As it is well known, ISKCON (and other Vaishnavas for that matter) strongly criticize philosophy of Advaita. Srila Prabhupada himself criticized Mayavada in his various commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures-

"The Mayavadis say that the world created by maya is false, and that actually there is no living entity but only one spiritual effulgence. They further say that God is imaginary, that people think of God only because of ignorance, and that when the Supreme Absolute Truth is befooled by the external energy, maya, He becomes a jiva, or living entity. Upon hearing all these nonsensical ideas from the nondevotee, a devotee is greatly afflicted, as if his heart and soul were broken." Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 2:99

But at the same time Srila Prabupada said BrahmanVada is permitted in Vedas( But non-dual moksha is impermanent unlike Vaikuntha) as evident here. which says-

Therefore they, these Brahmavādīs, these Nirākāravādī, although by austerities and penances they may rise up to the Brahman effulgence, still, they will fall down. Because we are living entities, we want varieties of enjoyment. We are not satisfied in void, in zero. That is not possible.  Lecture on SB 1.2.18 -- Calcutta, September 26, 1974

He even said that the Four Kumaras followed BrahmanVada.

My question is What is the difference between Brahmanvada and Mayavada?


As this site mentions,

A brahmavadi is one who is tattva-vit, as defined in the shastras
vadanti ttva vidas tattvam yaj jNaanam advayam brahmeti paramaatmeti bhagavaan iti Sabdyate Those who are tattva-vit understand that the Absolute Truth has three nondual features, namely Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. The mayavadis on the other hand say that the Absolute Truth is Brahman alone, and that Bhagavan is simply Brahman covered by illusion. Therefore they are known as the maya-vadis, because they believe Brahman gets covered by illusion. Brahmavadi means one who understands that all three features are the nondual Absolute, and he is therefore attracted to the Brahman feature. But such a brahmavadi never commits the offense of saying that the Bhagavan feature is coverd by illusion. He perfectly understands the three features of the Absolute Truth to be nondual and non-material. ekameva adviteeyam brahma “There is certainly only one Brahman, there are not two”. This Brahman is described by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita: mayatatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta murtina mat stani sarvabhutani na caham tesvavastitah The Absolute Truth does have form, but Krishna says “avyakta murtina”, it is His unseen form. Therefore Brahman has form, but we cannot see it because we are in duality. The spiritual form is beyond our material vision.

As we can conclude from the above lines,A Brahmavadi is one who believes in Nirguna (Brahman) aspect of Brahman but doesn't rule out Sagun(Ishwar) aspect of Brahman as illusory or Maya.

Mayavadis, on the contrary believes that Saguna Brahman or Ishwar is illusory or Maya and their ultimate goal is to realize Nirguna or impersonal aspect of Brahman.

In short, A BrahmanVadi is one who (like mayavadi) is attracted to impersonal aspect of God but never insults Ishwar(Krishna) by calling Him maya.MayaVadi on the other hand considers Ishwar as maya and Nirguna Brahman as final goal.

  • 2
    This answer misrepresents the Advaita view of Ishwara. – commonman Feb 11 at 16:16
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    This answer is from gaudiya vaishnava perspective obviously they have different views on Ishwar from advatins. – Rishx Feb 12 at 5:02
  • The site from which i have copied this answer is from Gaudiya Vaishnava perspective...it doesn't matter if it is against advaita notion of Ishwara. – Rishx Feb 12 at 5:12
  • @Partha yes...in vaishnavas considering Lord as Maya is considered a greatest sin one can commit – Rishx Feb 12 at 14:01
  • @Partha i agree these distinction i have found in Srila Prabhupada works..As he was founder acharya of ISKCON and clearly an authority for his devotees...i guess we can only find this distinction in his words – Rishx Feb 12 at 14:03

There is no Real difference between "Brahmavada" and "Mayavada" according to the view subscribed by ISKCON.

The ISKCON authorities did NOT write any separate commentary of the Prasthanatrayi and so we must discuss the difference in light of teachings of Sri Chaitanyadeva, who is the deity of ISKCON.

Sri Chaitanyadeva unfortunately did not write any commentary but He supports Srimad-Bhagabatam'. Following that scripture, He that the same Advaya Tattwa is named Brahman, Atma and Bhagavan. "Advaya-jnana tattvavastu krishner swarup". The 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam focuses on Bhakti and the 11th focuses on Jnana.Even in the 10th canto,sloka 88, we get

Harirhi nirguno sakshat purushah praketah parah/ sa sarvadrig upadeshta ram bhajan nirguno bhavet

meaning that Lord Hari is Nirguna and who worshio Him also becomes Nirguna. This is what was the teaching of Adi Sankara also.

Sri Chaitanyadeva is not a dvaitavadi, but an Achintyavedaavedavaadi. If the Tattwa is originally Advaita, the Supreme becomes Dvaita only for "leela-rasa-aswadana" using that "Anirvachaniyaa Shakti" which Adi Sankara differently termed as Maya.

Only from the 'Paramarthika' view-point, Adi Sankara accepted the Oneness of Brahma and Jiva. Sri Chaitanya also accepts the oneness of Radha and Krishna. So "Anirvachaniya" seems just a different expression of "Achintya".

Adi Sankara did accept "Upasana" for "Chitta-suddhi" and so there is no difference between Brahmavada and Mayavada (Sankara never used the term Mayavada) from a practical viewpoint.

May be Sankar's real philosophy got lost by limitations of His followers and Upasana became neglected.So Sri Chaitanyadeva appeared to teach the love of God or Iswara Upasana with more emphasis for yuga-prayojana.

So the difference is only superficial, not real.

Regarding the comments made in Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita against the Nivisesha Advaitavada andJnanamarga, Swami Saradeshananda writes

  1. We can doubt about their existence in the originals.They can be interpolations.

  2. We have to judge whether these were actually told by Sri Chaitanyadeva Himself or are mere opinions of the writer.

  3. At the time the book was written, none of the direct disciples of Mahaprabhu were alive. To keep the sect totally uninfluenced by the other sects,and establish themselves as 'Achintyavedaavedavadi Sect',such comments were possibly written.

  4. To nourish and preach the path of Prema-Bhakti, such comments against other sects are quite natural. (Reference: Sri Sri Chaitanyadeva, Swami Saradeshananda, Udbodhan, page 29).

(Reference: Please read Sri Chaitanyadeva by Swami Saradeshananda publushed by Udbodhan for a beautiful analysis of this topic)

  • 1
    Again ...Iskcon does follow Govinda bhasya.. which was written after chaitanya..u r right Chaitanya considered srimad bhagvatam as the natural commentary on vedas.All you are trying to do is equating Sri Chaitanya views with that of Adi Sankara..my questions clearly says about belief of iskcon if Sri chaitanya didn't made any distinction and Distinction was made by Prabupada u should at least clarify that.. either ways your answer is not giving ISKCON views in this matter... – Rishx Feb 12 at 5:10

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