In our country there are contradictory views about the nature of the living being. One party says that the soul is all-pervading. The holders of another viewpoint state that the soul is the size of the body it pervades, and one more viewpoint states that the soul is so tiny as is inconceivable by the material mind.
(Bhagavatam 11.16.11) The soul is the subtlest of all things. Now this needs some reflection. What do the Vedas state? The Vedas state that the soul is minute (anu). By minute we mean it is very subtle. (Katha Upanishad 1.2.8; Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.9; Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5.9) All these Vedic verses are stating that the soul is extremely minute. It is so tiny that there is no instrument in the world, no microscope that can see it! What does the Vedanta state? "Yes, I am going to say exactly what the Vedas say." The soul is extremely subtle.
Now another person comes along and says, "If the soul is miniscule, how is it that the entire body is conscious? I do not accept this. One should say the soul is equivalent to the size of the body that it inhabits. After all, one's practical experience shows that if a pin pricks any part of the body it hurts (i.e. consciousness is spread throughout the body). If the soul was minute, it should hurt only in the region the soul resides. All other areas of the body should be insentient. But, the entire body is conscious."
(Brahma Sutras 2.2.32, 2.2.33 and 2.2.34) Again, this has been refuted in the above verses. If the soul is equivalent in size to the body it occupies, an elephant's soul would be the size of an elephant! If in another life that soul becomes an ant, how will such a large soul fit into such a small body? Yes, if that soul enters the ant's body it will split from all sides as it cannot possibly fit. Then, if an ant's soul enters an elephant's body, it will occupy such a small space that the rest of the poor elephant's body will remain insentient. Therefore it is wrong to say that the soul is the size of the body it occupies. (Brahma Sutra 2.2.34) In this verse, the word ubhayanityatvat implies that the soul remains as it is forever.
Prahlada enumerates twelve qualities of the soul. (Bhagavatam 7.7.19) "The soul is eternal, indestructible, pure and unsullied by matter and its attributes, one without a second and for whom the body is an object and field of expression, unchanging, self-illuminated, the support of everything, pervasive, unattached and uncircumscribed." So it remains the same in the beginning, middle and end. It neither increases nor diminishes. Anything which expands and contracts is temporary, whereas the soul is eternal . . .
An excerpt from the English translation of a discourse originally given in Hindi by:
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj
23 October 2009
Bhakti Dham, Mangarh
Main Kaun? Mera Kaun?