Nature Of Atma (Soul): Complete Details with Simple Explanation!
Two Questions on the same topic from two devotees (Name hidden):
“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 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????”
“Sir, a question. At the time of death, will the atma feel pain like the body feels? If the atma should not take birth again, can the devotees of that dead person do any rituals to stop the next birth of the atma? What to do if the atma should go to swarga logas (heavens)? Clarify please.”
Both of you have asked many questions on the Nature Of Atma (Soul).
Firstly, Atma (Soul) is a spark from the Supreme Lord Krishna who is the Paramatma, and it has no feeling for itself, but, it makes the senses to feel something.
Atma (Soul) can be perfectly compared to electricity. Electricity has no actions if it does not come into the contact of a device. Only when it enters into a fan, it makes the fan rotate. 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, Atma is also the cause for the bodies to function. It makes the body to feel the pain, pleasures, etc. Atma actually does not feel them. Because by nature, atma has no Senses and Gunas. Only when it gets a body in the material worlds, the Atma makes the body feel everything.
Because of the Nature Of Atma (Soul) in the conditioned state, the atma itself gets bewildered as if it is also enjoying or suffering. In its actual PURE STATE, the atma does not have any feelings except being blissful.
Always remember, the “Feelings” are the outcomes of the body and mind.
And, Atma has no gender. Gender comes only when the atma takes 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 nature (Prakruti) is the female because it accepts the seed of Krishna and creates the living beings. So, the entire Prakruti, ie, material creations, including all other living beings are CONSIDERED AS females. If you take a Pure Atma, it has no gender.
The electricity has no actions until it gets a device. When it gets a device, it becomes, electric bulb, electric iron, electric fan, etc.
And, the atma can not see anything because it has no senses to receive the images. But, only when the atma charges the eyes of a body, the eyes can see the things. So, atma 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 atma, in its original pure state, has no pains. But, it stands as the cause for pains.
As said before, Atma (Soul) is the minute particle from Paramathma – Krishna Himself. So, the nature Of Atma (Soul) is always blissful in its pure state, ie, IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM. If you cut the TIP of your hair into 10,000 parts vertically, one part of it will be the size of the atma. So, it is very minute. So, it need not feel pain while leaving this body that has nine doors. But, as the atma is the cause of consciousness that is spread throughout the body, the body feels pain. When atma leaves the body, the body’s consciousness also goes.
Srila Prabhupada says about the nature of atma:
“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 atma also falsely 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 about the Nature Of Atma (Soul) 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 atma 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 atma resides in this body, consciousness will be there. Only when there is a consciousness, we can feel pains. So, atma does not actually receives pains. But, atma causes consciousness. So, the body feels pains. When the atma 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, the Nature Of Atma (Soul) is that ACTUALLY has no pains when the body dies. But, consciousness is there till atma is in this body. So, we feel pain. So, atma stands as a cause for FEELING the pain. That’s all.
(How atma loses its real bliss and how to regain its bliss? READ HERE!)
Next, One can not stop the atma taking next body after it leaves that body, ie, after the death. Because, the atma has to take next body based on all the samskaras, ie, the recordings of all our activities in our previous bodies. But, when the atma is within a body, that person can use that body to purify the atma through Krishna Conscious practices and thus stop the further births.
So, you have to start cleansing yourself (atma) 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.
WHAT TO DO TO GO TO HEAVENS?
You ask, what to do for the atma to go to heavens. Actually, heavenly planets are also material planets like our 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 heavenly 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 some 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 allowed 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. If not possible while being alive, this ritual can also be done within 12 days after death of a person by his children. After 12 days, no use, as the judgements would have been pronounced in Yamapuri by that time.
So, Don’t desire for heavens. When you CAN ETERNALLY go to Krishna Himself, why do you desire for going to heavens? DON’T DEGRADE YOURSELF. First decide where to go!
Krishna says in B.G Ch-18: “Abandon 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 Atma (Soul) – By Krishna in Bhagavad Gita
Krishna speaks in detail about the Nature Of Atma (Soul) in the chapter two of Bhagavad Gita. They are:
Bhagavad Gita : 2.20:
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.
Bhagavad Gita : 2.21:
The soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill.
Bhagavad Gita : 2.23:
The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by ﬁre, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
Bhagavad Gita : 2.24:
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.
Bhagavad Gita : 2.25:
It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.
Bhagavad Gita : 2.30:
He (soul/atma) who dwells in the body can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any living being.
Are you clear now about the Nature of Atma (Soul)?
(Does Athma have gender as males and females act differently? READ HERE!)