0 Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?
Everything has its proper utility, and a man who is situated in
complete knowledge knows how and where to apply a thing for its
proper utility. Similarly, violence also has its utility, and how to
apply violence rests with the person in knowledge. Although the
justice of the peace awards capital punishment to a person condemned for murder, the justice of the peace cannot be blamed,
because he orders violence to another person according to the codes
of justice. In Manu-samhita, the law book for mankind, it is sup-
ported that a murderer should be condemned to death so that in his
next life he will not have to suffer for the great sin he has committed.
Therefore, the king's punishment of hanging a murderer is actually
beneficial. Similarly, when Krishna orders fighting, it must be concluded that violence is for supreme justice, and thus Arjun should
follow the instruction, knowing well that such violence, committed
in the act of fighting for Krishna, is not violence at all because, at any
rate, the man, or rather the soul, cannot be killed; so for the
administration of justice, so-called violence is permitted. A surgical
operation is not meant to kill the patient, but to cure him. Therefore
the fighting to be executed by Arjun at the instruction of Krishna is
with full knowledge, so there is no possibility of sinful reaction.
- vasamsi jirnani yatha
- vihaya navani grhnati
- naro parani tatha
- sarirani vihaya jirnany
- anyani samyati navani dehi.
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul
similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless
Change of body by the atomic individual soul is an accepted fact.
Even the modern scientists who do not believe in the existence of the
soul, but at the same time cannot explain the source of energy from
the heart, have to accept continuous changes of body which appear
from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth and again
from youth to old age. From old age, the change is transferred to an-
other body. This has already been explained in a previous verse (2.13).
Transference of the atomic individual soul to another body is
made possible by the grace of the Supersoul. The Supersoul fulfills
the desire of the atomic soul as one friend fulfills the desire of
another. The Vedas, like the Mundaka Upanishad, as well as the
Svetdsvatara Upanishad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two
friendly birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual atomic soul) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird
(Krishna) is simply watching His friend. Of these two birds—although
they are the same in quality—one is captivated by the fruits of the
material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His
friend. Krishna is the witnessing bird, and Arjun is the eating bird.
Although they are friends, one is still the master and the other is the
servant. Forgetfulness of this relationship by the atomic soul is the
cause of one's changing his position from one tree to another, or
from one body to another. The jiva soul is struggling very hard on
the tree of the material body, but as soon as he agrees to accept the
other bird as the supreme spiritual master—as Arjun agreed to do
by voluntary surrender unto Krishna for instruction—the subordinate
bird immediately becomes free from all lamentations. Both the
Mundaka Upanishad (3.1.2) and Svetasvatara Upanishad (4.7) con-
firm this: "Although the two birds are in the same tree, the eating bird is fully engrossed with anxiety and moroseness as the enjoyer of the fruits of
the tree. But if in some way or other he turns his face to his friend
who is the Lord and knows His glories—at once the suffering bird
becomes free from all anxieties." Arjun has now turned his face
towards his eternal friend, Krishna, and is understanding the
Bhagavad-Gita from Him. And thus, hearing from Krishna, he can
understand the supreme glories of the Lord and be free from
Arjun is advised herewith by the Lord not to lament for the
bodily change of his old grandfather and his teacher. He should
rather be happy to kill their bodies in the righteous fight so that they
may be cleansed at once of all reactions from various bodily activi-
ties. One who lays down his life on the sacrificial altar, or in the
proper battlefield, is at once cleansed of bodily reactions and pro-
moted to a higher status of life. So there was no cause for Arjun's
- nainam chindanti sastrani
- nainam dahati pavakah
- na cainam kledayanty apo
- na sosayati marutah.
