astiti nastiti ca vastu-nisthayor
aveksitam kiñcana yoga-sankhyayoh
samam param hy anukulam brhat tat
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
There are two parties — namely, the theists and the atheists. The theist, who accepts the Supersoul, finds the spiritual cause through mystic yoga. The Sankhyite, however, who merely analyzes the material elements, comes to a conclusion of impersonalism and does not accept a supreme cause — whether Bhagavan, Paramatma or even Brahman. Instead, he is preoccupied with the superfluous, external activities of material nature. Ultimately, however, both parties demonstrate the Absolute Truth because although they offer opposing statements, their object is the same ultimate cause. They are both approaching the same Supreme Brahman, to whom I offer my respectful obeisances.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Actually there are two sides to this argument. Some say that the Absolute has no form (nirakara), and others say that the Absolute has a form (sakara). Therefore the word form is the common factor, although some accept it (asti or astika) whereas others try to negate it (nasti or nastika). Since the devotee considers the word “form” (akara) the common factor for both, he offers his respectful obeisances to the form, although others may go on arguing about whether the Absolute has a form or not.
In this verse the word yoga-sankhyayoh is very important. Yoga means bhakti-yoga because yogis also accept the existence of the all-pervading Supreme Soul and try to see that Supreme Soul within their hearts. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.13.1), dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah. The devotee tries to come directly in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas the yogi tries to find the Supersoul within the heart by meditation. Thus, both directly and indirectly, yoga means bhakti-yoga. Sankhya, however, means physical study of the cosmic situation through speculative knowledge. This is generally known as jñana-sastra. The Sankhyites are attached to the impersonal Brahman, but the Absolute Truth is known in three ways. Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate: the Absolute Truth is one, but some accept Him as impersonal Brahman, some as the Supersoul existing everywhere, and some as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The central point is the Absolute Truth.
Although the impersonalists and personalists fight with one another, they focus upon the same Parabrahman, the same Absolute Truth. In the yoga-sastras, Krsna is described as follows: krsnam pisangambaram ambujeksanam catur-bhujam sankha-gadady-udayudham. Thus the pleasing appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s bodily features, His limbs and His dress are described. The sankhya-sastra, however, denies the existence of the Lord’s transcendental form. The sankhya-sastra says that the Supreme Absolute Truth has no hands, no legs and no name: hy anama-rupa-guna-pani-padam acaksur asrotram ekam advitiyam api nama-rupadikam nasti. The Vedic mantras say, apani-pado javano grahita: the Supreme Lord has no legs and hands, but He can accept whatever is offered to Him. Actually such statements accept that the Supreme has hands and legs, but deny that He has material hands and legs. This is why the Absolute is called aprakrta. Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has a sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, a form of eternity, knowledge and bliss, not a material form. The Sankhyites, or jñanis, deny the material form, and the devotees also know very well that the Absolute Truth, Bhagavan, has no material form.
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
“Krsna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.” The conception of the Absolute without hands and legs and the conception of the Absolute with hands and legs are apparently contradictory, but they both coincide with the same truth about the Supreme Absolute Person. Therefore the word vastu-nisthayoh, which is used herein, indicates that both the yogis and Sankhyites have faith in the reality, but are arguing about it from the different viewpoints of material and spiritual identities. Parabrahman, or brhat, is the common point. The Sankhyites and yogis are both situated in that same Brahman, but they differ because of different angles of vision.
The directions given by the bhakti-sastra point one in the perfect direction because the Supreme Personality of Godhead says in Bhagavad-gita, bhaktya mam abhijanati: “Only by devotional service am I to be known.” The bhaktas know that the Supreme Person has no material form, whereas the jñanis simply deny the material form. One should therefore take shelter of the bhakti-marga, the path of devotion; then everything will be clear. Jñanis concentrate on the virat-rupa, the gigantic universal form of the Lord. This is a good system in the beginning for those who are extremely materialistic, but there is no need to think continuously of the virat-rupa. When Arjuna was shown the virat-rupa of Krsna, he saw it, but he did not want to see it perpetually. He therefore requested the Lord to return to His original form as two-armed Krsna. In conclusion, learned scholars find no contradictions in the devotees’ concentration upon the spiritual form of the Lord (isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah). In this regard, Srila Madhvacarya says that less intelligent nondevotees think that their conclusion is the ultimate, but because devotees are completely learned, they can understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal.