Where do we get our individuality from – matter or spirit?

by Chaitanya CharanDecember 31, 2019

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Transcriber: Dr Suresh Gupta

Edited by: Sharan Shetty

Question: Where do we get our individuality from – matter or spirit?

Answer: The spirit soul is said to be sac-cid-ananda (sat means eternal, cit means knowledge and ananda means bliss). The principle of sac-cid-ananda is very lofty because to understand that something is made of eternity, consciousness and bliss is very difficult since all three of them appear to be unquantifiable.

In general, the nature of spiritual existence is not easily comprehensible. Krishna confirms in Bhagavad-gita 2.25 with the word acintyo ’yam (soul is inconceivable) which means not only Krishna is achintya (inconceivable) but the soul is also achintya. The shastric description of sac-cid-ananda explains the composition or the defining characteristic of the soul. Along with that, the Vedic scriptures also explain that each of us are a part and parcel of Krishna.

In Bhagavad-gita 15.7, Krishna says, mamaivamsho jiva-loke jiva-bhutaḥ sanatanah (the living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts).
Each of us is a unique individual and we all have our original spiritual identity. We are not just a spark of consciousness or a small atom made of sac-cid-ananda. We have our individuality as a spiritual person. However, from a material point of view, our individual personality comes both from our subtle body (mind, intelligence, false ego) and our gross material body. Our individuality can be known by the fact that we all think differently and look different. Even if we look same, we still think differently. For example, twins may physically appear same, but they have individual personality and thoughts.

It cannot be known if there is a relationship between our material individuality and spiritual individuality and it is not necessary that there has to be a relationship. For example, those who are manjari (maidservants) in Lord Krishna’s past-times, they became Goswami in Lord Chaitanya’s past-time. If we look at the role of manjaris and the lives of the Goswami, they seem very different from a material point of view, but they are the same person manifested in a different way. Hence, there may or may not be any similarity between our present individuality and our eternal individuality. However, important point is that bhakti means the willingness to serve Krishna with whatever we have now.

In future, if we have something better then we can definitely do something better for Krishna but right now what we have, can and should be used in Krishna’s service. Thus, we see our present individuality also as a gift from Krishna and we try to use it in his service to the best of our capacity. Even if the present individuality is coming from our subtle and gross bodies, still it is in some way reflection of our original individuality. We are originally spiritual individuals and we have spiritual desires which may get reflected, refracted, distorted due to material contact because of which we manifest our material individuality. Therefore, from a material or a spiritual point of view, we are unique individuals and we should use what we have in Krishna’s service. Thus, by using our present individuality to serve Krishna, gradually our spiritual individuality will be manifested.

End of Transcription.

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Chaitanya Charan

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