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The Chicago-Prashnottar: 69-69 Questions & Answers

Published: 18.07.2011
Updated: 18.07.2011

69. Question:

In stone etc. and also in a dead body there is life but it is merely in the form of a force and hence it is invisible.


This statement of yours is not correct because it involves the non-solution of two difficulties. Is that force antagonistic to life or is it life itself? If you say that it is antagonistic to life, then it is not right to say that life is in the form of a force in as much as without the existence of a garment what is in the form of garment is only an earthen jar.

If you take the second point, that force is life itself; then the question arises as to the cause of its invisibility. If you say that it is not visible on account of a cover, it is not right to say so because a cover is another name for obstruction. Then the question arises whether that obstruction is the non-existence of the proposed change, or is another form of change or is something other than elementals. It is not the non-existence of the proposed change, because it being light it has no force of obstruction. If it is heavy it would become a form of feeling and so apart from earth etc.

The Bhutas such as earth etc. serve as manifestations of chaitanya and are not obstructions. Hence obstructibility is not proved. If you say that it is another form of the change it is also wrong to say so, because it being of the nature of elemental is the manifestator of life like elementals and not its obstruction.

If you say that it is something quite distinct from elements, that is equally wrong to say because in believing it to be quite distinct from elementals the destruction of the number of the elements would be the result. It is also to be noticed whether life is the attribute of each particular element or of all elements combined. It is not the attribute of each particular element separately, because it is not so visible. Every atom does not appear to be endowed with consciousness. If it is in each atom then a man would have a collection of a thousand consciousness of a different kind and it would not bear a single form. But apparently it bears a single form viz I see and I do.

Thus the whole body appears to be owned by one. If you believe in the attribute of a collective body it is false as it is not present in each individual atom. What is untrue from each particular point of view cannot be true collectively, for instance, the existence of oil in the individual atoms of sand.

If you say that every ingredient of wine does not possess the energy of wine and that a collection thereof does possess such a power, and that same is the case with life and that there is no fallacy in such a belief, than I would say that it is not right to say so, because every ingredient of wine possesses sweetness etc. conducive of the energy of wine. The sugar cane juice from the flowers of dhatki becomes intoxicating to a small extent. But life does not similarly appear in elementals. Consequently it cannot exist in a combination of elements. If what is non-existent in any separate form becomes existent in the combination of such forms, then such combinations can achieve all. There is another thing to be taken into consideration. If you believe life to be an attribute, you should necessarily believe the attribute and it’s subject to be identical. If you do not believe them to be identical, then it is possible to consider water and hardness as subject and attribute which is not the case. It is not right to say that elementals are subjects, in as much as they are antagonistic to chaitanya. For instance attribute of consciousness is knowledge and it is formless but an elemental is of quite a distinct form. How can the relation of subject and attribute be possible? Nor is life the cause of elementals. It being quite distinct cannot bear the relation of cause and effect. It is also remarkable that if an element be the cause of life the whole world would be full of living beings. If you say that the whole world is not full of living beings on account of absence of the transformation of a real existence then the question arises why does not the transformation of the real existence appear everywhere. The phenomenon of the transformed elementals can at the best be proved only an instrumental cause and it being so, how can it be proved that it is manifest in one place and not manifest in another. What is the form of that transformed reality? If you say that its form is hardness, then how weevils etc. become born in wood and similar substance. It would show that life exists even where there is hardness. This is not tenable in all cases. There are exceptional cases. Even without any presence of hardness, such creatures as spring from perspiration exist.

Another point is that animals of the same species are of different colours and sizes. Animals that execrate dung are some black, some yellowish, and so on and their sizes also differ. If elementals are instrumental cause of life, then all animals of the same species ought to have the same colour and size but this is not the case. Therefore it will have to be accepted that it is only the souls which take forms conformable to their actions. If you contend that if there is a soul, why is it not seen when transmigrating? It appears in consciousness only in a body, and when the body is destroyed it is not perceptible. Does it not prove that there is no soul? It is perceptible only in the body as consciousness which is the product of the body upon which it depends for its existence. It does not exist independently and is like a picture on the wall, which disappears with the destruction of the wall nor can be transferred to another wall. Similarly is the case with consciousness. This argument is fallacious. The soul is formless and the internal body is very subtle and it is hence that the soul though migrating with its subtle karman body is not seen. It can be perceived only by its characteristics. A creature though just born has an idea of individuality. It runs away at the sight of its enemy. The individuality is determined by its previous tendencies. So long as the good or evil of a thing is not perceived it does not abstract or repel any one.

The propensities which we see at the birth of a creature are the result of the tendencies of the past life. The transmigration of soul is therefore proved.

How is the knowledge of soul to be arrived at by an inference when its movements are not visibly seen.

