by Deep Bora
Part 1 appeared in issue 104.
The original article continues as a conversation with Deep Bora.
Question: Would you need a computerized concordance to find the slokas appropriate to your discussion? There seem to be very many...
I know the entire texts and the derivations and the intended meanings and the correct concepts and translations! However, I wish to emphasize only the correct verses which are relevant to the work of “the dead or departed.”
Let me tell you, there is nobody here who can define the meaning of “soul.” Or anybody who even knows conclusively how the soul can be separated from the physical body after death.
On the third day? Let me be explicit here that the subject matter is far from self-explanatory. So, researchers just cannot find the proper verse even if it were placed right under their noses! No way. So delegating the said work to them is out, although the Internet holds sway over computerised concordance. I might have to spell out my requirements to my team of researchers and perhaps even then they may not be able to pinpoint the stanzas! Thanks anyway.
Secondly, the prescription of the Hindu way of life pertaining to works connected with the dead is fit to fill a series of volumes. Almost every chaste Hindu performs these duties — which are of a religious nature — once or twice in his lifetime.
You may find references to the soul from in-depth research into the Holy Bible, particularly after the Last Supper and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But I think you shall not understand or even be able to decipher the texts and verses. It is too complicated for you to understand. I hope you shall not mind this particular statement that I make.
Response: Some gospel authors borrow imagery from the apocalyptic literature of the time. However, mysticism has never held in Christianity the place that it seems to occupy in Hinduism. In the New (or “Second”) Testament, the soul is actually a very practical concept: it embodies what we would call today personal integrity and self-awareness, among other things.
Again, you may have come across texts where it has been mentioned that the Lord Jesus had travelled to the Far East, India and Tibet and learned from the Holy scripts, too. It is all very vague and such details are not really confirmed. I don’t know whether you believe that or not. I shall value your answers.
Response: I think the legends about travels to the Far East were invented to support later theological interpretations. One medieval legend has Jesus, as a young man, going to England, of all places. I’m sure the story lent England a certain prestige at the time. Another legend has Jesus’ family fleeing to southern France, where they became ancestors of the Merovingian dynasty. Well, barbarian kings needed all the prestige they could get, back in the Dark Ages. I personally think Jesus traveled a lot but never set foot outside of Israel. He ventured as far as Sidon and Tyre, in present-day Lebanon, but the borders in those days were not what they are today.
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I am sending the Sanskrit verse. The script is in Hindi. The meaning is descriptive yet simple. It is from the Bhagvad Gita (Srimad Bhagvatae):
The soul or the atma is everlasting. Like a human changes new clothes while discarding the old clothes, so does the everlasting soul in its infiniteness change old and discarded bodies for new bodies!
The soul (atma) is everlasting. Here the soul is compared with clothes for finer human understanding. The soul discards the dead body of a human when such a body is functionless. You, too, discard your old clothes; you donate these clothes or get rid of these torn, old clothes. So, the soul discards the body at some stage in its progress in infinity.
Now, you buy new clothes and put these on. Likewise — purely in an attempt to bring in rational explanations — the soul occupies a new body, and in all cases the new body is likened to a new-born baby. Perhaps the soul enters the body at the time of birth or even before birth. That is a revelation which is depicted in other slokas or verses. The Srimad Bhagvatae Gita (Bhagvad Gita) is very extensive, you know!
- Therefore, you the human, discard old and torn clothes and don or wear new clothes.
- The soul leaves (discards) the body (a dead body) and at a later time, wears (enters) a new living body — in this case a new-born baby. The soul is everlasting and immortal and the (human) bodies are mortal.
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There is another point which I would like to clarify. A small factor really though with an unforeseen and unlimited number of mistakes: “...the everlasting soul in its infinitude exchange old, discarded...”
The soul will never “exchange” bodies as we humans may exchange goods of commercial value; or as we may exchange money for materialistically valued goods. No!
The soul shall only “change” bodies. In all cases, the soul shall leave a (dead) body and later on — in comparison with cosmic time factors — it shall occupy another live body at a later time. In all cases the “live body” is to be a new-born baby; this is a natural process.
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This subject is not just anybody’s cup of tea. Even the most scholarly pundit or guru may not be able to present to you what I have in “Beyond Death.” That there is a time phase for entry and exit of the Human soul. That there are highly trained men who can see the soul, and so forth.