The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned I
fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
All kinds of weapons—swords, flame weapons, rain weapons, tornado weapons, etc.—are unable to kill the spirit soul. It appears that there were many kinds of weapons made of earth, water, air, ether
etc., in addition to the modern weapons of fire. Even the nuke, weapons of the modern age are classified as fire weapons, formerly there were other weapons made of all different types
material elements. Firearms were counteracted by water weapon which are now unknown to modern science. Nor do modern scientists have knowledge of tornado weapons. Nonetheless, the soul a
never be cut into pieces, nor annihilated by any number of weapon regardless of scientific devices.
The Mayavadi cannot explain how the individual soul came in
existence simply by ignorance and consequently became covered I
illusory energy. Nor was it ever possible to cut the individual soul
from the original Supreme Soul; rather, the individual souls a
eternally separated parts of the Supreme Soul. Because they a
atomic individual souls eternally (sanatana), they are prone to I
covered by the illusory energy, and thus they become separated fro
the association of the Supreme Lord, just as the sparks of a fir
although one in quality with the fire, are prone to be extinguish
when out of the fire. In the Varaha Purdna, the living entities a
described as separated parts and parcels of the Supreme. They a
eternally so, according to the Bhagavad-Gita also. So, even aft
being liberated from illusion, the living entity remains a separate
identity, as is evident from the teachings of the Lord to Arjun
Arjun became liberated by the knowledge received from Krishna, b
he never became one with Krishna.
- acchedyo yam adahyo
- yam akledyo sosya
- eva ca nityah
- sarva-gatah sthanur
- acalo yam sanatanah.
This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.
All these qualifications of the atomic soul definitely prove that the
individual soul is eternally the atomic particle of the spirit whole,
and he remains the same atom eternally, without change. The theory
of monism is very difficult to apply in this case, because the individual soul is never expected to become one homogeneously. After
liberation from material contamination, the atomic soul may prefer
to remain as a spiritual spark in the effulgent rays of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, but the intelligent souls enter into the
spiritual planets to associate with the Personality of Godhead.
The word sarva-gata ("all-pervading") is significant because there
is no doubt that living entities are all over God's creation. They live
on the land, in the water, in the air, within the earth and even within
fire. The belief that they are sterilized in fire is not acceptable,
because it is clearly stated here that the soul cannot be burned" by
fire. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are living entities also in
the sun planet with suitable bodies to live there. If the sun globe is un-
inhabited, then the word sarva-gata—"living everywhere"—becomes
- avyakto yam acintyo
- yam avikaryo yam
- ucyate tasmad evam
- viditvainam nanusocithm arhasi.
It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable.
Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.
As described previously, the magnitude of the soul is so small for our
material calculation that he cannot be seen even by the most powerful microscope; therefore, he is invisible. As far as the soul's existence is concerned, no one can establish his existence experimentally
beyond the proof of sruti, or Vedic wisdom. We have to accept this
truth, because there is no other source of understanding the existence of the soul, although it is a fact by perception.
There are many
things we have to accept solely on grounds of superior authority. No
one can deny the existence of his father, based upon the authority of
his mother. There is no source of understanding the identity of the
father except by the authority of the mother. Similarly, there is no
source of understanding the soul except by studying the Vedas. In
other words, the soul is inconceivable by human experimental
knowledge. The soul is consciousness and conscious—that also is
the statement of the Vedas, and we have to accept that. Unlike the
bodily changes, there is no change in the soul. As eternally unchangeable, the soul remains atomic in comparison to the infinite Supreme
The Supreme Soul is infinite, and the atomic soul is infinitesimal. Therefore, the infinitesimal soul, being unchangeable, can
never become equal to the infinite soul, or the Supreme Personality
of Godhead. This concept is repeated in the Vedas in different ways
just to confirm the stability of the conception of the soul. Repetition
of something is necessary in order that we understand the matter
thoroughly, without error.
- atha cainam nitya-jatam
- nityam va manyase mrtam
- tathapi tvam maha-baho
- nainam socitum arhasi.
