Nature Of Athma (Soul): Can the athma (Soul) feel, see, speak and work?
Two Questions on the same topic:
(1) Mehra Amit asked like this:
“Hare Krishna Prabhu ji, Kindly clear my few doubts, 1) Is Atma male or female, some says that only supreme personality of godhead Lord Krishna is Male and rest we souls are females and some other sect of people says that soul is male ans supersoul is female…. m confused. 2) Can Atma feel? Does atma can feel the pain which our temporary body feels, does atma feel happy when this temp. Body feels happy or finds pleasure in something. As you have said in ur post that atma is v small in size, then does atma have eyes to see??? Or Atma does not have any feelings.. 3) when this temp. body is seeing something, then atma inside us is also seeing the same thing? 4) What is Atma, what are its powers, is atma nothing without temp body or spiritual body?? Can this small size atma speak??? Without any body????”
(2) “A male devotee” asked like this:
“Sir, a question. At the time of death, will the athma feel pain like the body feels? If the athma should not take birth again, can the devotees of that dead person do any rituals to stop the next birth of the athma? What to do if the athma should go to swarga lokkas (heavens)? Clarify please.”
Both of you have asked many questions.
Firstly, athma is a spark from the Supreme Lord or Paramathma, and it has no feeling for itself, but, it makes the senses to feel something. Athma can be perfectly compared to electricity. Electricity has no actions if it is original position. Only when it enters into a fan, it makes the fan rotates. When it enters into the iron box, it makes it to produce heat. When it enters into the refrigerator or air conditioner, it makes it to produce cooling effects. When it enters into an electric bulb, it makes it to give light. In all these devices, electricity does not give anything. It makes the device to function. That’s all. It is the device that gives the heat, air, light, etc.
(8 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ON SOUL (ATHMA) ENTERING THE BODIES! READ HERE!)
Similarly, athma is also the cause for the bodies to function. It makes the body to feel the pain, pleasures, etc. It actually does not feel them. Because by nature, athma has no gunas. Only when it associates with the body in the material worlds, the body feels everything and the athma gets bewildered as if it is also enjoying or suffering. In actual condition, athma does not have any feelings. Feelings are the outcomes of the body and mind.
And, athma has no gender. Gender is based on the body. When we compare the creator Krishna and the creations, ie, the living beings, Krishna is to be considered as the only Purusha (male) because he is the seed giver for the entire creations. The material prakruti is female because it accepts the seed of krishna and creates the living beings. So, entire Prakruti, ie, material creations, including all other living beings are CONSIDERED AS females.
And, the athma can not see anything because it has no senses to receive the images. But, only when the athma charges the eyes of a body, the eyes can see the things. So, athma is just a cause, not the doer. The doer is the sense called eye.
(HOW THE SOUL LEAVES AND ENTERS INTO BODIES? – STEP BY STEP EXPLANATION! READ HERE!)
As we have seen above, the athma, in its original pure state, has no pains. But, it stands as the cause for pains.
As said before, It is the minute particle from Paramathma – Krishna Himself. So, it is always blissful and pure, IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM. If you cut the TIP of your hair into 10,000, one part of it will be the size of the athma. So, it is very minute. So, it need not feel pain while leaving this body that has nine doors. But, as the athma is the cause of consciousness that is spread throughout the body, the body feels pain. When athma leaves it, as the consciousness also goes.
Srila Prabhupada says about the nature of athma:
“Nature of atman is eternal. Eternity, knowledge and blissfulness. Anandamayo ‘bhyasat: (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12) atma is joy, ananda, blissful. Sat cit ananda. Eternal, full of knowledge, and blissful.”
But, when it takes a body, the body feels pains and pleasures. And, the athma also considers as if it also feel such pains. But, it is not feeling it actually.
(Can you explain whether we are body or soul or both? Read the reply HERE!)
