Nature of the SELF
Nature of Brahman
When Arjuna was worried about the deaths that were to occur in the war, Lord Sri Krishna gives him a jolt by saying ‘no one ever dies!’ The self is immortal
na tu ewa aham jAtu na Asam na twam na ime janAdhipAh
na cha ewa na bhawishyAmah sarwe wayam atah param ||2.12||
“It is not that at any time (in the past) indeed, was I not, nor were you, nor these rulers of men. Nor, verily, shall we ever cease to be hereafter.” Correct philosophical thinking guides man’s intellect to the apprehension of a continuity from the past, through the present, to the endless future. The Spirit remaining the same, it gets itself seemingly conditioned by different body equipments and comes to live through its self-ordained environments.
awinAshi tu tat widdhi yena sarwam idam tatam win
Asham awyayasya na kashchit kartum arhati ||2.17||
“Know That to be indestructible by which all this is pervaded. None can cause the destruction of That– the Imperishable.”
The world of finite changes is entirely permeated through and enveloped by the Real the Changeless. Bhagavan adds that there is no possibility even for a moment, of this Real, getting destroyed, even by a fraction.
na jAyete mriyate wA kadAchit na ayam bhootwA abhawitA wA na bhooyah ajah nityah shAshwatah ayam purAnah na hanyate hanyamAne shareere ||2.20||
“He is not born, nor does He ever die; after having been, He again ceases not to be; unborn, eternal, changeless and ancient, he is not killed when the body is killed.”
Unlike the physical body, the Self is not born, It being the eternal factor that exists at all times. Waves are born and they die away, but the ocean is nor born with the waves, nor does it die away when the wave disappears. Since there is no birth, there is no death; things that have a beginning alone can end; the rising waves alone can moan their dying conditions. Again, it is explained that like the birth of a child who was not existing before, and who has come to exist after the birth, the Atman is not something that has come to be born due to or because of the body. Thus, the Self is unborn and eternal birthless and deathless, (ajah, nitya). ||8.1||
The Self is Brahman. The water that makes the wave is the water that makes the ocean. So also, the truth of an individual – Atman or Self is the truth of the universe – Brahman or the Absolute, Infinite Reality
sarwatah pAnipAdam tat sarwatah akshishiromukham sarwatah shrutimat loke sarwam Awrtya tishthati ||13.13||
“I will declare that which has to be “known”, knowing which one attains to Immortality–the beginningless Supreme BRAHMAN, called neither being nor non-being.”
WITHOUT BEGINNING, THE HIGHEST Brahman (Anaadimatparam)- A beginning can be conceived and calculated only with reference to what is the substratum of all, which substratum must be existent even before Time. Thus, the Supreme is always considered as “beginningless”. From the Supreme even Time is born.
With reference to It, everything else is an “object”. It is the one Subject, and since it cannot be perceived, felt or thought of, It is not said to be existent (Sat). Nor can Truth be defined as non-existent, such as the sky-flower or man’s tail, for, It manifests as the world. Therefore, Truth can be defined only as “neither Sat nor asat“.
bahih antah cha bhootAnAm acharam charam ewa cha sookshmatwAt tat awijneyam doorastham cha antike cha tat ||13.15||
“Shining by the functions of all the senses, yet without the senses;
unattached, yet supporting all; devoid of qualities, yet their experiencer…. ”
One of the ways of defining the indefinable Supreme, the Subject in the seeker himself, is to indicate It in a language of contradiction which, without confusing the intellect, tickles it to a special kind of activity thereby facilitating the realisation of the Eternal. The language of contradiction is the characteristic feature of all scriptural textbooks. Hasty readers of the Scriptures quote these lines to justify their skepticism, or atheistic tendencies. This stanza is met with in the Upanishads also.
SEEMING TO POSSESS THE FUNCTIONS OF ALL SENSES YET DEVOID OF ALL SENSES– The Self in us, while functioning through the equipment, the sense organs, and conditioned by them, looks, as though It has all the sense organs. But when we analyse, we have to admit that the sense organs are material and that they decay and perish, while the Consciousness– functioning in and through them and providing each of them with its own individual faculty, is Itself Eternal, and Changeless. The Truth, while functioning through the sense organs, looks AS THOUGH It possesses them. But in fact, It has Itself none of these faculties.
Electricity is not the light in the bulb, nor the heat in the heater; yet while functioning through the bulb, or the heater, and conditioned by them the same Electricity looks AS THOUGH it is light or fire.