|The Eternal Reality of the Soul's Immortality
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
That which is characterised by a beginning and an end is clarified as being unreal. The physical body is subject to pleasure and pain, old age and disease. Although the eternal soul is embodied within the physical body; its position is not compromised or affected by the modifications of the physical body. It is therefore aprameyasya or immeasurable, existing always in the same condition, complete within itself. This instruction of the Supreme Lord verifies that the immortal soul being distinct from the body has no factual connection with pleasure, pain, old age or disease so He directs Arjuna not to yield to lamentation born from delusion but to accept his duty as a ksatriya and duly engage in battle.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
This verse confirms that there is no eternal existence for the physical body. As when a mirror is destroyed the reflection in the mirror is also destroyed; but this not true in regards to the soul. When the body is destroyed the soul is never destroyed for the soul is eternal. Sharirinah refers to the Supreme Lord in His manifestation as the indwelling monitor of all living entities. There is no destruction of the soul, it is referred to as indestructible. Why is this so? Because of the presence of imperceivable transcendental manifestation of the Supreme Lord within the heart of all living entities. But there is no upadhi or limitation here as in the example of the destruction of the mirror, where the reflection is destroyed. In this case the soul itself is the reflector through the medium of the individual consciousness. The Supreme Lord is unlimited, there exists no limitations for Him. The individual consciousness of the living entity attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness of the Supreme Lord realises the eternal form of the soul. Thereafter the individual consciousness attaining a direct connection to the Ultimate Consciousness is eternally absorbed in the unlimited bliss of the Supreme Ultimate Personality.
Now begins the summation.
For the sharirinah which is the Supreme Lord in His manifestation of indwelling monitor of all living entities, there is the appearance of the destruction of the physical body. The physical bodybeing the container in the material existence by which the individual consciousness is identified. There is no space, attributes or completeness for the living entities. Because without any alternative the physical body has its own inherent attributes which are impelled by the anguish of birth, existence and death
The destruction of the physical body in battle is also a form of worship of the inconceivable Supreme Lord. The final state of destruction being under the control of the Supreme Lord grants relief from both pain and pleasure. By surrendering all actions to the Supreme Lord Krishna, and being exclusively devoted to Him, one will be totally protected by Him.
Spoken of as being to be eternal referring to the soul, the word indestructible is repeated and by the statement the words indestructible and incomprehensible used in this regard are directly referring to the Supreme Lord. By specifying the words ime dehe the eternal transcendental form comprised of transcendental consciousness and bliss within the physical bodies of realised souls is revealed.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated:
Where rajas passion and tamas ignorance do not have any effect neither truth, light nor influence of time. Where illusion exists not except at its source of reality. Where aspirants both noble and ignoble earnestly propitiate. Where He of beautiful darkish colour, with eyes like a hundred blooming lotus flowers, attired in shiny yellow garments, splendid with perfect form, having His arms, neck and ears adorned with precious and dazzling ornaments, wearing a flowing flower garland. Effulgent and self- illuminating. Where the souls liberated from the ocean of birth and death go to and reside.
In the Parama smrti it is stated:
Acquiring transcendental consciousness and bliss the liberated souls imbibing the attributes of the Supreme Lord, internally and externally a part of Him, enjoy the pleasures of devotional service to Him according to their individual capacity.
Even after attaining the state of liberation there is no state of united oneness of the individual consciousness of the living entity with the Ultimate Consciousness of the Supreme Lord. By realisation of this wisdom the living entities with sincere and determined effort acquire similar attributes as the Supreme Lord.
In the Taittiriya Upanisad it is stated :
One who knows the Supreme Lord as the Ultimate Truth, as what is real, as what is knowledge and as what is infinite; simultaneously existing within the heart of all living entities as well as in the eternal spiritual world has realised all there is that needs to be known.
Transcending to that state of awareness which consists of total bliss, descending and ascending in various worlds, assuming the form one desires, all actions manifesting according to one's desires, one sings and chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna in sublime ecstasy.
All revel in ecstasy singing their attainment in the accompaniment of the liberated souls having realised their own eternal spiritual form. The Supreme Lord seeing them although still possessing their material forms makes sure that no trace of evil besets them and giving them the divine taste of immortality sees them as immortals controlling their senses.
Among those delivered, the four faced Brahma, the managing director of this universe, being extremely well endowed, recites the Rig Veda in full devotion with one mouth. With his second mouth he recites the sacred gayatri. With his third mouth he recites the Puranas and with his fourth mouth he recites and meditates on the various incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krishna such as fish, tortoise, boar and others.
