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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-15

Chapter Fifteen

Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya Prayojana (prameyantargata jiva-vicara)

Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (The Individual Spirit Souls)



     This day Vrajanatha came a little too early to Shrivasa's courtyard. The devotees living in Shri Godruma had come to Shrivasa's courtyard to see the evening arati. Paramahamsa Babaji Shri Prema dasa, Vaishnava dasa, Advaita dasa, and all the other devotees had already entered the temple to see the arati. Seeing the residents of Shri Godruma, Vrajanatha thought, "Now I have their association. My life is now a great success." Seeing humble, devoted, smiling Vrajanatha, everyone gave him their blessings. When after a short time they left, going south to return to Shri Godruma, the saintly elderly babaji noticed that tears were streaming from Vrajanatha's eyes. Saintly Raghunatha dasa Babaji had by this time developed strong affection for Vrajanatha. He asked Vrajanatha, "Baba, why are you weeping?" Vrajanatha humbly replied, "O master, your teachings and association has brought an upheaval in my thoughts. Now my heart understands how worthless the material world is. My heart yearns to take shelter of Lord Gaura's feet. In my mind there is one question: Who am I in reality, and why do I live in the material world?


     Babaji: Good. With this question you have made me fortunate. When his auspicious day comes, a soul places this question before all others. When you hear the fifth verse of Dasha-mula and its explanation, doubts will not longer live in your heart.



sphulinga riddhagner iva cid-anavo jiva-nicaya

     hareh suryasyaivaprithag api tu tad-bheda-vishayah

vashe maya yasya prakriti-patir eveshvara iha

     sa jivo mukto 'pi prakriti-vasha-yogyah sva-gunatah



     "As sparks fly from a blazing fire, or rays of light fly from the sun, so the individual spirit souls come from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Hari. As the sparks and rays of light are at once different and not different from their source, so the individual souls are different and not different from Lord Hari. Lord Hari is the supreme controller. He is the master of the material world. The illusory potency maya is under His control. The individual soul is not like Him. Even when he is liberated, the soul is capable of coming under maya's control."


     Vrajanatha: That is a wonderful conclusion! I wish to hear the evidence the Vedas give for it. The words of the Supreme Lord (Bhagavad-gita) are worthy evidence by themselves. However, when they are supported by the words of the Upanishads, they are more easily accepted by the people in general.

     Babaji: These truths are revealed in many passages of the Vedas. I will recite one or two of them. Please listen carefully. In the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (2.2.20 and 4.3.9) it is said:



     yathagneh kshudra visphulinga vyuccaranty evam evasmad atmanah. . . sarvani bhutani vyuccaranti.



     "As tiny sparks fly from a fire, so all individual souls have come from the Supreme."



     tasya va etasya purushasya dve eva sthane bhavata idam ca para-loka-sthanam ca sandhyam tritiyam svapna-sthanam tasmin sandhye sthane tishthann ete ubhe sthane pashyatidam para-loka-sthanam ca.



     "A person has two places: the spiritual world and the place where the spiritual world meets another world. There is also a third place, a place of dreams. Standing between them, the soul sees on one side the spiritual world and on the other the place of dreaming."


     This passage describes the the individual soul's (jiva-shakti), which can reside in either the spiritual or material worlds (tatastha). In the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (4.3.18) it is also said:



     tad yatha maha-matsya ubhe kule 'nusancarati purvam caparam caivam evayam purusha etav ubhav antav anusancarati svapnantam ca yuddhantam ca.



     "As a large fish in a river may go to one shore or the other, so a person may go to one world or another. He may go to a world where he is awake, or may go to a world made of dreams."


     Vrajanatha: How does the Vedanta philosophy define the word "tatastha"?

     Babaji: The place where a river's waters meet with the land of the shore is called the "tata". The "tata" is then the place where water meets land. What is the nature of this "tata"? It is like the thinnest of threads that runs along the boundary of land and water. A "tata" is like the finest of lines, so small that the gross material eyes cannot even see it. In this example the spiritual world is like the water and the material world is like the land. The thin line that separates them is the "tata". That boundary place is the abode of the individual spirit souls. The individual spirit souls are like atomic particles of sunlight. The souls can see both the spiritual world and the material world created by Maya. The Lord's spiritual potency, cit-shakti, is limitless, and the Lord's material potency, maya-shakti, is gigantic. Standing between them, the individual spirit soul is very tiny. The individual spirit souls are manifested from the tatastha-shakti of Lord Krishna. Therefore the souls are naturally situated on the boundary (tatastha) of matter and spirit.

