Since time began, humankind has always sought answers to the big questions: life, death, God, free will, destiny, and so on. In 1930 members of the All-Theistic Conference tackled some of the biggest questions ever asked, presented here for our own reflection in the form of their agenda.


The All-Theistic Conference for the consideration of matters connected with the highest universal good will be in session at the Gaudiya Math from Friday Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, 1930. The Assembly will sit everyday in the evening from 7 to 9 P.M. The agenda of the topics is given below. The views of all sincere souls on them are earnestly solicited as they will be of great help for the purpose the conference have in view. With this object a list of questions bearing on various relevant topics is attached herewith for eliciting needful information. The undersigned will thankfully receive all communications from any person embodying the views of himself or of the particular religious community to which he belongs on the subjects to be considered by the conference, in the form of connected written statements which should reach them before the 17th Oct. 1930. The presence and participation of all persons at the Conference are also most cordially invited.

Sri Atul Chandra Bandyopadhyaya Bhaktisaranga Goswami,

Sri Nishi Kantal Sanyal (M.A., Bhaktisudhakar,

Sri Kunja Behari Vidyabhusan, Acharyyatrika, Bhagabat-ratna,


Regarding Reference—To consider the following by the analysis of the principles of cognition and non-cognition, viz, —the source, instruments, conclusion, corroboration and retention of knowledge (Epistemology).

Oct. 25
Regarding Reference—Enquiry regarding Self, Reality and Environment; differentia of non-self; regarding potency or non-potency of the absolute; specification of the subjective nature.

Oct. 26
Regarding Reference—The categories of object of worship and worshipper; the knowledge of real and non-real entities.

Oct. 27
Regarding Process—Different methods of quest generated by the sensuous impulse and the determination of their respective positions (general consideration of the following, viz.—conduct not regulated by any principle, fruitive action, knowledge, communion with the Oversoul, austerity and devotion.)

Oct. 28
Regarding Process—Different forms of intimate spiritual service.

Oct. 29
Regarding Process—The subjective nature of devotion.

Oct. 30
Regarding Object—The principle of spiritual need or determination of the highest object of endeavour.

Oct. 31
The solution of the issues of Reference, Process and Need by the analytical method.

The solution of the issues of Reference, Process and Need by the synthetic method.