Realising the Supreme Lord within one's heart and within the heart of every living entity and subsequently acquiring one's eternal spiritual form, one revels in exaltation performing loving devotional service to Him. Thus the spiritually intelligent, transcending the dualities of material existence attains the transcendental state and acquires unparalleled affinity to the Supreme Lord.
Attaining this transcendental state of affinity to the Supreme Lord, being completely protected in this state, the individual soul resides blissfully in full consciousness according to the gradation of individual qualification determined by one's inherent attributes. Humans, celestials, departed ancestors are superseded 100 fold by immortals, managerial deities and the deities of the elements along with Indra, Shiva and Brahma in this order having one hundred times the attributes those who are liberated. None of these are equal to the Brahman even in the state of liberation. Superior 1000 fold to the Brahman is Sri or Laksmi devi who resides as the pleasure potency of each and every incarnation and superior to her are the authorised incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Only He as the source of all creation, being endowed with innumerable and immeasurable transcendental attributes has no one anywhere in existence superior or even equal to Him. But those possessing noble eyes like lotus petals and ears like conch shells, imbibing His attributes, have fraternal feelings and become alike in mind with each other and with Him.
Where all desires are fulfilled in that state let me attain. By such words of separation with one another the state of taratamya or gradation is confirmed even after attaining the state of liberation. Where in liberation everything has become even like unto the self, then who is it that is seen and by whom.
In the Brihad Aranyak Upanisad it is stated:
Verily when in that state of liberation there is no seeing although everything is seen. Because of attaining the transcendental state, becoming imperishable in consciousness, there is nothing perceived other than the transcendental state which permeates everything and which is the self. Thus there is nothing separate from the self which can be differentiated and in this way everything can be seen as transcendental, as brahman.
Consequently with this proper understanding, statements such as knowing the supreme brahman one becomes like brahman or aham brahmasi which means I am brahman understood in this light can be seen not to be in any way contrary to Vedanta.
If by liberation the individual consciousness ceases to exist then what is the purpose of deliverance? By this one could be confused and bewildered; but in Mahabharata the reverend sage Yajnavalkya eradicated this doubt by his clarifying statement that in this transcendental state all the mundane academic perceptions of empirical knowledge cease to exist being replaced by the transcendental perception and realisation of the Ultimate Truth. How could it ever be possible that cessation of mundane perceptions of empirical knowledge could simultaneously cause cessation of the soul? It is not possible nor can it ever be possible. The eternal soul being independent from the mind and body is not subject to cessation.
Essentially the Supreme Lord Krishna is different from the creation of the material manifestation. Because the universe is dependent upon creation it is said to be different as it is. In regard to enjoyment of the senses of smell, sight etc. they are known to be perceived only due to the potency generated by the presence of the soul. Thus the empirical experience of the self is similar to the realisation of the Supreme Lord. There is nothing else is to be known, when one realises one's soul one realises the Supreme Lord and everything is already known by realisation of the soul. How can human effort alone be involved and in the absence of the transcendental soul what is the impetus for self-realisation? Therefore there is variance in empirical knowledge in relation to the Supreme Lord Krishna and one does not lose the ability to enjoy their association and relationship with the Supreme Lord even after self-realisation, it cannot be otherwise.
When the soul does not see anything as different from its own self then there is no perception of separateness from anything and a oneness with everything. In the same way the Supreme Lord does not see anything as separate from Himself. Brahma and others are all different from the Supreme Lord therefore they appear separate from Him. But even though by their very nature they are different from Him, in the eyes of the Supreme Lord there is no difference He seeing them as part of Himself. When one attains this state of perception there is no separateness between the individual consciousness and the Ultimate Consciousness and there is no delusion ever regarding knowledge of Lord Krishna's supreme position.
Technically all living entities can be designated as brahman and all liberated souls can be designated as para brahman. The material substratum known as prakriti can also be designated as para brahman as well; but the Supreme Lord Krishna's is the supreme para brahman. Neither liberatated souls nor the material substratum can be superior to the Supreme Lord Krishna. But by knowledge of Him, by knowledge of His name and form, by having knowledge of His sagacious instructions, by the knowledge of His pastimes, qualities and associatiates all living entities can experience the essence of the Supreme Lord according to their qualification. When one attains communion with the Supreme Lord how can there be any difficulties? How can there be any ignorance? How can there be any bewilderment in the absence of ignorance? It is not possible for one who is not devoted to the Supreme Lord to be liberated by the mercy of the Supreme Lord.
