Apr 24, 2020, 12:40 IST

Which Body To Enter?

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If the soul doesn’t have a sense of perception, how does it decide which body to enter after it leaves its old body? — Vandit Nanavati, 25 years

■ Atman is eternal, omnipresent, immortal and formless. It does not take birth, experience life or death. As it is immortal, it remains unborn, does not suffer, nor does it ever die. It gives life to the jiva, the individual being, and that is its only association with it. Individuals have free will that allows them to choose their course of action, and this freedom of choice sets the wheels of karma in motion.

The theory of karma says that we have to reap what we sow. However, not all karmas come to fruition at the same time; some ripen, but for the remaining karmas to settle, we have to take several births.

An individual is responsible for his own karmic cycle, for he makes his own choices. There are two types of karma: the first, sakaam karma is carried out with a desire for fruit and it binds us to the result. The second, nishkaama karma, is performed with atmabhava; such actions don’t bind us but take us to moksha, liberation. Even at the time of death, atman is established in the Self.

It is untouched by the sorrow and turbulence that precedes death.

The chitta stores the complete account of all our good and bad deeds. At the time of death, a karmic blueprint is created in the chitta, with the help of prana. When prana leaves the old body, it takes with it the power of the senses, mind, intellect and the ego.

It also carries the deep impressions stored in the chitta and according to its karma, journeys to find a new body. It is said that when the jiva finds an appropriate body in a predetermined species — through the karmic cycle — it manifests through the new body.

The jiva continues to enjoy physical and material life until the body lasts. Then again the karmas that the jiva accrues in this life come into play. With the help of atman, the jiva is able to be reborn.

The cycle of life and death continues for the jiva but not for the atman. The jiva has a choice — either it can establish itself in the atman, or it can continue to struggle in the cycle of birth and death. ■

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