by purujit dasa
SYMPTOMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its birth in the womb of the mother's body, remains for some time, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into oblivion.
The Vedic scriptures describe that although we cannot see the soul, we can still understand its presence in the body by certain symptoms. It is just like seeing smoke coming out of chimney in a distance. Although we cannot see it, by symptoms (the smoke) we are sure that there’s fire inside. Similarly, the soul’s presence in the body manifests as consciousness. And the presence of consciousness in turn can be verified by the above-mentioned symptoms. Let us discuss these in minute detail:
One of the common beliefs in the modern society is that life begins when material elements form a body, which later on develops consciousness. This is not a new theory and Lord Krsna mentions it in the Bhagavad-gita, while describing the nature of asuras, or those who are materialistically inclined:
They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.
As explained previously, although they cannot prove it, materialistic scientists believe that life develops from a combination of father’s semina and the ovum of the mother. Many times, however, although parents do have an intercourse, there’s no pregnancy. The fact that such a situation (no pregnancy after intercourse) arises means that the intercourse cannot be the only cause of new life. The proponents of the life from matter theory at this point will assume that the living entity in the womb does not have a past. His consciousness simply arises all of a sudden by accident. This assumption however is lacking a solid reasoning when we carefully think about it. How is it possible that consciousness of the living entity at this point has no past? At every point in our life we have a past. When we are teens, we have a past, when we’re adults we have a past and we have a past in our old age also. Things do not appear just like that all of a sudden, but have causes. How can our perception be an exception? We live in a relative world, where everything has its cause. A skyscraper is caused by a group of workers, a computer is made in a computer factory, a garden is cultivated by a gardener. Conceptions of sudden magical appearances are perhaps alluring for a child-like mind, but in reality have very little to do with science.
Without explaining how consciousness can appear just like that, out of nowhere, the scientists’ observation of the life phenomenon remains incomplete. The real scientist should not be satisfied with superficial information, but should try to get to the root of the problem.
Dr. Singh. Śrīla Prabhupāda, the idea of chemical evolution came from a Russian biologist in 1920. He demonstrated that before biochemical evolution, the earth's atmosphere was in a state of reduction. In other words, it was mostly full of hydrogen, with very little oxygen. Then, in due course, the sun's radiation caused these hydrogen molecules to form into different chemicals.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. This is a side study. First of all, where did the hydrogen come from? The scientists simply study the middle of the process; they do not study the origin. We must know the beginning. There is an airplane. [indicates an airplane appearing on the horizon.] Would you say the origin of that machine is the sea? A foolish person might say that all of a sudden a light appeared in the sea, and that's how the airplane was created. But is that a scientific explanation? The scientists' explanations are similar. They say, "This existed, and then all of a sudden, by chance, that occurred." This is not science. Science means to explain the original cause.
Life Comes From Life: Giving Credit to the Primal Creator
If the living entity has no past, how is it possible that there are so many varieties of circumstances where living entities are born into? Just consider that nowhere in the world we can find two exactly looking bodies. How come?
So these things are taking place daily within the womb of the mother—how the child is developing from the day of union of the father and the mother, and, on the first day, it is like a pealike form by the semina of father and mother, and then everything develops. Different types of body, different types of intelligence, different types of brain—how it takes place? If it is simply material, then all children would have come out of the same quality. But it does not so come. Every child, baby born, has got everything separate from the others. How subtle laws of nature is working, we can just imagine. It is not possible to understand by our these material senses even this material formation of the body, what to speak of spiritual understanding.
Bombay, January 6, 1975
For example someone is born in a very rich family, but someone is born poor. To say this is just an accident is not actually scientific. It is simply an excuse for not being able to answer. Just like in the past, the fanatical religionists would say: God did it, don‘t question. The scientists today say: It’s an accident. No one knows. If such a question cannot be answered though, the life comes from matter theory remains incomplete and a sensible man should not blindly accept it.
Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita however is giving a more intricate explanation of the subject matter. He says:
Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
Srila Prabhupada elaborates in the purport on this verse:
The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its birth in the womb of the mother's body, remains for some time, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes. The soul is not born, but, because he takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth there, and the soul does not die. Anything which has birth also has death. And because the soul has no birth, he therefore has no past, present or future. He is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval—that is, there is no trace in history of his coming into being. Under the impression of the body, we seek the history of birth, etc., of the soul. The soul does not at any time become old, as the body does. The so-called old man, therefore, feels himself to be in the same spirit as in his childhood or youth. The changes of the body do not affect the soul.
Bg 2.20 purport
So birth applies only to the material body, not to the eternal soul. It is the symptom of the soul’s presence in the body. The Vedic literature explains that unless the spirit soul takes shelter of the father’s semina, it is not possible for body to develop. It is the life of the soul, which starts the whole process of growth and the body simply develops on the soul. The placement of the soul into a particular womb depends on the living entity’s previous karma, or activities and it is arranged under the supervision of the Supreme Lord.
Srimad Bhagavatam confirms this:
śrī bhagavān uvāca
striyāḥ praviṣṭa udaraṁ
The Personality of Godhead said: Under the supervision of the Supreme Lord and according to the result of his work, the living entity, the soul, is made to enter into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semina to assume a particular type of body.
(SB 3.31.1 first edition)
A man dies after it has been decided what form of body he will have in the next life. Higher authorities, not the living entity himself, make this decision. According to our activities in this life, we either rise or sink. This life is a preparation for the next life.