     Vrajanatha: What is this "tatastha" nature of the individual souls?

     Babaji: Standing between them, the soul can see these two worlds. The "tatastha" nature of the souls refers to the fact that they must be under the control of one of these two potencies. The actual place of the "tata" (shore may change. What was once dry land may be covered with water, and what was once covered by water may again become dry land. If he turns his gaze upon Lord Krishna, the soul comes under the shelter of Lord Krishna's spiritual potency. But if he turns away from Krishna and turns his gaze to the material potency, maya, then the soul is caught in maya's trap. That is what is meant by "the soul's tatastha nature".

     Vrajanatha: Does maya have anything to do with the nature of the spirit souls?

     Babaji: No. The spirit souls are completely spiritual. However, because they are atomic in size, the souls are not very strong. That is why maya can dominate them. However, in the soul's nature there is not the slightest scent of maya.

     Vrajanatha: I heard from my teacher that when it is surrounded by maya, the impersonal Brahman becomes the individual spirit soul. When a small portion of the great sky is surrounded by the walls of a clay pot, it becomes the sky within a pot. In the same when the impersonal Brahman is surrounded by maya, it becomes the individual soul. What does this mean?

     Babaji: That is just impersonalism (mayavada). How can maya have the power to touch the Supreme Brahman? If you say that Brahman has no potency, then how can maya even approach Brahman? The maya potency has no independent power. How can she have any effect on the Brahman? It cannot be said that the great Brahman becomes covered by maya and is then forced to suffer in different ways. That is not possible. If Brahman's spiritual potency is always awake and vigilant, how can the insignificant maya-shakti defeat her and proceed to create the individual souls from Brahman in this way?  The Supreme Brahman is limitless and immeasurable. How can the limitless Brahman be broken into smaller souls in the same way the great sky is broken into the little skies within a series of clay pots? The idea that maya can have some effect on the Brahman cannot be accepted. Maya has nothing to do with the creation of the individual spirit souls. Although they are atomic in size, the individual spirit souls are superior to maya.

     Vrajanatha: At another time another teacher said that the individual spirit soul is a reflection of Brahman. As the sun is reflected on the water, so the Supreme Brahman, reflected on maya, becomes the individual soul. What does that mean?

     Babaji: That is also impersonalism. Brahman has no limit. Something that is unlimited cannot be reflected anywhere. The Vedas do not teach that Brahman is limited. This reflection-theory should be rejected.

     Vrajanatha: Another time a dig-vijayi sannyasi said that the individual spirit soul does not really exist. The ides of the individual soul is only an illusion. When the illusion is thrown far away, only the undivided Brahman remains. What does that mean?

     Babaji: That is also impersonalism. That idea has no root in the truth. In the Chandogya Upanishad (6.2.1) it is said:



ekam evadvitiyam



     "Brahman is one without a second."


     Do these words of the Vedas mean that only Brahman, and nothing else, exists? If nothing but Brahman exists, then from where has this illusion come? Whom does this illusion bewilder?  If you say this illusion bewilders Brahman, then you make Brahman a pathetic being. If you say this illusion bewilders something other than Brahman, they you contradict the idea that only Brahman exists.


     Vrajanatha: Another time a brahmana pandita of Navadvipa said that only the individual spirit soul exists. In a dream he experiences material happiness and suffering. When he wakes up from the dream, he discovers that he is Brahman. What does this mean?

     Babaji: That is also impersonalism. Brahman has a dream and becomes the individual soul? What proof do they have for that? The scriptures give the examples of mistaking the glittering on a seashell's surface for silver and mistaking a rope for a snake, but these examples do not prove the impersonalist idea that Brahman alone exists. These words are only a great network of word-jugglery meant to bewilder the people in general.

     Vrajanatha: The individual soul is not created by maya. That I accept. Maya has the power to dominate the individual soul. That I understand. This is my question: Does the spiritual potency (cit-shakti) place the individual soul on the border (tatastha) of matter and spirit?

