Ontology of the human soul  

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj

Oblivious of it’s inner Self, the human mind is filled with pride for the scientific successes of the modern age. Intoxicated with pride, many have been led to doubt the very existence of God.

With advancement in scientific thought, many are prone to conceive that the human organism is a combination of natural evolution and matter.  But is this true?

Were it so there should be no difference between life and death!  The palpable difference between a human body brisk with life and an inert, lifeless dead body would not be discernable. A laboratory could then produce the human organism. Doctors could then infuse immortality into human beings.  But that is not to be.

Man is not a material entity nor does he solely cultivate material properties. The human entity ’s attributes are different from those of other created beings. Birds and animals have life but not the knowledge as that of a human being.  Man is endowed with discriminative knowledge and is therefore superior to other beings.

Progress in material sciences in the West is indeed praiseworthy but their pursuit of knowledge about the ontology of the Soul has been comparatively much less. In the East we find, on the contrary, that our ancient sages have, in different ages, raised the fundamental question: Who AM I?  Why have I been endowed with this human life?  And what after the present life?

In general, man is a creature with a body, mind and intellect.  But do only these constituents represent the whole of Man? Is there nothing else or greater, over and above them?

The body is mortal and has a temporary existence. The mind and intellect which are associated with the body are also transient. It is only the soul, which infuses life into the gross and subtle (mind/consciousness) bodies that is immortal and full of reality, light and bliss which continues over successive births.

After the ‘death’ of the gross body, the soul transmigrates to another body, carrying with it the latent tendencies (vasanas) of the previous and indeed, many lifetimes.

As long as the Soul does not realise Itself as the real Being, it has to pass through the ordeal of births and re-births.

The dharma or religion of a Jiva Soul (individual atomic soul) is it’s eternal relationship and attachment to God (Supreme Soul), of which it is a miniscule part and parcel of. There is no distinction of class, sect or gender for the Soul. All Souls belong to one and the same category and their dharma is also the same except that they are more or less influenced by Maya according to the merits and demerits earned in previous lives.

It is due to our ignorance of this real and eternal relationship and dharma of the Jivatma that the material world predominates man's consciousness.

Enchanted by the external beauty of the world and allured by fame, prestige, praise and selfish desire, man forgets his own Self – the inner soul. He thinks that by becoming a great poet or a great scientist he will fulfil his life’s mission. According to him the consummation of life is in acquiring a high position in society.

But his achievements do not last long.  In the stream of time, all events will go down to the depths of oblivion and there will be no sign of them. So the question that confronts us is: What should we do to attain the Eternal Object? The world we see around is an ocean of miseries where the spectre of infirmity and death loom large. What is the path that will lead us to peace and bliss?

Now about actions.  That action is the best which springs from a spirit of self-sacrifice. Such noble action begins at home and extends to the country and to the world.

The effort which aims at universal good is more laudable than the one where the effect of such action is limited to their respective spheres.  Research in medical science may result in the discovery of medicine to reduce the suffering of sick people and thereby one may acquire great honour, but the intrinsic value of such honour is rather shallow – it is temporary and cannot open the door to eternal bliss.

The inventor of the sputnik or an astronaut may enjoy fame and honour for a while but none of them can escape the sufferings and afflictions of the world. They will have to suffer the pains of infirmity and death.

It is only the realisation of one’s own Inner Self – the soul – that can bring lasting peace and happiness. This realisation consists of our becoming conscious of the eternal relationship of our Jivatma (soul) with the Lord (paramatma) and to act accordingly.

No body is independent in this world. All of us are inter-dependent. But the Lord of the Universe is independent and absolute. God is Sat Chit Anand – absolute reality, absolute knowledge and bliss.

A Jiva Soul is a particle of the Absolute Reality and is His dearmost beloved. A conditioned, embodied Soul (jivatma) is actually in bondage (of maya) and is usually oblivious of his Inner Self.  According to one’s endowment or merit, a human being worships the impersonal Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagawan – the three distinctive manifestations of the Supreme Absolute Truth.

By the grace of God and by the dint of one’s own merit accumulated over many lifetimes, one may have a glimpse of Sat-Chit-Anand Bhagawan.  A Jnana Yogi or Hata Yogi may get such a glimpse of Bhagawan or Paramatma.  But in the present age of Kali it is not possible for all to pursue these arduous practices.

In this land of Bharatvarsha, the all-merciful God has appeared at different times in different ages, with the appropriate message for the time and occasion. The present age is pre-eminently fit for Bhakti – devotion – by which Bhagawan can be attained.

It is easy to practice, attain and worship with devotion – Bhakti. To sing hymns of Lord Sri Krishna with love, renouncing excessive attachment for worldly objects and to surrender oneself to the Lotus Feet of God is the keynote of this mode of worship.

One must surrender himself in all respects at the Lotus Feet of God. There can be no half-measures in love. By following this path of Bhakti or unalloyed devotion to the Lord, one is sure to attain serene peace and bliss.

A follower of Bhaktiyoga knows that his Soul is eternal and is but a part and parcel of the Divine Entity, the Soul is eternally related to God. The mind becomes established in this knowledge and attains strength, stability and peace.

Therefore, the realisation of one’s Self (self realisation – atma gnana) is the sole object of human life. All else is relative and short-lived.

The only way to one’s self-realisation is to surrender to another person who has realised his own Self and God – the Guru, the Guide, who has himself traversed the path and knows the way.  A Jiva Soul can attain contact with God by association, grace and service of such a holy person who has been favoured with direct service of Satchidananda Bhagawan and the bliss thereof.