From aheya the word aham has been derived which symbolises the immutable Supreme Lord Krishna. Because He possesses all attributes He is known as para brahman. He is known as asmi because he destroys all evil and is existing eternally. Being resplendent He is known as tvam. All these words intimating activity, intimating elements and intimating attributes refer solely to the Supreme Lord. Because He is the foremost among all performers of activities He is known as yushmat. Because He abides in the heart of all living entities with His potencies He is known by the word asmat and because He is imperceivable He is known by the word tat. On attaining self- realisation one will understand that all these indications represent only His predominant role.
Having studied all the Vedas the sage Svetaketu becoming extremely conceited, arrogantly assumed because he was so knowledgeable that he was not human but a partial manifestation of the Supreme Lord Himself. Thinking thus, he became disrespectful to his own father. Seeing that his son was deluded being devoid of proper etiquette, his father inquired from him how had such inauspicious characteristics attached themselves to him; telling him that with all his studying he had not acquired realisation of the Supreme Lord, by whom knowing the essence all knowledge is known. The Supreme Lord being predominate in Himself, with the cosmic manifestation created by Him, subservient only to Himself and thus knowing the Supreme Lord in this way one acquires unfathomable wisdom. But if one believes the Earth and the universe within the cosmic manifestation are all independent of Him then they are deluded and such delusion brings along with it perpetual misery.
Knowledge that a clod of earth is the substance that clay pots and other similar objects are fashioned from and made known and the knowing of the word mrutika meaning eternal, one can understand what is transitory and impermanent. Similarly by knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna, the Ultimate Personality, the creator of all, the cause of all causes, who is independent in Himself; the true knowledge of all existence is gained. Even attaining the state of liberation all living entities are under His shelter and subservient to Him. The Supreme Lord is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, full of all attributes. Within the Supreme Lord rests all the universes thus one can never be on the same platform as the Supreme Lord.
Even as their is difference between a bird and a thread, the essences of different flowers, the ocean and a river, salt from water, a person from his place of dwelling, the robber and the robbed, the dead and the living; in the same way their is difference between the living entity and the Supreme Lord although the living entity is also eternal. The Supreme Lord being totally independent and the living entity being eternally dependent. How is it the possible for the dependent to be equal to the independent. The Supreme Lord resides within the heart of all living entities giving them life as their primary cause of existence, everyone and everything is completely dependent solely upon the Supreme Lord Krishna for their breath, life and very existence; yet the Supreme Lord Krishna, the cause of all causes is not dependent on anything.
Their is a difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities and the Supreme Lord and the material energy. There is difference between one individual living entity from another and also between the individual living entities and the material energy as well as difference between the earth and the material energy. These are the basic five-fold differences. They are all eternal and although born are not capable of destruction. Therefore eternal are these five-fold differences and because these differences were originated by the Supreme Lord Krishna they are eternal truths and should not be imagined to be illusory. Being the Supreme Ultimate Reality, the resplendent Supreme Lord Krishna is immutable, advaita incomparable in all attributes omnipotent. By knowledge of the omniscient, omnipresent, blissful Supreme Lord one becomes aware of being dependent upon Him. Such are the attributes of the Supreme Lord Krishna and none else. The Supreme Lord possessing such supreme, transcendental attributes as being the Supreme Lord of all does not negate the existence of any living entity. They certainly exist. If difference was the result of mere imagination it would have been false; but this difference is clearly perceivable by knowledge. Therefore among the wise, there is never any occasion to doubt the non-dual aspect of the Supreme Lord.
In this regard all the Vedic scriptures endorse the difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities. Otherwise erroneous interpretations would be prescribed to Him and knowledge of the all will not arise. In the same way, one who has only seen the silver shine in an oyster shell should not conclude all knowledge about silver is known. By these examples the difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities have been given thus here atat tvam asi meaning you are not that has been explained.
If the statement tatvamasi is considered as indicating difference then it will not contradict the previous statement etad atmyamidam sarvam which refers to the Supreme Lord as independent and all the living entities as dependent upon Him and therefore not separate from Him.
Etad atyamidam refers to the Ultimate Consciousness which is indicative only to the Supreme Lord. It is not correct to imagine it refers to the living entities. It is simply similarity due to the relationship of the Supreme Lord as dominator and the living entities as dominated. It would be a sign of acute ignorance, knowing that the Supreme Lord created the material manifestation and all living entities separate from Himself to imagine that the Supreme Lord and the living entities are the same. If the material manifestation is to be regarded as only a description then the statement that from Him all this is created would not be clear. How can it be possible for the non-dual nature of the Supreme Lord be refuted after understanding the inherent difference between the Supreme Lord and His creation?
At the end of every section the difference from the Supreme Lord has been enunciated and who it should be given to is emphasised in the following manner: to one who has stayed continuously serving the preceptor for one year should this knowledge be given, not to one who is uninitiated.