  1. What is the subjective nature of the Knowledge of the Reality?
  2. What is the subjective nature of the Object of Knowledge?
  3. What is the measure of the duration of the maintenance of the existence of the object of knowledge?
  4. Who is knower? What are the analytical components of the knower?
  5. What is the nature of the relationship of the individual soul with perfect knowledge?
  6. Is full knowledge possible in the case of an individual soul? If not who is the possessor of full knowledge?
  7. Is it possible of the possessor of full knowledge to be subject to ignorance?
  8. What are the respective spans of life of the gross inhering entities of knowledge, object of knowledge, knower, and their corresponding subtle form?
  9. What are the quantity and degree of the difference between pure knowledge unadulterated with ignorance and consciousness subject to ignorance?
  10. What are the proper conceptions of God as Controller of the Universe, the individual soul, phenomenal Nature, Time and action?
  11. What is the duration of the relationship of the observer of the phenomenal world with the object of observation?
  12. What condition ensues, whether the state of absence or presence of knowledge, on the destruction of the triple texture; the cessation of observer, observed and observation; the unification of the nose, smell and odoriferous object, the elimination of distinction between the tongue, taste and mellowness?
  13. Is there any difference between the principles of matter and spirit? Or are they identical?
  14. Is there any distinction between the individual soul and Brahman (the Great)?
  15. Do both states viz. those of bondage and freedom exist in the case of the individual soul?
  16. What is the mutual distinction between the Brahman (the Great), Paramatma (the Oversoul) and Bhagawan (Possessor of all excellence)?
  17. Is there any constitutional difference between the Supreme Lord and His dependents and Super-dependents?
  18. What different kinds of miseries are suffered by the individual soul? Who undergoes the suffering? Is there any possibility of redemption from suffering?
  19. What is the location of the redeemed soul?
  20. In what states there exists harmonious and discordant relationship respectively between the real and perverted natures?
  21. Does the phenomenal world really exist?
  22. Is there any distinction between the phenomenal world and the realm of the absolute? If there be any, what is the nature of such distinction?
  23. What is your conception regarding the triple mundane quality and the absence of all mundane quality?
  24. What is the nature of the world located beyond the triple quality?
  25. Is the abode of the Brahman (Brahmapur) spoken of by the Upanishads eternal or transitory? Is it formless or distinguishable?
  26. What is your conception regarding the limiting energy? Is it eternal or temporary?—independent or dependent?—an entity or a non-entity?—shadow or substance?—If it be shadow, whose shadow is it?
  27. What is the final evidence of the Reality?
  28. What is the real significance of the Vedanta? Which of the mutually conflicting commentaries of the Vedanta appear to you to be safe to accept as consistent with the principles that are sought to be established?
  29. Are the Vedas, the Srutis, the Puranas, the Pancha-ratras different or identical in their significance? Is Purana different from the Veda?
  30. How are the conflicting views of the Tamasa, Rajasa Nirguna Sattwika, Puranas to be reconciled?
  31. If there is conflict between Srutis and Smritis the view of Sruti has to be accepted; if there is conflict in the determination of the significance of the Srutis the true meaning is to be sought in the Vedanta; If again there arise differences of opinion in regard to the meaning of the Vedanta which view is to be accepted as infallible?
  32. What is your opinion regarding appearance of the Divinity on the lower plane of physical phenomena (Avatara)? Is such appearance phenomenal and temporary? What is the difference between such appearance and its source? What is the nature of the source of Divine appearance?
  33. What is the significance of the expression ‘constituted of the principles of existence, cognition and bliss’? Is the entity so constituted featureless or distinguishable?
  34. Is Godhead one or many? If He be one can devatas be styled as ‘Supreme Lord of all Lords’?
  35. Do the infinite Name of Godhead and the various names of the devatas express one and the same meaning? Is there any such distinguishing consideration in regard to the Name of Godhead as ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’? Will the supreme object of the service of Godhead be realised by regarding the name of any devata as on eof the Names of Godhead?
  36. Is Godhead possessed of universal supremacy? Is the possessor of universal supremacy All-powerful? Can there be the absence of any power in the All-powerful? Can there be any poser opposing in the All-powerful?
  37. Is there any difference of body and possessor of body, function and possessor of function, in the Absolute?
  38. What is meant by Vedic mantra ‘He is verily Rasa’? What is the specific nature of the entity Rasa? How can the person designated by the Sruti mantra ‘He is verily Rasa’ be non-specifiable?
  39. Can the highest truth by settled by reasoning alone? What difficulty is experienced if the method of reasoning alone is adopted without admitting the evidence of transcendental sound?
  40. Is Godhead an Autocrat above all regulative principles and possessed of a perfectly independent will? Or, is He an improvised instrument of a particular brand for the realisation of temporarily stopping the mental function or the attainment of any object of desire? If He is proved to be fully self-willed is any evil to be ascribed to Him or is there any chance in Him of disorder?
  41. Are the Name, Form, Quality, specific Personality of His servitors and Pastimes of Godhead eternal or temporary? Are they different from one another or identical?
  42. Are the Name, Form, Quality, Pastimes of Godhead concocted by Jeeva, or are they spontaneous in Godhead? What is the difference between Leela (Divine Pastimes) and Karma (fruitive actions)? Is the birth of conditioned souls similar to the Advent of Godhead?
  43. What is the subjective nature of the object of worship? What also is the subjective nature of the worshipper? Are both of them eternal?
  44. Does the eternal nature of the worshipper suffer any abrogation by admission of difference between conditioned and liberated states?
  45. Can the seeker of the non-differentiated Brahman be regarded as eligible for the position of Teacher (Guru) in conformity with the dogma of illusion?
  46. What defects arise by admission of difference between Jeeva and the Brahman?
  47. How is it ascertainable that there is escape from the clutches of illusion by knowledge of the identity of Jeeva with Brahman?
  48. Is there any difference between material space and the corresponding spiritual manifestation? If there be any, what is the nature of the difference?
  49. Has the process of determining the Reality been evolved from the hypotheses of Anthropomorphism and Apotheosis as its source? If not, what is then the source?
  50. Is it condemnable to attribute motherhood, daughterhood, wifehood and sisterhood to the Divinity?
  51. Are the status of a male Lover, a Son, a Friend, a Master and absence of relativity respectively possible or impossible in the Divinity? If they are possible, how can it be so?
  52. In determining the Absolute, which of the following categories appears to you to be the nature of the real entity viz. Subject to doubt, unknowable, void, possessed of quality, devoid of attribute, Neuter, Male, Twin, Married couple and bonafide loving Consort?
  53. Are the Pastimes of Krishna a concoction of the mind? Or, are they a product of the natural blind faith of ignorant people?
  54. Is ‘Form’ attributable to the non-differentiated Brahman by mental concoction? Does Godhead come down into this phenomenal world by being adulterated with the limiting principle? Can His Divinity be maintained in doing so? Are the Pastimes of the Divinity allegories?


