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The Quest For Truth: [07.01] Soul And The Supreme Soul (1) (Atma and Paramatma)

Published: 28.03.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Sampikkhaye appagampayennam...
Perceive the souls through the soul and you will become the supreme soul.

When the King Rajarishi Nemi renounced his kingdom, an old man came and spoke to him saying, "Dear king, how can you renounce, become an ascetic and leave your kingdom? Can you not see that our Mithila, your bedrooms, your palace, all of them are going up in flames? They are ablaze. Just look up and see what is going on."

The king replied with equanimity, "Sir, I can see my Mithila is not going up in flames. Neither are my bedroom and palace ablaze. Where I am, there nothing is burning. Where there is no fire, no embers, nor anyone to bring in a burning torch, where there is no one to burn, nor anyone who will let burn, I am there. I am living in happiness. I am staying in happiness. My kingdom cannot burn. My palace cannot burn. Nobody can usurp my property. If Mithila is burning, let it burn; how does it bother me?"

The king's reply shocked the old man. It was not important if Mithila was burning or not, and it was actually not. It was a test. The old man was testing the king who was leaving home and going. He was leaving everything. The old man wanted to see if the king was really leaving everything or was just pretending to do so. Many times we pretend to leave something but nothing really gets left behind. Instead the mind becomes burdened with memories. The memory of having left that thing haunts. Desires (vasana) do not leave. But the king was really leaving. He was engrossed in his being. He had given up the thought relating to worldly matters. He did not have a mind that could pay attention to anything of the outside world. We may think that when Mithila was burning the refusal of the king to even look up and see was totally unacceptable behaviour. Behaviour is for those who live at that level. Those who live at the level of consciousness look at the gravity of the matter and make their decisions on that basis. They cannot accept decisions taken on the basis of behaviour. That which is acceptable differs at the two levels. There is no doubt that once you are at the level of the consciousness there is no question of burning. But the question is how to get there? The one who gets there becomes the Supreme soul (the Paramatman).

There are two sides of the consciousness: the soul and the supreme soul, the atma and the paramatma. One the seed and the other - entirety. You must have seen how small the seed of the Banyan tree is. You must have also seen how expansive the tree is. It is difficult to even imagine that such a small seed can become so big. The soul is the seed of a Banyan tree and the Supreme soul, its development. The goal of the soul is to become the Supreme soul. This goal is not imposed; it is intrinsic. There are many obstacles in its attainment. That is why this distance is not covered in a trice. The soul has to undertake a long journey. In the first step of this journey there comes the knowledge of one's existence. What is the soul? Where has it come from? How has it come into being? These are complicated questions. They take you way back into the past; such a distant past that it becomes difficult to find its beginnings.

  • The Quest For Truth: In the context of Anekanta by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • under the guidance of Revered Munishree Mahendra Kumar.
  • Published 2003 by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Atma
  2. Consciousness
  3. Equanimity
  4. Nemi
  5. Paramatma
  6. Soul
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