24. Is the human soul a free-agent or otherwise?
A.- It is a free-agent in the matter of performing deeds, but it is subjected to the laws of God in the matter of reaping the fruits thereof; He alone is said to be a doer who is free to act.
25. What is free-agent?
A.- He is called a free-agent who has the body, the vital forces, the senses and the mind subordinate to his will. If the soul were not a free-agent it would not reap the fruits of its deeds - good or bad. Jus as soldiers acting under the direction of their commanding officer are not held guilty of murder even on killing many on the field of battle; similarly, if God were to influence the course of human conduct or if human actions were subordinate to His Will, it would not then be the human souls that would have to bear the consequences of those actions but God Himself.
Being the prompter He alone would suffer pain or enjoy happiness. Just as that man alone who murders another with some kind of weapon is arrested and punished for the crime and not the weapon; likewise, the souls subordinate to the Will of God could not justly be made to reap the fruits of their deeds - sinful or virtuous. It follows, therefore, that the soul is free to act according to its capacity, but once it has committed a sinful act, it becomes subjected to the operation of the laws of God, and thereby reaps the consequence of its sin. In other words, the soul is a free-agent in so far as the performance of deeds is concerned but it has to submit to Divine laws in the matter of suffering pain and misery for its sins.
26. Had not God created the soul and endowed it with energy, it could never have been able to do anything; hence whatever a human soul does is done solely through Divine impulse
A.- The soul was never created. It is beginningless
In the same way, it is not God - the Maker of the body and bodily organs - Who reaps the fruits of the deeds done by the soul. On the other hand, He it is Who makes the soul bear the consequences of its acts. Had God been the actual doer, no soul would ever have committed a sin, because being Pure and Righteous, He could never prompted any soul to commit a sin. It, therefore, follows that the soul is a free-agent in doing deeds and the same may be predicated of God.
27. What are God and the soul in essence, and what are their natures, attributes and actions?
A.- In essence they are both conscious entities. By nature both are pure, immortal and virtuous, etc., but the creation of the universe, its sustenance and dissolution into elementary form and its control, the awarding of the fruits of their deeds - good and evil - to souls are the righteous actions of God; whilst the reproduction and rearing of children, the distribution of knowledge and arts, etc., are acts of the soul which may be virtuous or sinful. Eternal knowledge, Eternal bliss and Omnipotence, etc., are the attributes of God whilst those of souls are :-
Desire for the acquisition of things; repulsion, activity, feelings of pleasure, feelings of pain, sorrow, displeasure; consciousness, inspiration and expiration, nictation - closing and opening of the eyes, organic growth, discernment, memory and individuality, movement, regulation of the senses, internal changes and disorders, such as hunger and thirst, joy or sorrow, etc., are the attributes of the soul which distinguish it from God. The existence of the soul is known only by these attributes. as it is not material nor perceptible by the senses. These attributes manifest themselves only so long as the soul is present in the body, but cease to do so as soon as the soul leaves it. Those qualities that manifest themselves in the presence of a substance and cease to do so in its absence belong to that substances alone; as for example, light is the property of the sun and of the lamp, because it is absent in their absence and present in their presence. Similarly, God and the soul are known by their attributes.
28. God being cognizant of the three periods of time (the past, present and the future), knows all things about the future, and as God knows so has the soul to act, consequently the soul ceases to be a free-agent. God, therefore, cannot be justified in punishing it for its misdeeds, because it acts in accordance with what God before knew.
A.- It is foolishness to speak of God as being cognizant of the three periods of time, because what ceases to exist is called the Past, and what does not exist but will come into existence is called the Future. Now is there any kind of knowledge that ceases to exist with God or that He does not possess in the present but will possess in the future? Hence God's knowledge is always uniform and uninterrupted. He always lives in the Present. The past and the future relate to the human soul only. It is true, though, that the knowledge of three periods of time can be said to exist in God when it is spoken of in relation to the actions of the soul, but not absolutely.