  1. How is knowledge obtained?
  2. What are the respective subjective natures of fruitive action, knowledge, communion with the Oversoul (yoga), austerity (Tapashya) and devotion or service?
  3. What is meant by inaction i.e. state where there is no aim at any fruition?
  4. Is there any appreciable difference between loving devotion and study of the Vedas, communion with the Personal Godhead, austerity and renunciation?
  5. Is there eternal difference between enjoyment (bhukti), liberation (mukti), and loving devotion (bhakti)?
  6. Where lies the origin or source of the propensities of lust, anger, etc? What is the difference between them and loving devotion? How can liberation be attained?
  7. Is the term “devotion” applicable to any other entity than the ultimate principle of complete Rasa specified by the Sruti in the mantra ‘He is verily Rasa’? Does the process of devotion manifest its nature as it is if the term is applied to the other devatas or to the material limiting Energy etc.?
  8. Is there any difference between the service of the unlimited entity and limited entity? And is the result of the service of these different entities different or the same?
  9. Describe the different planes where the knowledge of the undifferentiated Brahman, communion with the Oversoul and devotional service of Godhead as Possessor of all supremacy, retain their respective distinction and their adaptability.
  10. In what manner and to what extent can the method of argument based on sense-perception of mental speculationists be of use on the supersensuous plane?
  11. Can the eternally conditioned souls become ever free from their nature and liberate themselves forever?
  12. How can the quest of the ultimate desideratum be possible in this life?
  13. Is apathy to this world necessary? Can there be the gain of any eternal good by the abuse of either renunciation of the world or worldly attachment?
  14. Which of the following is admissible and on what grounds, viz. the theory of (1) one universal guru (spiritual guide), (2) saints as universal gurus, (3) so-called family gurus or customary gurus or gurus who desire any other object than the service of Godhead e.g. fruitive-worker guru, empirically wise guru, guru who is joined to the Oversoul, guru who practises mental control, guru who practises magic, guru who is a mortal?
  15. Is the theory of aversion to or denial of spiritual guide (guru) either avoidable or acceptable? On what grounds is it avoidable or acceptable, respectively?
  16. Is the theory of saints as spiritual guides liable to be swallowed up into that of a hereditary class?
  17. What arguments can be adduced respectively in favour of or in opposition to the theories of arriving at the Truth by the process of working up from the known to the unknown by the descent of the targeted Absolute to the plane of the knowable?
  18. In what portions and how does the system of exclusive monism differ from those of pure non-dualism (Suddhadwaitabad), distinctive monism (Vishistadwaitavad), dualism cum non-dualism (Dvaitadvaitavad) and pure dualism (Suddha Dvaitavad)? By what principle can their mutual conflict be satisfactorily reconciled?
  19. Is the principle of inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction only one of rival and opposing theories like the above? Is the term ‘inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction’ as applied to this system, deluding?
  20. Why and how do differences of opinion arise?
  21. What is the significance of the term ‘harmony’? Is it another name of assenting to all contending opinions of all persons? Is the Truth many or one?
  22. What harm is there in admitting the theory of metempsychosis? What good and harm in regard to the subject-matter of the summum-bonum accrue from ideas based on sensuous enjoyment and sensuous abnegation?
  23. If a concocted image is worshipped how does or can such worship reach the object of worship?
  24. What is your opinion or conclusion regarding Divine Descent in the form of symbolical image (archa)?
  25. Why does misery of the Jeeva arise? By what method may liberation from misery or appearance of the state of happiness be rendered possible?
  26. What should be the process of spiritual quest?
  27. In what manner is the social life of the religious to be led so as to be conducive to the highest good?
  28. Is the eternal good of society, world or individual secured by every kind of religious opinion current in the world? And, further, whether the measure of the good attained by every such opinion is the same? Which of the different bodies of religious opinion have been made by man and which of them has been made by Godhead?
  29. What is the meaning of sect and sectarianism? Are good and bad sectarianism identical? Is liberalism the habit of doing whatever one likes to do?
  30. What is your corroborative opinion regarding throwing oneself on the protection of the Holy Name? What is your judgement regarding admission or denial of the proposition that the necessity of all other forms of spiritual endeavour has been completely repudiated by the word ‘Kevalam’ in the text ‘Harer-namaiba Kebalam’?
  31. What is the subjective nature of egotism and humility respectively?
  32. What is your judgement regarding ‘following’ and ‘imitating’ the conduct of a sadhu? What is the respective gain by either process?
  33. Is fame acceptable? What fame is the most acceptable of all? What are the advantages and disadvantages connected with fame?
  34. In what manner is either of sport (vilas) and renunciation (virag), acceptable?
  35. In what manner should the solution of the problem of human life be effected?
  36. Is the superiority of religion measured by the majority of votes of the people?
  37. Is there any necessity of association with the devotees (Sadhus)? The elevationists, empiric sages, those who profess to be joined to the Over-soul (Yogis), performers of vows, those who practise control of the mind, who desire anything else than the service of Godhead,—are all of these sadhus? Whether the highest result of association with sadhus may be gained by associating with these persons?
  38. By which of the two viz. one’s own effort or mercy of Godhead may our desideratum be gained?
  39. What is your opinion regarding function in accordance with one’s varna (quality) and asrama (stage) and that of a paramahansa (one who has realised the vision of the unity of Divine Dispensation)?
  40. Who is called ‘paramahansa’? Is the state of ‘paramahansa’ attainable on the path of non-devotion?
  41. Which of the two, viz. function in accordance with varna and asrama and that of paramahansa, more eligible for the intimate service of Hari?
  42. Are varna and asrama the object of attainment of spiritual endeavour? Whether paramahansa is subject to varna and asrama? What is the satisfactory solution of the opposition between worldly life and asceticism?
  43. Under what kind of regulation may social conduct and relationship produce the maximum good of the world?
  44. What is your corroborative opinion about regulations regarding the funeral of the departed? What is the satisfactory solution of the conflict of opinion regarding funeral regulations represented respectively by the Brahman Charvaka and Jaimini?
  45. Who is to perform the funeral rite and of whom? By means of what materials is it to be performed?
  46. Should degrees of eligibility be considered? What is the final object of the consideration of difference of fitness?


