Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 22 Jul 2020


Is God Present In Every Soul?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[Shri MRK Sai (hardware engineer, USA) asked: The Gītā says that all the items of this world are based on God just as the beads in a string of beads are strung together with the thread running through the centre of every bead. The Veda also says that God created this world and entered it. Scholars say that God entered this world as the awareness seen as souls. Hence, the soul is God or, at least, God is in the soul, like the thread in the string of beads.]

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! You are saying that the soul or awareness is the God, who has entered this world after creating it. If this statement were correct, we should find awareness or the soul in all the items of the world. But awareness is confined only to animals or zoological living beings that are scattered here and there. Space exists in between two such living beings, but it does not contain awareness. If the soul or awareness were existing everywhere in the world like the thread in the string of beads, we should find awareness in all inert items. This created universe contains inert items like stars in which awareness is not seen. Even on this earth, awareness is not seen in many inert items. The soul is awareness. If that awareness itself is God and if it is said that God exists in all items of creation, then that awareness should exist in all inert items also, just as it exists in living beings.

Two contradictory statements

These two statements are mutually contradictory: (1) God exists in all the items of creation and (2) God is the soul or awareness. The fact is that awareness or soul is not found in all items of creation. It is found only in a very few items namely, living beings. To avoid the above contradiction, you have to modify at least one of these two statements. The first modification is saying that God is not this soul or awareness. The second modification is that God is awareness, but He is not present in all items of creation. Let us see which modification is better.

Let us consider the first modification. The soul or awareness exists only due to the presence of inert energy and the functioning material nervous system. Both these must exist to produce awareness. In a stone, inert energy exists, but there is no nervous system. In a dead body, inert energy exists. More inert energy can even be introduced into a dead body. It also has a nervous system, but it is not functioning since it is dead. Actually, even in a living body during deep sleep, the nervous system is not functioning and hence, awareness is absent during deep sleep.

In these examples, awareness is absent. If awareness were God, it would mean that God is generated from the already-created inert energy and the functioning nervous system. It would mean that inert energy and the nervous system, made of matter, are not created by God since they must have existed, even before God, to create God! But we say that God created this entire universe, including inert energy and inert matter. If this is correct, before creation, inert energy and inert matter could not have existed. In that case, how could God, who has been assumed to be awareness, be produced? If you say that awareness, which has been assumed to be God, is independent of inert energy and inert matter, why is such awareness not seen in a dead body or a stone or everywhere else in the world?

Let us now consider the second modification. If God exists everywhere in this world, God must exist even in a demon. In that case, how was Rāvaṇa, who contained God, killed by Rāma who also contained God? Does it not finally result in God killing God, which is the suicide of God? The reality is that since Rāma contained God, He always followed the path of justice and since Rāvaṇa did not contain God, he always followed the path of injustice, owing to his bad mentality. Similarly, when a preacher containing God is preaching to a disciple containing God, is the omniscient God preaching to Himself? All these questions show that God has not entered the world everywhere. He has entered the world only through a specific human being, who is called a Human Incarnation like Rāma. We are not opposing the concept of the entry of God, who is beyond the world, into the world. All we are saying is that God did not enter this world everywhere. If we say that a person entered his house, does it mean that you can find the person everywhere in his house? You can only find him in a specific room.

Since God is beyond this imaginable world, by His inherent unimaginable nature, He enters this world only through a selected medium. Since the main purpose of the entry of God is to preach divine spiritual knowledge to humanity, God enters only a selected human medium. This is an advantage because when God in the form of a human being starts preaching to people, it will not create any undue excitement among people since preaching is a normal activity of human beings. If God were to enter a stone, animal or bird and start preaching, it would create terrible excitement among people and no one would be able to remain in a calm state to properly understand what He is preaching and ask Him for any clarifications in the knowledge. Hence, God enters only a specific human being, who becomes the Human Incarnation of God. He does not enter all human beings and He does not enter all living beings either. Hence, we should not say that the soul present in all zoological living beings is God and we should also not say that God has entered all human beings.

