Knowing the Self

All souls have certain questions, such as who am I and who is mine? Someone might be surprised to hear this as it seems obvious that we should know who we are and who is ours, but do you truly understand this? No, you do not. In fact, only one out of millions understands the answer to these questions, and yet it is essential that we know them. 

The Kena Upanishad (2.5) states, “O human beings! You must find the answer to these questions in this lifetime otherwise great harm will befall you.” What is this harm? The Katha Upanishad (2.3.4) says for millions of ages you will suffer as we are suffering now. We all experience various kinds of sufferings and the binding effects of maya. There are the three types of suffering (tritapa), the five afflictions (panchaklesha), the five coverings of the soul bound by maya (panchakosha), the three kinds of bodies (trisharira), the three material qualities (gunas) and the three kinds of karma, etc. and all these produce unlimited mental and physical suffering. You will have to undergo all of these for millions of ages. 

In the world, two kinds of existences are described - one is jar or lifeless and that other is chetan or live. There is no third kind of existence. A lifeless existence is made of the five material elements. It has no power of discrimination or thinking. A live existence refers to all living beings. We use all our senses, we think and make decisions. You are also included among all these existences.  When we are alive we are labelled as a human being, but after we die we are not considered the body. You say, “He left today and now only his body remains.” Who left? That part which was alive. What remains behind is the lifeless part. So we are actually two – one “I” is alive and the other “I” is lifeless. 

Uddhava once asked Shri Krishna, “Who is the greatest fool?” Shri Krishna’s response was, “The one who considers himself to be the body.” Yet we continue to consider those to whom the body is related to be our true relatives, and that property owned by the body to be ours. We believe this in spite of seeing the temporary and destructible nature of everything in this world. 

Our true “I” or self is the soul which has two qualities, (1) it remains alive and (2) it gives life to another. For example, if you put a small candle in a room, the whole room will be illuminated. If you remove the candle, the room will enter into darkness. Similarly, the soul enlivens the human body, and when it leaves the body, only a lifeless corpse remains. When the soul leaves the body, it doesn’t go alone. It leaves with the senses, mind, intellect and body. Someone who is seeing a dead body before them might be surprised by this statement. How can we say the soul left with the body when the body is lying before us? We actually possess three types of bodies, (1) the gross body or sthool sharira (2) the subtle body or sookshima sharira and (3) the causal body or karan sharira. The soul leaves the gross body and senses behind and departs with the subtle senses, mind, intellect and body.

To be continued . . .


An English translation of a discourse delivered in Hindi by:

Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj

20 October 2009

Bhakti Dham, Mangarh

© Radha Govind Samiti


To read the concluding part, click below:

Part 2

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