The Eternal Jivatma
Frequently Asked Questions
When I say "this is my book", I mean the book belongs to me. The book is obviously something different from myself. Similarly, I say "this is my body". So, the body is different from myself. Here, the word "myself refers to the soul. Thus, we can see that the body is different from the soul. Otherwise, we will not say that "this is my body."
Here again, the soul is different from all these. We say "I see through my eyes". Hence I or the soul is different from the eyes. We say "I hear through my ears." So I or soul is different from the ears. We say that "my leg is paining or my hand is paining." So, it is clear that the leg is different from the 'I' or soul. Thus, the five senses of action or karma (Karma Indriyas) and the five senses of knowledge (Jnana Indriyas) are all different from the soul. Similarly, we say that "my mind is clear." From this also, it can be seen that T or the soul is different from the mind.
The child which comes out of the mother's womb is very small in size. Then it becomes a boy or a girl and then a young man or woman and then finally he or she becomes old and then passes away.Thus, the body varies in size. It starts at the time of birth as a very small baby and then grows up. The body becomes ill, the body becomes well and is thus subject to so many changes, whereas the soul is not affected. Thus the body changes in size. The body becomes old, weak. The body shrinks in old age.The body is that of a male or female or animal. Thus the bodies are different for different persons. But the souls are all similar and are not subject to any change.
The souls are infinite in number. I will give you a very simple example. We stay in one house for some time. After some time we shift to another house. Again, we go to another town or place and shift to another house.Thus, we are going from one house to another or from one place to another. Just like this, the soul also stays in one body for some time. At the death of the person, the soul leaves the body; then it either attains salvation and reaches Paramapada; or, it goes to Svarga -(heaven); or directly takes on a new body. Where the soul goes to Svarga, after experiencing pleasures the soul returns to earth and takes on another body, as a man, or an animal, or a bird or anything. Thus, the soul also goes from one body to another, just as we shift from one house to another.
For the same person, in the body, first there is childhood; from childhood, youth comes over and then old age comes over. Similarly, for the soul also, from one body it changes over to another body. We do not feel sorry when a child becomes a young man or when a young man becomes old,because the body remains the same. But when the soul goes from one body to another, we call it death and grieve for the dead person.
The soul enters a new body, based on the previous karma. Thus, the soul can take on thebody of an ant or it can take on the body of an elephant or a man. So the soul has to be smaller than the ant for it to enter the body of the ant.Thus by logic,the soul has to be smaller than the smallest of the bodies like ant or mosquito. Thus, the soul is atomic in size.
This is actually the philosophy of Jainism that the soul is as big or as small as the body of the person. However, we do not accept this theory and we have the proof of the Vedas. In several places, the Vedas declare that the soul is atomic in size. In fact, the Vedas say that the soul is of the size of 1/100th of 1/100th of the tip of a grain. This is only to explain that the soul is atomic in size. Further, I can give one more reason why the soul is atomic. At the death of a person, the soul leaves the body and goes out, according to sastras. We accept the authority of the sastras. We are not able to see the soul actually leaving the body. Thus, the soul is smaller than the smallest object that our eyes can see, and is atomic.
A really intelligent man, who knows philosophy, does not grieve. However, it is because of his attachment that a person really feels for his near and dear ones when they die.Let me give you another example. When the clothes we are wearing are torn, we naturally throw them away and we put on new clothes. Similarly, the soul also throws off the old body and takes on a new one, just as we take on new clothes.
We can broadly say that there are four subdivisions. These are:
- The Devas. Under this group we include the pitrus, siddhas, gandharvas, kinnaras, vasus and yakshas.
- Human beings.
- The animal category. Under this are included all animals, birds, those which crawl like serpents and worms.
- Trees and plants, whose knowledge is much less.
The second category is Mukta. That is, the souls or Jivatmas, which have been released from the samsara, from the cycle of births and deaths. The jivatma, after adopting the means prescribed in the sastras for attaining salvation, thus attains salvation or moksha and then becomes mukta or liberated. He is in Paramapada, permanently enjoying and serving the Lord Narayana and His Consort Lakshmi
This is because of the past karma of the Jivatma and his association with the material world around. The knowledge of one is much different from the knowledge of another. The knowledge of a tree or animal is much lower and that of man is much higher. Again, among different men and women, the knowledge of one is much higher or lower than that of another. All these variations are due to the differences in the past karma of the individuals.
The activities can be classified into three kinds.
- Those activities which bring punya to the soul, like going to the temple, worshipping the Lord and doing service to the Lord.
- Those activities which bring papa or sin to the Jivatma like uttering lies, committing murder and drinking liquor.
- The third kind of activities are those which are neutral in character. That is, which brings neither punya nor papa to the soul,like remaining quiet or lying in deep sleep.
Let me explain by a simple example. We have a lamp. When the lamp is lighted, the lamp lights up the surrounding areas. At the same time, the lamp itself glows with light. In other words, by the lighting of a lamp, the surrounding areas are seen by us and the lamp itself is also seen by us.Somewhat similarly, by the attributive knowledge of the soul, we are able to understand the surrounding things. It is this attributive knowledge, which is contracted or restricted, when the Jivatma is in samsara.
Other frequently asked questions
- Vadakalai and Tenkalai
- The Three Secrets
- The Departure of the Soul
- Jivatma and Paramatma
- Karma, Janana and Bhakti Yogas
- Advaita, Visistadvaita and Dvaita
- Iswara – The Lord and Master
- Matter and Creation
- The Eternal Jivatma
- The “Doctrine Special” of Visishtadvaita
- Alwars and Acharyas
- Vedas and Sastras