Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 21 Oct 2013



Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

Shri Phani: The Gita says that the soul is not different from the living thoughts of awareness and also is beyond the thoughts meaning that the soul is the basic inert energy (Nanyam Gunebhyah Kartaaram…). In such case, the soul is said to be non-inert and inert, which is a self-contradiction. What is Your explanation here?

Shri Swami: The word Atman used for the soul means that which pervades all the items (Atati iti Atmaa). If all the items indicate this entire world, the infinite cosmic inert energy is referred by the word Atman. In such case, the inert cosmic energy is the cause for all the inert materials like solids, liquids and gases (matter) and also the cause for all the forms of inert energy like light, heat, etc., since this entire world consists of matter and energy only. Hence, this basic inert cosmic energy, called as ‘Prakriti’ in the Gita or ‘Mula Prakriti’ in ‘Sankhya’, is the source of all the inert items (matter and energy) of this creation. This Prakriti is not only the source of all the inert items but also is the source of all the living items like awareness and various thoughts. The awareness is a specific form of work of inert energy functioning in a specific system called brain and nervous system. Work is also a form of inert energy only. The awareness is the specific form of work in general, which is the specific form of inert energy. This general specific work, called as awareness, becomes several thoughts or qualities due to difference in the specific modes of the work. Therefore, the inert energy is also pervading the general awareness and also all the thoughts subsequently. Hence, the creation that constitutes all the inert items and the non-inert items like awareness and thoughts is pervaded by the basic inert cosmic energy (Atman).

The above concept can be made clearer with the help of an example. The basic inert and infinite cosmic energy can be treated as the basic lump of Gold. This basic lump can be directly modified into big pillars and beams. Such pillars and beams are the inert materials of the creation. This basic lump of Gold can be modified into a thin chain also, which can be treated as a specific form. Such thin chain is the general awareness. This thin chain can be used to prepare different jewels like rings, neck chains, bangles etc. All these ornaments are the various thoughts or qualities. The lump of Gold is directly modified into pillars and beams and the same lump is indirectly modified into ornaments due to the presence of the thin chain as intermediate. Since the cosmic energy (lump) is pervading all the inert and non-inert items of this creation, this cosmic energy can be called as Atman in the broadest sense since it is pervading all the items of the creation. But, you can also call the thin chain as Atman in finite sense, since it is pervading all the ornaments.

The unimaginable God, who is the source of the Prakriti (Atman) is the ultimate cause and is not the product or effect of any other cause. Therefore, Prakriti is both cause and effect. If you forget the unimaginable God as the ultimate cause like a scientist, you can treat the Prakriti as the ultimate cause, which is not the effect of any other cause. Such Prakriti is the cause of all inert and non-inert items. This Prakriti is referred as the Mula Prakriti in Nireeshwara Sankhya established by the sage Kapila, who is an atheist. The actual Kapila, the human incarnation of God, is different, who established the concept of God in His Philosophy, called Sankhya, which is similar to Seshwara Sankhya of Patanjali.

Inert Energy and its various inert & non-inert effects

Shri Swami: This Prakriti is sub-divided into two categories viz. the ‘Apara Prakriti’ representing both inert and non-inert items as the products representing the total creation and the ‘Para Prakriti’, which is the basic infinite inert cosmic energy, the root cause of this creation forgetting the unimaginable God, who is actually the root of this root i.e., the unrecognizable cause. The Apara Prakriti is lower type since it is the effect of the recognized cause, which is the infinite cosmic energy (Atman). The Para Prakriti is higher type since it is the root cause of all this creation. You should carefully note that the Apara Prakriti includes not only the inert items like five elements, but also the non-inert items like mind, intelligence and ego (Bhumiraaponalo…). Since Para Prakriti is the root cause for the entire world including non-inert living beings, it is said to be the source of this entire creation (Yayedam Dharyate Jagat). Here, it is also mentioned that this inert cosmic energy is also transformed as a specific work called awareness (Jeevabhutaam). Here, the source of this entire creation should be taken as the primordial inert cosmic energy (lump) and not the awareness (thin chain). The Advaita Scholars here take this Para Prakriti as the awareness itself. This is absurd because here it is said that the Para Prakriti is modified as awareness. Therefore, Para Prakriti by itself cannot be awareness. It is also practically absurd to say that the awareness in human beings is the source and maintainer of this creation. However, if you insist that this Para Prakriti is awareness, in such case, the world generated and maintained by the awareness should mean the world of imaginations and ideas (Vishaya Jagat). You can also support this by taking the context of Philosophy that you are supposed to be relieved from the world of thoughts and not from this physical world. The salvation means relieving yourself from the strenuous world of thoughts and not from this innocent inert physical world. Therefore, the death, which relieves you from this physical world, is not salvation since you can get the salvation even when you are alive in this physical world (Jeevanmukti). Therefore, the classification mentioned above as Para and Apara is not regarding the division of inert (Jada) and non-inert (Chit). This classification is only regarding the root cause (Para), which is the basic inert energy and the various effects of this root cause, which are both inert and non-inert.

