Nature of Selfhood: The Vedic Philosophy

The Vedic Philosophy asks humans that who they are? Are we just a body with organs and life going on? Dr. Harry Monsen, Professor of anatomy at Illinois College of Medicine says “Most of the human body is water. In a 60 pound person, there are about 5 pounds of Calcium, 1 1⁄2 pounds of Phosphate, about 9 ounces of Potassium, 6 ounces each of sulfur and sodium, 1 ounce of magnesium, and less than an ounce each of iron, copper, and iodine.” All these elements add to Rs. 110. The total worth of a human body is Rs.110/- says Dr. Monsen.

So is the human body just worth Rs.110? The answer is No. We are more than the chemicals that constitute our bodies. The body is a matter which is not conscious. The shape of our body changes and is temporary. After some time the body will be dead. Whereas, the soul is the spirit and is conscious. The soul never changes and is permanent, alive, and eternal. The human being is not just a body, we are the spirit soul.

The Vedic Philosophy says, we have three bodies- Gross body, Subtle body, and Spiritual body. The gross body consists of earth, fire, water, air, ether. The subtle body consists of mind, intelligence, and false ego. The spiritual body is the soul which consists of SAT(Eternal), CIT(Knowledge), ANANDA(Bliss). The soul is covered by gross and subtle coverings. 

Reincarnation is one of the examples which illustrates the soul’s existence. Ian Stevenson, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia has extensively investigated over 2000 cases of spontaneous reincarnation memories. There are over 100 books proving reincarnation today. Phobias are related to the mode of death of the person whose life is being remembered. For example, if the previous life ended in drowning, there would be a phobia of water.

Shukla was a girl who remembered her past life. Shukla recognizes her previous lifetime house, her mother-in-law, brothers-in-law, husband, and daughter. She also recalled nicknames as well as real names of her brothers-in-law. This example very well indicates that the mind and soul are two different things. The soul passes to another body after death.

Near-Death Experience is also an example that describes that soul is permanent but the body isn't. It means that the soul is out of the body and the soul is able to see what is going on with the body. Suppose in the operation theatre, the soul is able to hear the doctors operating on the body whereas the soul is outside the body.