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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Baladeva Vidyabhushana > Vedanta Shyamantaka > Jiva nirupanah

Jiva-nirupanah—The Individual Spirit Souls

 

 

1        Now we will discuss the individual spirit souls (jivas). The individual spirit souls are described as tiny particles of spiritual consciousness. In the Sruti-sastra (Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.9) it is said:

          “The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence.This atomic souls is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities.”*

          In the Sruti-sastra (Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.9) it is also said:

          “When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts, and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.”*

          The relationship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual spirit souls is described in these words of the Sruti-sastra (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13 and Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.13):

          “Of all eternal beings one is the foremost. Of all conscious beings one is the foremost.  That one foremost eternal conscious being fulfils the desires of all the others.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “The devotees who worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead attain eternal peace.  No one else attains true peace.”

 

2        Some philosophers make the mistake of thinking there is ultimately only one spirit soul and that one spirit soul is the Supreme. That the existence of many different souls is an illusion, like chariots or other things seen in a dream. This false idea is clearly refuted in the Sruti-sastra, which clearly states that the many spirit souls are individuals eternally.

 

3        The individual spirit soul each has his distinct consciousness, knowledge, and qualities eternally.  In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The individual souls are all eternal. Each possesses an individual nature that is never destroyed.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The individual consciousness of each individual spirit soul is never lost.”

          Although he is atomic in size, the individual spirit soul fills with consciousness every part of the external material body.  In the Vedanta-sutra it is said:

          “As the sun fills the universe with light, so the individual soul fills the material body with consciousness.”

          In Bhagavad-gita (13.34) Lord Krishna says:

          “O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.”*

 

4        “The individual spirit soul is seen in the word ‘I’.  In the dreamless sleep that individual identity, that ‘I’ is destroyed.” Some people may speak in that way about the soul’s nature. However, this false idea is refuted by the Sruti-sastra, which affirms the soul’s continued individual existence even during dreamless sleep. In the Sruti-sastra it is said: “I slept happily. I did not dream.”

 

5        The soul is different from the external material body and from anything else also.  Neither does the soul undergo the six kinds of transformations that change the material body.  In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.28.24) it is said:

          “The individual spirit self is not the external material body. Nor is the self the senses, the demigods, the life-air, water, fire, mind, what is nourished by food, intelligence, nature, false ego, ether, earth, a sense object, or oneness with everything.”

          In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.3.38) it is also said:

          “The individual spirit soul is never born, never dies, never grows, and never decays.  He is the knower of the ever-changing material realm.  He is eternal. He never ceases to exist. The soul is consciousness. It is a mistake to think the soul is the breath or the material senses.”

 

6        The individual spirit soul is a fragmental part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  In Bhagavad-gita (15.7) Lord Krishna declares:

          “The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts.”*

 

7        The individual spirit souls is a performer of activities. He perceives the sense objects.  He enjoys pleasures. In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The individual spirit soul acquires knowledge. He performs yajnas. He performs activities.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “The individual spirit souls enjoys what he desires.”

          Some philosophers thin, ‘The individual spirit soul is the highest doer, the highest knower, the highest enjoyer. This idea is a foolish mistake. The Supreme Personality of Godhead alone is the highest doer, knower and enjoyer. In Mahabharata, Vana-parva, Yamaraja tells Maharaja Somaka:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is alone the highest doer, knower, and enjoyer.  No one else ever becomes a doer, knower, or enjoyer like Him.”

 

8        Here someone may protest: Activities always bring sufferings, and therefore it is not possible for any spiritual being to be a doer of activities.  That is the message of the Sruti-sastra.”

          To this I reply: it is not as you think. Material activities, like the darsa and paurnamasa yajnas, are certainly troublesome.  But the spiritual pastimes of the Lord and His associates never bring trouble or suffering.