The analysis of the above two modifications proves that both the modifications are essential. This means that both the concepts were not correct and were actually misinterpretations.

Correct interpretation of the scripture

The statements of the Gītā as well as the Veda from which these two statements were derived are correct, if they are correctly interpreted. God is compared with the central thread in the string of beads in the Gītā. Elsewhere also in the Gītā, God is said to be in the heart of all items or in the hearts of all zoological living beings. The God referred to in the first context, is Krishna (Mayi sarvamidaṃ...) and the God referred to in the second context is Datta (Īśvaraḥ sarva bhūtānāṃ...). Both these cases refer to mediated God having finite forms. These finite forms of the mediated God are not suitable for omnipresence since they are bound by spatial coordinates. Krishna is a finite human form and Datta is a finite energetic form. Both these forms are merged with the unimaginable God and hence, have omniscience and omnipotence. This means that even though the finite forms are not omnipresent in a physical sense, both are omnipresent in an effective sense. This means that such a divine finite form can be treated to be existing everywhere due to its unimaginable power, even though it does not exist everywhere physically. The finite form knows everything (omniscient) and controls everything (omnipotent) due to the unimaginable power of unimaginable God merged with it. The Veda clearly says that the unimaginable God is the support of the world (Brahma pucchaṃ pratiṣṭhā) which means that God is the tail (base). It means that when an animal sits, its tail acts as its support or as the seat. This Vedic statement is about the non-mediated unimaginable God (Brahman).

A comparison is always given only in view of a specific selected concept. God created the world, but the thread did not create the beads. Neither did the tail create the animal. Hence, similes should be understood only in a limited sense, confined only to a particular aspect. The relevant aspect here is that God is said to be the support or basis (sthiti) of the world. Just because God created the world, He need not enter the product as mud enters into the pot or as gold enters into the chain. In both these examples, the cause is modified into another form and it does not remain in its original form of the lump of mud or the lump of gold. But by creating the world, God does not get modified from His original form (Avikārya). Hence, other similes are taken here, which are that of a magician creating magic or a Human Incarnation creating an item by will (Māyāvīva vijṛmbhayatyapi mahāyogīva...Śankara). In these similes, the Creator stands without any change, outside His creation. The Veda also mentions this simile (Indro māyabhiḥ...). This means that, in spite of the fact that it is a creation-process, the cause need not enter the effect, as a rule.

You need not say that God is awareness just because the Veda says that He planned to create this world. We have already proven that God cannot be this imaginable awareness, due to absence of inert energy and nervous system in Him. God is beyond both the imaginable worldly concepts of inertness and awareness since He is unimaginable. The unimaginable God can have awareness, due to His unimaginable omnipotence, even in the absence of inert energy and the nervous system. God can think even without being this imaginable awareness and He can burn anything even without being this imaginable fire (energy), just by His unimaginable omnipotence. Hence, we accept that God is awareness, provided you specifically say that God is unimaginable awareness, which means that such awareness has no imaginable causal background, like inert energy and the nervous system.

Illusory World

[Shri MRK Sai asked: Scholars say that this world is an illusion (bhrānti) and call it māyā. Since the soul is God or at least, God is in the soul, we must try to attain God by crossing this māyā. Please clarify these concepts.]

Māyā, the wonderful creation

The word māyā comes from its root word maya, which means wonderful (Maya vaicitrye). The Gītā says that this world (prakṛti) is māyā (Māyāṃ tu prakṛtiṃ...). This is with reference to the soul (imaginable awareness), which is also a part of the imaginable creation of the unimaginable God. The soul is said to be parā prakṛti, which means the best part of creation. Hence, the soul is only a part of creation (prakṛti) and is not the Creator-God. The Brahma Sūtrās also say that the soul is not the Creator of the world (Jagat vyāpāra...). The soul cannot create even an atom of this world and hence, it cannot even be a tiny part of the Creator (Netaro’nupapatteḥBrahma Sūtras). The unimaginable awareness is omniscient, whereas, the imaginable awareness (soul) has very little knowledge (alpajña) and this difference is due to unimaginable and imaginable backgrounds of the two respectively. The Gītā clearly says (Yasmāt kṣaramatīto’ham...) that God (Puruṣottama) is beyond the soul (akśara) and beyond all the other items of creation (kśara). The Gītā classified awareness as an item of creation (Sanghātaḥ cetanā dhṛtiḥ...) and not as the Creator. In the Gītā, God says that no soul can know Him (Mām tu veda na kaścana). If the soul were God, God would have not said this. There are plenty of the Vedic statements saying that God is unimaginable to any soul since God is beyond words, mind, intelligence and logic.

