Death- A 12 Day Journey
The soul has been addressed by various names and epithets in the Vedas. Samrat (the ruler of the body), Vaishva Deva, Teja, Vak, Agneye, Prajapati in chapter 39 of Yajur Veda. Each name or epithet indicates its attributes, like the controlling lord, the nourisher of human beings, the just ruler etc., It is also called Twashta – subtle soul. In Bhagavad-Gita apart from atma, jivatma, words like sah (self), dehin, deha, sharirin, shariri are used (B.G.3-42, 14-11 and 12, 2-18). All these later epithets generally mean lord of the body. Ramanajum – the Vedic metaphysicists and Vedantist of medieval period, refers to it as Sesa – servant of God who is Sesi (master).
A few other Vedantists refer to it as Kshetri – the soul that illumines the entire body. Atharva Veda and other scriptures also mention it as Shivansh (particle of God), dehinam, Purusa – the dweller in the city of God i.e., the sublime causal body seated along with God. Most of the names indicate its attributes of knowledge, light, always at the service of God, master of subtle and gross body. It is for this reason Bhagavad-Gita refers to it as “higher self” and the other body self, which is described as lower self.
Vedas contain an interesting discussion and conversation between soul as atman and spirit as manas, prana to indicate which is superior. At the end of discussion, all the divine and gross instruments in the body accept superiority of the soul.
Prasana Upanishad tells us that the “real self”- soul of the individual is the eternal seer. He is always working in the body and is multiform (R.V. 6-9-4). Being the eternal seer assumes many bodies according to actions performed by the gross body under the influence of three gunas. It is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of the speech, breath of the breath; eye of the eye and still it is independent of the senses and mind. Thus the soul gets full knowledge of the activities, thoughts and desires of any part of the body at all times, including the spirit in the subtle body. This eternal seer is unmoved mover in the body, being still, it moves swifter than thought to caution the individual against ignoble and evil action, it outstrips all that run to guide you of the impending danger. Only men of stable mind, wisdom and truthful thoughts take benefit of this wise eternal seer. Isa Upanishad says without “Self” there is no life. It is the supreme essence in the man. It is smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest, make it free from senses, you can see the glory of “Self” which is without sorrow. Katha Upanishad 1-2-20 to 22. It dwells in the heart along with the God (R.V.5-8-89). It is not touched by the evils of the world and transcends all. Soul is the eternal light that gives light to the entire body.
It traverses billions of miles when it goes to Sun, Moon, Indra, Varun, Yama etc., during the 12 days journey after the death of gross body for purification, knowledge, luster, noble and divine traits, which it lost during the stage of manifestation in the body. Thus, Jiva Atma (manifested soul) is different from Atma (soul) in attributes. Yajur Veda 39-6 describes about its journey of 12 days. However, whatever is active both in animate and inanimate life is spirit. Though spirit is subtle, it is more energetic and powerful than any gross matter……….
- The Harvesting of Souls & the Sanskrit Texts (wakingtimes.com)
- Vedas Branches Text Translation (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: Explained download (ahdafecu.wordpress.com)