As the soul acts by virtue of its free will, so does God know, what it does, by virtue of His Omniscience, and as God knows, so the soul acts. In other words, God possess the knowledge of the past, the present, and the future and gives soul their deserts; whilst the soul is a free-agent in whatever it does and in possessing a limited knowledge of the present. Just as God's knowledge of actions of human souls is beginningless, so is His knowledge of awarding just punishment. Both kinds of knowledge in Him are true. Can it ever be possible that the knowledge of actions, be true while that of doing justice be false? Hence your objection does not hold good.
29. Are the souls in different bodies distinct or is there only one soul pervading them all?
A.- Distinct. Had there been only one soul pervading them all, wakeful state, slumber, deep sleep, birth and death, union and disunion (with the body and the senses) could never take place; the nature of the soul, therefore, is finite, and so is its knowledge; it is also subtle, whilst God is still more subtle, Infinite, Omnipresent, Omniscient by nature. Hence God and the human soul stand in the relation of the pervader to the pervaded.
Q.One thing cannot contain another at the same time; therefore, God and the soul can only be in the relation of close union but not in that of the pervader to the pervaded.
A.- This law holds good in the case of things of the same condition but not in that of different conditions; just as iron is gross while electricity is subtle, the latter pervades the former and resides in the same space with itl Similarly, the human soul less subtle than God, whist the latter more subtle than the former, therefore it is that God pervades the human soul while the latter is pervaded by the former.
Just as God and the soul stand to each other in the relation of the pervader and the pervaded, so do they do in the relations of one who is served and the servitor, the supporter and the supported, the Master and the servant, the Ruler and the ruled, the Father and the son.
30. If God and the human soul be different, how will you interpret the following mighty texts of the Vedas? - "I am God," Thou art God" and " The soul is God."
A.- These are not Vedic texts at all, but quotations from the Brahmanas. They nowhere called 'mighty texts' in the true shastras. Their true meanings are as follow:- We take the first quotation which does not mean " I am God" but " I live in God."
Here is used what is called substitution of the thing that contains or supports ofr the thing which is contained therein or supported thereby'; just as we say "watch-platforms are shouting." Now the platforms, being inanimate, do not possess the power of shouting; hence it means that the men on those platforms shout. Thus the platforms, that support the watchmen, are substituted for the men wo are supported by. Similarly it should be understood in the above text that God the support is substituted for the soul which is supported thereby or contained therein.
If you say that all things exist in God what is then the special object of saying that the soul exists in God? We answer that though it is true that all things exist in God, nothing is so close to God as the human soul. Being possessed of similar attributes, it is only the human soul that can know God, and during the time of salvation lives in the very presence of God, having direct cognizance of Him all the time. Hence the relation of God to the soul is that of a container or supporter to the thing contained therein or supported thereby and that of one companion to another.
It is clear, therefore, that God and the soul are not one. Just as a person says in reference to another 'He and I are one', i.e., in complete harmony with each other, in the same way, the human soul, being irresistable drawn towards God by its extreme love for Him and thereby completely immersed in Him during Samaadhi can say "God and I are one", that is, in harmony with each other as well as occuying the same space. That soul alone can declare its unity or harmony with God by virtue of similarities of attributes that becomes like God in its nature, attributes and character.
Q.Well, what meaning will you give to the second text "(tat) God (twam) Thour (asi) art i.e., O soul! Thou art God."
A.- What do you understand by the word (tat)?
A.- How do you know that the word (tat) refer to Brahma?
Q.Because there is mention of the word Brahma in the sentence preceding the above quotation. (Tadeva.......advitiyam)
A.- It seems that you have never read the Chhaandogya Upanishad (the book from which the quotation was taken). Had you read you would not have made the wrong statement that the word Brahma occurs in the said text. The true text runs as (Tadeva....advitiyam). There is no such word as Brahma there.
Q.What do you understand by the word tat then?
A.- That Supreme Spirit should be sought after. He is infinitely subject. He is the Soul of the whole material universe as well as of the human soul: The Self-same Spirit is the Great Reality. He Himself is His Own soul. O my dear son Swetketo! (Tat) "that Omniscient, Supreme Spirit is within thee." For instance the great sage Yajnavalkya say to his wife in the Brahadaranyak Umnishad " O Maitreyi, The Great God reside within the soul and is yet distinct form it. The ignorant soul does not know that the Supreme Spirit pervades it. The soul is a body unto Him. In other words, just as the soul resides in the body, so does God reside within the soul, and yet He is distinct from it. He witnesses the deeds - good and evil - of the soul and gives it its deserts and thereby keeps it under control. Do Thou know O Maitreyi, that the ver same Immortal, Omniscient Being resides within they soul."
