“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)Download this episode (right click and save)
The individual soul is sach-chid-ananda. This means eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. The soul already has knowledge, but in a material existence there is the process of learning. What this actually does is remove the covering of ignorance. Like taking dust off gold to bring out its true luster, through proper education the individual blessed with the human birth can have its inherent knowledge shine through.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that He is the cause of knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness. He is also seated within every heart. His expansion is the Supersoul, while we are individual soul. He facilitates the choices we make. What we want to forget, He allows. What we want to remember, He also obliges. Because of the difference in the relationship, Krishna always has full knowledge, while there are things that we will never be able to fully understand.
1. The beginning of time
Scriptural works detail events from a bygone era. We know there is a beginning to this creation. It only makes sense. At some point in time there had to be no one around. What started the ball rolling? Scientists theorize about a single cell evolving over time, but then what is the source of that cell?
Go back to the beginning of something, and know for certain that there is a time before that as well. This is the infinite nature of time. We will never be able to comprehend the beginning of time since infinity is beyond the scope of the material mind. Only the Supreme Lord can understand this. He is without a beginning, or anadi.
2. The end of space
We go from one room to another in the house. The rooms come about when there are boundary walls. Dwellings are divided in a community. There are borders for the different nations. Yet we know that there is something beyond this world. If we go high up into the sky, there are other planets and stars. There is outer space, and the gigantic sun.
Just as with time, space is infinite. There is no end to the universe. This is impossible for us to comprehend, because how does a person keep travelling without being stopped? The infinite nature of space is further evidence of the amazing potency of the Divine.
3. The travels of the soul from one body to another
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna beautifully explains reincarnation in a single verse. He takes away its mystic nature. The words can be understood by any sober-minded person.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
The soul is the constant factor. The body is always changing. Just as there are progressive stages for the body in what is known as life, so there is progression at the end. The soul simply exits the existing body and moves to a new one.
The truth can be rationally understood to a degree, but firm evidence comes only through faith. There is no way for us to see where the soul goes. It’s something like trying to picture the wind. We know it is there based on the influence on other objects, like the trees and leaves. Since we can’t see the soul travelling to another body at the time of death, we have a difficult time believing that such a thing happens.
4. The full history of our births
Shri Krishna also says that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they attain without fail [Bg 8.6]. The idea is that we get what we want. Consciousness is key. If we want to enjoy sex without restriction, we get rewarded with the body of a dog in the next life. If we are keen on flying, we take birth as a bird. If there is pious behavior and a dedication to religious principles, the consequence is elevation to the heavenly planets, which feature heightened material enjoyment.
From the present birth as a human being, we can deduce that in the last life perfect consciousness of God at the time of death was lacking. Krishna says that one who thinks of Him at that critical moment attains His nature, i.e. they no longer go through reincarnation.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
What about previous births? We know that the soul is eternal. It can’t be killed. It can’t be destroyed. When was our first birth? We know that the descent to the material world, featuring the cycle of birth and death, takes place when there is a desire to enjoy separate from the all-attractive Supreme Lord. When was that decision first made? How long ago?
Just as with the beginning of time, this is impossible for us to know. We will never have complete information on the history of our births, up to even the original fall to the material world. Indeed, the desperate search for such knowledge itself represents a challenge to God, who is the only all-knowing person.
5. The potency of the holy name
It’s not difficult to be conscious of God, who is ultimately a person. Just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is the acoustic proof of the Divine. Sight is not required. Just chant the names, paying attention to hear, and pretty soon ignorance will vanish.
The holy name is non-different from the person it represents. There is amazing potency in this sound, which is a collection of words of the Sanskrit language. We will never be able to fully understand how Krishna is non-different from His name. The whole thing seems illogical, but as we have seen, our logic and understanding can only take us so far. The Supreme Lord and His representatives are there to carry us the rest of the way.
Go back to beginning of time,
But then something before to find.
Going deep into outer space,
Never a boundary wall to face.
How many births came before,
And of reincarnation sure?
How equal to Him holy name’s sound?
Truth only through guru and Krishna found.