Srila Prabhupada says in Bhagavad Gita (7.7) lecture, Vrindavan, August 13, 1974:
“So I am atma, you are atma. So your illumination, consciousness, is spread all over the body. Therefore so long I am in this body, I feel pains and pleasure because the consciousness is spread. In the same way… As Krishna says, He’s the Supreme Soul. I am individual, very, very minute, small particle, and Krishna is the supreme whole. So as I am controlling over this body, so where is the difficulty?”
He further says about the pains associated with the athma while discussing with Kim:
“Consciousness is the symptom of atma. Because the atma is within your body, therefore your consciousness is there. Now, because the atma is within the body, if I pinch or if you pinch my body, I feel pains and pleasures. As soon as the atma is not there, it will be cut with a chopper, there is no protest. So, that atma is present within this body, that is understood by the presence of consciousness. Just like we are here in this room, but this light is the reflection of the sunshine. We understand there is sun in the sky. The light and heat we are feeling, that means the sun is in the sky. Similarly, our consciousness and knowledge, etc., are there, that means that the atma is there. The same atma, when it will go out of this body, there will be no more consciousness, no more knowledge, no more feelings of pains and pleasures.”
Now, let us understand in a nutshell: Only until athma resides in this body, consciousness will be there. Only when there is a consciousness, we can feel pains. So, athma does not actually receives pains. But, athma causes consciousness. So, the body feels pains. When the athma leaves, there will be no consciousness. So, no pains for the body. Then, we can even cut that body into pieces. It will not feel pain.
So, athma ACTUALLY has no pains when the body dies. But, consciousness is there till athma is in this body. So, we feel pain. So, athms stands as a cause for REALYZING pain. That’s all.
(How athma loses its real bliss and how to regain its bliss? READ HERE!)
Next, One can not stop the athma taking next body after it leaves that body, ie, after the death. Because, the athma has to take next body based on all the samskaras, ie, the recordings of all our activities in our previous bodies. But, when the athma is within a body, that person can use that body to purify the athma through Krishna Conscious practices and thus stop the further births.
So, you have to start cleansing yourself (athma) when you have this body. After death, you can not do anything to stop the next birth. But, it can be altered to take a good birth. See the reply to your next question.
You ask, what to do for the athma to go to heavens. Actually, heavenly planets are also material planets like earth. The only difference is, earth gives both pains and pleasures. But, heavenly planets give only pleasures. The risk is, you get heavenly life if you do more good karma in this body. But, it is for a certain period only. Once the good karma are exhausted, you have to come down again to earth to face pains and pleasures.
(Do animals have soul or not and can they be killed since they have no soul? READ HERE!)
So, don’t desire for heavely TEMPORARY PLEASURES. In case, you like to go to heavens after death, there is a suggestion in GARUDA PURANA. You must do a ritual called VRUSOSARGHA that involves donating cows to brahmanas and other rituals. If you do that ritual while you are alive, after leaving this body, your punishments will be reduced by Yama’s servants and you will be alowed some period in heavenly planets as a gift. This does not mean that we can escape from hells. This VROSOSARGHA ritual will also help the jeevan to travel to the YAMAPURI through a good route sitting on a horse without pains and without the tortures of the messengers of yama. This ritual can be done within 13 days after death also. After that, no use, as the judgements would have been pronounced in Yamapuri by that time.
So, Don’t desire for heavens. When you can go to Krishna Himself, why do you desire for going to heavens? Don’t get confused. First deside where to go!
Krishna says in B.G Ch-18: “Abondon all varieties of religion and surrender to me. I will relieve you from all your sinful reactions.”
So, surrender to Krishna. Follow all the rituals, Purify yourself and then FEEL Krishna. Then Love Krishna. Then, after leaving this body, go back to Krishna and serve Him eternally.
(WHAT ARE THE FOUR DEFECTS OF CONDITIONED SOULS (MAN)? READ HERE!)
The nature of Athma (Soul) as said by krishna in bhagavad Gita
Krishna speaks in detail about Athma (Soul) in the chapter two of Bhagavad Gita:
For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
The soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill.
The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by ﬁre, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.
It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.
He (soul/athma) who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.
Are you clear now?