Can anyone give a different meaning to texts like these?
Now about the third so-called 'mighty text' "This (soul is God (Brahma)." Its true sense is that when during the state of trance (samadhi) a yogi gets direct cognition of God, i.e., sees God, he says: "This (the very God who resides within me) is Brahma, i.e., pervades the whole universe." It is clear, therefore, that the Vedantists of to-day, who declare that the human soul and God are one and the same, do not understand the Vedant Shastra.
Q.In the Chhaandogya Upnishad God says "Having created the universe and different bodies, I enter the body as a soul and manifest myself under different names and forms." CHHAANDOGYA 6: 3,2. Again, says the Taitreya Upnishad "Having created the universe and different bodies God Himself entered them." How can you give different meanings to these texts?
A.- Had you understood the construction and meanings of words and sentences you would not have so perverted the sense of the original in translation. You must understand that there are two entities, one is the pervader and other post-pervader. Now God is like the post-pervader who enters after the soul has already entered the body and reveals the science of names and forms through the Veda. He caused the soul to enter the body and He Himself entered the soul thereafter. Had you understood the meaning of the word anu (post or after), you would not have mistranslated it.
Q.Suppose a man were to say that the same Deva Datta who was seen at Kahi in the hot season, is her now-a-days at Mathura in the wet season. Now if you disregard the differences of time and locality (as hot and wet season, Kashi and Mathura) and take only the individual into consideration, the fact of the existence of the man Deva Datta only is established. Similarly on the 'principle of partial rejection and partial acceptance' if the unknown time, locality and illusion - opaadhi i.e., the obstruction medium - the case of I'shwara (Godin the active state), and of the known time and locality, ignorance, and finiteness in the case of the human soul be disregarded, and only the property of consciousness common to both be taken into account, the existence of Brahma (God) in both is established. On the same principle by the rejection of Omniscience and similar other attributes of God, and of the finiteness of knowledge in the case of the soul, and the acceptance of consciousness alone which is common to both, the unity of God and the soul is established. What answer can you give to this objection?
A.- Would you first please tell us whether you hold I'shwara and the soul to be eternal or non-eternal?
Q. Both being the product of Opaadhi, we regard them as non-eternal.
A.- Do you hold Opaadhi to be eternal or non-eternal?
Q. Our belief on this subject is summed in the following verses:-
"We Vedantis hold the the following six entities as beginningless:-
(1) Soul, (2). I'shwara - God in the active state, (3) Brahma - God in passive condition, (4) the distinctive difference between Ishwara and soul, (5) Ignorance, (6) the union of ignorance with a conscious entity. Of these six, Brahma alone is beginningless but terminable like that kind of Non-existence which though, existing in the present shall cease to exist in the future. These five continue to exist as long as ignorance lasts; and because their beginning is not known, they are called beginningless, but as they cease to exist when the soul attains true knowledge they are called terminable or non-eternal."
A.- Both these verses are wrong. As there can be no soul with the conjunction of ignorance with I'shwara, and no I'shwara, without the conjunction of maayaa - illusion or ignorance with Brahma, the sixth entity of your verse -i.e. the conjunction of ignorance with a conscious entity as a separate entity becomes superfluous; because the ignorance or illusion is absorbed into the soul and I'shwara, and forms part and parcel of them. For the same reason it is useless to count I'shwara and the soul as beginningless entities distinct from Brahma. Hence according to your view only two entities - Brahma and ignorance - are demonstrable and not six. Besides your idea of I'shwara and the soul as two entities born of upaadhi or ignorance can only be true if you could demonstrate the existence of ignorance or illusion in Brahma Who is Infinite, Eternal, Holy, All-knowledge, Immortal and Omnipresent.
