Episode # 127 – Understanding the difference between our Atman & Physical body – Highest form of spiritual realization!!!

Little Krishna

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an extension of Jada-Bharata’s message on how important both our Atman and physical body are. As we know by now, the Atman is the one that is permanent in nature and our physical body is temporary and keeps changing as we take successive births. However, when we look at the importance of both the Atman and physical body, the Atman is the one that gives the instructions and the physical body is the one that executes those instructions. However, the Atman cannot do anything on its own. Here is where the significance of the physical body comes into picture. Although it might be temporary, we can’t say that we don’t require a physical body and should discard it. We need the physical body as a medium for the Atman to execute it’s good intentions and instructions. We witnessed in yesterday’s episode, how Lakshmana was an epitome of this point, wherein Valmiki Maharishi beautifully explains Lakshmana’s dedicated service to Bhagawan Rama all through his life. This comes under the purview of something called “Seshatvam”, which means that as human beings in this birth, we should always be of service to Bhagawan in some way or the other, and by that, we attain the highest Moksha. This is exactly what Jada-Bharata also mentions here. However, if we mistake our physical body to be part of the Atman, this is where we go wrong most of the time in life, and this is what we call as “Ahankaara”.

It is thus only with this “Ahankaara” that we continue to perform all our “Karma”, either good or bad. Most of the time, this “Ahankaara” induces us into doing bad things in this world, because it makes us to get carried away by the pleasure behind it! If we’re able to withstand that momentous pleasure by controlling ourselves from going behind them, our “Ahankaara” would automatically start coming down.

Thus, just like how the fire below makes the rice cooker hot, and in turn the rice within the water starts boiling, the Atman situated inside our physical body starts to “boil” as the “fire” called “Samsaara” starts to burn! Now who is fueling this “fire” called “Samsaara”? It is nothing but our “Ahankaara”, which fuels the physical body to accumulate more and more Karma. This is where we need to be careful. Whenever we perform any action, it is always good to think more than once before committing ourselves into it. The moment we start introspecting every action of ours in this way, atleast half of our wrong doings would come to a halt. Majority of our bad actions are momentous in nature and if we stop for a moment and think before acting, we would be able to become a much better person. Indirectly, our “Ahankaara” comes down, which in turn purifies our Atman, which in turn would guide us along the path of Moksha. Hence, this is the biggest learning that we can obtain from the conversation between Jada-Bharata and King Rahuguna.

With this, we come to the end of the “Jada-Bharata Upaakyaanam”, but is it easy for us to realize this fact that the Atman and physical body cannot be equated together? Now this is the most important question for all of us to ponder over today. For instance, the moment our physical body is attacked with some disease, how do we say that in normal day-to-day life? We claim that “Oh! I’m sick!” For instance, if it is lunch or dinner time, what do we say? “Oh! I’m hungry!” For instance, if my physical body gets hurt by falling on the road, how do I say that to a doctor? “Oh! I’ve got hurt in my hand or leg! While walking on the road or while riding a bicycle, I fell down and injured my leg!” This is how we talk in daily life isn’t it? However, we should realize one thing here – When we say, “I’m sick, I’m hungry, I fell down on the road and hurt my leg!” etc. is it really we who get hurt or feel hungry or whatever? According to the above discussion on “Jada-Bharata Upaakyaanam”, the answer should ideally be “No”! Why? It is because the Atman and the physical body are two different entities. We are the “Atman”! We are not the physical body at all!

So according to this narrative now, if we’ve to rephrase our above sentences, how do we do? If we feel hungry, we should ideally say, “Oh, it is lunch time! This physical body is feeling hungry!” Similarly, “OH! Because of the accident on the road, the leg of this physical body has got injured!” Similarly, “Oh! Due to some viral infection, this physical body is undergoing fever or throat infection, or whatever!” Our Atman is not going to feel hungry for the want of food! Our Atman is not going to fall sick at any point in time! Our Atman is not going to get injured in any accident on the road! It is only the physical body that undergoes all of this. This is where, great “Mahatmas” and “Spiritual Masters” set apart themselves from ordinary human beings like us. Since they exactly know the difference between the Atman and the physical body, even if they fall sick due to whatever reason, they are least bothered about it. Whereas, if we fall sick what do we do? We immediately rush to a doctor, take medications, etc. and in the process, we become so mentally dull and disturbed because of our sickness. Whereas, if we realize the fact that we (The Atman) can never fall sick and it is only our physical bodies which have fallen sick, none of the diseases would be able to harm us at all!

However, having said thus, it is extremely difficult for us to get this thought embedded in us. Of course, it is not that we don’t want to realize it on purpose, but circumstances around us, and the way we see the relationship between our Atman and the body, etc. would prevent us from realizing this fact. However, I’m not saying it is not possible at all. It is possible for us to realize this, and this is considered to be the highest state of self-actualization of a human being. In other words, if one reaches this state wherein he / she is able to clearly differentiate between the physical body and the Atman, this person is said to have attained the highest form of spiritual realization.

So for today, let us think over this point deeper and let us slowly try making sense of it as we move on. Although it might be difficult for us to do so, and at times, it might even be embarrassing for us to have such thoughts, we should try meticulously to understand the difference between our Atman and our Physical body. This would ultimately lead us higher and higher in our spiritual path and in the direction of complete detachment. We shall wait till the next episode to move on with the events post the Jada-Bharata Upaakyaanam. Stay tuned! 😊



Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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