In brahma (advaita) realisation, there is a ‘mass’ of consciousness: ‘all-consciousness’. Then, the next step will come: the consciousness is of individual character – with deeper vision, individuality is added to consciousness. There is consciousness plus individuality. In fact, no consciousness can exist without individuality, without personality.
So, the consciousness is personal: personality and consciousness, they cannot be separated, one from the other. What is differentiated from personality, that is only the halo of the personality – it is something like that. And that ‘halo’, that brahma – is also the combination of minutest personality, of souls.
Substance is of two kinds: ksara, or changing, perishable; and aksara, unchanging, eternal.
In the Bhagavad-gita (15.16) Lord Krishna says: ksarah sarvani bhutani – whatever we see in the changing aspect of the world, that is called ksara. And what is unchangeable is called aksara.
Then, He says: yasmat ksaram atito 'ham… (Bhagavad-gita 15.18)
“My existence transcends both of these two substances, ksara – aksara. So, I am purusottamah – My name is ‘Purusottama’. My glories are sung in the world and in the scriptures, as Purusottama, the Supreme Person.”
‘Purusottama’ means Vasudeva (Krishna). So, bahunam janmanam ante...; after many births, when the jnanis, those of the impersonal school, come to understand that the Prime Cause of the consciousness of their quest is a personal one, then they come to conceive of Vasudeva. But such jnanis are very rarely to be found. Mostly, jnanis cannot cross this line. They are lost there.
(SB:10.2.32) (“O lotus-eyed Lord, although non-devotees who accept severe penances and austerities to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence remains impure. They simply speculate in various ways and do not seek the means to take shelter of You. Because they have no regard for Your lotus feet, they simply fall down from their position of imagined superiority into material existence again”).
Generally, it is the fate of the jnanis to climb up to the highest position with great effort, and then, when they cannot grasp that “consciousness means ‘person’” – they cannot cross that understanding – they have to revert back. They have to come back, fall back.
And for those who can cross this line, who can understand that: “Yes, consciousness means person – a Big Personality, I am small ....”, bhakti [devotion] begins there. The relation of subordination of the lower to the Higher, that comes into effect. And, sa mahatma sudurlabhah – such a person among the jnanis is very rarely to be found, who can take the positive connection of the higher aspect of life.
Mostly they come back, they have to come back from there. After much penance, they climb up to that high mark, but they cannot accommodate that “the higher Entity must be dealt with devotion”, so they have to come back.
Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj