The Imperishable, Eternal, Unborn Self

Krishna's Teachings

by Jayaram V


Chapter 2, Verse 21

21. O Partha how will the man who knows this soul to be imperishable, eternal, unborn, undiminished, slay any one, or cause any one to slay?

Awareness is important, awareness of who you are and what you can accomplish. If you think you are small, you will be small. If you think that you are a divine being, you will bring godliness into your behavior and act with greater responsibility, compassion and discretion. In this regard, scriptures like the Bhagavadgita are immensely helpful because they will constantly remind you that you are an eternal Self and you must live up to that ideal. Most of your actions are driven by either strong emotions or desires, which are in turn influenced by your self-concept or who you think you are.

If you truly believe that you are an imperishable soul, you will cease worrying about your existence, survival or the possibility of any harm that may befall you. You will engage in actions with courage and strength. Similarly, if you think you are eternal, you will look beyond this life and not exceedingly preoccupy your mind with plans and programs to secure it. If you want to practise spirituality, you must fill your mind with spiritual thoughts and absorb your mind in the contemplation of the Self or God.

Most people become attached to their families in which they are born. This is normal in worldly life, and natural too. For a householder, his family is the focal point of his goals and aims, and the very reason to engage in righteous actions to uphold Dharma. However, at some point he has to renounce his family and focus upon his liberation. At that time, he has to remember that birth is for the body nor the soul, which is unborn. Many people experience fear and anxiety at the thought of losing something or becoming weak or sick. That worry disappears when your faith stabilizes in the inexhaustible Self.

When you become aware of the hidden reality in you and accept it as your true identity, you will change for good. Death will no more trouble you. You will realize that you can neither destroy anyone nor can be destroyed by anyone else. That awareness will change your life forever. You will not be troubled by the narrow concerns of your life as you do not engage in selfish actions or act according to your lower nature or evil intentions, nor will you excessively concern yourself with petty problems that may seem important from the physical perspective but may impede your spritual growth.

Everyday problems do not shake your faith or consume your time, as you learn to look at them from a deeper perspective, with detachment and stoical indifference. This transformation in your thinking and attitude does not arise unless you shift your attention from the mind and body to the Self. As you contemplate upon the Self and your eternal existence, you become aware of your spiritual purpose. Your faith in the approach and your commitment to that knowledge strengthen as you absorb the wisdom of scriptures like the Bhagavadgita.

As you progress on the path, you will experience the transformation, expansive consciousness and the increasing influence of divine wisdom that penetrate into the darkness of your mind and purifies your conditioned behavior and habitual thoughts. You may still experience the remnants of your old behavior, but you will not be shaken by them. You will see the unfolding of your destiny, and the turn of events in your life, with greater clarity, patience and awareness.

Your actions are based upon your perceptions, your understanding of the truths of life, the vision you have about you and others and how far you can see the truths that exist beyond the perceptual realities and worldly concerns of your current life. If you can look at life on a broader canvass, which  can accommodate the idea and the possiblity of immortality and accept the possibility of an unending and everlasting life, you will more likely bring that awareness into your thinking and exercise greater restraint in your behavior, actions and relationships. The prospect of death will not trouble you, as you know that you are an eternal Self.

Note : These commentaries are not part of the Bhagavadgita Complete Translation.

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