     Babaji: No. The cit-shakti is the full manifestation of Lord Krishna's potency. Whatever she creates is eternally perfect (nitya-siddha). The individual spirit souls are not eternally perfect. By engaging in the activities of devotional service (sadhana) they may become perfect (sadhana-siddha) and thus enjoy spiritual bliss exactly like that enjoyed by the eternally perfect (nitya-siddha) beings. The four kinds of gopi-friends (sakhi) of Shrimati Radharani are eternally perfect beings (nitya-siddha). They are manifested from the form of Shrimati Radharani, who is the cit-shakti Herself. All the individual spirit souls are manifested from Lord Krishna's jiva-shakti. The cit-shakti is Lord Krishna's complete potency (purna-shakti). The individual souls (jiva-shakti) are counted among Lord Krishna's incomplete potencies (apurna-shakti). From the complete potency complete and perfect things are manifested. From the incomplete potency all the individual souls, who are atomic fragments of consciousness, are manifested. Lord Krishna manifests different kinds of entities according to the different kinds of potencies He employs to create them. When He is manifested in His cit-shakti, He appears as Krishna and as Narayana, the master of Vaikuntha. When He is manifested in the jiva-shakti, He appears as Baladeva, His pastime form (vilasa-murti) in Vraja. When He is manifested in the maya-shakti, He appears as the three forms of Karanodakashayi Vishnu, Garbhodakashayi Vishnu, and Kshirodakashayi Vishnu. In Vraja He appears in His original form, as Krishna, a form manifested by His complete potency. Appearing as Baladeva, He manifests His shesha-tattva (nature of Lord Shesha). In this way He manifests the eight kinds of services the eternally liberated associates offer to Him. Again in Vaikuntha He appears as Shesha-Sankarshana and manifests the eight kinds of service His eternal associates offer to Lord Narayana. Lord Sankarshana incarnates as Maha-Vishnu. He becomes the resting-place of the jiva-shakti and appears as the Supersoul in the hearts of all the individual souls residing in the material world. All these individual souls are attracted to maya. As long as they do not attain the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and take shelter of the Lord's spiritual hladini-shakti, they are defeated by Maya. Numberless souls are defeated by Maya and cast into Her prison. They are the followers of Maya's three modes. The conclusion is this: the individual souls are manifested by the jiva-shakti. They are not manifested by the cit-shakti.

     Vrajanatha: I have heard that the spiritual world is eternal and the individual spirit souls are also eternal. How is it possible for eternal things to be born, created, or manifested? If there was a time when they were not manifested and they only appear at a certain point in time, how can they be eternal?

     Babaji: The time and space present in the spiritual world is different from the time and space you experience now in the material world. In the material world time has three phases: past, present, and future. In the spiritual world time is not broken in that way. There time is an eternal present. In the spiritual world things do not come into being. Everything exists in an eternal present. When we who living in the world of material time and space try to describe the spiritual world, we tend to say things like, "The individual souls were created", "the individual souls were imprisoned by Maya", "the spiritual world was manifested", and "the individual souls are spiritual and were not created by maya". When we talk in these ways we certainly show how much we are influenced by staying in this world of material time. As long as we stay in Maya's prison we cannot avoid talking in this way. That is why when we describe the individual souls or the nature of spirit we cannot avoid speaking in terms of material time. Therefore we tend to speak in terms of past and future. Therefore a person who tries to understand the spiritual world properly tries to speak in terms of an eternal present. Baba, logic cannot help us understand these things. Here logic should be rejected. Then you will be able to see the nature of spirit. When he forgets that he is eternally a servant of Lord Krishna, the individual soul enters Maya's prison. Originally all souls are Vaishnavas. However, they become two groups: 1. nitya-baddha (eternally imprisoned by Maya), and 2. nitya-mukta (eternally liberated). A human being bewildered by matter cannot describe these things. Still, a saintly devotee can attain the spiritual vision to see these spiritual truths directly. My words are inevitably influenced by matter. I will describe these things as far as I am able. My words will inevitably be imperfect. O baba, you will be able to see the pure spiritual truth. However, logic will not help you. Why will logic not help? Because logic is useless in grasping what is beyond the mind's understanding. I know you will not be able to understand this all at once. Still, the more you follow the spiritual path the more you will be able to see the difference between matter and spirit. Your body is material. All the body's actions are material. But the truth is that You yourself are not material. You are a tiny particle of conscious spirit. The more you understand that truth, the more you will be able to perceive your own identity and the truth that you are superior to the material world. You will not understand this merely by hearing me tell you about it. As you follow the path of regularly chanting the holy names of Lord Hari, these spiritual truths will gradually spontaneously appear before you. Then you will understand the spiritual world. As long as the mind and words are influenced by matter, try as one may one will not be able to touch the spiritual truth. The Vedas (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.4.1) explain:



