The Hindu Perspective

There is only one God. God manifests in many ways at different times and places and for different reasons. According to Vedanta, God manifests in three aspects: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. This is corroborated in the natural commentary on the sutras, Srimad Bhagavatam by the statement: Brahmeti paramatmeti Bhagavan it sabjate.... which says that God is realized by different transcendentalists as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. These three aspects of divinity are described in the Vedic literatures at 1) the all prevading plane of non-duality 2) the localized divine person residing in the heart of all living entities, and 3) The Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The Vendanta Sutras and the Upanishads establish all three aspects of divinity as eternal. One can logically ask, 'how can God be both impersonal (without form) and personal?' Only the Advaita school that follows Sankara Acharyas commentary on the Sutras denies the eternality of the personal aspect of God. All other commentators have accomodated both aspects of the divintiy following closely the text itself and the Upanishads upon which it is based. The Gaudiya Vaishnava school to which I belong posits the truth thusly- Achintya beda abeda tattva. The absolute truth is inconceivably (achintya)and simultaniously one with (abeda - techniclly, non-different) and different (beda) from us. He is a person and not a person, he has arms and legs and yet has none. Basically what is being said is that, God is a person, but not like us - not having a temporary material body full of duality. His body is fully spiritual, made of eternity, knowledge and bliss (Sat, Chit, Ananda).

There is, of course, much more to say in answer to your question, but I will leave it at that for now.

Yours in service,
Audarya-lila dasa