Were you to believe that the ignorance (depending upon and relating to self) in Brahma is restricted to one place at a time and exists from eternity, the whole Brahma cannot entirely be pure. Besides when you admit the presence of ignorance in one place, it being movable will keep shifting from place to place; hence which ever part of Brahma it goes to, that will become ignorant and whichever part it leaves, will become enlightened. This being the case, you could call no part of Brahma as eternally pure and enlightened.
Moreover ignorance on account of its presence and consequent pleasure and pain, etc., in one part of Brahma, will affect the whole, like a wound which though confined to one part of the body causes pain to be felt throughout the system. Again, that part of Brahma which is in the pale of ignorance will know itself free from it. Hence, Brahma will be divided into parts, one inside, the outside the pale of ignorance. If you reply 'Let Him be divided, it would be of no consequence to Him.' He would then no longer remain indivisible. He could not be ignorant. Besides ignorance or incorrect knowledge being only an attribute must necessarily reside in some substance in permanent relation to it. Hence it could not temporarily reside in Brahma.
If you believe that Brahma becomes the soul through the intervention of an obstructing medium (opaadhi) called Antahkaran ( internal organ of thought), we ask whether Brahma is All-pervading or circumscribed. If you answer that He is All-pervading but the obstruction medium is circumscribed, i.e., limited as regards
space, and is separate in each man, does that medium then move about or not?
Q.It moves about.
A.- Does Brahma as well move with it or does it remain stationary?
Q.He remains stationary.
A,- Then whichever part the obstructing medium - the antahkaran - leaves, that must become free from ignorance, whilst whichever part it goes to, that part of the pure enlightened Brahma must necessarily become ignorant. In other words, Brahma would in one moment become ignorant and in the next enlightened. Hence salvation and bondage will also become of momentary duration, and just as one cannot remember what another has seen or heard, similarly what Brahma has seen or heard yesterday he could no possibly remember today; because the time and place of his observation are totally different from those of his remembrance.
But Brahma is the same in all you say. We ask, therefore, why Brahman is not All-knowing? If you say that the obstruction media - antahkaranas - are different or distinct from each other in different people, the resulting knowledge will, therefore, also be different. Our answer is that the medium being material, it cannot be the seat of consciousness. And if you say that it is neither Brahma nor the antahkaran, (the obstructing medium) - internal organ of thought - but the 'image of Brahma' -chidaabhaas - that is, the seat of knowledge, then too it is conscious entity that possesses knowledge. Why it is then finite in knowledge and power?
It is clear, therefore, that you cannot establish I'shwara and the soul as products of the influence of the 'obstructive mediums, ignorance or illusion', on Brahma. I'shwara is really another name for Brahma - the All-pervading God, while the other conscious, eternal, uncreated and immortal entity is called the soul.
If you say that the soul is nothing but the image of Brahma (chidaabhaas), we answer that the image being of momentary duration will soon perish. Who will then enjoy the bliss of salvation? Hence God and the soul were never one, nor are they at present, nor shall they ever be.
Q. How can you then establish the doctrine of non-duality which is clearly inculcated in the Upanishads as shown by the following quotation form the Chhaandogya? "O my dear son, in ghe beginning there was but One (God) and no other." According to our belief the existence of every thing else - whether of the same kind as, Brahma or of a different kind from, or as differentiated parts of, the same Brahma - besides Brahma, being negative the existence of Brahma alone is established. How could the doctrine of non-duality hold good when you believe that Brahma (God) is distinct from the soul?
A.- Why have you fallen into this error? Fear not and try to understand the relation of an adjective to a substantive. Now what is the function of an adjective?
Q.Its function is to differentiate.