Para Prakriti is not God

The confusion comes when you take Para as God and God as the awareness. Here, the God classified His own creation (Prakriti) as Para and Apara. In such case, how can this Creator-God become one of these two parts of His own Creation? Both Apara (Me Bhinna prakritih) and Para (Prakritim Viddhi Me Paraam) are clearly stated as the parts of His Creation. If the Creation itself is the creator, it means the process of Creation did not take place. You should not say that the Creation is non-existent as per Advaita and hence, there is no problem. Certainly, the Creation is non-existent with reference to God. But, here, God is not explaining His Creation to Himself, but, is explaining to Arjuna, an individual soul, which is a part of the Creation itself. The Creation is real to the individual soul. The non-existent Creation gives entertainment to God, since God, assumes the non-existent as existent like a human being entertained by his imaginary world, which is really non-existent but assumed as existent by the human being. However, the discussion about the reality and the unreality of the Creation cannot disturb the point that the Creator cannot be the creation. Even in the case of entertainment, the Creator not only assumes the unreal as real but also the assumed creation must be assumed by Him as different from the Creator. The reason is that there will be no entertainment if the Creator assumes Himself as the creation. Therefore, the Para Prakriti, which is the part of creation of God, cannot be treated as God.

Therefore, the cosmic energy can be taken as Atman in the broadest sense and the awareness can be taken as Atman in limited sense. The inert energy is common in all the items of the creation and the awareness is common in the limited living beings only. The all pervading nature and commonness are similar in both allowing the word Atman to be used in cosmic energy and awareness. However, it is better to differentiate both these by using the word Atman to mean cosmic energy and Jeeva or Jeevaatman to mean the common awareness in all the living beings. The word Jeeva, meaning awareness, differentiates the limited Atman present in all the living beings from the general Atman present in the entire creation. You must always remember that the general Atman is always inert and the limited Jeevaatman is non-inert. The natures of non-inert Jeevaatman and inert Atman differ and hence, there is qualitative difference. The Jeevaatman present in all the living beings is also very small compared to infinite Atman and thus, even quantitative difference exists. We can hold the comparison between Jeevaatman and Atman since both can be viewed as the same inert energy because the awareness is also the modification of inert energy. You cannot bring the quantitative difference between two items, which do not have any similarity. Now, the Atman and Jeevatman have the similarity that both are essentially inert energy only and can be expressed in the same quantitative units. By this, the logical opposition to negate the quantitative difference is ruled out.

Now, the point is whether in your question the soul refers to general Atman or limited Jeevaatman. As per the context of the chapter, the soul referred here is the limited Atman or awareness existing in all the human beings. The reason is that the fate of the different human beings is the topic of discussion here. Hence, the awareness or limited individual soul existing in the human beings is only referred. In such case, you can say that the limited individual soul (Jeevaatman) or awareness is not different from thoughts or qualities (like the chain not different from ornaments). At the same time, the chain is different and beyond the ornaments like the individual soul or thoughtless awareness is different and beyond all the thoughts. The awareness itself is a thought and here ‘all thoughts' mean the thoughts, which are different from the Jeevaatman. The thought means the process of awareness of some object by the subjective Jeevaatman. When all the other thoughts are absent, the subjective Jeevaatman itself becomes the object also called as self-awareness. When all the thoughts including Jeevaatman disappear, only inert energy is left over as happens in the deep sleep. In this verse, the finite soul is said to be the doer of different deeds (Kartaram). This is again another proof to say that the awareness is only referred here and not the inert cosmic energy, since the inert energy cannot do anything by itself. However, even if you take the inert cosmic energy as the referred soul here, it can also be correlated. The cosmic energy and the thoughts including Jeevaatman are the products of the cosmic energy only and hence, can be taken as the cosmic energy itself and at the same time, the cosmic energy is different and beyond like the lump is different and beyond the chain and ornaments. Therefore, in any case there is no difficulty except that the context prefers the individual soul only and not the cosmic energy here.

Life is one of the means of generation of awareness

Shri Phani: Does the word ‘life’ represent the awareness?

Shri Swami: The word ‘Life’ stands for the ‘Prana’, which means the oxygen gas. This oxygen refers to the respiratory system. This oxygen oxidizes the food in the digestive system generating inert energy. This inert energy enters the nervous system and is transformed into awareness, which is a specific work that is specific to that specific nervous system only. Therefore, the respiratory system is an associated side system in the generation of awareness. If the oxygen is not inhaled, death results, which leads to the disappearance of awareness. In the absence of nervous system, only respiratory system cannot indicate the awareness. Plants have the process of respiration but do not have awareness due to absence of nervous system. Hence, trees are said to be inert like stones. The scripture also says that the highest sinner is punished to take birth as inert tree or the inert stone. But, a scientist called Bose, conducted experiments to show that plants also have feelings or awareness. But, such awareness is very negligible in the absence of nervous system and brain. The nervous activity of a living cell in the form of fluids is very negligible. A very minute thing can be treated as nothing. Hence, there is no contradiction between Bose and the Scriptures. Therefore, the life can be taken as one of the means for the generation of the awareness and cannot fully represent the awareness itself. The respiratory system is called as Pranamayakosha and the awareness consisting of feelings is called as Manomayakosha.