Posted on : 22-02-2012 | By : Krishna Yoga | In : FAQ
Who am I? Where did I come from? Where will I go after death?
These are fundamental questions that every human being has the potential to inquire about and find answers for. Animals can use their intelligence only to fulfill basic needs for survival but human beings are blessed with the ability for higher inquiry.
To find answers to the above questions we must first define our identity. The scriptures explain that we have two identities –
(i) Relative and Temporary identity,
(ii) Real and Permanent identity.
Our Relative and Temporary identity is that which changes with different times, places and circumstances. Our Relative identity is always defined in relation to something or someone else. Our relative identity changes with change with any change in the object it is related to. Also our relative identities often change in due course of time. Ask any person a simple question, “Who are you?” One will get varieties of answers based on one’s relative (temporary) identity.
Eg. I Ramesh, John or Subroto – identity related to a name.
Eg. I am an Indian or American – identity related to the country or nationality.
Eg. I am a doctor, engineer, politician or a homemaker – identity related to one’s qualification or profession.
Eg. I am father, mother, child, uncle, aunt etc – identity based on different roles we play in a family.
Eg. I am a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Sikh etc. – identity based on faith, tradition, culture or the family in which one is born.
Eg. I am millionaire, billionaire or a pauper – identity based on one’s financial status.
Eg. I’m a man, woman, child, youth – identity based on one’s age.
In this way, there are many relative identities that each one of us can have. These temporary identities mentioned above, can change in due course of time, when the object related to it is changed. For example, if the nationality is changed then an Indian can become an American citizen. Thus, one’s relative identity can change with a change in residence. When the profession changes then an engineer can become a manager or a doctor can become a politician. One’s relative/temporary identity can change again, with change in one’s work or occupation.
Again one’s faith can also change and along with it one’s relative/temporary identity based on a religious tradition can change. A Hindu can get converted to a Muslim or a Christian and vice versa. The financial identity of people is constantly threatened in a highly volatile global economy today. Even if we identify with our gender, with surgical procedures a man can be converted into a woman and vice versa. We can clearly see that all these are temporary and relative identities. What then are our permanent identities ?
Some people confidently claim, “I am this body”. The cells in our bodies are constantly dying and are regenerated. John Pfeiffer in his book “The human brain” explains that every 7 years each and every cell in the body is replaced. That means every 7 years we have a brand new body compared to the one we had 7 years back. Thus, the body is constantly changing and along with that our identity also changes. Of course people often identify themselves as, I’m too fat, tall, short, thin, black, white etc. Thus, our identity with this body is also relative and changing frequently.
What is the value of the body?
Dr. Harry Monsen said its – 120 Rs.
The chemicals and other ingredients in the body are cheap but there is something else in the body that is priceless and valuable. People are ready to spend any amounts of money to cure an ailing heart, liver, kidney or to cure oneself from deadly diseases like cancer, aids etc. If the body is so cheap, worth just a hundred and twenty rupees, then why would someone spend a fortune to protect it? In fact, the clothes, spectacles, jewelry, watches or mobiles we carry are more expensive than the body that carries it!
Eg. Imagine a scene where a loved one or a friend is speeding on an expensive car and meets with an accident. What would you do first, take the friend to a hospital or take the car to a garage? Most people would first take the loved one to a hospital for medical care and then take care of the car. Why?
If there is choice between accepting 1 million dollars and 5 dollars as free gift, which one will you choose? Most people would prefer taking 1 million dollars as the free gift. Now, in the above example the car may be worth a million dollars and the body of the person less than 5. Then why would someone take care of the 5-dollar body first and neglect the million-dollar car? That is because there is something special in the body. In fact, when that something special leaves and the body is dead, nobody would pay even 5 dollars for the chemicals in the body!
What is that something so special, so valuable, priceless within the body, that people are ready to spend their fortunes and whatever resources they have to take care and provide the best for the body while they are alive. The scriptures explain, that the special element in the body is the spirit soul. The scriptures explain that we are not these material bodies. We have these bodies, we possess these bodies and we are the spirit souls present within these bodies.