A.- Then why not also admit that it serves to elucidate and explain the character of the substantive. You should, therefore, understand that in the verse quoted above the word advait (i.e., and no other) is an adjective, qualifying the noun Brahma; its differentiating function is that it differentiates Brahma from innumerable souls and atoms, whilst its explanatory function is that it serves to elucidate that there is one God and one only. As when you say, "In this town Deva Datta is the one rich man. There is no other", or In this regiment Vikram Singh is the one brave man and there is no other", you mean that in this town there is none so rich as Deva Datta and there is none in the regiment so brave as Vikram Singh, but it does not negative the existence of other men less rich and less brave than Deva Datta and Vikram Singh respectively. nor of animate (as plants and animals) and inanimate (as land and water, etc.,) things in the town and the regiment. Similarly, in the text, 'In the beginning there was one God and no other', it is implied that there was nothing besides God equal to Him, but it does no exclude the existenc of other things such as souls and the primordial elementary matter which are inferior to God. It is clear, then, that it means that there is but one God whilst the souls, and the material atoms are more than one, and the adjective advatiya (no other) serve to differentiate other existence from God as well as to elucidate the oneness of God. Therefore, it does not mean that the soul and matter - in atomic or the present visible condition - do not exist. On the other hand, they all exist but they are not equal to God. The explanation neither disproves the doctrine of non-duality nor that duality. So not be perplexed, think over it and try to understand it.
31. God and the soul possess the attributes of Existence, Consciousness and Blissfulness common to each other and are therefore, one. Why do you then refute this belief?
A.-The fact of two things possessing a few attributes common to each other does not make them one. Take for instance, solids and liquids and fire, all these are inanimate and visible but that does not make them one. The dissimilar attributes differentiate them. The hardness and prevent them from being considered as one.
Or take another illustration. Both a man and an ant see with their eyes, eat with their mouths and walk with their feet, yet they are not one and the same, having their bodily forms different from each other, a man having two feet whilst an ant many, and so on. Similarly, God's attributes of Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Infinite Bliss and Infinite activity, being different from those of the soul's and the attributes of the soul, such as finite knowledge, finite power, finite nature, liability to error and circumscription, being different from God's, God and the soul can never be one. Even in essence, they are different, God being most subtle, and the soul less subtle than God.
Q."He who makes even the slightest distinction between God and soul is subject to fear, as fear is possible only from a second person (i.e., not form one's own self)." VRIHADAARANYAKA UPANISHAD.
Does not this inculcate the unity of the soul with Brahma?
A.- Your translation of this verse is wrong. The correct meaning is, that the soul that denies the existence of the Supreme Being or believes Him to limited to some particular time or place, or conducts itself against the will, nature, character and attributes of God or bears malice to another, becomes subject to fear. Because that person alone is afraid of God or of man who believes that God has nothing to do with him or says to another man, "What do I care for you? What can you do against me?" or do other harm or give them pain. Those who are in harmony with each other in all things are called one, as the following expression is very often used. "Deva Datta, Yajna Datta and Vishnu Datta are all one", meaning thereby that they are all of one mind. Harmony is the cause of happiness, whilst want of harmony begets misery and pain.
32. Do God and the soul always remain distinct from each other or do they ever become one?
A.-We have already partly answer this question but we will add her that on account of similarity in attributes and close relationship they are one, just as material solid substance is one with space, in being lifeless and inseparably associated with it: whilst they are distinct from each other on account of dissimilarity of such attributes, as omnipresence, subtlety, formless and endlessness, etc., of space and limitation visibility and such other attributes of a solid object; in other words, a solid object can never be separate from space, as it must have space to exist in, whilst on account of dissimilitude in nature they are always distinct from each other.
In the same way, the soul and the material objects can never be separate from God as He pervades them, nor, all, can they be one with Him as they are in nature different from Him as they are in nature different from Him. Before a house is built, the earth, water, iron and other building materials are found to exist in space; after a house is built they will exist in space, and continue to do so even after it is demolished and the material composing it scattered broad-cast; in short, the building material can never be separate from space, nor, can it being different in nature, ever be one with it.Similarly, both the soul and the material cause of this universe, being pervaded by God, never were, nor are, nor shall ever be separate from Him, and being in their natures distinct from Him can ever be one with Him. The Vedantists of today are like one-eyed men who see only one side of the street they pass through and are bent on giving such a great importance to the close connection or relationship between God and the soul that they completely ignore the dissimilitude between the two. There is not a single substance in this world that is devoid of Positiveness - the property of possessing some qualities - and negativeness - the property of being devoid of some qualities - of close relationship and its reverse, similitude and dissimilitude , etc.Quote this article on your site
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