Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Soul - Athma and Body

Query :

We all believe that the soul has no death, only the outer body is considered dead when the soul leaves the body.

The body only is then cremated or burned as per the various religious customs and beliefs. It means the soul does not go to the Crematorium and only the body is taken to the crematoria for the final rites.

Then why do we day that there are ghosts/evil spirits in the graveyard….. in fact, as per the Gita/Quran/Bible/Granth, etc. the soul takes rebirth in another new body.

Then what are these so called ghosts and evil spirits???? Superstitions?????

Secondly, when the soul has taken rebirth, then what is the so called Thevasams that we perform for the departed souls in our family?????

The priests/Vadhyars say that the pitrugal come in the form of a crow and bless us???? Does that mean the departed soul of our family member (having already taken rebirth at some other location) will come back in the form of a crow to bless us on the Thevasam day?????

Doesn’t it look like that we are all following a superstitions blindly… I mean we are all having blind faith….

Answer :
Swami Sharanam,

Garuda Puranam gives a very clear picture about all these...

Athma  - Soul - Body all three are three different entities...

To be precise let me equate it in Tamil
Soul = Uyir (Jeevan and not Athma)
Athma is totally a different concept from soul

This is the Maya play of Parashakthi - by which a person is identified...

 the one you think you are, the one that others think you are and the one you really are.'

The one you think you are, is the body - by which you aidentify yourself
the one that others think you are, is your mind - character - which is your soul.
the one you really are, is the real, eternal unchanging truth ie atma

When the soul departs from the body - the mortal remains - is only the body ie the person is dead... But the Athma chaintanyam doenst diminish or leave... its always there.

Now coming to the soul - it doesnt end there... after the proper rituals at the grave yard... the soul assumes a subtle body and travels to the nether world...  Through various funeral
rituals(for 13 days), this subtle body is encouraged and assisted to make its journey out of Bhu-loka across the river Vaitarni and reach the Pitru-lokam, the land of ancestors.

Some souls are unable to make their journey from the land of living to the land of dead. They stay back in the crematorium. This may be due to untimely death, suicide, accident, murder, too much of attachment to the world and with no proper samskaras etc.. As a result they do not turn into Pitru; they remain here as Pisasu or ghosts.

These ghosts ,may torment the living people at times. No they are not superstitions - but beings who are to be pitied and taken care... I have personally seen a case of a Prethaathma which stayed back in their ancestral house for more than three generations(nearly 90 years) and finally after performing various painstaking rituals for 41 days it was finally sent to pitru lokam and then to Vishnu Lokam.

And coming to the next part... there is a very big mistake in the question itself… Except for Bhagawath Githa – Quran or Bible etc  never accepts that the soul takes rebirth in another new body.

Only Hinduism accepts the concept of rebirth..

While the journey from Bhuloka to Pitru-lokam happens  through the crematorium, the journey back to Bhulokam happens by entering through the mother’s womb. While passing out of the mother’s womb, the spirit body loses all memory of previous lifetimes.

Now  the concept of Shraddams are given to the Pitru Devatas in the name of ones relatives and not to the relatives directly. And moreover the Shraddam is a karma to show one’s commitment and bound duty – in reciprocation to his blood relations.

Moreover a soul doesn’t take birth immediately next second after death(except in movies)… based on the papa and punya done it may stay back for several  years in various lokas and once both the papam and punyam have exhausted, it may come back to bhulokam again… this may take even several hundred years…

So by shraddams and tarpanams we do – we don’t actually give it to them; but facilitate them in the respective lokas they live… For example the tarpanam you do here will give them comforts and food in the present body they live. (this rule applies even after they take rebirth)

If you send a money order through the post office – please don’t expect the same currency notes to reach the person to whom it is sent. Similarly, doing shraddam is your duty – the result will reach the person according to the present situation where he lives.

The crow is considered to be the medium through which this is passed. (similar to agni who carries the offering to the Gods)

Please understand… Crows are considered to be the Pitru Devatas and not exactly your father or Grand father..

In Hinduism nothing is given as blind faith or superstition.. its only we who fail to understand the inner significance because of our ignorance and start blaming the system….

Om Pitru yagjansya Phaladhaaya Nama : says Hariharaputra Sahasranama

Swamy Sharanam
Aravind Subramanyam


  1. thank you for the detailed reply. I have read this before and reading this from you, convinced me on the authenticity .
    Jai Sriman Narayanaya.

  2. Nice.. well explained

  3. Good explanation. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Thanks for the painstaking explanation. It does explain and clarify on misgivings some people like me may have.