Due to our limited experience in the material world, where everything we see is temporary, we have falsely developed a belief that the living entity itself must have a beginning and end just like everything else. But it does not.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. We have no quarrel with the chemists if they begin from life, but unfortunately they say that everything begins from darkness—dead matter. That is what we object to. We say, "Begin from life," and they say, "No, begin from matter—darkness." The reason they are in darkness is simple: if one goes from darkness to light, he thinks that darkness is the beginning. Suppose you have been in darkness all your life, and now you suddenly come into the light. You will think, "Oh, light has come from darkness." Actually, darkness occurs when light becomes dim. Darkness does not produce light.
Dr. Singh. Then darkness is dependent on light?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. Or in other words, in the light there is no darkness. When the light is dim—then we experience darkness. Similarly, when our spiritual consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is dim, our consciousness is material. In the morning we awaken, and at the end of the day we become tired and go to sleep. When life is somehow or other interrupted, we sleep. We sleep at night, and when we get up in the morning we understand that our wakefulness, or "life," has not come into existence from the sleepy condition. I was alive even while I slept, and on awakening I am still alive. This should be clearly understood. A baby comes from the womb of his mother. He thinks that his life has begun from the day he comes out of the womb. But that is not a fact. Actually, he is eternal. He constructed his material body within the womb of his mother while he was unconscious, and as soon as his bodily features were sufficiently developed, he came out of the womb and again to consciousness.
Dr. Singh. And he again falls asleep at death.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. That is described in Bhagavad-gītā (8.19):
bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ
bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame 'vaśaḥ pārtha
"Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active, and again night falls, O Pārtha, and they are helplessly dissolved."
Life Comes From Life "Everything Is One" Is Nonsense
The soul actually creates an inconceivable energy in the body. It is inconceivable to us, because we cannot explain it through any material law. Nothing material can grow. This inconceivable power makes our body grow though. As we already mentioned, if the cause of growth was simply material elements, why not supply them to the dead body and make it grow again? But that’s not possible.
There cannot be anything material without spiritual energy. What is this body? How this body came into existence? Because the spiritual energy, the soul, is there. A dead child born, it will not grow because the spiritual energy is not there.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.7.28-29 -- Vṛndāvana, September 25, 1976
Another symptom of consciousness in the body is the sustenance. This is also acintya-sakti, or inconceivable energy manifested. The body is just like a car. So long a car belongs to a proprietor, he takes nice care of it. He washes it, changes tires when it’s needed, etc. As soon as the owner buys a new car and dumps the old one, the old car slowly deteriorates. Just as a car’s maintenance is not possible without a person who maintains it, neither our body can be sustained without the presence of the spirit soul. It is due to the presence of the spirit soul all the digestion is working.
There are many mystic powers in the living entities. The cow eats grass and produces milk. Everyone knows this, but can you take some grass and produce milk? Can you? Therefore there is mystic power within the cow. As soon as the cow eats grass, she can transform it into milk. Men and women are basically the same, but as a man you cannot eat food and produce milk, although a woman can. These are mystic powers.
Dr. Singh. Scientists would say that there are different enzymes or chemicals inside different types of bodies and that these account for the cow's producing milk.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes, but who produced those enzymes and that arrangement? That was done by mystic power. You cannot make these enzymes or that arrangement. You cannot produce milk from dry grass in your laboratory. Within your body, by mystic power, you can transform food into blood and tissue, but in your laboratory, without mystic power, you cannot even transform grass into milk. Therefore you must accept the existence of mystic power.
Life Comes From Life: Chemicals from Mystic Power
Men produce children, animals cubs, seeds flowers. This is because they are alive. As soon as we fry the seed and thus kill the life in it, there will be no flower. Neither can we see dead couples conceiving children. Life comes from life.
Dr. Singh. One of the popular questions that arises when we start studying biology is "What is the difference between a living organism and that which is not living?" The textbooks say that the chief characteristics that distinguish the two are that a living being can move and reproduce, whereas dead matter can do neither. But the books never talk about the nature of the soul or about the consciousness of the living entity.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. But consciousness is the primary indication that life is present. Only because of consciousness can a living being move and reproduce.
Life Comes From Life: The Difference Between the Living and the Nonliving
Dwindling, or ageing means that the soul will soon leave that particular body. If there was no soul in the body, there would be no ageing.
My body is changing, but I am not changing. For example, I am now an old man. Sometimes I think, "Oh, I used to jump and play, but now I cannot jump because my body has changed." I want to jump, but I cannot do it. That jumping propensity is eternal, but because of my old body I cannot do it.
Life Comes From Life: Changing Bodies
Matter is eternal and this has been confirmed by materialistic scientists, who call it the law of preservation of energy. When we die, the elements which formed our body, namely water, earth, fire, air and ether do not disappear. They just transform into something else. Matter temporarily manifests in a particular form when the active principle enters. Our body manifests when the soul enters and it is dismantled as soon as the soul leaves, but the body by itself is always dead(insentient). The fact that the body dies and it is not possible to bring it back to life is a proof that the soul, or the active principle of life in the body, has left.
If you decorate a dead body, it may be very fanciful to the people, that "This dead body is decorated with costly garments and flowers and all things." So, but the dead body is dead. It is not enjoying. You can be complacent that "My father, the body of my father or my relative, is decorated so nicely." But factually, if you study scrutinizingly, what is the benefit out of this? What is the benefit? Dead body decoration? But people do that. They are accustomed to do that.
So similarly, this body is dead. That's a fact. It is dead from the very beginning. Because it is matter. Matter is always dead. So this body made of matter, bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ [Bg. 7.4]—earth, water, fire, air. This external body is dead, but it is living on account of that small spark of spirit.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.15.21 -- Los Angeles, December 1, 1973
(to be continued..)