Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
29 September 2022
Let eyes see, ears hear, nose smell, tongue taste and skin touch their respective objects. Let the hands too hold, legs walk, sit or lie, let the organs of evacuation and procreation do their respective functions as well. None of these can affect or involve the Soul presence in each. It remains motionless, uninvolved in actions, all-filling and eternal. Nothing can alter this truth about the ‘I’.
Dear and blessed souls:
Harih Om Tat Sat
Senses can perceive only external objects. They have no power to focus inside the body to feel the presence within. The only way to delve into one’s own within is to introspect. The process is led by words and ideas meant to identify and reveal the inner Presence.
Death of the body is not the death of the Soul! If the old age death does not affect and involve the Self, how can the battlefield death do? So also, the cardiac arrest does not affect or involve the Soul. In understanding the event of death, one has to be broad, deep and expansive. Let him not study the event merely on the basis of what the senses perceive. Sensory perception itself is actually what the mind brings about employing the senses. Its roots are inner, in the invisible inner horizon, which our intelligence alone can access applying rational means and norms. Do not make a mistake in this; do not underestimate the capacity or role of your intelligence.
Realizing the inner Presence
Thus saying, Krishna began to describe the inner Presence by listing its qualities and characteristics one after the other. He also elucidates the benefits of knowing and realizing the inner Presence.
The next six verses (2.20 – 2.25) form a beautiful set revealing and emphasizing the inner spiritual Presence, the ‘I’, vividly. Each word of Krishna should become a subject for close introspection. Such introspection is itself the true sadhana. When properly done, the whole process will become subtler and finer, and before long will dissolve into its very source, namely the inmost spiritual Presence, the ‘I’.
Verse 2.20 is the most inspiring, exhorting and revealing. It explains in terms of rational description what is the Self, the ‘I’ and how it shines and reveals itself.
Above birth & death
Krishna says, “(this Self) does not get born”. ‘Na jaayate’; yes, the seeker has to rise above the concept of birth. To be born means, not to have been present earlier. If anything was not present any time, how could it be present later? Can presence follow absence? If it follows, then the word ‘absence’ will not have any meaning or relevance at all. Presence can never give rise to absence; nor absence engender presence. Do not relate the two, which are like darkness and light, day and night, yesterday and today, today and tomorrow. When one is there, the other cannot be. Is this not a basic fact? Can it be set aside, forgotten, come what may, no matter what the senses perceive and pronounce? This is where the rational human has to assert the role of his intelligence and reason, and pursue them without any delusion, fear or doubt.
Say and feel, the ‘I’, the Self, the inner Presence, is never born. Hence, it does not die either. Krishna continues to say: having been present for a while, it does not become absent later. The truth can only be either the ‘I’ is not there or ‘I’ is ever there. None has any doubt, whether he is alive and present. Stand in pitch darkness, when you are not able to see your own body. Then lift your hands, so that they do not touch your thighs. Even then you will feel, ‘I am’.
Tell me, which ‘I’ are you referring to as ‘I am’! Did you ever know it to be the least absent earlier? Is the presence of the ‘I’ following its own ‘not having been’ there for any while? That is why Krishna says, it is existing not after having been non-existent. Nor will it become non-existent any time. Thus, both birth and death become irrelevant to its presence.
‘I’ is eternal
Krishna, in terms of positive description, makes the presence of the Soul clear, concise, doubtless and full. Mark each word and let the intelligence follow it, trying to unearth the content aimed at:
The Self does not get born, because it is unborn. Unbornness is its character. It was never absent or out of expression. Grasp it as that. Develop your understanding, intellectually penetrate and grasp its invisible presence.
Being unborn, ‘I’ is eternal. Birth alone makes anything transient. As it is eternal, it is also changeless, untransforming, unlike the body, which changes moment to moment. If you trace the presence of the Self, you can never reach its origin. Wherever you go, there you will find the Self-presence.
It is the most ancient. Such an eternal Presence cannot be subjected to the least destruction any time. As the world is present, with all its fleetingness, transience and transformingness, the imperishable Self is present as its substratum, with even a greater force. It is on the eternal Presence of the Self as its base, that the world hovers and floats as a visible display. The Universe is only a manifestation of the Self on itself, as is the dream a display by the sleeper on himself, the Self.
“Dear Arjuna, it is such an unborn, undying and indestructible Self that I say is never destroyed even when the body is slain.” To slay and to be slayed are features and occurrences of and in the body, the visible manifestation or display. Yes, however huge, imposing and mystifying, the phenomenal display is, it does not the least touch, alter or affect the intellectually grasped inmost Presence, the Self.
Before the intelligence the Self alone is, no matter whether the body and the senses cook up their own illusions. Remember, your senses are gross. They are peripheral on the gross body, but you are the experiencer, the cognizer, the perceiver and the realizer. Hence you are neither gross, nor inert, nor visible. The entire body with senses, together with the world, remains entirely extinct for 8 hours of the 24-hour day, when you sleep, alone by yourself. How can the body, senses and the world, obliterated for 8 hours of the day, claim any status or existence to eclipse, drown or dismiss the imperishable Self, the ‘I’ of all? Think, deliberate, follow your reason and rationality; and then attempt an answer.