Śankara said that the soul is identical with God for the purpose of turning atheists into theists. His formula was that when the soul is said to be God and it is clear that the soul exists, it automatically follows that God exists. This logic appealed to atheists and they became theists. Next came Rāmānuja, who brought these theists closer to the truth by telling them that the soul is not identical with God, but that it is a tiny part of God, just as a spark is a tiny part of a huge fire. Then came Madhva, who opened the complete truth that the soul is separate from God and is fully controlled by God, just as a servant is controlled by a master. Madhva was the final preacher in the sequence of the three divine preachers. So, the final understanding of the relation between the soul and God must stand on Madhva’s concept, which says that every soul is only a part of the creation of God.

Rāmānuja’s concept of the soul being partially God and Śankara’s concept of the soul being fully God are not the already-existing original states of the soul. But it is possible for a soul to attain partial or complete oneness with God, if God wishes so, for the sake of accomplishing some divine work in the world. Even if God gives His partial or full status to a certain soul, that soul should always retain the realization of its own real status, as God’s servant alone. This is the lesson to be learnt by us from Hanumān, whom Madhva presented before us as an ideal. Hanumān was made the creator of the world (God) in the next cycle of creation. Yet Hanumān still feels that He is a humble servant of God, even while creating the entire world. The Advaita philosopher, on the other hand, is unable to create even an atom in this world and yet he feels that he is already God who has merely forgotten himself! Nobody forgets himself, except a mad person! If a soul has an eye on the status of becoming God, fully or even partially, the soul is disqualified from becoming God, at the very start. Only the soul who is totally free of the aspiration of becoming God, will be granted that status by God, if God wishes so.

Māyā, the unreal creation

The word māyā can be also interpreted as nonexistent (Yā mā sā māyā). This interpretation applies only to God and not to the soul. Māyā, being the projection of the unreal as real, is so powerful that it appears real even to God to give full entertainment to Him. Māyā is very much real for the soul. In fact, it is as real as the soul itself since the soul is its tiny part. It is possible for the soul to come out of the weak individual illusion called avidyā and realize the reality. An example of the individual illusion is the case of a rope appearing as a serpent to a person in dim light. It is true that the same principle of illusion is involved in māyā, which is the creation of God, due to which, energy appears as matter. But māyā is very very powerful and the soul can never come out of it because māyā even feels real to God, so that He can get real entertainment from the world. A soul can create an imaginary world, but the soul does not have the power to make its imaginary world feel as real to itself as the real world. The entertainment that the soul can derive from an imaginary world is very little since the imaginary world never feels real. If you treat māyā to be an ordinary illusion for God, just as avidyā is for a soul, then it means that you are treating God to be a powerless human being, who has to entertain Himself with an obscure imaginary world!

God is the absolute reality and the world is the relative reality, which is nonexistent without God. The soul is a tiny part of this relative reality (world) created by God. The world cannot be another absolute reality because God performs miracles in this relative reality. One absolute reality cannot create or destroy another absolute reality. God creates and destroys this world, which means that God is the absolute reality and the world is the relative reality. If the soul were also the absolute reality, it would have had the power of creation and destruction of the relatively real world or at least a tiny atom of it. The soul is a tiny part of this relatively real world and cannot say that the world is relatively real (mithyā) or unreal (asat) in its view.