Question: It’s said that the Sanskrit vedas were not written down but passed on in an oral tradition, even when the priests did not know what the vedas meant. Eventually they were transcribed. Is that correct?
I would like to add my version of the factors. However, the resultant explanations which I present to you shall surely justify your query in our 21st and scientific-based century!
We have the Vedas — Atharva Veda, Samay Veda, Rig Veda, etc. five Vedic volumes. Then there is the Bhagvad Gita (Srimad Bhagvatae). Then there are the Puranas. The Mahabhatrata. The Ramayana. Hanuman Chalisa. Additionally there is a vast array of Hindu religious books which are now considered to be of mythological origin by Hindus also.
Except for the Bhagvad Gita, Puranas, Vedas and the sacred texts, quartets and slokas form the basis of Hinduism. These are known as the words of God, albeit simplified and transformed into human intelligible forms of understanding!
I personally believe that our Hindu holy books are more than twenty-five thousand years old. Almost all global mature and religious thoughts of the 21st century agree that the Hindu holy scriptures are more than six thousand years old. However, let us take the calculated rough average then. Let us calculate it at ten thousand B.C. for matters of convenience. I shall therefore easily leave aside related matters like the definition of the world at the age of 25,000 B.C.!
Response: It’s probably just as well to skip over that. A date of 27,000 years before the present is twice as old as the last Ice Age!
The Hindu holy books were therefore written then, in that time period. The sages and priests of olden times were perfect in religion as far as religion is interpreted in its correct perspective — a method of life and living, the Correct Manner. These priests, Gurus and Pundits living then prior to 10,000 B.C. were experts in their respective fields... beyond explanation.
However, little is known about scripts existent globally in those eras. Carbon datings provide no match or results. There is scant evidence leading to those times. But surely there existed scripts then, undoubtedly. Even today, there are human skeletons found at excavation sites world wide which have been termed to have existed at 10,000 B.C. Some are older, perhaps half a million years old! I don’t say that all by myself. Science determines this and so do carbon datings. Therefore it is very easy to understand that such old skeletons await further discovery by our present-day scientific tools.
Reverting to our subject: Gradually as society evolved and neared the present ages, these ancient texts were rewritten (translated) into Panini script — a forerunner of Sanskrit grammar and later into the new age, the entire slokas (quartets included) and text matter were finally translated (rewritten) in the Sanskrit and Hindi scripts.
Now, I ask you this:
Were you aware that The term “Jew” (Jehudi) surfaced in the Bibles only after the birth of Abraham — in the First Testament? That the First Testament was written about 1,400 years after Abraham died? That in the Hindi language, the Jews are referred to as Jehudi even today? Where is the connection, I ask. Can you explain or would you prefer to leave the explaining part to me?
That the Holy Bible was beginning to be written some 150 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? When the Christian religion began with its initial global wave? I invite you to correct me if I am incorrect.
Response: Not the Bible, certainly; that had already been under way for centuries. The authentic letters of Paul — as opposed to those written by associates and attributed to him — date from the middle and second half of the 1st century, and the gospels were already taking shape at the time. The “Q gospel” (“Q” from Quelle, ‘source’), which was more like a notebook, probably dates from the time of Jesus himself or close to it. Some say that “Q” was discarded as a separate document once it was included in Mark and Matthew. Others say its existence is hypothetical, but that seems like a difficult argument to make.
While this letter is in no manner a conversion chart for people of other religions, while I respect every religion, this letter is simply a broad discussion table. I am sure you’ll agree with me.
Do you really believe:-
That Jesus Christ could raise (revive) dead men back to life again? Here I unanimously agree with you and my Christian friends that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God. Undoubtedly.
Response: Hinduism might be more comfortable with concept of the Resurrection than even Christianity has been. Some define it mystically; others, in materialistic terms; still others, symbolically. All three views can be found in the Bible, but the Hebrew world view concentrates mysticism and symbolism into visual and tactile imagery and narrations, e.g. Elijah and the son of the widow of Zarepath (1 Kings 17:21-24), Jesus and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-15) not to mention the famous story of Lazarus (John 11:30-44).
