Some relationships are chronological, others are ontological.

An example of a chronological relationship is “Flavor comes (mainly) from chewing.” The order in the relationship is sequential, chronological – first chew, then experience flavor.

An example of an ontological relationship is, “The sunlight comes from the sun.” It is not that the sun first exists without the sunlight and later the sun comes. The relationship, the order in the relationship, is not chronological order, but ontological order; i.e. the sun is the root of the sunlight.

The relationship between ātmā and paramātma, and also between the various forms of Hari and the original form of Hari (Krishna, Govinda) is an ontological relationship, not a sequential relationship. Sequence is ruled out in authentic texts describing these things by prevalent use of words like anādi (beginningless) and sanātana (eternal). Paramātmā is the root of the ātmā, and Krishna is the root of Bhagavān in an ontological manner, analogous to how the Sun is the root of the sunlight.

Ontological relationships, however, have an implied, non-literal chronology. The Sun, for example, has an implied status of being historically prior to the sunlight, although this chronology is not literal. Similarly, there is an implied chronology in the unfolding of the original One Entity (Govinda) into various forms, and eventually even into the jīva-ātmā entities such as us. Therefore chronological descriptions are helpful for illustrating the ontological status, but the chronology is merely implicit within the ontological status, it is not a literal reality under chronological control.

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