Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who Am I ?

The entire world seeks to answer two questions.  The first one is, "What do we all want?" and the second, "How will we attain it?"  All the knowledge in the world, right from the worldly to the Vedic, attempt to answer these two questions. "What do we want and how do we attain it?"  How surprising it is that in countless lives, we have not been able to answer them. The day we find the answer, our relationship with this material world will come to an end.  With that, our wandering in the 8.4 million life-forms, the five sorrows - joy and suffering, love and hatred, fear of death, ignorance, ego (pride) and the five sheaths of maya will also come to an end. 
Let us take up the first question.  What is it that we want?  It is a very simple question and can only be answered when we understand who we are.  We use the pronouns I, we, you.  What is this 'I' that we refer to?  Once we understand the true 'I', we will automatically understand what 'I' want.
What is this 'I'?  You have two things in your possession - one of them is conscious and the other is not.  The body, the sense organs, the mind and the intellect are insentient - devoid of consciousness.  You may disagree and say that they are conscious.  After all, your hands and feet do move, the eyes see and the ears listen.  Every sense organ is working.  The mind thinks and the intellect takes decisions.  All of these appear to be conscious.
You can say that a chair or a table is not conscious.  This statement is true.  But, how can you say that the body, mind and intellect are not?  Furthermore, if you stick a pin at your body, you experience pain, don't you? Yes! Well then, how can that which is not conscious, experience pain?  So, understand that the sense organs, the mind and the intellect, are all included within the body.  We are two - the body and the soul. We sometimes say, "My body is old; my body is ill; my body is fat; my body is thin."  We say 'My'.  'My' means, 'that which belongs to me'.  This means that the body is 'mine', and that 'I' am not the body.  Moreover, we observe our body daily, and we feel that it is conscious.  After the entity referred to as 'I' has left the body, do you call the body conscious or non-conscious?  That body starts decomposing in 24 hours.
ghar ke kahahiṁ vegi hī kāṛho,  bhut bhae kou khaihaiṁ
jā din man pachhi uṛi jaihaiṁ
What does this mean?  It means that there is an 'I' within the body.  When this 'I' leaves, the body loses its consciousness. In other words, it is the 'I' that keeps the body conscious.  The body itself is not conscious.  The entity called 'I' is responsible for keeping the body alive.  When the 'I' leaves, the body returns to its original form.  The original form of the body is that it is a puppet made of five gross elements.
The Vedas, Shastras and Saints have given a name to the entity referred to as 'I'.  They call it 'Soul'.  Soul means that which is alive and which keeps others alive as well.  The soul has two functions - It remains alive by itself, and keeps others alive.  It is conscious, and as long as it remains within the body, it keeps the entire body conscious.
Let us now understand the characteristics of the soul.  Scriptures talk about two types of characteristics; svaroop and tatastha (marginal) characteristics. Svaroop means the natural characteristic of the soul.  The soul is conscious; it is a power of God.
Continue reading the translation of lecture  delivered by Shree Maharajji
At the same time, the Darshan Shastra as well as the Kenopanishad  point out that the entity called 'I' is beyond the intellect, and as such, it cannot be understood by the intellect. The 'I' is beyond the grasp of the senses, the mind and the intellect since these are material and non-conscious.

yo buddheḥ paratastu saḥ

The Gita says the same.  We will have to rely on the Vedas and the Shastras to understand what the soul is all about.  The scriptures say that the soul is a power of God.  How many powers does God have?  They are all unlimited.  However, we can divide these countless powers of God into three.
viṣhṇubhaktiḥ parā proktā kṣhetrajñākhyā tathā parā
avidyā karmasaṅjñānyā tṛitīyā śhaktiriṣhyate
Ved-Vyas says in Vishnu Puran that God has three main powers.  The first is para shakti, the second is kshetrajna shakti (tatastha or marginal) and the third is called maya. Para shakti is God's own personal power.  It is also called as svaroop shakti or yogmaya shakti. God's marginal power (tatashta) refers to the individual soul.   God's external power is called avidya, i.e. maya.  What function does avidya perform?  It creates the world.  Maya includes God's power 'maya' as well as the world.  So, there are three powers - yogmaya, maya and the individual soul.

