Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):
Swaminarayan philosophy – Jiv
Jiv and its body
1. Jiv or Soul is the essence or life force of the body, which is ontologically different than the elements of the body. The elements of body inherently carries three qualities (tri-gunas) of maya or prakruti, whereas, soul is free of these three qualities, namely, rajas, tamas, and satva, of maya. So, it is known as “asangi”. The body acts as the field (kshetra) for the soul and the soul is body’s fielder (kshetragna). The essence of a jiv or ātmā (soul) is Paramatma (the soul of the souls). Jiv is subtle (sukshma) like an atom (anu). Paramatma is subtler than jiv. Jiv is spiritual, sentient, conscious, or liveliness (chaitanya-rup) in nature, but is finite in capabilities and limited in power, that is restricted to its body only. In contrast, the body is mundane, insentient, or worldly in nature.
Jiv pervades the whole body by its knowledgeability or knowing power (gnan-shakti). It is impenetrable (achhedya), indivisible (abhedya), non-aging (ajar), indestructible (amar), and invisible in characteristics. It is eternal, means, it has no origin (anādi) and permanent (shaswat or sanatana). Souls are many (countless or infinite) in numbers. When a soul becomes brahmrup or brahm-like in qualities, it achieves its full potential. All free (mukta) souls (atma) in the abode of God are identical and have equal potential. In every birth, the soul gets different body in different ways by different parents. In different bodies different souls seems to show different potential and different power. The same soul changes its body many times within the cycle of births and deaths (samsār chakra of lakh chorāsi) among the 8.4 million life forms, until it gets final redemption or liberation. The soul and its body have “the garment and the wearer of that garment” relationship. Person inside (soul) remains the same but garments (bodies) are changed in every birth. The soul and its body also have “the house and its householder” relationship. Householder controls and maintains the house. Once the householder abandons the house, it becomes a haunted house and gets ruined and ultimately becomes “dust unto dust”. In the “Vedastuti” chapter 87 of Dasham Scand of Shrimad Bhagwat Puran it is said that God has created for the soul its body consisting of senses, intelligence, mind, and prāns just to attain liberation. Other usages of the body are minor and just coincidental. Jiv’s body (sharir) is of three kinds: Sthul (gross), Sukshma (subtle), and Kāran (causal), of which the causal body is full of ignorance. It has three states (avasthā): jāgrat (awaken), swapna (dream), and sushupti (deep sleep). The body consists of 24 elements, of which prān, in general, is the topmost (physiological) element. No other philosophies have mentioned about “pran.” Scientists may create fully functioning cell either from the scratch or from the base cell by changing its nucleus with synthetic or semisynthetic nucleus. The functionality of the synthesized cell, test-tube cell, clone cell, or stem cell is because of “pran” which is part of 24 physical and physiological elements, thus, suggesting, the difference between pran and jiv (soul). Jiv then enters the cell and automatically takes the charge according to the system governed by deeds or actions (karma) under the supreme authority or controlling power of God. Souls are divine (divya) and eternal (anadi), and cannot be created, synthesized, or made in the laboratory. In this way, other religious philosophical systems may still be vulnerable to the rigorous testing by science but Hinduism seems to be rather more foolproof religious philosophical system. The soul has to detach from its causal body (Karan sharir) that harbors the basic ignorance (mul-agnān), by gaining true knowledge, to go to the abode of God or to enjoy the company and the bliss of God. On final redemption or liberation, after leaving this mundane body, jiv gets a new kind of body when it stays in Akshardhām or Aksharbrahm – the abode of God Purushottam. This new kind of body is called “Brahmamay tanu” or “divya tanu.” It is of “chaitanya” (sentient) or “divya” (divine) in nature which is quite distinct from the mundane body consisting of the eight kinds of “jad prakruti.”