Gaudiyas believe in an impersonal brahman aspect of Absolute Truth.

BG 14. 27

brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham

I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman

Hari Vamsa, Visnu Parva 114:

tat param paramam brahma sarvam vibhajate jagat mamaiva tad ghanam tejo jnatum arhasi bharata

That supreme brahman illuminates the whole universe. You should know that the condensed light belongs to me.

Taken from https://www.bhagavad-gita.us/bhagavad-gita-14-27/

How is it different from nirguna brahman of Advaitins or are they synonymous?

  • Excellent question!!!! I think they say Nirguna Brahman is nothing but Brahman of Vaishnavas is spiritual light – Parabrahman Jyoti Jan 29 '19 at 2:40
  • @AkshayS do you mean that they believe that Advaita nirguna brahman is light of Krishna? – user16895 Jan 29 '19 at 2:46
  • The Gaudiya version of impersonal Brahman is simply the effulgence of Krishna. And they don't use the term "Nirguna" to describe it. – user9969 Jan 29 '19 at 6:19

Brahman has multiple meanings. As shown from the verse quoted in the question, it is effulgence of Krishna's body. But it also refers to unqualified absolute or what you termed as impersonal brahman. Then it is very close to Advaita Nirguna brahman with some difference.

SB 1.2.11:

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jñAnam advayam brahmeti paramAtmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate

Knowers of reality declare that reality to be nondual consciousness, called “Brahman,” “Paramatma,” and “Bhagavan.”

Jiva Goswami recognizes the fact that the three designations are often used interchangeably in texts; the BhAgavata mentions them here in order to indicate their primary significance. The selection of names is not arbitrary; the verse does not, for example, give “living entity” (jiva) as a name of the nondual reality. Nor is the order in which the names appear random. The BhAgavata PurAna is indicating a hierarchy of forms from Brahman to Bhagavan, based on the degree of revelation.


Bhagavan is the complete manifestation of the nondual reality and, indeed, identifiable with it. In him, all the inherent energies (saktis) of the Supreme are clearly visible—beauty, power, wisdom, majesty, abode, and associates.


Then, depending on the degree to which the fullness of the Lord’s glory is hidden, he is known as either Brahman or Paramatma.

When Bhagavan’s energies are manifest in a partial way, mainly in regard to directing material nature ( prakrti) and the living entities ( jivas), he is known as Paramatma—the inner controller, inspirer, and support of the cosmos.


"When his attributes are totally unmanifest, he is known as Brahman—the undifferentiated, unqualified, and impersonal Absolute."


“That which is not qualified, and which shines because it is pure consciousness,know it to be Brahman.”

It is important to observe that the hierarchy proceeds “top-down” rather than “bottom-up.”

That is, although Brahman in this scheme appears very similar to the qualityless (nirguna) Brahman of the Advaitins, in fact, Brahman here is not the essential, most fundamental form of Reality, upon which various attributes must be “added” in order to “get to” Bhagavan. Rather, Bhagavan in all his fullness is the starting point for the Gaudiya concept of the Supreme. Brahman is Bhagavan, but with the splendor and glory supressed.

However, in non-conventional usage Brahman refers to Krishna.

In his instructions to Sanatana Gosvami at Kasi, Caitanya explains the implications of the “vadanti” verse:

The word “Brahman” refers to Svayam Bhagavan, who is one consciousness without a second, and without whom there is nothing else. “Knowers of reality declare that reality to be nondual consciousness, called ‘Brahman,’ ‘Paramatma,’ and ‘Bhagavan.’” That nondual reality is Krsna, Bhagavan himself. He exists in all three phases of time (past, present, and future). This is evident from the scriptures. . . . The word “AtmA” refers to Krsna. His nature is greatness [brhattva]. He is all pervading, the witness of everything, and the supreme form . . . Although the words “Brahman” and “AtmA” refer to Krsna, by conventional usage they refer to the Undifferentiated [nirviSesa] and the Inner Controller [antaryAmI], respectively.

Ref: Chaitanya Vaishnava Vedanta by Ravi M Gupta.

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    I do not think you answer the question. You just explain what the impersonal brahman is according to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. – Wikash_ Apr 24 '19 at 10:35
  • @Wikash_hindu it answers. it is same, diffence being the hierarchy. I have put statements in bold. – Krishna Varna Apr 24 '19 at 10:43

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