prakāśānanda śrīpāda sabhāte vasiyā
'vedānta' paḍāna bahu śiṣya-gaṇa lañā

 prakāśānanda - Prakāśānanda; śrīpāda - a great sannyāsī; sabhāte - in the assembly; vasiyā - sitting down; vedānta - Vedānta philosophy; paḍāna - instructs; bahu - many; śiṣya-gaṇa - disciples; lañā - taking.


There was a great Māyāvādī sannyāsī named Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, who used to teach Vedānta philosophy to a great assembly of followers.


Śrīpāda Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī was a Māyāvādī sannyāsī, and his characteristics have been described in Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa, chapter three):

‘hasta’, ‘pada’, ‘mukha’ mora nāhika ‘locana’
veda more ei-mata kare viḍambana
kāśīte paḍāya veṭā ‘prakāśa-ānanda’
sei veṭā kare mora aṅga khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa
vākhānaye veda, mora vigraha nā māne
sarvāṅge ha-ila kuṣṭha, tabu nāhi jāne
sarva-yajñamaya mora ye-aṅga — pavitra
‘aja’, ‘bhava’ ādi gāya yāṅhāra caritra
‘puṇya’ pavitratā pāya ye-aṅga-paraśe
tāhā ‘mithyā’ bale veṭā kemana sāhase

In the Madhya-khaṇḍa, chapter twenty, it is said:

sannyāsī ‘prakāśānanda’ vasaye kāśīte
more khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa veṭā kare bhāla-mate
paḍāya ‘vedānta’, mora ‘vigraha’ nā māne
kuṣṭha karāiluṅ aṅge, tabu nāhi jāne
‘satya’ mora ‘līlā-karma’, ‘satya’ mora ‘sthāna’
ihā ‘mithyā’ bale, more kare khān-khān

Being an impersonalist, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī used to explain the Absolute Truth as being without hands, legs, mouths or eyes. In this way he used to cheat the people by denying the personal form of the Lord. Such a foolish person was Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, whose only business was to sever the limbs of the Lord by proving the Lord impersonal. Although the Lord has form, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī attempted to cut off the hands and legs of the Lord. This is the business of demons. The Vedas state that people who do not accept the Lord’s form are rascals. The form of the Lord is factual, for Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ. When Kṛṣṇa says aham, He says “I am,” which means “I,” the person. He adds the word eva, which is used for conclusive verification. Thus by studying Vedānta philosophy one must come to know the Supreme Person. Whoever describes Vedic knowledge as impersonal is a demon. One becomes successful in life by worshiping the form of the Lord. The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs deny the form of the Lord, which delivers all fallen souls. Indeed, the Māyāvādī demons try to cut this form to pieces.

The Personality of Godhead is worshiped by exalted demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. The original Māyāvādī sannyāsī, Śaṅkarācārya, also accepted the fact that the Lord’s form is transcendental: nārāyaṇaḥ paro ’vyaktāt. “Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is beyond the avyakta, the unmanifested material energy.” Avyaktād aṇḍa-sambhavaḥ: “This material world is a creation of that unmanifested material energy.” However, Nārāyaṇa has His own eternal form, which is not created by the material energy. Simply by worshiping the form of the Lord, one is purified. However, Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are impersonalist philosophers, and they describe the form of the Lord as māyā, or false. How can one be purified by worshiping something false? Māyāvādī philosophers have no sufficient reason for being impersonalists. They blindly follow a principle that cannot be supported by reason or argument. This was the situation with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, the chief Māyāvādī sannyāsī of Benares. He was supposed to teach Vedānta philosophy, but he would not accept the form of the Lord; therefore he was attacked with leprosy. Nonetheless, he continued to commit sins by describing the Absolute Truth as impersonal. The Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, always displays pastimes and activities, but Māyāvādī sannyāsīs claim that these activities are false.

Some people falsely claim that Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī later became known as Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, but this is not a fact. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī was the uncle and spiritual master of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. In his gṛhastha life, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī was a resident of Śrī Raṅga-kṣetra, and he belonged to the Vaiṣṇava Rāmānuja-sampradāya. It is a mistake to consider Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī the same man.