (I may be wrong). However, this seems that the forms of God are real. Does Advaita not say that God is originally formless and only later He takes forms (I may be wrong again here as well)?

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However, this seems that the forms of God are real.

No, it doesn't mean that.

...was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality...

says that Brahman wasn't impersonal only before, he is still impersonal i.e the assumption of personality is wrong.

Actually the higher nature of Brahman is imperishable (From Kena Upanishad 2.3 to 2.8 Brahman is not the subject of/for mind, speech, eye etc. & from Taittariya Upanishad (2.4.1 and 2.9.1) यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते । अप्राप्य मनसा सह ।)

Anything is called Sat (सत्) only if it exist (and remains constant) in all the three periods of time (past,current & future) i.e त्रिकालाबाध सत्य. In Advaitin saying "Brahma Satyam" it also means that Brahman is not subjected to change or transformations. (Paramarthika level, GK 2.32) So, manifestation would be unreal.

I suggest you to read verse 8.20:

परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः।
यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति।।8.20।।

8.20 But distinct from that Unmanifested is the other eternal unmainfest Reality, who does not get destroyed when all beings get destroyed.

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You have to read the subsequent verse to understand verse 7.24

Bhagavad Gita, Commentary by Adi Shankara, Translated by Swami Gambhirananda:

The unintelligent, unaware of My supreme state which is immutable and unsurpassable, think of Me as the unmanifest that has become manifest. || 7.24

Being enveloped by yoga-maya, I do not become manifest to all. This deluded world does not know Me who am birthless and undecaying. || 7.25

Adi Shankara commentary on verse 7.25:

That yoga-maya, because of My being covered by which the world does not know Me - that yoga-maya, since it belongs to Me, does not obstruct the knowledge of Me who am God, the possessor of maya, just as the magic of any other magician does not cover his knowledge.

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You said " Whatever I have learned so far in Advaita is that all the forms of God are illusory and that only Nirguna Brahman is the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead (I may be wrong). "

Yes. All forms of Gods are illusory but only for the realized (or at absolute level), as per Advaita. When living in this world for normal jivas, world doesn't become illusion all of a sudden. For example, you can't live without eating food though world is unreal in reality. One must do their dharma (duties) based on their respective Varna and ashrama, when they are sadhakas or in unrealized state. As per Advaita Vedanta, in reality world is illusion but here unrealized know that fact (world is unreal at absolute or paramarthika level) but still they feel world as real. After realization, they know or feel world as illusion including all forms of Gods.

To understand in detail, read According to ShankarAchArya in Advaita, is the universe “unreal” or “unworthy”? and World is real even according to Advait Vedanta?. World is real at Vyavaharika level and unreal at Paramarthika level, as per Adishankara Advaita.

Bhagavad gita 7.24 says ignorants don't know Brahman's highest state which is immutable and unsurpassable.

Here is what Adi Shankara says on this.

7.24. The foolish regard Me as the unmanifested coming into manifestation, knowing not My higher, immutable, unsurpassed nature

Commentary: Not knowing my higher nature as the Supreme Self, the ignorant think that I have just now come into manifestation, having been unmanifested hitherto, though I am the ever luminous Lord. To what is their ignorance due ?—Listen

We must also know next verse to know proper meaning.

7.25. I am not manifest to all, veiled (as I am) by Yoga-Maya. This deluded world knows not Me, unborn and imperishable.

Commentary: I am not manifest to all people ; that is to say, I am manifest only to a few who are my devotees. I am veiled by Yoga- Maya.

Yoga- Maya is the Maya which is none other than the Yoga or union of the three gunas.—Or, Yoga is the firm will of the Lord or Isvara. The Illusion or veil thereby spread is called Yoga-Maya.—Wherefore people are deluded and know Me not as unborn and imperishable. That Yoga-Maya by which I am veiled and on account of which people do not recognise Me, is Mine, i. c, subject to My control, and, as such, it cannot obstruct My knowledge— the knowledge of the Isvara, of the possessor (or wielder) of the Maya, just as the glamour (maya) caused by a juggler (mayavin) does not obstruct his own knowledge. .

In 7.24, Krishna (Brahman) says His highest form or unmanifest form is not known to ignorants and also He says his true devotees only knows His manifest form and deluded people don't know His highest form, in next verse. This doesn't contradict World being unreal.

  • I am still unsatisfied – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Oct 9 '17 at 14:48
  • @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury what didn't you understand? – The Destroyer Oct 9 '17 at 14:49
  • I want to know whether Advaita says this: That God is originally impersonal and only later he takes a form. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Oct 9 '17 at 14:50
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Advaita does not say that. Advaita says that Brahman is always impersonal and Saguna Brahman is only true at the level of the phenomenal world. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Oct 9 '17 at 17:04
  • @PradipGangopadhyay Yeah. Nvm about this question. My doubt has been cleared. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Oct 9 '17 at 17:11
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Here Lord Krishna says that he is that (Paramatma)which has incarnated as physical bodies like Matsya, Varaha, Kurma, Vaman, Parshuram, Rama etc. The (Paramatma) which has manifested himself as physical body many times , those bodies have born and died many times..as mentioned in BG chapter 2 "Jatasya hi dhruvo mrutyu" Hence it's not correct to identify me as this body..Krishna is just name of this body, before that I've had many such bodies..Only intelligent knows this, deluded/ignorant can't perceive me in my pure form.

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    Welcome to hinduism site!! Whats the source for your answer? – Parabrahman Jyoti Mar 1 at 2:41

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