Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)
by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words
This page relates ‘Different from the Body’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.
1.2. Different from the Body
Svāminārāyaṇa unpacks the eternal truth in the Vacanāmṛta that the jīva and the body are absolutely different. It is the psycho-physical body that has name and form, and is the product of matter (māyā), but not the self. The self is not an appearance of one universal ātman, due to avidya (nescience); nor is the body an appearance or unreality from any standpoint. The body is subject to birth, growth, change, decay, disease, and death, while the self is the identical unchanging imperishable principle behind and beyond it. The body is real, but it is inferior to the soul, and totally dependent on it. The body is ephemeral and perishable. A man in worldly existence is embodied by a psycho-physical perimeter. No property of body can be attributed to self, nor any property of self be ever attributed to the body. During his life in samsāra, his knowledge and bliss are in a state of obscuration. The consciousness or knowledge and bliss are the essential inseparable attributes of the soul (ātman).
The very existence and activity of the body are purely for the sake of the soul (self). The body is an instrument for the realization of the soul’s end. As the psycho-physical body is controlled and governed by the soul from within, so is the individual soul ruled and governed by the Supreme Soul Parabrahman from within. The soul is like the king (the ruler) within, who rules and governs the whole body together with senses, antaḥkaraṇa, etc. A soul is dependent on God, who alone is absolutely independent. In other words, the souls are the body of God, while God is the owner (śarīrī) of that body. God is the Inner Self (the witness of the self (jivātman).
The Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII echoes in the same way while commenting on the mantra:
maghavanmartyaṃ vā idaṃ śarīramāttaṃ mṛtyunā, tadasyāmṛtasyāśarīrasyātmano'dhiṣṭhānam ||
“evaṃ naśvarasya jaḍasya dehasya cetanadātmatotyantavilakṣaṇatvepi yasya naiva nivṛtto dehābhāvastasya laukikadndvāntaḥ pātitvam” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 8/12/1, p. 384)
“Here, Prajāpati preaches Indra that this body is perishable. Its death is inevitable. It is just a temporary place of residence for the ātman. The ātman is eternal despite the fact that it resided in the body. It is indestructible. Therefore, as long as you believe yourself to be the body you will have feelings of mundane misery and happiness. Once the belief that you are the body subsides and you truly realize the ātman, then mundane misery and happiness will no longer affect you.”
The Bhagavad-Gītā also explores it in this way:
“nityanirvikāratvadehavilakṣaṇatvādiguṇaviśiṣṭatayā” (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/25, p.32)
“The jīva is eternally immutable and distinct from the qualities of the body.”
“evamihaḥ ṣaḍvikārā jaḍānulagnāḥ cetanātmani pratiṣiddhā” (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/20, p.30)
“In this way, six inert mutable qualities are prohibited in the sentient ātman.”
Therefore, the Svāminārāyaṇa Bhāṣya and the Vacanāmṛta, both scriptures assert that the body is completely distinct from the jīva.
Footnotes and references:
Vacanāmṛta Sārangpur 1, p.203