Bhagawad-Geetaa 2.12-2.13

न त्वेवाहम जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः न चैव न भविष्याम सर्वे वयमतः परं ||१२||


देहिनोऽस्मिन् यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तस्य न मुह्यति ||१३||



Never was I nonexistent; nor you; nor these rulers of people. And nor will any of us cease to exist hereafter. ||12||


As [for] the embodied, in this body: infancy, youth, and old age So the acquisition of another body. The brave do not fear that. ||13|| Interpretation: These verses call into question conventional wisdom about birth, growth, and death. Recently I was asked, "What happens when you die?" My response was, "When who dies?" The identity of the one who dies (or is born, or lives) is tenuous, in constant flux from moment to moment. Physically, I am not the same cells, molecules or atoms that I was when I was born. My mind has undergone dramatic change over the years. Who is to say my infant self did not die? If so, what is the distinction, in principle, between that "death" and death as commonly understood? Commentary: Some translations and commentaries use the word "soul" as early as in this verse. However, although there are words in Sanskrit that translate as "soul," none of them is used in this verse. The only reference is to the body: "this body," "another body," and the "embodied". I find it interesting that the original author did not presume to name the thing which is embodied prematurely, even though subsequent translators and commentators did. Jacques Barzun writes on page xxii of From Dawn to Decadence may seem contradictory to speak of one culture flourishing from end to end of our half of the millennium. There is in fact no inconsistency. Unity does not mean conformity, and identity is compatible with change. Nobody doubts the unity of the person from babyhood to old age.

Tags: Philosophy, Religion

Updated at: 23 November 2007 12:11 AM