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About the Soul
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The soul is a subject of great mystery to some and of awe and wonder to the others. The Bhagavad Gita says that most will find the soul very amazing, yet there will be people who cannot understand it at all. Nevertheless, the Bhagavad Gita speaks extensively about the soul and studies all of its aspects with great scrutiny. Here are the features of the soul as presented in the Bhagavad Gita:

1)      The soul is the living entity.

The Bhagavad Gita plainly states that soul is the living entity that is able to have experiences of reality around it. It is the very source of consciousness. The soul, or the living entity, is also referred to as the “knower” of the field of activities or the body. The self or the soul is held to be distinct from the various mental faculties such as desires, thinking, understanding, reasoning and self-image (ego), all of which are considered to be part of prakriti (nature).


2)      The soul pervades the entire body.

The soul is spread all over the body as consciousness. This spreading of consciousness is limited within one’s own body. One is unaware of the pains and pleasures of the other. Therefore, each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul.
 
Since the quality of soul is primarily consciousness, all sentient and insentient beings are pervaded by soul, including plants, animals, humans and gods. The difference between them is the contracted or expanded state of that consciousness. For example, animals and humans share in common the desire to live, fear of death, desire to procreate and to protect their families and territory and the need for sleep, but animals' consciousness is more contracted and has less possibility to expand than does human consciousness.


3)      For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. The soul has no past, present or future.

The body of a living entity is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its birth in 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, doesn’t go through any such changes. The soul is not born, but, because it takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth there, and the soul does not die. The soul has no past, present or future.

When the soul becomes embodied it is called birth, when the soul leaves a body it is called death. The soul transmigrates from one body to another body based on karmic [performed deeds] reactions.


4)      The soul is indestructible, unbreakable and insoluble.

The soul cannot be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can it be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. It is indestructible and unbreakable. All souls are therefore eternally separated individuals.


5)      The soul is unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

Matter is continuously subject to all kinds of changes due to influence of time. But, unlike matter, the soul is never subject to any change since it is not under the influence of time. It is actually an eternally separated atomic part of the spirit whole. It remains the same atom there, eternally, without change.


6)      The soul is an eternally blissful consciousness.

The soul is same in quality with the Absolute Truth, or the Brahman, although it is different in quantity. The qualities which are common to both Brahman and atman (soul) are being (sat), consciousness (cit), and bliss/love (ananda).


7)      The soul is invisible, inconceivable and immeasurable.

The soul is consciousness and the conscious. It is thus invisible and inconceivable. It is transcendental to mere matter.


8)      The soul accepts new bodies, giving up old ones, just like a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones.

Material bodies being made from matter are constantly changing. Thus, the soul is constantly getting new bodies to be embodied into. Similarly, at the time of death of the body, the soul accepts another material body.

The jiva (living entity) becomes involved in the process of becoming and transmigrating through cycles of birth and death because of ignorance of its own true nature. The spiritual path consists of self-realization – a process in which one acquires the knowledge of the self (brahma-jñanam) and through this knowledge applied through meditation and realization one escapes this cycle of repeated birth and death.

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