Elsewhere, raising the dead is sometimes referred to casually, even offhandedly, as a ritual akin to cleansing and healing, e.g. Matthew 10:8 and 11:5. That presented the disciples with a conundrum of rank: since only a religious authority such as a prophet or the disciples could raise the dead, who had the authority to raise Jesus? Since none of them did, they had to rely on God.
That Moses did really receive the Ten Commandments from God, the Almighty upon the stone tablets as a direct version of God’s statement — of the correct method of Life and living? He received those commandments upon a sacred hilltop.
You shall find direct reference to Jesus Christ as the “Holy Spirit” in the Holy Bible and was seen thus by several of his disciples amongst others; in another form!
If you believe all that stated above, then belief in the human soul and its limitless karma is as easy to understand. After all said and done, this is simply another round of human existence upon earth!
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The sum total of the verses is of such exhaustive nature that one single verse may take a person a lifetime to achieve mastery.
Question: Might the verse be translated:
The soul (atma) is everlasting. As a person is dressed in new clothes that replace old ones, so is the everlasting soul in its infinitude divested of its old bodies and clothed in new ones.
The soul (atma) is everlasting. Correct.
“As a person is dressed in new clothes that replace old ones.” Here you have to explain that by mentioning the word “replace” you mean “disposing of.” We get rid of clothes which are no longer of any use to us. We don’t stuff our cupboards over a number of years with old and torn clothing. Here I mean no disrespect to graveyards or to dead bodies, coffins or the buried. I mean every respect to all holy and burial grounds.
“So is the everlasting soul in its infinitude divested of its old bodies and clothed in new ones.” — Very correctly understood and written. Congratulations!
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Question: The human being changes clothes. That is an action dependent on human will; it is not a natural process, which you say reincarnation is.
Since the entire concept being described in human terms is likened to a human discarding old and donning new clothes, one is of nature and actions controlled by will and the other has spiritual, occult and other, higher implications. It is in fact, a comparison between the materialistic (worldly) and the non-materialistic (spiritual). To us humans living in the third dimension, the entire subject of reincarnation is of a spiritual, natural and non-materialistic nature.
Please note, reincarnation is a term applicable to very holy and spiritually highly advanced souls. The ordinary term for people like you and me is rebirth. In substance however, both words have the same meaning. The difference? Sure, I shall tell you. A highly evolved soul need not visit earth often like us mere mortals! These “Sons of God” like Krishna, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, etc. are sent as reincarnations to reform the populations only when necessary.
That precedence sets us apart from highly evolved souls of those beings. They were sent by Almighty God to earth to preach to us humans a just religion and the messages of God. Abraham, Moses and Mohammed are included here.
Interestingly, if you read the original teachings of Muhammad and the Koran, you shall be surprised. You shall be bewildered of their origin; If I am not mistaken, there is reference to Abraham therein.
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Question: We don’t say who or what takes off the old clothes and puts on the new ones. And I’m sure you see how important that is.
That is exactly where “east must meet west.” You must mention herein that it is the human who discards old and torn clothes and dons new ones. It is of extreme importance that you do! It is how any human shall understand — talking in the lighter vein, even the nudists who live in the nudist colonies!
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Question: As long as intent is implied, then the doctrine of reincarnation justifies and even encourages suicide in extreme cases: “I have had bad luck in this life. I will kill myself and take my chances on having better luck by being born again in another body.”
I was expecting this question from you. It is quite natural to suppose this.
However, in this matter be assured that one cannot commit suicide and then get reborn again to better one’s life style. No.
When one is born as a human, well, one is born — and destined to live — within certain and simple jurisdictions implied to one’s lifestyle. Of course, one is at liberty to improve one’s lifestyle. That is another matter. You can become the King of Nigeria. Who said you cannot? Destiny? Come on. You make your own destiny!
In India and the Far East, one often comes across the saying “Today’s king, tomorrow’s beggar.” Which, if simply translated, means in this birth one may be born a king, while in another round of existence the same soul may have to experience the life of a beggar. Here the soul does not actually “experience” anything of materialistic value. It is an extension of God and the other “Factors” — which represent God though they reside in higher dimensional worlds — and relays to “Them” the experiences of the human.
I shall have to elaborate extensively here. A few lines are not descriptive enough. Materialistically speaking, as the same soul resides in different beings in its infinitude it is the body therefore, which experiences the materialistic occurrences in a lifetime.