Your statement is not correct. The direct evidence does not reach the subject o£ inference. The learned accept the application of direct evidence to objects which are of the same nature.

The illustration of a wall-picture which you gave is also inapplicable. The picture is lifeless, the act of going is not natural, the soul is conscious and migrates by the force of its actions. These being the discrepancies, how does your illustration apply to the subject to be explained? Just as Devdutta having dwelt in a village for a time leaves it and removes to another village, so the soul having given up a body in a particular region, migrates to another region and assumes a different body. Your statement about the sensation being the product of body is not correct. It may be that perceptions such as we have through our senses such as eyes &c are partly due to the body owing to their concern with the organs of senses but it is absolutely wrong to contend that the mental knowledge springs from the body. Does the mental knowledge spring from the body in the form of a sense-organ or without such a form, or does it spring from such outward bodily appertances as hair, nails &c. The first question is not right. If it springs in the form of a sense-organ, its knowledge ought to be limited to the present perceptions only because the perceptions of the sense-organs limit themselves only to the present phenomena. On this assumption the mental knowledge would limit itself only to the present phenomena as the sense-organs. It is only when the eye sees a form that it forms its idea not at any other time. The presence of the form is then the cause of its perception. The mental knowledge does not depend upon the presence of a form and it is not therefore limited to any particular time. The same argument applies in the case of other sense-organs. The mental knowledge does not therefore depend upon the phenomena of any particular time. If it does not spring in the form of a sense-organ, the position is still faulty for it is unconscious. As regards the hair, nails &c being the cause of mental knowledge it would suffice to say that since they never appear affected by mental thoughts they can never be the said cause. If the mental knowledge is bound by the hair, nails &c it is capable of being totally destroyed by their removal. If the hair, nails &c are hurt, the mental knowledge should also receive a corresponding hurt but this is not the case; therefore this third argument also falls to the ground.

Moreover subtlety of sense, logical distinctions and acuteness of memory are features of mental knowledge but these are cultivated by constant practice. The same books when studied frequently and closely show deeper and deeper meanings and the acuteness of memory is also cultivated. In this manner when one book is studied and its meaning thoroughly grasped and the memory sharpened, it leads to an easy understanding of other books and the memory is developed. Such mental phenomena are often seen which are acquired by constant practice. Sometimes such mental characteristics are seen natural and not acquired by practice but practice and exercise are the chief elements. Cause and effect move in unison. Causes though invisible certainly exist as in the case of pilgrimage of soul to another world. Although the body is liable to destruction and extinction it can nevertheless help towards the progress of knowledge. With the destruction of the body, knowledge is not extinguished. Look at the fire and the pot when the fire ceases to burn the pot is not destroyed. Similar is the case with gold and fire. When the body is destroyed, knowledge no doubt receives some shock but is not radically destroyed. If you accept that knowledge is destroyed with the body, then with the burning up of the body in the cremation ground nil knowledge will have extinguished. Can it be explained why does it not appear in a dead body which has not yet been burned.

I£ you say that Prān and Apān are also causes of knowledge which ceases when these causes do not exist. This position is not correct. Prān and Apān cannot be the causes of knowledge. It is the knowledge which brings them into action. Prān and Apān for their motions depend upon the meagreness or intensity of the desire of a man.

If the body is the cause of the Prān and Apān and Prān and Apān the cause of knowledge, then the action of Prān and Apān will not be at the command of one's desire. If Prān and Apān are the causes of knowledge then the degrees of intensity will produce corresponding proportions of knowledge because it is commonly established that an effect varies with its cause in its extent or degree. For example a pot will be large or small according to the large or small quantity of the earth employed to make it. If this is not the case then there is no relation of cause and effect. You are not unaware that your knowledge does not increase or decrease with the increase or decrease of the Prān or Apān. On the other hand the contrary is the case as may be seen at the time of the death of a man when the Prān and Apān are so much in play while the knowledge or consciousness is reduced to a zero. If you say that the increase of the Prān and Apān at the time of death is due to the humours of the wind and biliousness &c. which vitiate the body and do not allow consciousness to come into play. This statement is incorrect. If this is so a dead man ought to be alive because after the death the humours of the wind and biliousness &c. disappear and the body is also free from fever and other diseases and the absence of these ailments means health. Since the body is healthy in such a state it ought to be alive. If this is not so then the body is not the cause of consciousness, and it has not any relation of cause and effect with the mind. If a dead man were to get alive we would believe the body to be the cause of consciousness.


The Chicago-Prashnottar

Translator & Publisher:
Atmanand Jain Pustak Pracharak Mandal, Roshan Mohalla, Agra.

Edition: 1918 (1st Edition - 500 books)

Edited Online Edition: HereNow4U

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Chaitanya
  3. Consciousness
  4. Karman
  5. Soul
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