yato vaco nivartante

     aprapya manasa saha



     "The descriptive power of speech fails in the realm of the Absolute Truth and the speculative power of the mind cannot achieve Him."*


     My advice to you is: Don't ask anyone what they think of these conclusions. Experience them yourself. I can only give a hint about them.


     Vrajanatha: I say this: If the individual souls are like sparks from a blazing fire or atomic particles of sunlight, then what is the function of the jiva-shakti potency?

     Babaji: Krishna is self-effulgent, like a blazing fire or the sun. Krishna is like a blazing fire. In the center of the fire is the cit-shakti is present in fullness. In addition to the center there is also a great expanse illuminated by the fire. The same way the Krishna-sun illuminates a great area with sunlight. The rays of sunlight are particles of His internal potency (svarupa-shakti). Those atomic particles that constitute those rays of sunlight are the individual spirit souls. The internal potency (svarupa-shakti) manifests the Krishna-sun planet itself. The sunlight emanating from that planet is manifested by the cit-shakti, and the individual particles of light are manifested by the jiva-shakti. Therefore the individual spirit souls are manifested by the jiva-shakti. This is described in the following words of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.8):



parasya shaktir vividhaiva shruyate



     "The Lord's spiritual potency is manifested in many different ways."


     In this way the Lord's spiritual potency manifests the jiva-shakti-sunlight, which shines on the borderline (tata) of the spiritual and material worlds. In this way the eternal individual spirit souls are manifested.


     Vrajanatha: A blazing fire is material, the sun is material, and sparks are material. Why are material examples used here to describe the spiritual truth?

     Babaji: I have already explained that when we try to use material words to describe spiritual things, the faults of matter tend to slip into the description. In this situation we have no choice but to use examples like the fire or the sun. In truth, Lord Krishna is much greater than the sun. Lord Krishna's circle of spiritual potencies is much greater than the circle of the sun's light. Lord Krishna's effulgence is much greater than the sun's light. In this case certain features that may be similar are considered, but in many other way the two things being compared are not at all alike. The sun and the sunlight are beautiful and glorious, and the spiritual truth is also beautiful and glorious. However, the sun is material and it also burns things to ashes, and has many other like qualities also. These qualities are absent in the spiritual truth. When we say that milk is like water, we mean that as water is a liquid, so milk is also a liquid. We do not mean that milk and water are identical in all respects. If that were so, why would we designate one things as milk and another as water? Therefore, when we use an example to describe something, the example shows a similarity in only one point. The two things compared are not alike in everything.

     Vrajanatha: The individualsoul-sunlight is simultaneously one and different from the Krishna-sun. How is this possible?

     Babaji: In the material world when one things is manifested from another, the thing manifested is either different from or identical with its source. That is the nature of material things. When an egg comes from a bird, the egg and bird are then distinct. The egg does not remain a part of the bird. As long as they are not cut off, the hair and nails of a human body remain part of it. In the world of spirit the situation is different. When they are emanated from the spiritual sun, the rays of spiritual sunlight remain simultaneously one and different from their source. The rays of light and the atomic particles of which those rays are constituted are not different from the sun that is their origin. In the same way the sunlight of the jiva-shakti, and the atomic particles of which that sunlight is composed, which particles are the individual spirit souls, are not different from the Krishna-sun that is their origin. In this way the individual spirit souls are not different from Lord Krishna. However, the individual souls are all individual persons, and each of them has free-will. In this way they are each eternally different from Lord Krishna. In this way the individual spirit souls are simultaneously one and different from Lord Krishna. This is so eternally. In this way the nature of spirit is different from that of matter. The panditas also give another example from the material world. It is this: There is a large lump of gold, and from that lump a bracelet is fashioned. Because is is gold, the bracelet is not different from the gold lump. Still, because it is a bracelet, it is also different from the lump of gold. The example here does not hold in all its details, but in one point it holds. The Krishna-sun and the individualsouls-sunlight are one in the sense that they are both spirit, but they are different in the sense that one is the complete spirit and the other is a tiny particle of spirit. The impersonalists' example of the “sky within the clay pot and the great sky expanded everywhere" does not properly explain the spiritual truth.