The individual soul is a fraction of God.  It is the marginal power of God (tatastha shakti).  What is the marginal characteristic of the soul?  It is an eternal servant of God.
jīver svaroop haya kṛiṣhṇer nitya dās
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, "The soul's true nature is God's servitude". The Puranas, Shastras and God-realized saints say the same thing. The Vedas, the Shastras and the saints, say that there is a difference as well as a 'non-difference' between God and the individual soul.  It is a very unique relationship indeed.
God is conscious, and so are we.  From this point of view, we are equal to God.  But there are differences between God and the individual soul. God is unlimited consciousness and we possess limited consciousness.  In other words, God's consciousness pervades everything, and our consciousness pervades only our own body.  The soul pervades a small body; that of an ant, and it pervades a big body, that of an elephant.  There is no body bigger than that.  So, God is omnipresent; He is unlimited consciousness, and the individual soul is so small, so subtle that -
sukṣhmatāṁ parākāṣhṭāṁ prāptojīvaḥ

How small is the soul?  The very definition of the soul is that it is the smallest.
Every Veda and Shastra says that the soul is so small that there is nothing smaller.  Thus, God is unlimited consciousness and the soul is minute consciousness.  This is a very big difference indeed.  Let us look at the second difference.  God is the controller; the individual soul is controlled.  In other words, God is the governor, and the individual soul is governed by Him.  The soul is controlled by God at all times.  The consciousness which is within the individual soul has been provided by God. The individual soul is always connected to God.
The consciousness within the individual soul has been provided by God.  The individual soul is always connected to God.
nityo nityānāṁ chetanaśhchetanānāmeko bahoonāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān
tatkāraṇaṁ sāṁkhyayogādhigamyaṁ jñātvā devaṁ muchyate sarvapāśhaiḥ
The Vedas declare that it is God Himself who gives consciousness to all living beings.  Moreover, God is the one who powers the intellect.
The Upanishads reiterate this message.  God empowers the sense organs, the mind and the intellect.  Equipped with God's power, these three faculties perform their respective functions.
The Vedas say that there are two kinds of doers.  One is the Prayojya Karta (actual doer) and the other is the Prayojak Karta (motivating doer).  God is the motivator, and the individual being is the actual doer.  In other words, God gives power to the senses, mind and intellect to perform actions.  But what use will the individual make of that power?

svatantraḥ kriyamāṇe vai kṛito bhagavatā vidā

The individual soul possesses a certain degree of freedom; it is free to perform actions. God has given us powers. However, there are limitations on these powers.  He does not disturb us as we perform actions, nor does He disclose that He is observing us and making notes of these actions.  Had the Vedas not told us this truth, we would never have found out!
We are free to use our senses, mind and intellect in the right direction or in the wrong one.  So, when it is said that God is the doer, it means that He has given us the power.  How can  we think or act if He does not provide us with the power to do so?  Since we are the actual "doers", we are also punished at times for our sinful deeds.
Let us now examine the third difference between God and the individual soul.  God is Omnipotent; He has all powers, and the individual soul has very few.  There are hundreds of such differences between Him and the soul.
It is true that there is no difference between the individual soul and God, and it is also true that there are differences between them.  This is the marginal characteristic.  Why is it called the marginal power?  One of God's own powers is the individual soul.  Two are two more powers: one is para shakti, and another one is maya shakti.  In between these two is the individual soul.  We have already learnt earlier that para shakti is also known as svaroop shakti or yogmaya shakti.
The individual soul, which is conscious, cannot be a part of maya, which is devoid of consciousness.  Thus, the individual soul is neither a part of maya shakti, nor is it a part of svaroop shakti.  It is between both these powers, like trishanku.  This is why it is called tatastha shakti, i.e. Marginal power.
This is better understood with a real-life example.  The river has a 'tat', i.e. riverbank.  The shoreline has water as well as a part of the earth.  You can give it both names.  Let us define a shoreline.  It is the final limit of land which contains both earth and water.  At the same time, it is separate from both earth and water.  So, the soul is not like God who is the all-witnessing, all-controlling, all-governing, all-loving, all-powerful and almighty Lord.  He has unlimited consciousness.  The individual soul is not the same, and this means that it is not a part of para shakti.  And maya is devoid of consciousness, and the individual soul is conscious.  This means that it is not a part of maya.
mamaivānśho jīvaloke jīvabhootaḥ sanātanaḥ
The Geeta says that the soul is a fraction of God. 