Monism in the Incarnation alone

The unimaginable God is always beyond space since, being the creator of space, He does not have spatial coordinates in Him. He is beyond the idea of volume. Due to His unimaginable power, the unimaginable God enters the world only through a selected energetic or human being as an Energetic or Human Incarnation, respectively. No soul should aspire to become an Incarnation, even in its dream. A devotee asking for some boons from God is like a servant asking the king for some materialistic gifts, which is excusable, even though it is not real devotion. But a devotee aspiring to become God is like the same servant aspiring to become the king! The king may nominate the servant to be the king for few days, in his absence. But even during that period, the servant, while sitting on the throne, should never forget that he is only a petty servant of the king.

The same God exists in different media and hence, all the forms of God are one and the same God. This is what is meant by the Veda, when it says that there is no second God since God is only one. This is monism (Advaita) as far as the context of God is concerned. This is monism in the unimaginable phase. Regarding monism in the imaginable phase, all items of the imaginable world are made of inert energy alone, as said by the Veda (Śarvamātmaivābhūt...). This is monism in the context of creation. Matter is a condensed form of energy and awareness is a specific work form of energy. The entire world is only made of energy, matter and awareness. Suppose there are 100 ornaments made of gold and another 100 ornaments made of silver. We say that the entire first set of ornaments is gold and the entire second set of ornaments is silver. There is monism within each set, but it does not mean that there is monism between the two sets. Gold is not silver. Only golden ornaments are gold, whereas, silver ornaments are silver. The world is unreal for God and hence, only God is real for God. For the soul, the world is real since the soul is a part of the world. The soul can understand the world, but it cannot understand the unimaginable God. Of course, the unreal world appears just as real to God as it appears to the soul. As a result, the world gives real entertainment to God. From the point of view of obtaining real entertainment, the world is real to God, whereas, from the point of view of creating and destroying the world and performing miracles, the world is unreal to God. But for the soul, the world is always real.

Is inert energy God?

There is every possibility to mistake inert energy to be God because inert energy generates, maintains and destroys this entire world. Except for one defect, inert energy can be considered to be God and that one defect is that energy is inert. It does not have awareness. Energy has no universal nervous system, so we cannot say that cosmic energy has awareness. Atheists think that this inert energy itself is God, even though it does not have awareness, because they neglect the existence of the unimaginable God. So, the world itself is God for them! This inert energy was created by God and it is the root cause of all items of the world. Hence, inert energy is called mūla prakṛti (Prakṛtirmūla kāraṇe) or the root material cause of the world. In fact, God is the real root material cause since this original inert energy was ultimately created by God alone. God is also the unimaginable awareness. He is said to be the unimaginable awareness because the mechanism of producing this awareness is beyond our imagination. It was produced without inert energy or a material nervous system. This unimaginable awareness is also the root intellectual cause of the original cosmic energy and the entire world that arose from it. Hence, God is called the single root intellectual-material cause of this world (Abhinna nimittopādāna kāraṇam).

God is beyond the medium

The soul, being a specific work-form of inert energy, is purely made of inert energy. The body of the soul is made of inert matter and inert energy. Matter is a condensed form of inert energy and awareness is a specific work-form of inert energy. Thus, any zoological living being is totally made of inert energy alone. The medium of any divine human being is also made of inert energy, inert matter and the non-inert awareness. Whenever we use the word God, it refers to the unimaginable entity. Whenever we use the word human medium, it refers to the combination of body and soul. The soul is imaginable, non-inert awareness and the body is made of inert matter and inert energy. If it is an energetic medium, the body is made of inert energy alone, as in the case of an angel. The imaginable medium is never the unimaginable God. God is beyond even the imagination of the medium. It is highly laughable if the imaginable medium thinks that it is the unimaginable God, when it cannot even imagine the unimaginable God!

When Arjuna insisted that Krishna repeat the Gītā after the war, Krishna told him that He could not repeat it because the Gītā had come directly from Parabrahman or the unimaginable God. But since Arjuna insisted much, Krishna repeated the Gītā, which is known by the name Uttara Gītā. But this repeated Uttara Gītā was of a very low quality compared to the original Bhagavad Gītā and it did not become famous at all. When even the soul acting as the medium of God is unable to imagine God, is it not laughable when an ordinary soul tries to imagine God? Is it not even more laughable when the ordinary soul tries to become God, just by knowing that it is already God!

