A sincere and serious seeker of Truth, Nachiketa, inquires Yamaraj The Lord of Death.
Yeyam prate vicikitsa manushye,
Astityeke nayastiti caike
Aitad vidya manushishtas twaya ham
"Oh Lord! Some people say soul exists, some say this body itself is the soul; while others say that soul does not exist after death. Please tell me what is the truth? This is my third boon you have promised to grant me".
Like Nachiketa, any human being, who has deeply involved himself in Tapa-Sadhana, Yoga or long-term meditation and contemplation practices but has not yet realized his immortal self-identity, remains in this inquisitive state. Does the soul exist or not? It is a question of paramount importance. Those who are not able to solve this riddle go on groping in dark for a convincing answer but for those who have realized their true self, life becomes a boon and bliss.
In this regard, the concepts of Hindu philosophy are very clear. Leaving aside a few thinkers like Maharishi Charak, who identified the sense of soul consciousness with the physical body, most of the Indian seers have considered the soul as an eternal entity independent of the body. Complex methods of yoga have been discovered with the help of which it is possible to take the soul out of the body when a person is alive and make it consciously enter the dead body of another person. The following are few instances of such phenomena.
1.During a scriptural debate with Bhagvati Bharati, wife of Mandan Misra, Adi Shankaracharya became answerless on a question that required knowledge of sex.
The latter requested for some time to be able to give a convincing reply. Coincidentally, during the same time, the king of Mahishmatinagar died. Shankaracharya made his soul enter the kings dead body. This process is called Parkaya Pravesh. Daily he used to take out the soul from his body, leaving his dead body lying in the jungle and his soul entering the body of king. During the night when Shankaracharya used to reenter his own body, kings body became dead. The use of two bodies by a single soul amply proves a separate existence of the soul.
2.In 1939, an army commandant L.P. Farrel of the Western Command saw with his own eyes near Assam-Burma border a yogi who came out from his old body and entered the dead body of a young man who then became alive. This incident has been published in the May, 1970 issue of Akhand Jyoti (Hindi edition) on pages 29-30.
3.Normally, it is believed that life is based on the process of respiration. But saint Haridas took samadhi for one month in the presence of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and several British officers and established that the relation of the body is related to the soul in the same way as the machine is run by the electrical power. Without the soul the body becomes dead.
These are a few of the hundreds of recorded testimonies of souls immortality. Indian philosophers are fully confident in this regard and assert...
Vyatirekastad bharabharitwannatoopa labhadhiwat.
That is "Body and soul are not one and the same. In the absence of the soul, body can not have perception of anything".
The principles regarding the immortality of the soul and its independent existence apart from the body that were propounded by our sages are now getting validated on the touchstone of science. In this connection, great significance is being attached to the living cells forming the body. Dr. Stanley and his colleagues of the Rockefeller Institute of America have done rigorous scientific research to find out the difference between a living body and a dead body. Though they have not yet published their final results but if one considers their tentative findings in the light of Indian philosophy, they seem to be echoing the insights of the hoary Indian philosophy.
These scientists say that the living cells are produced by the various chemical processes automatically; that is, the soul is the bodys chemical consciousness; but these cells are produced so long as they are related to protoplasma (which helps in the making of the body). This means that consciousness is related only to the consciousness. Accordingly soul should be considered independent of body.
It is a self-evident truth that after death all the bodily sense perceptions vanish. Why does a creature, which was eating, drinking, walking, sweating, excreting, coughing sneezing, yawning, thinking, talking, guiding and expressing - love, compassion, pity, or hate, malice and anger, stops doing all such activities after death, even though the body is the same?
The question confronting the scientists was the assumption that every existing entity should have the weight and that had the light not been traveling at astronomically high speed; it would have been possible to weigh the quantity of light. Whatever be the form of energy, whether it is light, electricity, sound, heat or magnetism, its definition is that it does not have weight. They are recognized by their effect on the objects. But the scientific enquiry is not complete by merely knowing the effect on objects.
That is why the principles of science and psychology do not match and an eternal question, in this intellectual age too, remains unresolved.
Coincidentally, the attention of some scientists was drawn to this unresolved riddle. They found some clues, which proved to be very helpful in identifying the independent existence of the soul. Once Dr. Kilner of England was examining patients in the hospital. While checking a patient who was on the verge of death, he noticed, with the help of a microscope, some strange colours on the skin of that patient. Next day he got the patients clothes removed and again examined his skin with a powerful microscope. He was surprised to notice that the coloured light that was seen on the patients skin a day before was enveloping the patient from all sides in a layer of about 6 to 7 inches. It was also observed that whenever that light became dim, the pulse rate went down. After sometime, that envelope of light suddenly disappeared. Now when he tried to see the pulse, it had gone, that is the patient had died. This left Dr. Kilner guessing whether the inner consciousness consists of a material akin to light, which is different from the matter what constitutes the gross body.
Dr. Kilner published this incident in several magazines and newspapers. These reports drew the attention of other scientists, too. An American scientist William Mc Dougal considered this incident to be of great significance. He got made a balance which can weigh the person along with the cot and that was very sensitive. A patient who was almost on the verge of death was admitted and he was made to lie along with the bed on the pan of the balance and his weight was recorded continuously.
As soon as the patient died, the machines needle indicated about one ounce less weight. This shows that whatever be the constituent of consciousness, its subtle body should also possess weight. Dr. McDougal also measured this weight in other dying patients and found that it varied from to 1 ounce. He also concluded from his investigations that lesser the weight, more intelligent and scholarly was the person.
The definition of Indian philosophers about the soul that it is luminous, eternal, omnipresent and independent of the gross body but tied to it by the bonds of ones deeds has now become the topic of scientific investigation. Dr. James Watson, a scientist of Harward University and Dr. Francis Chris, of Cambridge University have found that the threads of knowledge and virtues (Chromosomes) are found in the nuclei of the living cells which form the body. These are like the knots in a thread. These knots are called genes. This nucleus is the light element and since it is the essence of life it proves that it constitutes that very aura of light. When this light goes out of the body, the latter becomes dead. This shows that the soul exists as a separate entity that is different from gross matter.
Human body contains around sixty trillion living cells. The genes found in these cells may have a length of about 5 feet. The length of genes found in sixty trillion cells would be 300 trillion feet. This is only an estimated length. In fact, it is infinite. If it were possible for a person to concentrate his knowledge in this sublime subtle consciousness, he will find himself in the omnipresent consciousness. This state has been called self- realization and it is attainable through rigorous Sadhana. So long as a person does not realize his own Real Self, he remains a helpless creature tied to the material bonds ignorantly going through the endless cycles of births and deaths. Once he awakens to the truth of his immortal identity as an eternal soul, the same very creature washes away all the accumulated sins of previous births and enters the luminous realm of Eternal Life and Bliss.