  1. What is your impression regarding object or the ultimate end? Are attainment of svarga (heaven) gain of greater power, extinction, liberation and love,—all of these, the same?
  2. Which of the following viz. religious observance (dharma), utility (artha), satisfaction of sensuous desire (kam) or enjoyment of material entities which are non-God, or quest of the Brahman conceived as identical with oneself, is the eternal need of the jeeva?
  3. What is your idea regarding liberation (mukti)?
  4. Is there any distinction between love of Godhead and the four worldly goals (chaturvarga)?
  5. Are the attachment of animals and love of Godhead the same thing? Is the former the cause of the latter?
  6. Is love of Godhead inferior to its preliminary viz. the bliss of merging in the Brahman? What argument or scriptural evidence may be adduced on this point?
  7. Is there separate existence of enjoyer and object of enjoyment in Brahma-bliss? Is the joy of Brahma-bliss eternal or temporary?
  8. Is there any difference of degree in the object of spiritual endeavour due to differences of circumstances and fitness?
  9. What is the measure of the bliss of those whose minds are set on the unmanifested cause of the phenomenal world?
  10. Is there only difference of degree of misery, or does there also exist difference in the quality and nature of the objective, as between the methods of spiritual endeavour of those whose minds are set on unmanifested cause of phenomena, on manifested phenomena and on the active play of the pure cognitive principle, respectively?
  11. Is it possible to be in enjoyment of the bliss which is uninterrupted and attended with eternal and perfect knowledge by either of the alternative methods viz. the exercise of the worldly senses or allowing the mind to do whatever it likes?
  12. Is blissful activity of the principle of pure cognition admissible? What is the difference between spiritual and material blissful activity? Should one desist from the service of blissful activity of the principle of pure cognition by the realisation of the unwholesome nature of material pleasurable activities? What is the relation of the phenomenal world to the various blissful transcendental activities?
  13. What are the necessity and object of human life?
  14. If love of Godhead be the object of life, why do not the majority of people eagerly seek for the same?
  15. Are realisation of oneness with the Brahman and love of Godhead the same thing?
  16. Is the highest love (mahabhava) a kind of physical or mental disease?
  17. Are the results of both the real indication of love and similar indications acquired by mechanical practice of same, the identical?