Similarity and difference between God and the soul

From causal angle, the soul is inert energy and from the angle of the effect, the soul is awareness. Both inert energy and awareness are imaginable and they cannot be the unimaginable God. The work done in transporting information from the senses to the brain is awareness and this work is done by the consumption of inert energy derived from food. Hence, awareness is defined as a specific work-form of inert energy. It is the inert energy that gets transformed into awareness in the functioning nervous system. The specific nature of work into which the inert energy gets transformed, depends on the specific nature of the machine (system) which is the conversion device. Electrical energy is converted into a specific form of work, namely, grinding work in a specific machine called a grinding machine. The same electrical energy is converted into another specific form of work, namely cutting work in another specific machine, called a cutting machine.

Śaṅkara was an Incarnation of God. If you consider His awareness as the non-mediated God, then that awareness is certainly independent of inert energy and a nervous system. It can be called unimaginable awareness or the unimaginable God. Awareness is the common point between the imaginable soul and the unimaginable God. Awareness means knowing itself and knowing things other than it. Based on this one small similarity, if you say that the soul is God, you are neglecting the vast difference that exists between the two. The unimaginable mechanism behind the awareness of God and the omniscience of God, which is unattainable for the soul, makes the claim of oneness between the two invalid. If a beggar says that since he is also a human being like the king, he is also the king, is it meaningful in any way? One cannot neglect the vast difference between the two because of just one similarity.

Rāmānuja took the mediated God (Nārāyaṇa) as the ultimate. Hence, there is similarity between the medium of God and an ordinary human being. Based on this common point, one might be tempted to treat the ordinary human being as being part of God. But even that is not acceptable. The mediated God means that God and the medium have merged with each other to become a single entity. When God merges with the medium (soul and body), the medium also becomes the unimaginable God (Antarbahiśca…—Veda). Can pure water be treated to be a part of a solution of sugar in water? If it were so, the pure water would have had a part of the sweetness of the sugar solution. But it does not. So, the soul is not inherently God, either partially or fully. The partial or complete identity with God should neither be desired by a soul nor can be attained by any effort by any soul. Having such a wish or making any effort to fulfill that wish, automatically disqualifies the soul from attaining any state of oneness with God. That state can only be granted by God, whenever God wants to do some divine work through His devotee in this world and give its credit to His devotee.

Gradual realization that the Incarnation alone is God

Some devotees have greatly aspired to see, to talk, to touch and to live with God (Darśana sambhāṣaṇa sparśana sahavāsa bhāgya catuśṭayam). To fulfill their aspiration, God merges with a selected devotee and comes down (avatāra) to this earth. So, one can neither say that every soul is God nor can one say that no soul is God. Both these are extremities like a flood and a drought. The soul should always think that it is a humble servant of God, in every stage.

Śankara said that the soul is fully identical with God for the sake of atheists, who were 100% egoists. Rāmānuja said that the soul is part of God, for the sake of theists who were 50% egoistic. These were the same souls, who, in the time of Śaṅkara, had been converted from atheism to theism. Madhva said that the soul is separate from God and is the servant of God, for the sake of devotees, whose ego had reduced down to 0%. These were the souls who had followed Rāmānuja and progressed on the path of devotion, under His guidance. Finally, Datta Swami now says that the soul is only an imaginable part of creation and that it cannot even imagine the non-mediated unimaginable God. Hence, there cannot be even a trace of similarity between God and the soul because God is the Creator and the soul is a tiny part of the creation of God.


| Shri Datta Swami | Is God Present In Every Soul? | Gita Ravana Raavana Rama Raama Mayi sarvamidam Krishna Ishvarah Eshvarah sarvabhuutaanaam Brahma puchcham pratishthaa Avikaaryah Maayaaviiva vijrumbhayatyapi mahaayogiiva Shankara Indro maayabhih Ramanuja Raamanuja