As far as the identity of the living being as spirit soul is concerned, there are a number of speculations and misgivings. The materialist does not believe in the existence of the spirit self, and empiric philosophers believe in the impersonal feature of the whole spirit without individuality of the living beings.

Some transcendentalists teach the philosophy of becoming one with the Supreme by annihilating one's individuality. Impersonalists (mayavadis), who are frustrated by the struggle of material existence, generally try to kill their identity by merging into the existence of impersonal Brahman. There are many other theories and concoctions, but all these different speculations can be cleared off by accepting the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita or Srimad Bhagavatam.

The impersonal approach of understanding the identity of the living being is condemned in Bhagavad-gita [2.12] where the Supreme Lord says: "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these other living entities nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." This verse very clearly establishes the eternal existence of the individual soul.

The mayavadi theory that after liberation the individual soul, separated by the covering of maya, or illusion, will merge into the impersonal Brahman and lose its individual existence is not supported by this verse.

Neither is the theory supported that individuality refers to the conditioned state only. Krishna clearly says, in this verse, that in the future also the individuality of the Lord and others, will continue eternally. This is also confirmed in the Upanisads which state that the Supreme Lord as well as the conditioned souls are eternally individual beings both in their conditioned as well as in their liberated situations.

The Supreme Lord is the supreme individual person and all other living entities are individual part and parcels of that supreme individual person. All individual persons, including the Lord Himself, are eternally individuals. It is not that they did not exist as individuals in the past, and it is not that they will not remain eternal persons. Their individuality existed in the past, and their individuality will also continue in the future without interruption.

The Bhagavad-gita further states: "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." [2.20]

Although the physical body changes continually from boyhood to youth to old age yet the individual self within the changing body remains always the same. We simply change our bodily dress in different manners. But, actually, we always keep the individuality of our innermost self. Therefore even after liberation from the bondage of material dress, that individuality will continue because of all of us are individual souls eternally.

All ling beings, beginning from the first created being, Brahma, down to the smallest ant, are individual living beings. And above Brahma, there are even other living beings with individual capacities, and the personality of Godhead is also a similar living being. And He is an individual as are the other living beings. But the Supreme Lord, or the supreme living being, has the greatest intelligence, and He possesses supermost inconceivable energies of different varieties. He is the creator and maintainer of all. No one is equal too or greater than Him.


Understanding the Supreme 2003 All rights reserved