One in knowledge understands that individual consciousness is beyond the material manifestation.
In the spiritual worlds the Ultimate Personality, the Supreme Lord dwells. Thus the knowers of the Ultimate Truth are realised and offer perpetual obeisance’s to the Supreme Lord Krishna whom they perceive within their heart of hearts as the indwelling monitor.
If it is argued that the Supreme Lord is neither distinct nor is He self- evident, nor is He averred as being non-dual with all manifestations a mere illusion, then the Vedic scriptures would not be logical. The apparent appearances will not be superior to the real appearance neither can the apparent appearances have any special attributes attached to it. The Vedic scriptures are eternal and not subject to illusion. Being the Ultimate Truth they are proof in themselves. Thus illusion will always remain illusion and the Ultimate Truth will always remain the Ultimate Truth.
It is not possible to substantiate that the difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities is qualified by any limitations, if this were the case then that would infer that by the acquiring of such limitations could be subject to illusion; but the Supreme Lord is never subject in any way to illusion. If it is stated that the Supreme Lord having many feet, hands and mouths are different from them then these differences will be defects. But the Supreme Lord is non-different from any of His individual parts and so it is not possible to make any comparisons of this nature.
Therefore the difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities can only be established based on the authority of the Vedic scriptures.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The term deha meaning body is derived from the word dih meaning to increase and correspondingly those bodies having increase must also have decrease and therefore are of a perishable nature. The elements combine to form the body dictated by karma ato render service to the imperishable soul to enable the living entity to experience the positive and negative fruits of their actions. In the Brihad- aranyaka Upanisad it is stated: by accruring merit one becomes meritorious. A living entity is forced to accept a body only until all ones positive and negative karma is exhausted and then the physical body is no longer bound to exist in the physical plane.
As for the soul it is indestructible, it is imperishable and it is inconceivable. As the aggregate of all facets of consciousness the soul is the subject and all individual facets of consciousness are the object. All pervading throughout the body of every living entity the soul as the cogniser is perceived by its unique distinction of being transcendental from the body. Nor can the soul be perceived as of a mutable nature as in the case of the senses. Thus by the fact of its all pervading nature it is verified that the soul is not something which can increase or decrease because of or due to aggregation. By reason of its all pervasiveness the factual reality of the souls eternality is apparent.
As regarding the body because it is subject to decrease and increase, because it is for the felicitation of the embodied soul in the experiencing the results of karma, because it is of multiforms and because it is subject to decay it is destructible.
So it can be clearly seen that because the body is of a perishable nature and because the soul is of an eternal nature neither of the two can be just reason for regret. Therefore the Supreme Lord instructs Arjuna to bear with fortitude the unavoidable sharp contact of piercing arrows upon him and upon others and thus going to battle as a matter of duty, without the desire for any results, prepare his way for immortality.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
It might be questioned that if the soul is eternal due to the impossibility of ever being able to be destroyed then why is it that feelings of remorse arise at the demise of family members and loved ones. To clarify this Lord Krishna states that it is only the physical body which is made up of the five fundamental elements of material existence: being earth, water, air, fire and ether and which is the vehicle for enjoying the fruits of ones actions which is subject to destruction. Countless mothers and fathers and countless sons and daughters all established with experience in this world have come and gone and will come and go in the future. There are countless of places of joy and countless of places of grief in the worlds but only the unintelligent are affected by there influenced and not the spiritually intelligent. The soul is always eternal but what the soul is pervading which is known to be both the physical body and the subtle body of all living entities is not eternal and subject to destruction. Only what is eternal can be determined as being truly real what is not eternal can be deemed as unreal. So there is no doubt however that the physical body is perishable and hence not eternal as it is composed of destructible substances. This is on the authority of the Vedic scriptures.
It might be wondered that if the soul is eternal and indestructible why is this not perceived at the time of death? This is also clarified by Lord Krishna with the use of the word apramesya meaning inconceivable. It is not possible to cognisize the soul as it is this or it is that because not being on the material platform although embodied in a physical body; there is no material conception to compare it to by the strenghth of ones mind. Unless and until one has received the mercy of the Supreme Lord by the direct connection of the authentic spiritual master who is in the line of one of the four empowered and authorised channels of disciplic succession, there is no possibility of perceiving the soul. It is to be known only in this way is this is on authority of the Vedic scriptures. Whatever apprehension one experiences in the physical body that apprehension is destructible; but the soul is never subjected to this. To the contrary the soul is apprehended only by the apprehension of I know, I am, I experience etc. and as it is immortal the soul should never be lamented for. Neither should the body be lamented for because it is perishable. Therefore Arjuna is being instructed to unsnare himself from his delusion and do his duty.