Q 217. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE SOUL ? part 2.
A. BY SRILA PRABHUPADA.
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācinnāyaḿ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇona hanyate hanyamāne śarīreSYNONYMSna — never; jāyate — takes birth; mriyate — dies; vā — either; kadācit — at any time (past, present or future); na — never; ayam — this; bhūtvā — having come into being; bhavitā — will come to be; vā — or; na — not; bhūyaḥ — or is again coming to be; ajaḥ — unborn; nityaḥ — eternal; śāśvataḥ — permanent;ayam — this; purāṇaḥ — the oldest; na — never; hanyate — is killed; hanyamāne — being killed; śarīre — the body.TRANSLATIONFor the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. (Bhagavad-Gita As It Is).PURPORTQualitatively, the small atomic fragmental part of the Supreme Spirit is one with the Supreme. He undergoes no changes like the body. Sometimes the soul is called the steady, or kūṭa-stha.The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its birth from the womb of the mother's body, remains for some time, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes.The soul is not born, but, because he takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth there, and the soul does not die. Anything which has birth also has death. And because the soul has no birth, he therefore has no past, present or future. He is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval — that is, there is no trace in history of his coming into being.Under the impression of the body, we seek the history of birth, etc., of the soul. The soul does not at any time become old, as the body does. The so-called old man, therefore, feels himself to be in the same spirit as in his childhood or youth. The changes of the body do not affect the soul. The soul does not deteriorate like a tree, nor anything material.The soul has no by-product either. The by-products of the body, namely children, are also different individual souls; and, owing to the body, they appear as children of a particular man. The body develops because of the soul's presence, but the soul has neither offshoots nor change. Therefore, the soul is free from the six changes of the body.In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.18) we also find a similar passage, which reads:na jāyate mriyate vā vipaścinnāyaḿ kutaścin na babhūva kaścitajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇona hanyate hanyamāne śarīreThe meaning and purport of this verse is the same as in the Bhagavad-gītā, but here in this verse there is one special word, vipaścit, which means learned or with knowledge.The soul is full of knowledge, or full always with consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is the symptom of the soul. Even if one does not find the soul within the heart, where he is situated, one can still understand the presence of the soul simply by the presence of consciousness.Sometimes we do not find the sun in the sky owing to clouds, or for some other reason, but the light of the sun is always there, and we are convinced that it is therefore daytime. As soon as there is a little light in the sky early in the morning, we can understand that the sun is in the sky.Similarly, since there is some consciousness in all bodies — whether man or animal — we can understand the presence of the soul. This consciousness of the soul is, however, different from the consciousness of the Supreme because the supreme consciousness is all-knowledge — past, present and future.The consciousness of the individual soul is prone to be forgetful. When he is forgetful of his real nature, he obtains education and enlightenment from the superior lessons of Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa is not like the forgetful soul. If so,Kṛṣṇa's teachings of Bhagavad-gītā would be useless.There are two kinds of souls — namely the minute particle soul (aṇu-ātmā) and the Supersoul (vibhu-ātmā).This is also confirmed in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad(1.2.20) in this way:aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyānātmāsya jantor nihito guhāyāmtam akratuḥ paśyati vīta-śokodhātuḥ prasādān mahimānam ātmanaḥ"Both the Supersoul [Paramātmā] and the atomic soul [jīvātmā] are situated on the same tree of the body within the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul." Kṛṣṇa is the fountainhead of the Supersoul also, as it will be disclosed in the following chapters, and Arjuna is the atomic soul, forgetful of his real nature; therefore he requires to be enlightened by Kṛṣṇa, or by His bona fide representative (the spiritual master).vāsāḿsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāyanavāni gṛhṇāti naro 'parāṇitathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānyanyāni saḿyāti navāni dehīSYNONYMSvāsāḿsi — garments; jīrṇāni — old and worn out; yathā — just as; vihāya — giving up; navāni — new garments; gṛhṇāti — does accept; naraḥ — a man;aparāṇi — others; tathā — in the same way; śarīrāṇi — bodies; vihāya — giving up; jirṇāni — old and useless; anyāni — different; saḿyāti — verily accepts;navāni — new sets; dehī — the embodied.TRANSLATIONAs a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.(Bhagavad-Gita As It Is).PURPORTChange of body by the atomic individual soul is an accepted fact. Even the modern scientists who do not believe in the existence of the soul, but at the same time cannot explain the source of energy from the heart, have to accept continuous changes of body which appear from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth and again from youth to old age. From old age, the change is transferred to another body. This has already been explained in a previous verse (2.13).Transference of the atomic individual soul to another body is made possible by the grace of the Supersoul. The Supersoul fulfills the desire of the atomic soul as one friend fulfills the desire of another.The Vedas, like the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, as well as the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two friendly birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual atomic soul) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird (Kṛṣṇa) is simply watching His friend. Of these two birds — although they are the same in quality — one is captivated by the fruits of the material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His friend. Kṛṣṇa is the witnessing bird, and Arjuna is the eating bird.Although they are friends, one is still the master and the other is the servant. Forgetfulness of this relationship by the atomic soul is the cause of one's changing his position from one tree to another, or from one body to another. The jīva soul is struggling very hard on the tree of the material body, but as soon as he agrees to accept the other bird as the supreme spiritual master — as Arjuna agreed to do by voluntary surrender unto Kṛṣṇa for instruction — the subordinate bird immediately becomes free from all lamentations.Both the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (3.1.2) and Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (4.7) confirm this:samāne vṛkṣe puruṣo nimagno'nīśayā śocati muhyamānaḥjuṣṭaḿ yadā paśyaty anyam īśamasya mahimānam iti vīta-śokaḥ"Although the two birds are in the same tree, the eating bird is fully engrossed with anxiety and moroseness as the enjoyer of the fruits of the tree. But if in some way or other he turns his face to his friend who is the Lord and knows His glories — at once the suffering bird becomes free from all anxieties."Arjuna has now turned his face towards his eternal friend, Kṛṣṇa, and is understanding the Bhagavad-gītā from Him. And thus, hearing from Kṛṣṇa, he can understand the supreme glories of the Lord and be free from lamentation.Arjuna is advised herewith by the Lord not to lament for the bodily change of his old grandfather and his teacher. He should rather be happy to kill their bodies in the righteous fight so that they may be cleansed at once of all reactions from various bodily activities.One who lays down his life on the sacrificial altar, or in the proper battlefield, is at once cleansed of bodily reactions and promoted to a higher status of life. So there was no cause for Arjuna's lamentation.