If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] is
always born and dies forever, you still have no reason to lament, 0
There is always a class of philosophers, almost akin to the Buddhists,
who do not believe in the separate existence of the soul beyond the
body. When Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-Gita, it appears that
such philosophers existed, and they were known as the lokdyatikas
and vaibhasikas. Such philosophers maintain that life symptoms
take place at a certain mature condition of material combination.
The modern material scientist and materialist philosophers also
think similarly. According to them, the body is a combination of
physical elements, and at a certain stage the life symptoms develop
by interaction of the physical and chemical elements. The science of
anthropology is based on this philosophy. Currently, many pseudo
religions—now becoming fashionable in America—are also adhering to this philosophy, as well as to the nihilistic non devotional
Even if Arjun did not believe in the existence of the soul—as in
the vaibhdsika philosophy—there would still have been no cause for
lamentation. No one laments the loss of a certain bulk of chemicals
and stops discharging his prescribed duty. On the other hand, in
modern science and scientific warfare, so many tons of chemicals are
wasted for achieving victory over the enemy. According to the
vaibhdsika philosophy, the so-called soul or dtma vanishes along
with the deterioration of the body. So, in any case, whether Arjun
accepted the Vedic conclusion that there is an atomic soul or he did
not believe in the existence of the soul, he had no reason to lament.
According to this theory, since there are so many living entities
generating out of matter every moment, and so many of them are
being vanquished every moment, there is no need to grieve for such
incidents. If there were no rebirth for the soul, Arjun had no reason
to be afraid of being affected by sinful reactions due to his killing hi&
grandfather and teacher. But at the same time, Krishna sarcastically
addressed Arjun as mahd-bahu, mighty-armed, because He, at
least, did not accept the theory of the vaibhdsikas, which leaves aside
the Vedic wisdom. As a ksatriya, Arjun belonged to the Vedic
culture, and it behooved him to continue to follow its principles.
- jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
- dhruvam janma mrtasya
- ca tasmad apariharye rthe
- na tvam socitum arhasi.
One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure
to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your
duty, you should not lament.
One has to take birth according to one's activities of life. And after
finishing one term of activities, one has to die to take birth for the
next. In this way one is going through one cycle of birth and death
after another without liberation. This cycle of birth and death does
not, however, support unnecessary murder, slaughter and war. But
at the same time, violence and war are inevitable factors in human
society for keeping law and order.
The Battle of Kuruksetra, being the will of the Supreme, was an
inevitable event, and to fight for the right cause is the duty of a
ksatriya. Why should he be afraid of or aggrieved at the death of his
relatives since he was discharging his proper duty? He did not
deserve to break the law, thereby becoming subjected to the reactions of sinful acts, of which he was so afraid. By avoiding the
discharge of his proper duty, he would not be able to stop the death
of his relatives, and he would be degraded due to his selection of the
wrong path of action.
- avyaktadini bhutani vyakta-madhyani
- bharata avyakta-nidhanany
- eva tatra ka paridevana.
All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in
their interim state, and unmanifest again when annihilated. So what
need is there for lamentation?
Accepting that there are two classes of philosophers, one believing in
the existence of the soul and the other not believing in the existence of the soul, there is no cause for lamentation in either case. Nonbelievers in the existence of the soul are called atheists by followers of
Vedic wisdom. Yet even if, for argument's sake, we accept this
atheistic theory, there is still no cause for lamentation. Apart from
the separate existence of the soul, the material elements remain
unmanifested before creation. From this subtle state of nonmanifestation comes manifestation, just as from ether, air is generated; from
air, fire is generated; from fire, water is generated; and from water,
earth becomes manifested. From the earth, many varieties of manifestations take place. Take, for example, a big skyscraper manifested
from the earth.
When it is dismantled, the manifestation becomes
again unmanifested and remains as atoms in the ultimate stage. The
law of conservation of energy remains, but in course of time things
are manifested and unmanifested—that is the difference. Then what
cause is there for lamentation either in the stage of manifestation 01
in unmanifestation? Somehow or other, even in the unmanifested
stage, things are not lost. Both at the beginning and at the end, all
elements remain unmanifested, and only in the middle are they
manifested, and this does not make any real material difference.