Waking, sleep and dream, all transitory facets
Enough of this delusion, doubt and illusion. Let your inner eye be opened. Let the intelligence sparkle with its independent probe and finding. Unearth the Presence inside your body. It is the body that goes to sleep and wakes up. Do not miss the lessons of sleep; and do not be deluded by the false notions of wakeful state. Wakefulness is only one of the three states we have. Combine the lessons of wakefulness with those of sleep and dream. And then find out where does the waking state stand and with what relevance and validity!
See the sharp and penetrating reason, the sustained outcome of your intelligence. It can reveal a fact, a truth, dismissing all that the senses display and express. While the senses exist and disappear every day, the ‘I’ which enables them to cognize wakeful details, does not the least get diminished or extinct.
In fact, the only extinction-free presence is the ‘I’ – the waker, the sleeper and the dreamer! Know well that the sleeper alone wakes up and also dreams. Waking, sleep and dream are transitory facets, each dismissing the other two, whereas the ‘I’ is the untransforming and ever-the-same presence which alone sources the three states. Tell me clearly now whether the waking state has any power or potential to overwhelm or overrule the ever-present ‘I’.
Effect of knowledge-transfusion
Where is the grief-stricken Arjuna now? Where has gone his fear? What of his delusion and doubt? All of them have fled. Krishna’s words have held Arjuna so firmly and well that everything in him has vaporized and the Self alone shines in its unconditioned lustre. This is the effect of knowledge-transmission, nay knowledge-transfusion.
When the intelligence gets illumined, neither the mind nor the senses can any more induce delusion or illusion. As light dispels darkness, the Subject illumination drives away all object illusion. This is what happened for Arjuna sitting behind Krishna on the chariot, charioteered by Krishna for him (Arjuna), the master of the chariot sitting.
Thanks to ignorance, thanks to delusion, fear and doubt. But for these, Krishna’s enlightening eloquence would not have been occasioned to manifest its mystic splendour!
Killing the body – not the Soul
You know what this means: How can one, who knows this inner Presence, the ‘I’, as indestructible, ever present and inexhaustible, kill or cause another to kill anyone? Killing the body is not to kill the Soul. It is like a fused electrical bulb. Does it damage electricity or its circulation?
The difference between the gross perishable body and the subtle spiritual presence is so obvious, that no physical activity will have any impact on the inner presence. This point can be understood by intelligence only by reinforcing discrimination.
Once you understand the nature of Soul thus, all questions about killing and destruction become totally irrelevant, meaningless. In a way, Krishna has concluded his dialogue, revealing the imperishable nature of the Soul, the ‘I’, in everyone. Arjuna’s fear, doubt and grief were due to his apprehension that so many warriors arrayed in the battlefield would be killed by one another, if the war was to be fought. That would be too criminal an act, sinful to the core. And he would, he felt, be the cause of it all. So, war as well as participation in it was terrible, unthinkable for him.
Unaffectedness of the ‘I’
But Krishna exposed what is present in the body, which we refer to as the ‘I’. He clearly said more than once that the ‘I’, the Soul, in every one is still, non-acting, all-pervading and hence is not the least involved in any seeming activity or interaction. Let anything transpire in the visible sensory world. Let eyes see, ears hear, nose smell, tongue taste and skin touch their respective objects. Let the hands too hold, legs walk, sit or lie, let the organs of evacuation and procreation do their respective functions as well. None of these can affect or involve the Soul presence in each. It remains motionless, uninvolved in actions, all-filling and eternal. Nothing can alter this truth about the ‘I’.
He wants Arjuna to realize this and drop all his delusion, fear and doubt, which are creations of the mind. Knowledge is a product, which the intelligence alone can strive for and grasp. He asks Arjuna to employ his intelligence and realize the truth, no matter where he is and what he is out to do! Inner knowledge pursuit is not deterred by any external activity.
“As the world is present, with all its fleetingness, transience and transformingness, the imperishable Self is present as its substratum, with even a greater force. It is on the eternal Presence of the Self as its base, that the world hovers and floats as a visible display. ”
“Say and feel, the ‘I’, the Self, the inner Presence, is never born. Hence, it does not die either. ”
“If you trace the presence of the Self, you can never reach its origin. Wherever you go, there you will find the Self-presence.”
“The Universe is only a manifestation of the Self on itself, as is the dream a display by the sleeper on himself, the Self. ”
“However huge, imposing and mystifying, the phenomenal display is, it does not the least touch, alter or affect the intellectually grasped inmost Presence, the Self. ”
“How can the body, senses and the world, obliterated for 8 hours of the day (during sleep), claim any status or existence to eclipse, drown or dismiss the imperishable Self, the ‘I’ of all? Think, deliberate, follow your reason and rationality; and then attempt an answer. ”