Sunday, March 25, 2018

Can our soul get polluted by selfishness? Does Seva remove pollution from our soul?

Note that this post is based on a recent comment of mine on Facebook.

The English word, soul, in some contexts tends to mean more than Atma and includes feelings and emotions of the mind. So let me use the Sanskrit word, Atma, to avoid that confusion. My view is that the Atma is changeless and eternal. So it simply cannot be polluted at all.

I understand Atma to be the awareness, the eternal witness part of our being.

Regarding pollution, I think it is the body-mind complex that tends to get impacted (polluted) by strong attractions and strong repulsions (raga-dvesha), which keeps us trapped in the bhrama (illusion) that our identity is the changing and impermanent mind-body. This bhrama (illusion) holds us back from clearly experiencing (seeing) that our true identity is the changeless awareness (Atma) in us, and that the mind with its raga-dvesha (attraction and repulsion) in the world emerges from that unchanging awareness (Atma) and creates an illusory waking-dream reality.

What I think Nishkama (without desire/selfless) Seva (service) done in an attitude of worship of God, does is that it reduces the strength of attractions and repulsions in us, makes us less attached to our own body-mind complex, and perhaps makes us more peaceful in the mind. This would eventually contribute to us experiencing the ever-peaceful, unchanging, eternal and divine Awareness (Atma) within us, which Hindu scripture teaches us is (part of) the same Awareness that is in all creation. In fact, Hindu theology tells us that Awareness is the only reality and that creation is an illusory projection (Maya) by/of that Divine Awareness.

That then is my humble understanding of the matter. Jai Sai Ram!


  1. Om Sri Sairam

    The Gita does not in Chapter 2 use the word Atma but indirectly refer to the Soul by using the word Dehi- the indweller in the body- the enlivening force. Chapter 2.13 dehino asmin yatha dehe- the embodied (force soul) contintually passes through various bodies…… and then states that this Dehi- is immutable and incorruptible- weapons cannot cut it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot drench it etc. (2.17 to 2.24) It stands to reason that the thought, word, feelings and actions of body does not also affect the soul. Conclusion, the soul cannot be polluted.

    Elsewhere Krishna also uses the concept of Kshetra (field) and Kshetrajna (Knower of the field). The physical and psychological body constituting the Kshetra (field) can be violated, corrupted and polluted but the Kshetajna (Knower of the field), the all witnessing awareness and consciousness cannot be. If somebody scratches my car, I feel violated and angry because Kshetra (field) is violated while nothing happened to me physically and nothing happened and can happen to Kshetrajna (Knower of the field).

    To the extent awareness and consciousness evolves, the Kshetra (field) and Kshetrajna (Knower of the field) are aligned and connected. One of the barriers of the alignment and connection is ego which is the belief and feeling at the level of the Kshetra (field) that we are only this body mind separate entity.

    By doing Nishkama Seva, by understanding that the one who serves and the one who is served is Narayana, the belief and feeling that “I am the doer”, the ego is changed, reorientated, diminished and finally eliminated the result of which is enhanced alignment and connection with awareness and consciousness. When complete alignment is achieved, when constant integrated awareness is reached- this alignment and connection is permanent and perpetual. At this Nirvanic stage, even the thought of doing something negative one’s physical and psychological self or others will not arise because all are experienced as one. Vyashti,(Individual) Samashti, (Society) Srishti, (Creation) Parameshti (creator)- all are one.

    Jai Sairam

    1. Aum Sri Sai Ram!

      Very well said @Shankar Ramaswamy.

      May I share your comment on my associated Facebook post for the benefit of readers there?

    2. Yes, please by all means. Jai Sairam