AM I ?
Published in the monthly magazine
"U CAN CHANGE THE WORLD"
Vol. I, No. 4
What is the soul?
How can we understand it in simple terms?
These and many such questions are clearly defined and explained by
Swami Dr. Vishwa Mitter Ji Maharaj
The person who plays a pivotal
role in the family is often called 'Soul of the family'. Nothing can
happen without the permission of the 'head of the family'. So is the case
with the soul in our body. When the 'head' of the family departs the
family mourns and feels the extreme vacuum. Similarly, when the soul
leaves the body, it cannot think, speak, see, move, eat, digest, grow....
or live. The soul governs and directs our being. The concept of soul can
be easily understood with a simple definition. In a room there is a fan,
an electric heater, a refrigerator and a bulb, all fitted and connected to
the switchboard. However, without electricity these gadgets cannot work
Similarly, without the soul, the body is a corpse. Moreover, the
electricity cannot be seen except through the lit bulbs or through moving
fans etc. Similarly, the soul being consciousness, identified with
super-consciousness, exquisitely subtle, cannot be seen but experienced
and realized. This power in an individual is the soul or Jivatma.
When it is universal consciousness or Supreme Soul, it is called Paramatman.
However, it should be clearly understood that for electricity which lights
up a zero power bulb or 1000 watt halogen bulb, the source of energy is
the same; only the consumption and performance vary. Likewise individual
and cosmic souls are inseparable entities.
The difference between the animate and
inanimate is the consciousness or chaitanya. The five sense organs
are the soul's agents or windows to obtain knowledge and to gauge the
subtle aspect of any given thing. For example, to see, we have eyes but
who sees is the soul. For hearing, we have ears but it is the soul that
hears. This journey from gross to subtle with consciousness is the play of
the soul. If this consciousness departs from the body it becomes a corpse.
This is the relation between the soul and the body. The soul is the
pivotal hinge whereupon the body functions with consciousness or chaitanya.
is the nature of soul?
The Bhagavat Gita says: "Arjuna!
Ishwara resides in the heart of the all creatures, causing them to
revolve according to their karma by His illusive power." The
human body is made of perishable elements and therefore impermanent in
nature, but the power that dwells within is imperishable; is eternal. It
is to be remembered that the real self is part of that super-soul that
is never born nor dies and is eternal. The body after death return
"unto dust" and the soul meets the cosmic soul or Paramatman.
Merger of the pure individual soul with the cosmic soul is the sole aim
of human life. The body is ours but we are not the body. We are an
inseparable part of the supreme. Just as a grain of sand is sand or a
drop of water is water, likewise part of Paramatman is Jivatma.
We are eternal. Yet, the body has four states and remains perishable.
Childhood, youth and old age are seen as states of our body but not the
state of our soul. Moreover there is a fourth state called death. The
souls is simply the seer for whom there is no fear of death! The soul is
eternal truth that is immortal and imperishable. The soul is pure and
sacred. The soul is embodiment of all knowledge.
Karmic philosophy declares that actions
punctuated with raga dwesha (likes and dislikes), delusions,
jealousy, ego etc are the binding agents whereas selfless actions break
the bondage and pave the path for liberation from the karmic field of
birth and rebirth. The biggest cause of karmic bondage is maya
(illusion) which is play of the mind.
Mind attached to the world is the sole
cause of bondage and the same mind when attached or devoted to the
supreme reality becomes the source of emancipation. Moksha
(salvation) is nothing but getting rid of ignorance: "I am my body;
I am sense organs or indriy; I am Brahman; I am poor; I am a scholar; I
am intelligent; these are my enemies/friends...." These 'reality
labels' need to be removed. Furthermore, if we try to ignore the
ego: "I have done/achieved this" etc then we can realize the
'pure self' of Jivatma... When the bondage of ignorance is
unknotted the soul appears in its purest original form. This is moksha!
is immortal and pure then why do we behave aberrantly?