The Bhagavad Geeta also says -
gatirbhartā prabhuḥ sākṣhī nivāsaḥ śharaṇaṁ suhṛit

The Geeta says that God is our 'everything'.  This is why we are His fractions.
The Ramayan also says the same.  Why is the individual soul called a fraction?  Fraction means a piece.  Let us take a cloth and rip it up.  What we get is a piece of that cloth.  Now, can God be divided into pieces?  Can anyone in the world prove that God is divisible?
How can God be divided?  It would mean that God is limited.  God cannot be divided.  He is called 'Akhand'.  He is indivisible.  Every saint has said that God cannot be divided.  The individual soul is not a piece of God.  If it were, it would not be eternal.  It would mean that it became a piece of God one day.  Moreover, the Vedas say that God is indivisible; this is a definition of God.  Therefore, there is no question of the individual soul being a piece of God.  Then, what is it?

shaktitatve naivāṁśhatvaṁ vyaṁjayati

It is a power of God.  Jeev Shakti.  A Power called jeev, individual soul.  This is why it is called a fraction.  It is called a fraction from the point of view of being a power, not a piece.  If the soul were a piece of God, it would be just like God.  Drink ten glasses of nectar or a little drop; you will surely attain the benefits of drinking nectar.  If we were direct pieces of God, we would have in our possession the bliss and knowledge that God has.  We would then have all the properties that God possesses.  What difference does it make whether a touchstone weighs twenty pounds or ten grams? As long as the touchstone makes contact with iron, it will surely turn into gold.
So, it is from the point of view of being a power of God that we are called fractions of God.
You can refer to the soul as a fraction of God, or a power of God.  The question is, why is it called as a marginal power of God?  Where does this power live?  Because, para shakti lives inside of God.  And maya is the external power, which lives outside of God.  No, that is not true.  None of God's powers can live outside of God.   No power can live outside of the powerful.  What power does fire have?  It has the power to burn and to enlighten.  Now, try to remove this property away from fire.  Try taking the power of enlightening out of fire.  Impossible; you would not be able to do it.  Both these powers will always be inside fire.  The power of burning cannot do its work when it is separated from fire.  In the same way, no power of God can live outside of God.  Not even maya.  But maya has created such a big world.  What power does maya, devoid of consciousness, have?
jāsu satyatā te jaṛa māya

It is the power of God that is making maya do all this work.  What power is that?  The same svaroop shakti, para shakti, chit shakti; it has many names.  God makes maya work on the strength of para shakti.
Thus, God makes maya work with the strength of para shakti.  And that is the reason why, there is no person, no yogi, no ascetic in countless universes who has ever, or who will ever be able to defeat maya.  Why?  Because, maya is governed by para shakti.  Only the one who can defeat para shakti, can defeat maya.  Now, who except for God, can anyone defeat para shakti?  This is why the condition -
māmeva ye prapadyante māyāmetāṁ taranti te
The Bhagavat says that it is only with God's grace that one can gain freedom from maya.  Without His grace, the ones who attain knowledge of the 'self', even they fall.  Maya shakti belongs to God.  God says very cleverly to Arjun,
daivī hyeṣhā guṇamayī
"This maya, with the three modes, is Divine, it is very powerful."  Arjun says, "So what!  If maya is strong, I am also in possession of the Gandeeva bow."  God says, "Mama maya," i.e. "My maya." 
If it is 'Yours' (God), only 'You' can defeat it.  No one is powerful enough to defeat maya.  If someone has defeated maya, he has defeated 'You'.  Then what else is left to do?  There have been many demons who have ruled over the three universes, they, who could imprison Indra and made even Brahma run for help.  But even they could not defeat maya.
So, the external power, maya is governed by God's svaroop shakti or yogmaya, and empowered by svaroop shakti, this world is created by maya.  This is the reason why maya has full control of the individual soul.  It is svaroopavarika maya.  There are two kinds of maya:  gunavarika maya and svaroopavarika maya.  Both are governed by God's yogmaya.  All powers of God live inside of God. 

Conclusion:  maya shakti lives inside of God, as do jeev shakti and para shakti.  But neither maya shakti nor jeev shakti are in touch with God.  Only para shakti is.  That is the only difference.  Maya lives in God, but is separate from God.  The individual soul lives inside of God, but is separate from God.  Only svaroop shakti is the power that is always connected to God.

So, the natural characteristic of the soul is that it is a marginal power of God.  There is a difference, as well as non-difference between God and the individual soul. The marginal characteristic of the individual soul is that it is an eternal servant of God.

1 comment:

  1. The true "I" i.e. the soul can only attain God by Learning meditation. The body meditates with the mind and the soul receives divine bliss