 

9        Passages from the Sruti-sastra that seem to prove the soul is ultimately inactive do not in truth prove it. The soul’s nature is seen always to be active, and therefore a condition where no activity is every performed is not possible for the soul. To be active is part of the soul’s nature. This the sages say.  In the same way passages from the Sruti-sastra that seem to prove that the soul has no changes of thoughts or changes of emotions do not in truth prove it. The soul’s knowledge, qualities, and other features may undergo changes. Still, as the sky never changes, so the spirit soul is never affected by the gross material changes that are part of the material world. The soul remains steady in his existence. His existence continues unchanged, even in dreamless sleep, as is seen in the words; “I slept happily. I did not dream.” In this way it is seen that the soul is completely spiritual in nature.

 

10      The individual spirit souls are dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  In the Vedas it is said:

          “The Lord engages the living entity in pious activities so he may be elevated. The Lord engages him in impious activities so he may go to hell. The living entity is completely dependent in his distress and happiness. By the will of the Supreme he can go to heaven or hell, as a cloud is driven by the air.”*

          In Vedanta-sutra it is said:

          “The individual soul is dependent on the Supreme. That is confirmed in the Sruti-sastras.

 

11      The individual spirit souls are all servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  In the Padma Purana it is said:

          “The individual spirit souls are all servants of Lord Krishna. They are never servants of anyone else.”

          Here someone may protest: The individual spirit souls cannot ultimately be eternal servants of Lord Krishna, for the souls are by nature formless, impersonal, and devoid of any qualities. This truth is seen in the teachings of the scriptures. 

          To this I reply. No. It is not as you think. To be a servant of Lord Krishna is the original nature of the individual spirit soul. As butter is extracted from cream by churning, and as fire is extracted from wood by friction, so the individual spirit soul’s original nature of being a servant of Lord Krishna is manifested by following the teachings of the scriptures.

 

12      By worshipping the spiritual master the individual spirit soul attains devotional service to Lord Krishna. In this way he attains the true goal of life.  In the Sruti-sastra (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.38) it is said:

          “Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.”*

          In the Sruti-sastra (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad) it is also said:

          “A person who has accepted a true spiritual master knows the spiritual truth. He will attain liberation.  He will become very fortunate.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “By faithfully engaging in devotional service one attains the Supreme.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “In their meditations the sages see the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

          In Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.3.21-22) it is said:

          “Any person who seriously desires to achieve real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of his spiritual master is that he must have realised the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.”*

          “Accepting his spiritual master as the Deity he worships in his heart, the disciple learns from him the science of devotional service. Lord Krishna, who gives Himself to His devotees, is pleased by such a disciple’s sincere service.”

 

13      Devotional service is described in the scriptures. In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “A saintly brahmana places his thoughts on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

          After they attain liberation the individual souls continue to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The liberated souls sing the praises of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

          In the Sruti-sastra (Rg Veda 1.22.20) it is also said:

          “The Personality of Godhead Vishnu is the Absolute Truth, whose lotus feet the demigods are always eager to see.”*       

 

14      In this way it is seen that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is handsome and glorious like the moon. He possesses a great host of transcendental qualities, powers, and opulences. He eternally possesses these transcendental qualities to an infinite degree, and the individual spirit souls eternally possess similar transcendental qualities to an infinitesimal degree. That is the eternal distinction between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual spirit souls. This truth is proved in all the scriptures.

 

15      Here someone may protest: What are you saying?  Never have I heard anything like this.  You say the individual spirit soul is different from the Supreme?  In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “O Supreme Lord, I am You.  What You are I am.  You are that.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “Everything is the Supreme.  Who sees whom?”

          When he attains liberation, the individual soul and the Supreme are no longer different.  Because the difference between them is only an illusion, anyone who thinks they are different is a fool to be rebuked.  In the Sruti-sastra (Katha Upanisad 2.1.10) it is said:

          “Anyone who sees the soul and the Supreme as different, attains after his death another life and another death in this world.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is also said:

          “A person who think what is inside himself is different from the rest of the world supposedly outside himself attains only fear in this world.”

 

16      To this I reply: It is not as you think. In the Sruti-sastra (Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.6 and Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.1) it is said:

          “The individual spirit soul and the Supersoul, Personality of Godhead, are like two friendly birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual atomic soul) is eating the fruit of the tree (the sense gratification afforded to the material body), and the other bird (the Supersoul) is not trying to eat these fruits, but is simply watching His friend.”*

          In the Sruti-sastra (Katha Upanisad 2.1.15) it is also said:

          “When pure water is poured into pure water, the two waters become like each other.  O wise Naciketa, please know that the individual soul is like that. After liberation he becomes glorious like the Supreme Lord.”