     Vrajanatha: If spirit and matter are different, then why are these examples used?

     Babaji: The nyaya philosophers like to divide the components of the material world into various categories, and then claim that these divisions are eternal. Matter and spirit are not really different from each other in that way. As I said before, matter is merely a perverted manifestation of spirit. The perverted manifested and the original pure form from which it has come may share many similar features. The perverted manifestation is certainly different from the original pure form, but still the two share many similarities. Ice is a perverted manifestation of water. Ice is different from water. Still water and ice may both be cold and may share many other qualities also. There may also be differences. Cold and hot water do not share the quality of coldness. However, they do share the quality of liquidity. Therefore a perverted manifestation may have many qualities like those present in the pure manifestation that is its origin. Because matter is a perverted manifestation of spirit, spirit and matter do have some similar qualities. These similar qualities may provide material examples to describe spiritual things. Here the example of "arundhati-darshana-nyaya" (showing the position of the star Arundhati in the sky by using an object on the earth as a point of reference. In this way one may say, “If you look between these two branches of this tree, the star in the sky shining there is Arundhati") is appropriate. In this way examples drawn from material things can be used to reveal spiritual truths. Lord Krishna's pastimes are perfectly spiritual. They have not even the slightest scent of matter. Lord Krishna's Vraja pastimes in Vraja, which are described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, are perfectly spiritual and not material. When they are read to a circle of human hearers, they produce different results according to the qualifications of the different people hearing them. When people very attached to matter hear these pastimes they enjoy the material poetic language and, as far as they are concerned, think they are hearing description of an ordinary romantic couple. People of an intermediate qualification think in terms of the "arundhati-darshana-nyaya". They think these pastimes are examples drawn from the material world to reveal spiritual truths. Persons who are most qualified know that these pastimes are spiritual activities far beyond the realm of matter. These person dive into an ocean of nectar happiness to hear of these pastimes. Without speaking examples like these, how can one teach the people about the spiritual truth? The material mind and material words are defeated when they try to describe these things. How will the souls imprisoned in the material world attain an auspicious life? We do not see any way other than by speaking examples like the example of "arundhati-darshana-nyaya". Material things are either one or different. Spiritual things are not like that. Lord Krishna, His jiva-shakti potency, and the the individual spirit souls manifested from that potency are all inconceivable. You should accept that they are simultaneously one and different.

     Vrajanatha: In what ways are the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead different?

     Babaji: First I will explain how the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are eternally one. After that I will explain how They are eternally different. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is consciousness, a knower, an enjoyer, a thinker, self-manifested, and visible to others. He is also the knower of all fields of activity and He is full of desires. The individual spirit soul is also consciousness, a knower, an enjoyer, a thinker, self-manifested, and visible to others. He is also the knower of a field of activity and he is also full of desires. Because He is the master of all potencies, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has these qualities to the highest degree. On the other hand, the individual spirit soul, possessing only very slight power, has these qualities in a very slight degree. Although they are different in the sense that one is perfect and complete and the other is very small and atomic, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual spirit soul are alike in that They both possesses these qualities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of all potencies. He is the controller of the svarupa-shakti (internal potency), jiva-shakti, and maya-shakti. These potencies are all His obedient maidservants. He is their master. Whatever He wishes, they do. That is the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual spirit soul has a very tiny drop of these qualities. He is subordinate to the Lord's other potencies. The word “maya" is used in the Dasha-mula (in the verse quoted in the beginning of this chapter) to mean not only the Lord's material potency but also His internal potency (svarupa-shakti). The dictionaries explain:



miyate anaya iti maya



     "That which measures is called `maya'."


