Soul as Given in Scriptures: its explanation in present context

Dr. Ravindra Tongaokar

How the idea of Soul generated in ancient minds?
Concept of Soul must have come up in minds of primitive men to fulfill certain needs. When they saw things moving, they thought there must be a mover behind every motion or movement. Material bodies like stones cannot be moved unless moved by some one. When the primitive men saw water flowing in the river or wind blowing around, they thought some body must be doing it. They termed them as a River goddess who makes the water to flow and a wind God (Varun) who makes the air blow. Stars were also Gods as they too moved.
Similarly they thought, behind every action there must be a “Doer”. When this very logic was extended to human beings some sort of mover or Doer was thought of and it was termed ‘Soul’.
Movement in bodies was considered to be the proof of the presence of Soul in the body, while motionlessness of the body was considered as to be proof of the absence of Soul from the body. That is to say, when the Soul leaves the body, it is the death of that individual.
This belief till continues.
Kenopanishad, one of the principal Upanishads (some of the sacred books of the Hindus) begins with the query: “By whose orders do the eyes see or ears hear or the various organs of the body function?” And, as expected, the answer is: “At the order of the soul”.
Another reason why the concept of Soul must have come in the minds of primitive men was to fulfill the desire to tide over death. Since the biological death has been a universal and an unavoidable fact, the desire to continue beyond death could be satisfied only in a special way; and the way out was that although the body dies there is some entity in us that does not die. Such an immortal entity was called Soul.
The soul being unlike the body does not die with the death of the body. So much so that the soul was considered to be imperishable, eternal and immortal.
Thus, the mover entity inside the person, of course, an invisible entity, and the imperishable entity, surely again an invisible one, were fused into one entity called, Soul.

Characteristics of Soul:-

  • Soul is different from the body it occupies.
  • Body is material Soul is spiritual.
  • Body is inherently unconscious while soul in conscious.
  • Even if the body dies, the Soul never dies.

Bhagwat-Geeta Says- “The Soul is imperishable, no body can destroy it. It is un-destroyable, permanent, beyond the life and death cycle, constant, ancient, passionless, stable and indifferent.”
“Weapons cannot cut it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot make it wet, or wind cannot dry it; it is stationary, immobile, forever, all pervading and eternal.”
“As the person throws away old clothes and puts on new ones, similarly the Soul leaves the old bodies and enters new ones. No body can see it, no body can describe it, no body can listen to its description, and   if anybody tries to describe it no body can understand it.” (Because no body has ever seen it!)
“Even then it is present in each and every body. It is never born and it never dies, it never comes and it never goes, it is stationary and eternal and even if you kill the body it will not die.”
Soul is the real doer of various actions and reaper of the fruits thereof; if the body has weight and other physical properties, the soul has none of them. Because of the Soul, knowledge, thinking, imagination, problem solving, memory, creativity, and various moral and religious functions are possible. Body on its own cannot have any experience. Experience of pleasure, pain and liberation is to be had because of soul only. Life is possible in the body only as long as the soul resides in it. The body dies as soon as the soul goes out of the body.
This is what, Soul is!

Why even educated and scientific minded person, a surgeon like me, believed in the idea of soul?
A medical person like me sees death often. There are some deaths which are instantaneous, that is, a patient just living is no more. The question arises, what is the difference between a just living person and a just dead body? All the matter, the mass and organs of the body are as they were before the death. Then what is missing or has gone out or left the body? If it is some kind of ‘Energy’ which is termed as ‘Soul’ then by the law of physics it cannot be destroyed. It can only be transformed in some other form of energy (so called rebirth). Next question is when this energy did or the Soul entered the body? Obviously it has to be when the fertilization has occurred. If this concept of energy is applied to the soul then all the properties ascribed to the soul in the scriptures can be easily explained.
What about the theory of ‘Karma’?
As energy cannot be destroyed, and can only be transformed to other forms, after our death the Soul, being a form of energy has to get transformed in some other form. What determines its transformation is the mass surrounding it.
It is just like electrical energy. This electricity travels hundreds of Kilometers from either a hydroelectric or a thermal power station to our house. But its ultimate transformation, whether it should be transformed into heat or light, or sound or kinetic energy like a moving fan, is determined by the mass surrounding it whether it is a copper wire, tungsten wire, a transistor or an electric motor. Similarly when we die in which form our energy-the Soul- should go is determined by our body mass at the end of our life. That is our rebirth, or so I thought.
I had my pet theory that when the sperm fertilizes an egg, some energy enters in it. There is a sudden spurt of intense activity and from a single cell, in a short time, a whole individual, may it be a human being, an animal, a bird or an insect, is formed. At the time of death this energy goes out of that body and is transformed in some other form of energy. This energy I called as Soul or Atman which just could not be destroyed but only transformed and this is rebirth.
The all pervading energy, is the Brahman governed by the God, The Soul is part of this Brahman. Similarly what is mass? It is ‘Maya’. There is a saying from the old scripture that God has created this visible world. This concept could be now explained on the basis of Einstein’s theory of E = MC2, where E is energy or the God, M is mass or the visible world and C is velocity.
This is the type of explanation which makes educated persons like me to believe in the theory of Soul and Karma even in the 21st century.

This is what we want to disprove, because this concept is wrong.