Therefore, if one commits suicide simply to change the circumstances of one’s lifestyle, well that would be the worst thing to commit. The person shall have to be reborn again in pretty well the same or similar circumstances and live out the fullest life which was applicable in the previous birth. That, my dear, is most annoying! It is like having lost the ability to swim or cycle and having to learn all over again. Or perhaps, simply put in our literary language — in an exemplary style — being coerced or forced to learn English language from high school level once again. What a waste of so many years of research and doctoral work.
All this simply because — purely as an example — they found a brilliant scholar at age 50 attempting to sell copies of the forthcoming exams! So they — here the judicial administration — wiped out from the scholar’s memory all traces of the English language up to high school level. Since this is an example to make one understand, well, here we have to take into account that the person aged 50 may be termed a high-school graduate with the body and brain of a 50-year old person.
So, those fools who end up taking their lives by committing suicide — this is according to our holy books — instead of being reborn to relive their correct lifestyle yet once again, why not better one’s lifestyle in this birth and lifetime? There is no limit to the achievements of a man or a woman! We can thereby progress on to higher lifestyles in our future lives. We need not end up in remorse and self-pity with the lifestyle we are faced with.
You see, the verses and slokas are of such extensive nature that one needs time and inclination to understand what is really explained. Unknowingly to you I have simply elaborated the same sloka to cover all the topics. Perhaps a few lines from another holy book in Hinduism have been brought in to negate the subject of suicide.
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The entire Bhagvad Gita is a religious discourse between Lord Sree Krishna and Arjuna, who is referred to as an immortal prince and one amongst five brothers forming the Pandav Emperorship. They are pitted against their cousins named the Kouravas, who are a hundred men strong.
The occasion is the Maha Bharata or, simply put, the Maha means ‘great’ or ‘mighty’, and Bharata stands for India. The name of our country India is referred to since prior to the Vedic ages. If you are aware of the primary races of mankind then I can assure you that they were of Aryan origin.
The Aryan race is perhaps the third or fourth race of humankind to inhabit our world within conceivable time limits
Maha Bharat is therefore the battle for supremacy between The Pandavs and the Kouravs.
Here the “Vani” or the words of wisdom and “Truth” are said by Lord Sree Krishna, one of the sons of God. The religious discourse is made to Arjuna on the battlefield. The entire text, which is written in Sanskrit, was supposed to have been delivered to Arjuna mainly on the battlefield.
The text which I have imported into our website actually and directly means:
And if you think that I grieve at the death of bodies (humans), then that, too, is inappropriate, because as humans discard their old and torn clothes and wear new clothes, so does the soul discard old and dead bodies and accept new human bodies.
Response: As far as I know, Western religions have no place for reincarnation in their theology; what you’ve described here is simply not part of their world view. After death, will we be reborn as a new consciousness in a new body? A Westerner’s range of responses will be fairly limited. An atheist might say, “What does it matter?” An agnostic, “How can I know?” A religious person, “I’ll leave it to God.”
True, it is hard to know what people were thinking around A.D. 30, especially since there were a lot of different opinions at the time. Mark 8:28 suggests that some people thought of Jesus as a reincarnation of some prophet or other. But the idea is dismissed out of hand: Jesus ignores it and calls on the disciples to decide for themselves. The disciples don’t give the suggestion of reincarnation any credence, either. More likely, they were merely quoting a popular figure of speech. The passage in Mark is obviously intended to establish Jesus’ primacy over other prophets.
But I think that West can meet East on a common ground. Let’s not concentrate on combining the mystical and physical; I think we risk failing to see the forest for the trees. Rather, what does reincarnation mean?
An existentialist would emphasize the contingency implied in your proverb: “Today’s king, tomorrow’s beggar.” No one chooses one’s parents, or when or where or as whom one is born. Your consciousness — or soul, if you wish — might have been born on another continent; and ours, in India.
Verb tenses may differ. Existentialism uses the past perfect: “You might have been born as someone else.” Hinduism uses a form of the future: “You may be reborn as someone else.” Colossians 3:11 states the same idea in the present indicative. The language, imagery and theology differ; but, in the end, existentialism, Christianity and Hinduism all contain powerful assertions of human equality and unity.