And if we accept the Vedic conclusion as stated in the Bhagavad-Gita that these material bodies are perishable in due course of time
vut that the soul is eternal (nityasyoktah saririnah), then we must remember always that the body is like a
dress; therefore why lament the changing of a dress? The material
body has no factual existence in relation to the eternal soul. It is
something like a dream. In a dream we may think of flying in the sky,
or sitting on a chariot as a king, but when we wake up we can see that
we are neither in the sky nor seated on the chariot. The Vedic wisdom
encourages self-realization on the basis of the nonexistence of the
material body. Therefore, in either case, whether one believes in the
existence of the soul or one does not believe in the existence of the
soul, there is no cause for lamentation for loss of the body.
- ascarya-vat pasyati kascid
- enam ascarya-vad vadati
- tathaiva canyah ascarya-vac
- cainam anyah srnoti
- srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit.
Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing,
and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing
about him, cannot understand him at all.
The fact that the atomic soul is within the body of a gigantic
animal, in the body of a gigantic banyan tree, and also in the
microbic germs, millions and billions of which occupy only an inch
of space, is certainly very amazing. Men with a poor fund of knowl-
edge and men who are not austere cannot understand the wonders of
the individual atomic spark of spirit, even though it is explained by
the greatest authority of knowledge, who imparted lessons even to
Brahma, the first living being in the universe. Owing to a gross
material conception of things, most men in this age cannot imagine
how such a small particle can become both so great and so small. So
men look at the soul proper as wonderful either by constitution or by
description. Illusioned by the material energy, people are so
engrossed in subject matters for sense gratification that they have
very little time to understand the question of self-understanding,
even though it is a fact that without this self-understanding all
activities result in ultimate defeat in the struggle for existence.
Perhaps they have no idea that one must think of the soul, and thus
make a solution to the material miseries.
Some people who are inclined to hear about the soul may be
attending lectures, in good association, but sometimes, owing to
ignorance, they are misguided by acceptance of the Supersoul and
the atomic soul as one without distinction of magnitude. It is very
difficult to find a man who perfectly understands the position of the
Supersoul, the atomic soul, their respective functions and relation-
ships and all other major and minor details. And it is still more
difficult to find a man who has actually derived full benefit from
knowledge of the soul, and who is able to describe the position of the
soul in different aspects. But if, somehow or other, one is able to
understand the subject matter of the soul, .then one's life is
The easiest process for understanding the subject matter of self,
however, is to accept the statements of the Bhagavad-Gita spoken by
the greatest authority. Lord Krishna, without being deviated by other
theories. But it also requires a great deal of penance and sacrifice,
either in this life or in the previous ones, before one is able to accept
Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna can, however,
be known as such by the causeless mercy of the pure devotee and by
no other way.
- dehi nityam avadhyo
- yam dehe sarvasya
- bharata tasmat sarvani
- bhutani na tvam socitum arhasi.
0 descendant of Bharat, he who dwells in the body can never be
slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.
The Lord now concludes the chapter of instruction on the immutable spirit soul. In describing the immortal soul in various ways,
Lord Krishna establishes that the soul is immortal and the body is
temporary. Therefore Arjun as a ksatriya should not abandon his
duty out of fear that his grandfather and teacher—Bhisma and
Drona—will die in the battle. On the authority of Sri Krishna, one has
to believe that there is a soul different from the material body, not
that there is no such thing as soul, or that living symptoms develop at
a certain stage of material maturity resulting from the interaction of
chemicals. Though the soul is immortal, violence is not encouraged,
but at the time of war it is not discouraged when there is actual need
for it. That need must be justified in terms of the sanction of the
Lord, and not capriciously.