cREDIT: ISKCON

cREDIT: ISKCON

Let us now embark on our journey to explore the meaning of the soul. There are many paths one can take. I can only begin by choosing one that appears familiar to me. Going along it I arrive at the august portals of Hindu thought and beliefs concerning the soul. For millenia the soul has been the subject of intensive introspection in India, a land immersed in mysticism and the spiritual quest, which produced great thinkers, sages, philosophers and prophets like the Buddha and Mahavir ( the last Jain prophet or ‘Tirthankar’ a contemporary of the Buddha).

India’s quintessential scripture the Gita or Song Celestial, begins its discourse with a definition of the soul. It calls it the ‘Indweller’ (Antaryami), the one that dwells within. It also calls it the embodied one – one that has acquired a physical body. While the physical shell is destructable, its indweller, it asserts, is indestructable, eternal, not manifest, inconceivable and unchanging. It is neither born nor does it die. It describes it as stable, constant, invulnerable and ancient.

The question arises, where does this soul which gets embodied and becomes the ‘indweller’ come from. What is its source? This takes us back to the very fundamentals of Hindu metaphysics and cosmology. We cannot answer the question of the origin of the soul without first understanding the source or backdrop from which it emerges. That source is obviously the Universal Essence, Universal consciousness, the Supersoul, Cosmic Being or God. (more in next post)

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