     According to this explanation, the word "maya" refers to the potency of Lord Krishna that manifests the spiritual world, the individual spirit souls, and the material world. Understood in this way, the word "maya" refers to the Lord's internal potency (svarupa-shakti), not to His material potency. Lord Krishna is the master of this maya potency. The individual spirit souls are under the control of this maya potency. This is described in the following words of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (4.9-10):



yasman mayi shrijate vishvam etat

     tasmimsh canyo mayaya sannirudhah



     "It is very difficult for the conditioned soul. illusioned by maya and trapped in the material world, to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the controller of the illusory potency and the creator of the material universes.*



mayam tu prakritim vidvan

     mayinam tu maheshvaram

tasyavayava-bhutais tu

     vyaptam sarvam idam jagat



     "One should know that although maya (illusion) is false or temporary, the background of maya is the supreme magician, the Personality of Godhead, who is Maheshvara, the Supreme Controller."*


     In these verses the word "mayi" refers to Lord Krishna, the controller of maya, and the word "prakriti" refers to His complete potency. This glorious quality (being the controller of maya) belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead alone. The individual souls do not possess it. Even the liberated souls cannot attain this quality. In the Vedanta-sutra (4.4.17) it is said:






     "Even after he attains liberation, the individual soul does not have the power to create the material world."


     therefore the conclusion of Vedanta-sutra is that the individual souls are eternally different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The circle of the wise accept this conclusion. This eternal difference is not an imagination. It is eternally real. The difference between the soul and the Lord will never be destroyed. Therefore you should know that the statement "The individual spirit soul is eternally a servant of Lord Krishna" is one of the most important teachings of the scriptures.


     Vrajanatha: If they are eternally different, then how are they not different? Should we accept the idea that when he attains nirvana, the soul becomes one with the Supreme?

     Babaji: baba, it is not like that. At no time does the individual soul become non-different from the Supreme.

     Vrajanatha: Then why do you say that the soul is simultaneously one and different from the Lord?

     Babaji: In the sense that they are both spiritual in nature, Lord Krishna and the individual soul are eternally not different. Otherwise, their natures are eternally different. Their oneness is eternal, and their difference is also eternal. Their oneness does not refer to the other qualities of their natures. In other qualities their difference is more prominent. Therefore, if one says that a house is simultaneously "the property of Devadatta" and "without Devadatta's presence", then even though Davdatta may be absent, the idea that it remains his property is the more important of the two ideas. Now I will give another material example. The sky is a material thing. If some portion of the sky is contained within a clay pot, the existence of the great sky outside the pot remains more important than the sky within the pot. In the same way the eternal difference between the Supreme Lord and the individual spirit soul is more important than their oneness.

     Vrajanatha: Please describe the soul's eternal nature more clearly.

     Babaji: the individual spirit soul is an atomic fragment of consciousness. He has knowledge. He has ego, or a sense of self, and he calls himself by the word "I". He is an enjoyer, and thinker, and a knower. The soul has an eternal form. That form is spiritual and subtle. That form has hands, feet, eyes, nose, ears, and other limbs, all handsome and graceful, superficially like the limbs of an ordinary material body. That body is made of a spiritual atom. It is very handsome. It is spiritual. That is the eternal form of the individual spirit soul. When the soul is imprisoned by Maya, the soul's original spiritual body is covered by two material bodies. One of these bodies is called "linga-sharira" (the subtle body) and the other is called "sthula-sharira" (the gross body). The linga-sharira covers the atomic spiritual form of the individual spirit soul. From the time the soul is first imprisoned in the material world until the time he is released, the linga-sharira cannot be removed. When the soul takes birth in another body, he enters a different sthula-sharira (gross body). He does not enter a different linga-sharira. He keeps the same linga-sharira. The linga-sharira is one. On the other hand, the soul periodically leaves one sthula-sharira and, impelled by his material desires, accepts another sthula-sharira. Thus, following the path of the five fires described in the Vedas, the soul attains a new sthula-sharira, These five fires, beginning with "citagni", “vrishty-agni", "bhojanagni", and "reto-havanagni" are described in the Chandogya Upanishad and the Vedanta-sutra. In this way one birth follows another. According to the desires he had in his previous births, the soul attains a particular kind of new body. In this way he attains a certain kind of material nature and a particular status among the castes. According to the way he acts in the varnashrama system, he gets an appropriate new body at the time of death. Meanwhile his original spiritual form remains covered, first by the linga-sharira, and secondly by the sthula-sharira.

