In this entry, we will go into the details of the first of nine aspects of spiritual enlightenment we discussed in the introductory post. Swami Pillai Lokacharya explains the attributes of the Self with the following features:
Different from physical body: The soul (atma) is different from the body. This has also been clarified in the Thiruvaimozhi அடியேன் உள்ளான் உடல் உள்ளான் (8-8). This pasuram explains that the Lord is present inside the soul and also in the body, thereby indicating to us that the soul and body are different.
Permanence: The soul is neither subject to creation nor death. Then what constitutes birth and death? The soul taking a body is equivalent to birth and the soul leaving a body is considered as death. This is corroborated in the Bhagavad Gita verse which says the soul cannot be burnt by fire, doused by water nor tortured by weapons.
Being subject to transformation: The soul is immutable – It neither grows in size nor depletes, decays or deteriorates.
Atomicity: The soul is atomic, smaller than the smallest particle ever known.
Nature: The soul is the seat of knowledge and happiness, sat-chit-anandam.
Ownership: The soul belongs only to the Supreme Lord. This is corroborated by Thirumangai Azhwar’s Periya Thirumozhi pasuram:
மடை ஆர் நீலம் வயல் சூழ் திருக்கண்ணபுரம் உடையானுக்கு அடியேன் ஒருவர்க்கு உயிராவேனோ? (8-9-3)
Absolute Dependency: The soul should perform all its actions towards fulfilling the wishes of the Lord and to His satisfaction. In addition, the Soul should give up ownership of its actions and not act independently.
That is, the soul is subservient to the Lord though knowledge and bliss are its basic nature. This is clarified by anecdotes from Guru Parampara Prabhavam and Eedu corresponding to the word ‘adiyEn’ in the Thiruvaimozhi pasuram quoted above.
Article Credits: Sri. Vanamamalai Padmanabhan Swami