Today’s lecture is from the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam. We had a brief tour of Thirukkannapuram, Thirkkannamangai, Thirukkannankudi and Sirupuliyur and we are back at Srirangam. This temple has a number of sannidhis. Today we are at the temple pond called Theppakkulam on the western side of the temple. A great Acharya called Sriman Koora Narayana Jeer, who lived in the 12th century, installed this pond. Earlier, the float festival of the temple used to be done on the River Kaveri. During one such festival, the float was washed away by the river floods and at that time Sri Koora Narayana Jeer dug this pond and from that time the festival is performed here. This float festival, called Theppam in Tamil, is performed in the Tamil month of Masi [Feb-March]. That day the Lord graces the devotees by riding the Horse vahanam [vehicle]. During the float festival there will be pandha katchi or illumination by hand held torches and it would be a feast to the eyes.
After mentioning the perishable nature of body and the eternal nature of the soul, Sri Krishna feels that Arjuna has still doubts remaining. How to distinguish soul from the body? Let us take this pond itself as body. The float is the soul or atman and the Lord Namperumal is in the float just as He is in our souls. Even if the pond goes dry, the float continues to be there just as atman is there even when the body perishes. The float floats on the water in the tank but does not get immersed in the tank. This is similar to soul is in the body at the same time it is not a part of the body. With this analogy one can visualize the soul in the body. Now we will go to the 26th sloka:
atha cainam nitya-jatam
nityam va manyase mrtam
tathapi tvam maha-baho
nainam socitum arhasi
"If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] is always born and dies forever, you still have no reason to lament, O mighty-armed."
Till now Sri Krishna tried to impress on Arjuna that the body and soul are separate. Now he adopts another type of argument called anuvadam. In this you argue your point agreeing with the point what your opponent is imagining. So, Sri Krishna argues assuming that the body and soul are same, as thought by Arjuna. If both are same also Arjuna should not mourn at the killing of Bheeshma or Drona. Because, as the body falls, the soul also dies according to the assumption of Arjuna. He should not now worry where the soul is going, to hell or heaven, as the soul is no longer there after the body is slain. Sri Ramanuja and Desika give wonderful explanations. We witness our bodies changing, from child to youth to old age. We see trees blossom at the appropriate time and yield fruits at another time. These happen as a routine. We never lament over these changes. But consider these as habitual. Arjuna says that after death one is separated from others whereas in these changes one sees, the one is not separated. Sri Krishna smiles and replies. Either way there is no cause for worry. If body and soul are same, both will end at the killing. If the soul is separate, it is not going to be annihilated. When elders are there in our house we feel secure as they have experience to advise and guide us. Otherwise even for petty reasons we may get drowned in worries. Experienced doctors never get perturbed at seeing the disease of patients, because they know what is the remedy. Whereas the patient feels insecure because he neither knows what his disease is nor the remedy. So, ignorance causes fear and insecurity. Routines also can remove fears. If one gets fever periodically and it vanishes after a day or so, one will not get unduly perturbed when one gets fever as by experience one knows the fever would vanish shortly. Arjuna not fully convinced, says that while the body is witnessing the changes happening on the body, can the same soul know when death occurs to the body? Can the soul know where it is going to dwell after leaving this body after death? Sri Krishna tells that it is good that atman did not remember its old dwellings. For, the soul has existed for so many centuries and has had countless births and deaths. If the atman were to remember all the antecedents and people associated in the past births, then the present life would be spent only in remembering all those and nothing else. Fortunately, there are saints and yogis capable of knowing the past history of a soul and we can follow their advice.
The Lecturer then mentioned of a tour being arrange in September this year to visit all places connected with Sri Krishna, like Mathura, Gokul, Govardan, Brindavan, etc. and those interested in participating could contact him for details.