          In the Sruti-sastra (Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.3) it is also said:

          “Liberated from the material world, the individual soul becomes like the Supreme.”

          In this way it is seen that after liberation the individual spirit soul become like the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  Although they are like each other, the Supreme Lord and the individual spirit soul are still different persons.

 

17      That after liberation the individual spirit soul remains different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead is confirmed in the Smrti-sastra. In the Sruti-sastra (Bhagavad-gita) Lord Krishna affirms:

          “By becoming fixed in this knowledge one can attain to the transcendental nature, which is like My own nature. Thus established, one is not born at the time of creation nor disturbed at the time of dissolution.”*

          In the scriptures it is also said:

          “The individual spirit soul, whose nature is like that of the Supreme Lord, meets the Supreme Lord.”

          The meaning here is that the individual spirit soul has a spiritual nature like that of the Supreme Lord. If one interprets these words to mean that the individual soul merges into the Supreme Lord, one should know that interpretation is contradicted by the scriptures in many places.

          Thus your interpretation of Katha Upanisad 2.1.10 and your assertion that anyone who thinks the individual spirit soul and the Supreme are different is a fool worthy to be rebuked are false ideas, lies that should be rejected by the wise, lies that contradict the clear teachings of the scriptures.

 

18      Some persons may believe that the scripture passage beginning with the words ‘tvam vaham asmi bhagavo’ describes a situation where the individual spirit soul and the Supreme are not different.  The truth, however, is that the Supreme is the all-pervading supreme master, and the individual spirit souls are always dependent on Him. For his life-breath, for his ability to speak, and for other things also, the individual soul is always dependent on prana (life-breath).  This is described in the following discussion of prana (life-breath) in Chandogya Upanisad (5.1.15):

          “It is not said ‘the words independently speak’.Nor is it said ‘the eyes independently see’. Nor is it said ‘the ears independently hear’. Nor is it said ‘the mind independently thinks’. It is the prana (life-force) that arranges speech, sight, hearing and thought.”

          That the Supreme Lord is present everywhere is described in these words of the Smrti-sastra (Vishnu Purana):

          “Whoever comes before You, be he a demigod, is created by you, O Supreme Personality of Godhead.* You are the creator of the universes. You are present everywhere.”

          In Bhagavad-gita (11.40) Arjuna tells Lord Krishna:

          “O Lord, You are all pervading, and thus You are everything.”*

          Thus the scripture passage beginning with the words ‘tvam vaham asmi bhagavo’ means that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-pervading, present in the bodies, senses, and all else of even the liberated souls.  In this sense the Supreme Personality of Godhead is everything.  Any other interpretation of that scripture passage is useless.

 

19      Here someone may protest: One may accept or not accept an indirect interpretation  of the scripture passage beginning with the words ‘tvam vaham asmi bhagavo’. Still, one should ignore all varieties of qualities, qualities that begin with the Supreme’s all-pervasiveness and the individual soul’s minuteness, and instead think only of consciousness. Because they are both consciousness, the Supreme and the Soul are the same.

          To this I reply: That is a foolish suggestion. You cannot simply choose to ignore the eternal qualities of the Supreme Lord and the individual souls. Anyway, you cannot say anything about the Supreme, for you think the Supreme is beyond the description of words.

 

20      Here the protester may say: In the Sruti-sastra (Taittiriya Upanisad 2.4.1) it is said:

          “Words cannot describe the Supreme.  Nor can the mind understand Him.”

          Therefore, the Supreme cannot be described.

          To this I reply: Please do not think in that way. This passage means that the Supreme cannot be described completely. Not that He cannot be described at all.  In Shrimad Bhagavatam it is said:

          “No one can describe the Supreme Lord completely.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “All the Vedas meditate on the feet of the Supreme Lord.”

