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Chapter 4 Science of the soul
The ABC of Bhagavad-gita
The first and most fundamental knowledge that a disciple learns from a guru is, "You are not the body; you are a spirit soul." This knowledge is the ABC of Bhagavad-gita and one of the first instructions that Lord Krishna gave Arjuna, when Arjuna surrendered to Him [BG 2.13]. Let us understand this fundamental knowledge of the scriptures in this lesson. Doctors dissect and study a dead body. What makes a living body possess emotions and feelings like pain, pleasure, happiness, distress, etc? The soul is the spark of life that makes the body appear alive and when the soul leaves the body, we say the person is dead.
According to the Vedic knowledge, the body is always dead. For example, a microphone is made of metal. When electric energy passes through the microphone, the sound is broadcast over loudspeakers. But when there is no electricity in the system, nothing happens. Whether the microphone is working or not, it remains nothing more than an assembly of metal, plastic, etc. Similarly, the human body works because of the living force within. When this living force leaves the body, it is said that the body is dead. But actually it is always dead. The living force is the important element; its presence alone makes the body appear to be alive. But "alive" or "dead," the physical body is nothing more than a collection of dead matter.
Direct experience, inference, logic, empiric observation and religious faith all concur: some sort of conscious self-energy exists within the body. The body is an instrument; the conscious energy, soul is the user of that instrument. Say, I use a bicycle to travel from one place to another. If my cycle is destroyed, I will have to get another one to ride - or I will have to stop using a bicycle altogether. But I exist apart from the bicycle. Analogically, if my body is destroyed, I, the soul, am not destroyed with it. I continue to exist as much as the bicycle driver continues to exist after the destruction of the bicycle. One bicycle may breakdown, but I can get a new one. One body may grow from childhood to youth to old age and die one day, but I can get another body. If one has a desire to drive a scooter, then one might change from a bicycle to a scooter. If one can pay a higher price and wants to drive a car to save himself from the chasing dogs, then one may give up a scooter and buy a car, etc. The vehicles may change, but the driver is the same. Similarly, the soul, in order to satisfy his unfulfilled desires, leaves the material body at death and acquires a new material body - be it human or animal or demigod/devata -depending on his karma and desires.