     Vrajanatha: What is the difference between the eternal spiritual body and the linga-sharira?

     Babaji: The eternal body is an atomic particle of spirit. It has no defects. The soul may properly apply the word "I" to this body alone. The linga-sharira is composed of material perversions of the soul's original mind, intelligence, and ego.

     Vrajanatha: How can mind, intelligence, and ego be material? If they are material, how can they be conscious of anything?

     Babaji: Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita (7.4-6):



bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh

     kham mano buddhir eva ca

ahankara itiyam me

     bhinna prakritir ashtadha



     "Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false egoaltogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.*



apareyam itas tv anyam

     prakrtim viddhi me param

jiva-bhutam maha-baho

     yayedam dharyate jagat



     "Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.*



etad yonini bhutani

     sarvanity upadharaya

aham kritsnasya jagatah

     prabhavah pralayas tatha



     "Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution."*


     Look at these words of Gita Upanishad. Here two natures: superior (para) and inferior (apara) are described. The superior nature is the jiva-shakti, and the inferior nature is the maya-shakti. Because it is a particle of spirit, the jiva-shakti is here called "superior". On the other hand, the maya-shakti is made of matter, and therefore it is called “inferior". The individual spirit souls are different from the inferior, material potency. The inferior potency has eight elements: the five gross elements and the three subtle elements of mind, intelligence, and false ego. When they are manifested in the material potency, mind, intelligence, and ego are material in nature. These three form a body made of consciousness, but that consciousness is not spiritual, it is material consciousness. From the material mind all else is manifested. The mind is thus conscious of material objects and engaged in directing material activities. This the material mind is the root from which material things grow. It is not the root of spiritual things. In the material consciousness is placed the conception of what is good and what is not good. This is called "intelligence". This intelligence is material in nature. From this material intelligence material ego is manifested. This kind of ego is not spiritual in its nature. When these three material elements (material mind, intelligence, and ego) combine they form a second body, which is called the linga-sharira. The material ego of this material linga-sharira then covers the eternal spiritual ego of the individual spirit soul. In the soul's eternal spiritual form, the spiritual ego understands its relationship with the spiritual Krishna-sun. When the soul attains liberation, this original spiritual ego becomes uncovered and is openly manifested. As long as the linga-sharira covers the soul's eternal spiritual form, the soul tends to identify itself as matter. At that time the truth, that the soul is spiritual, is almost completely lost. The linga-sharira is made of subtle matter, and because it is subtle it is easily covered by another body, the sthula-sharira, which is made of gross matter. When the covering of the sthula-sharira is in place, the ego identifies with one of the castes or other groups (varnas) of this world. Because they are perverted manifestations of their counterparts in the soul's original spiritual body, the material mind, intelligence, and ego think they are really conscious of the world around them.


     Vrajanatha: I understand now that the individual soul has a eternal spiritual form each limb of which is very graceful and beautiful. When the soul is imprisoned by Maya, that original spiritual form is covered by the linga-sharira. In this way the soul's beauty is covered and hidden. Then the linga-sharira is covered by the gross sthula-sharira. In this way the soul's original form is completely hidden by a a great apparatus of material things. My question is this: Is the liberated soul completely perfect and free of any defect?

     Babaji: Although he is free of defects, the atomic spiritual soul is not perfect. Why not? He is very tiny and very weak. For this reason one defect may be seen in the individual soul: because he is so weak, when he comes into contact with the maya-shakti, the soul is easily overpowered and his original form becomes covered. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.2.32), the demigods speak the following prayer to the Supreme Lord:



ye 'nye 'ravindaksha vimukta-maninas

     tvayy ashta-bhavad avishuddha-buddhayah

aruhya kricchrena param padam tatah

     patanty adho 'nadrita-yushmad-anghrayah



     "O lotus-eyed one, those who think they are liberated in this life but do not render devotional service to You must be of impure intelligence. Although they accept severe austerities and penances to rise to the spiritual position, to impersonal Brahman realization, they fall down again because they neglect to worship Your lotus feet."*


     Therefore, even when he is liberated, the individual spirit soul is not very great and is always imperfect. That is the truth of the individual spirit souls. The Vedas declare that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of Maya, but on the other hand the individual spirit souls are so weak that at any moment they may be overpowered by Maya.