          In Bhagavad-gita (15.15) Lord Krishna affirms:

          “By all the Vedas I am to be known.”*

          The idea that the word ‘aprayah’ in Taittiriya Upanisad 2.4.1 means that the Supreme is beyond the descriptive power of words is refuted by all the quotes from the scriptures.

 

21      Here someone may protest: The individual spirit soul is the Supreme reflected in ignorance.  In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “As the sky, which is one and undivided, is present in many different clay pots, and as the sun, which is one, is reflected in many different bodies of water, so the Supreme Self, which is one, is present in many places simultaneously.”

          When the clay pot is broken, the air within the pot merges with the great totality of air. In the same way, when material ignorance is destroyed, the soul understands that he is actually the Supreme. In this way the philosophy of advaita (oneness) is proved.

          To this I reply. Those words are all lies. hese ideas, that the all-powerful Supreme is cut into many tiny pieces to form the individual spirit souls, or that the Supreme is like the air in the sky, or that the all-pervading Supreme is like a sun in the sky, a sun reflected in ignorance, are all very foolish. They who know the truth of the Vedas never believe the mistaken ideas of the advaita philosophy.

 

22      Here someone may protest: The pure conscious spirit being is one and undivided.  The idea that spirit is divided into the Supreme Lord and the individual souls comes only from ignorance. That ignorance is like the darkness that covers the sky at night. When the darkness is dispelled then the idea that the Supreme and the individual soul are different is cast away. Then it is known that there is only one spiritual conscious being.

 

23      To this I reply: These are only a rash, unsubstantiated claims. These descriptions of illusion are not appropriate. It is true that darkness sometimes covers the sky. But the darkness of ignorance never covers the pure knowledge possessed by the Supreme Lord.  How will the knowledge possessed by the Supreme be dispelled? What will be changed?  Will the knowledge Supreme has be changed or the state of existence in which the Supreme is situated be changed? Because He is eternal, the Supreme cannot fall into illusion. Because He is eternal, the Supreme does not change the state in which He exists.  If the Supreme is never illusioned, how can His illusion be dispelled? Only our misconceptions about Him can be dispelled. Here the classic example of a misconception is the idea that the glittering surface of a seashell is made of silver.

 

24      Here someone may protest: The idea that the Supreme and the individual soul are different is a useless idea not supported by the statements of the scriptures. If in the scriptures such descriptions are sometimes seen, they are only approximate and incomplete descriptions of the truth. They are like the statements ‘In the morning the sun rises from the eastern ocean and in the evening the sun enters the western ocean.’ Such a statement is only an inaccurate approximation, for the sun never actually rises from or enters either of those oceans.

          To this I reply: Those statements are all foolish.  In the Sruti-sastra (Svetasvatara Upanisad 1.6 and 4.7) it is said:

          “A swan wanders in the great circle of material life. When he learns that he is different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and become active in His service, the swan attains immortality.”

          “Although the two birds are on 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 of all anxieties.”*

          In this way it is seen that the idea that the Supreme and the individual souls are one is an idea refuted by scripture and also by common sense. The scriptures clearly state that the Supreme is all-powerful and all pervading and the individual spirit souls are infinitesimal. The idea that the Supreme and the individual souls are not different is an illusion, like the illusion of thinking a horn can sprout from a human head. This idea that the Supreme and the individual souls are not different is refuted in the Sruti-sastras, which declare that the Supreme is all powerful and the individual souls are subordinate to Him and depend upon Him. That is the relationship of the Supreme and the individual spirit souls.

 

25      Are the individual souls identical with or different from the Supreme? The idea that the individual souls are not different from the Supreme and therefore the idea that the conception that they are different is false, is not accepted as truth in the Sruti-sastras.  On the other hand, in many places the Sruti-sastra affirm that the individual spirit souls are indeed different from the Supreme. The Sruti-sastras affirm that the Supreme is never lowly and fallen.  He is eternally situated in perfection.

 

26      The idea that the individual spirit souls are not different from the Supreme is never taught in the Sruti-sastras. If the individual spirit souls are not different from the Supreme, then teacher, taught, and knowledge that is taught all have no meaning, for then the teacher and the taught are not different persons.

