One of Our Readers Claims that We Cannot Know the Soul

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One of Our Readers Claims that We Cannot Know the Soul

Postby backtohome » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:22 pm

One of Our Readers Claims that We Cannot Know the Soul


Thanks for your daily informative capsules on spirituality.

Lord Krishna is the eighth avatar (Supreme Being entering His creation with the limitations of the world) or incarnation.

Krishna in Sanskrit translates to dark, unknown, mysterious. atman/Paramatma i.e. soul/Supersoul are of the same characteristics. We cannot know them from the senses or physical methods. We know we are living. But do we know what or where our soul is? That is the mystery of the whole existence.

Krishna is not different from anything. It is the principle or root of existence everywhere. It is within you and without. This is the Upanisadic understanding. So it would be better to avoid superlatives like, "He is the Supreme Lord." Paramatma is a realization that dawns upon a person when there is deeper understanding of the existence in a soul.

In Chapter 2 of the Srimad Bhagavad-gita: Krishna says to Arjuna, "You and I have been through various births, you don't remember them, but I do. And I manifest as per my own will." So a realized person knows the essence of this creation, and if he willfully wants to take birth, he can choose to be born as per his desire for the greater good of the existence. But an unrealized soul doesn't have the awareness nor the viveka (power of discrimination) to do so.


Answer: You Do Not Know, But We Know.

Your thanks is greatly appreciated. It is our duty to pass on to our readers what we have imbibed from our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and from the great acharyas who have preceded him in disciplic succession. So any appreciation you have of our humble attempt to pass on this message is actually for them. If I have any credit in this connection it is that I am honestly passing on the message that these great spiritual authorities have bestowed upon me without any addition, adulteration, or subtraction.

Since you have quite a few misconceptions which are not in accordance with the Vedic conclusion, I am humbly begging from you that I may allowed to point these out to you for your benefit.

The first point is that you mention that Krishna is the eighth avatar without mentioning that He is the source of all the avatars. Although Krishna makes His appearance after some of the other avatars, He is clearly described in the Vedic literatures as Avatari, the source of all the avatars. He is clearly described in the Srimad Bhagavatam as Svayam Bhagavan, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Then you relegate Krishna to the realm of the unknown by referring to the literal meaning of His name as if the literary meaning of His name conclusively defines His position, which it does not. While Krishna certainly remains unknown to the non-devotees, He becomes fully revealed and known to His devotees. Thus the translation of His name derived by breaking it into two syllables as described in the Mahabharata is a more appropriate understanding:

kṛṣir bhū-vācakaḥ śabdo
ṇaś ca nirvṛti-vācakaḥ
tayor aikyaṁ paraṁ brahma
kṛṣṇa ity abhidhīyate

"The word 'kṛṣ' is the attractive feature of the Lord's existence, and 'ṇa' means spiritual pleasure. When the verb 'kṛṣ' is added to the affix 'ṇa,' it becomes 'Kṛṣṇa,' which indicates the Absolute Truth."
--Mahābhārata (Udyoga-parva 71.4).

Although the atma and the Paramatma or the soul and the Supersoul share the same characteristics of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, there still remains a gulf of difference between them because the soul or atma is infinitesimal while the Paramatma or Supersoul is infinite.

While you are correct in understanding that the soul and Supersoul cannot be understood by physical means, you fail to note that they can understood by transcendental means.

You state that we do not know what the soul is. We accept that you do not know what is the soul. But this does not mean that we do not know. By the causeless mercy of our spiritual master we know what the soul is. It is a subatomic, indivisible, indestructible particle of anti-material energy, which is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and is currently animating the material body in which it is presently situated.

You state, "Krishna is not different from anything. It is the principle or root of existence everywhere. It is within you and without. This is the Upanisadic understanding." as if to indicate that Krishna is the impersonal root of existence. You openly refer to Krishna as "it". But kindly note in this connection that just as a gold mine must possess gold in order to produce gold, the root of all existence must possess personality in order to manifest personalities. You and I obviously exist as two distinct personalities. Otherwise, how could we disagree with each other? Therefore since within existence personalities exist, the source of all existence must possess personality and thus be a person. And that person, being unlimited, has unlimited millions of names of which the name Krishna is the most perfect and complete name.

Krishna is simultaneously non-different and different from everything. Since He is the ultimate source from which everything has come, everything is nothing but His expanded energy. In this sense He is not different from anything. But still there is a difference. The difference is that there is the emanated Krishna (this creation) and the emanator Krishna (the person Krishna who has produced all of this from Himself.) This is the sublime philosophy known as "simultaneously, inconceivably one and different."

You object to superlatives being used to describe Krishna. But I beg to point out to that in the Rajasuya sacrifice envious Sisupala also objected to such superlatives being used to describe Krishna with the result that he got his head cut off. Arjuna on the other hand joyfully praised Krishna with such superlatives and became victorious on the battlefield. So we can follow the example of Sisupala or the example of Arjuna. This choice is up to each of us. Here is how Arjuna glorifies Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita:

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

"Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala and Vyāsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me."
--Bhagavad-gita 10.12-13

The Paramatma is the expanded form of Krishna dwelling within the hearts of all living beings. But beyond the Paramatma is the transcendental personality Lord Sri Krishna residing eternally in His own abode in the spiritual sky. In other words Paramatma realization is a lower level, less complete realization of the Absolute Truth than realizing that Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth.

A realized person knows that he is meant to fully engage himself in devotional service to the Supreme Lord. And he fully surrenders himself unto the will of the Lord regarding where he will take birth and what his duties will be.

As your humble servant I have submitted these truths to you for your edification and enlightenment. I hope that they are read by you in the same loving spirit in which I wrote them down for you.

Sankarshan Das Adhikari
"Thought for the Day" is the daily inspirational message of the Ultimate Self Realization Course(TM) broadcast daily to thousands of subscribers throughout the world. You can subscribe by visiting
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