Chapter 2The Eternal Reality of the Soul's ImmortalityVerse 20


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

The understanding that the eternal soul is never slain is being confirmed by its freedom from the six changes of material existence being: birth, existence, growth, modification, decay and death which are controlling all living entities high and low in the material existence. The Supreme Lord by declaring the eternal soul is not born confirms the absence of any birth and by declaring the eternal soul does not die confirms the absence of any destruction. The word va occurring twice is used in the sense of and as in and the immortal soul does not come into existence by birth. The immortal soul is already by nature itself eternal. So existence by conception is proven false due to the fact the eternal soul is birthless. That which is conceived attains existence after birth; but that which already eternally exists by its own nature cannot be conceived again. This is the purport of this verse. Constant means not subject to modification. This confirms the absence of growth. Eternal confirms the absence of decay. Ancient confirms the absence of ageing ever beyond time the eternal soul is ageless. Thus there is never a repetition regarding the existence of the eternal soul and the six changes of the physical of birth, existence, growth, modification, decay and death mentioned by Yaksa and other expounders of the Vedic scriptures as to the nature of things in this world never is applicable to the eternal soul which factually every living entity born from a womb possesses. The imperishable nature of the soul and the fact that the six changes of the physical body have no influence on it which is the topic presently under discussion has now been satisfactorily concluded and so it is confirmed that the eternal soul does not perish when the body perishes.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Here to emphasise the authority of the Vedic scriptures the Supreme Lord Krishna uses the words na jayate meaning never takes birth. The knowledge of the Lord is not born nor does it cease to be in the literal sense of the words. In all situations, time and places as well as in all stages it is never subject to modification. Nor is the knowledge of the soul ever subject to destruction and this is fully established in the Vedic scriptures. How one may ask? Due to the attributes like ajah the unborn referring to the Supreme Lord, sasvatah means permanent signifying that He remains in His spiritual form of consciousness and bliss without any modification, puranam means that the eternal embodied soul acquires another pura or body. Thus it can be understood that the soul is not ever destroyed even when the physical body perishes.

Now begins the summation.

The living entity and the Supreme Lord are both irrevocably established as unborn, eternal and indestructible. The Supreme Lord possessing a spiritual body does not come into existence by being associated with the material manifestation; but is eternally existing independently. Death correctly comprehended is merely the separation of the embodied soul from the physical body leaving it lifeless. Since for the Supreme Lord there is never any destruction of His form, there cannot be any connection to death by Him.

The eternal soul is also unborn and indestructible, otherwise creation could be considered simply a repetitive exercise going on and on absent of purpose. The eternal soul is also permanent but the eternal soul never exists independently; it has limited power, limited knowledge, incomplete in itself, dependent upon the transcendental energy of the Supreme Lord. In juxtaposition to that are the sublime attributes of the Supreme Lord who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. These are the natural attributes of the 2 there is no modifications to be found in them. Therefore the holy sages and rishi’s designated them both as sasvatah or permanent. Thus in the Visnu Purana because the living entity is embodied in countless bodies from the beginning of time it is known as puranah meaning ancient.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

For the reasons previously described, characteristics which are natural to all living entities such as birth, ageing and death do not pertain to or have any influence on the indestructible soul as it has no modification due to its eternal nature. The bodily experience has no affect on the eternal soul thus it is spoken of as it is not born nor does it die. It cannot be proven that having been before a kalpa the soul is not going to exist after a kalpa. Such births and deaths at the beginning and end of every kalpa are told by the Agamas in the Vedic scriptures as replacing each Brahma who manages and directs the functioning and maintenance of creation in one singular universe in the infinite celestial firmament. But this reference pertains only to the physical body and does not affect the eternal soul.

The imperishable soul which pervades the physical body of all living entities is aja or unborn and thus it is known to be eternal and constant only changing its external embodied form. The two characteristics of eternality and constancy denote that like the material substratum known as prakriti even the most subtle and infinitesimal modifications in the stage preceding manifestation has no ability in any way to affect the eternal soul.

The word purana means ancient. Etymologically it stems from purapi navah meaning old yet new illustrating that the eternal soul although ancient is experienced with every birth as ever new. Thus it has been clarified that the physical body only perishes but never can the eternal soul perish.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

As to questions of how the soul is neither the instigator of any actions or the recepient of any actions, Lord Krishna explains that the soul being eternal is not subject to the six modifications of material existence which are: birth, being, growth, transformation, dimunition and death. The soul is never born and never dies at any time. How can this be? It is not that the soul did not exist before and will not exist in the future. The soul exists eternally but opting the experiences of the material existence accepts a physical body. What did not exist in the past but is manifested only in the present is called conceived and that which exists now but will cease to exist eventually is called dead. But the soul is not conceived as it eternally exists and it will never die because it is immortal. With the 2 words ajah meaning unborn and nityah meaning eternal, it is made clear that the 2 modifications of birth and death are not applicable in regards to the soul. In order to also negate the idea of the soul posessing any modifications by even being, Lord Krishna explains that the soul is everlasting which means it is free from being or unbeing. The modification of any growth of the soul is neutralisd by the word puranah meaning ancient, that it always existed as it is. One posessing a body grows by the increase of the bodily parts; but the soul being bodiless does not increase it is the same eternally. The remaining 2 modifications of transformation and dimunition are rendered inapplicable by inference in understanding that the soul being eternal without any need to increase remains as it is and is changeless. Hence the soul being bereft of any of the six modifications of the physical body can never be destroyed even when the physical body is destroyed.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 2, verse 20 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 20

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