Gita series – part 14. Bhagavad Gita Chapter II - Verses– 23-27:
Krishna continues to explain about the soul to Arjuna thus: “The soul cannot be pierced by any weapons, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it and air cannot dry it (verse 23). Without doubt it cannot be pierced, it cannot be burnt, it cannot be made wet and it cannot be dried. The soul is eternal, omnipresent, immovable and without changes (verse 24). It is said to be invisible, cannot be manifested and without modifications. Therefore, knowing it as such you should not grieve (verse 25).” When Arjuna was unwilling to fight just because of the illusion that when he kills his enemies, it tantamount to killing his relatives and masters. Krishna explains that the destruction of the gross form does not mean the destruction of the soul. The soul is not something that we cannot meddle with. It is eternal and beyond modifications. In one word Krishna explains the soul. It ‘cannot be manifested’. Manifestation is possible only if one has prior knowledge about an object. But the soul is not comprehendible as it is not an object. The soul can be realized only by means of internal search and exploration and cannot be conceived that easily.
Manifestation and conception are possible only for the objects that existed, exists or at least going to exist in future. Therefore objects are bound by space and time. Anything that is associated with space and time is subject to changes and ultimate destruction. But the soul transcends all these descriptions. That is why nobody is able to give a physical description of the soul. Even Krishna chooses to explain the soul by negations only. That is why Krishna asks Arjuna to understand this concept and should not feel sorry for killing his relatives and masters. Such killings do not amount to killing of the soul which is beyond destruction. Krishna reasons out for having asked Arjuna not to grieve. “Even if you think that the soul is incessantly born and dies, it is not good to grieve, Oh! Mighty armed! (verse 26). When one is born, he is sure to die and after death he is sure to be re-born.
When there is no way to avoid this, it is not good to grieve (verse 27).” Krishna having explained about the soul now proceeds to impart some basic spiritual knowledge to Arjuna. Krishna is trying to come down to the lowest level and starts his preaching. Even if someone thinks that soul is a misnomer or non-existent, at least they are able to physically see birth and death. So, what is born today is going to perish later, which is a known factor. At least from the context of this impermanency, Arjuna should not grieve says Krishna as there is no way to avoid this birth and death and this cycle happens automatically. There are two ways of looking at this. The first is the concept of soul and second is about the fear of death. Though Krishna explains the situation at the time of one’s death in later chapters, He indirectly says here that one should not fear about death that is certain to happen at any time. (to be continued)