This can be explained through a story:
Four intellectuals of Mathura decided set out for Prayag by boat. They
boarded the boat as evening caved in and were in a great hurry to reach
Prayag. They rowed all night taking turns with the oars. At daybreak
they thought they had reached their destination. Someone on the
banks of the river shouted a greeting, "Jai Radhey, Jai Radhey!"
then asked, "Why are you people perspiring so much?" The
intellectuals answered, "We have been rowing all night in order to
reach Prayag at daybreak." The person on the banks of the river
said, "But this is not Prayag! This is Mathura! You have not untied
the anchor!" This anchor rope is nothing but ignorance (Deha-abhiman).
It keeps us tightly tied to the world and hence we remain devoid of
divinity and divine behaviour which results in aberrant deeds.
Our soul is ever free of bondage but our
body as 'doer' invites the bondage. Due to our ignorance, our karmic
aspects remain worldly and we are unable to break the cycle of birth and
When we are free of ignorance and we
establish our real being our atman swarup, the tendency to do
wrong deeds vanishes. Samskaras are reduced to ashes.
Once a person realizes his divine nature
he serves all, seeing divinity in all. This is Parabhakti -
pinnacle of knowledge -- when a person sees the lord in all. He becomes
an embodiment of love and service.
carry the same soul then why are some wicked and some good?
Atman is like energy, like
electricity which, when made to pass through a filament lights the lamp.
Similarly, Atmic energy flows through an individual's accumulated
samskaras thus producing different manifestations and results.
However, the energy, meaning the Atman, does not get altered at
A guru asks his student, "Bring 1000
pots and fill them with water. See the moon's reflection in all the
pots. In muddy water, it is not clear, it is also not clear in rippling
water, but it's clear in clean, still water. So is Atman in
If there is one
in all, then when a person dies why do I not die as well?
Break one pot, the reflection of the moon
disappears but it is visible in the remaining pots. When an electric
bulb breaks it does not mean that the flow of power ceases, Similarly,
with the death of a body, the Atman remains.
not the experience of pleasure and grief be felt by one and all?
No, if you boil water in a pot will the
moon reflected in it also get boiled? Pleasure and displeasure is the
play of the mind and body, not of the soul.
would you explain maya?
At the karmic level one suffers from all
kinds of delusions or maya and one is unable to distinguish
between 'real' and 'unreal'. A story goes that once a daughter of a king
lost a valuable necklace at the bottom of a pond. When they tried to
retrieve it only mud came out. Every one was perplexed. A saint standing
amidst the crowd of onlookers intervened. He explained that the
necklace, lifted by a bird, was actually hanging on the branch of a tree
and what they were seeing was its reflection in the waters of the pond!
Similarly our bodies are merely shadows of the real Sukhad Parmanand
-- blissful eternal happiness -- which one can achieve by realizing that
he is soul and not the body. All pervading existence in the form of
Atman dwells in the bodies of all beings.
How does one
Through constant remembrance. When a
devotee believes that Paramatman is the sole doer, the controller
and director of his life and that he is simply an instrument in his
hands, he spiritualizes all his impulses and this makes all his actions
divine. Karma yoga is the way for a householder to meet the
Supreme Being. It means non attachment with karma i.e. not
craving for the fruits of a deed. The objective of a karma yogi
should be like a cobra which has become poison-less or a roasted seed
that cannot sprout. And, attachment to the Paramatman, is the key
to success for any karma yogi.
One must have a craving for liberation as
a drowning man swims to save his life.
He must consider the world as Hari-lila
and a place for serving humanity.
He must be of the firm conviction that
everything belongs to the Supreme.
He must rise above duality and
attachments to worldly pleasures.
He must dispel ignorance or false
He must be in constant remembrance of the
He must develop fervent love for the
divine and all beings.
he must understand that there is only one
Doer and one Cosmic Mind and he must surrender or merge his mind with
the Cosmic Mind.
Maharishi Vyas concludes that I and mine
(restless, unstable mind) is the cause of bondage while Thou and Thine
(steady, calm mind) is the solitary means of attaining liberation. When
the mind stops agitating and wandering, it ceases to exist, then the
As told to Dr. Gautam