 

27      Here someone may protest: To see that the individual souls are different from the Supreme is like seeing a mirage. Therefore there is no need of a teacher and your objection about the teacher is not valid.

          To this I reply: These are foolish words. Your example refutes itself. A mirage exists only because water is present in another place. You use the example of a mirage to describe something that does not exist at all, to say that the difference of the individual souls and the Supreme does not exist at all. Therefore the conclusion is that in your philosophy there is neither teacher nor taught. Nor is there any teaching that can be learned.

 

28      Here someone may protest: Out of ignorance one imagines that the material universe exists, even though the material universe is actually the pure Supreme. This is like mistaking a rope for a snake. In this way the advaita (oneness) philosophy is proved.

          To this I reply.  hese arguments have not been made with care and attention.They fall apart on careful analysis. Who is the person that mistakes a rope for a snake? If you say it is the Supreme, then that is not possible, for the Supreme is always situated in transcendence and always full of knowledge. If you say it is the individual spirit soul, then that is not possible either, for in your conception the individual soul is the Supreme.

 

29      Are these examples appropriate or not? They are not appropriate to understand the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for these examples are themselves different from His nature. Still, the foolish people who push these examples forward do not see their own folly. A fool does not think himself a fool. he Supreme Personality of Godhead is beyond the cause and effect of this material world. Therefore even a philosopher armed with the eight mystic powers cannot understand Him. The example of the air in the clay pots and other like examples are all drawn from the world of causes and effects, of space, time and material actions, and thus they have no bearing on the Supreme Person who is beyond that world. These examples are all like so many fantasies, like flowers imagined to float in the sky.The Supreme Personality of Godhead is beyond the material world.He is not understood by examples drawn from the material world of three things, of causes, effects, and causes and effects mixed together.

 

30      Employing His spiritual potency (para-sakti), the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the remote cause (nimitta) of the material world. Employing His pradhana-sakti and other material potencies, He is the immediate cause, or ingredient (upadana) of the material world. Because He is Himself the ingredient of which the material world is made, the material world is actually spiritual in its nature. That He is the ingredient of the world is confirmed in these words of the Sruti-sastra:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead desired: I will become many.  I will father many children.”

          “On Lord Vishnu’s order, Brahma performed austerities.Empowered by his austerities, Brahma created this material universe.”

          In the Sruti-sastra (Isa Upanisad 8) it is said:

          “Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial.”*

          In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead personally created this material world.”

          In the Vishnu Purana it is said:

          “O best of the sages, The Supreme Personality of Godhead created both the material world and the eternal spiritual world.  Pretending to take birth and to die, He appears in this world and then disappears.”

          In the Mahabharata it is said:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is real.  Austerity is real. The demigod Brahma is real.  From the real Supreme Personality of Godhead the many living entities are born.  Therefore the material world filled with living entities is reality.”

          In the Sruti-sastra it is said:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second.”

          The Supreme Personality of Godhead remains hidden in the material world.  He is like a green bird that flies into a green tree, and is thus very difficult to find among the foliage.

          In this way it is proved that the material world is real, for it was created by the supremely real Supreme Personality of Godhead. The idea that the material world is unreal is thus defeated.  As the Sruti-sastra explains:

          “The Supreme Personality of Godhead desired: I will become many. I will father many children.”

 

31      If someone asks: How did the Supreme fall into the illusion of thinking Himself an individual spirit soul? Then I reply: He never fell into illusion.He is supremely independent, when He appears in the material world He does so only by His own will, and he never becomes bewildered about his own identity. Because his knowledge is eternally perfect, He never thinks Himself an individual soul, or a true resident of the material world.  In the scriptures it is said:

          “It is a mistake to think the Supreme is like the ordinary people of this world. The Supreme is eternal and unchanging.”

          In this way it is proved that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is never illusioned and is never like the ordinary residents of the material world. He is always spiritual and beyond the material world.  As the silvery glitter on a seashell is different from actual silver purchased in the market place, so the Supreme Personality of Godhead is different from the individual spirit souls. In this way it is proved that the individual souls are all different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  They are all His servants.