A lecture in London, England, on August 24, 1973,
antavanta ime deha
tasmad yudhyasva bharata
"The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata." (Bhagavad-gita 2.18)
Here Krsna is convincing Arjuna that the soul is different from the body. While the soul is eternal, this body will one day be finished. However you may try to preserve the body by applying cosmetics and other things, you cannot save it. That is not possible, because the body is antavanta, perishable. (Anta means "end," and vat means "possessing.")
So Krsna is saying to Arjuna, "Your duty is to fight, but you are lamenting that the bodies of your grandfather and teacher and kinsmen will be destroyed. You think this will make you unhappy. Certainly you'll be unhappy, but even if you do not fight, their bodies will be finished today or tomorrow or a few years later. So why should you not discharge your duty?" This is Krsna's argument here.
As for the souls of Arjuna's grandfather, teacher, and others, they are eternal. The words used are nityasya uktah. Now, it is significant that Krsna says uktah. Uktah means "it is said." It is not that Krsna dogmatically puts forward some theory. No. The fact that the soul is eternal is already settled; it is already ascertained. By whom? By the Vedic literature, and by previous authorities. This is the way of presenting evidence for spiritual statements. Even Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not theorize. He says, "It is said; it is authorized."
Then Krsna says the soul is anasino 'prameyasya. Anasinah means "immeasurable." Of course, in the Vedic literature the measurement of the soul is given, but it is so small that you cannot measure it.
Many things are described in the Vedic literature that are beyond our experience. You are so advanced in scientific knowledge, but when dealing with Vedic knowledge you cannot say whether or not it is factual. For example, the Padma Purana gives a count of the varieties of living entities: jalaja nava-laksani. "There are 900,000 aquatic animals." You cannot say, "No, there are not 900,000. There are more." It is not possible for you to see within the water and count how many varieties of living entities are there. The biologists might investigate, but it is not possible for them to see 900,000 forms. Then the Padma Purana says, sthavara laksa-vimsati: "There are 2,000,000 varieties of trees and plants." Then, krmayo rudra-sankhyahah: "There are 1,100,000 insects"
It is a puzzling thing how the Vedic literature can state everything so precisely: "Nine hundred thousand aquatics, 2,000,000 plants and trees, 1,100,000 insects." This is realized knowledge. And we accept it. Because we accept Vedas as authority, knowledge is there, ready. If somebody asks you, "Can you say how many forms of living entities there are within the water?" it would be very difficult for you to answer. Even the biologists cannot say, although they are very expert. But because we accept the Vedic authority, we can immediately say, "There are 900,000 aquatics." Although I have never seen these forms personally, because it is stated in the Vedic literature I can give you the correct answer. So, by Vedic authority we can know things beyond our direct experience.
Sometimes rascals come and challenge. "Can you show me God?" Yes. we can show you God provided you have the eyes to see Him. God can be seen with a different type of eyes. not with these ordinary eyes. That is stated in the sastra [scripture]: atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. Indriyah means "with these material senses." With these material senses we cannot directly experience the form of the Lord. or His qualities, or what He does. But the sastra describes the Lord's qualities, form. and activities. So you can learn of these things from the sastra.
The Vedanta-sutra says. sastra-yonitvat. Yoni means "source." Thus sastra-yonitvat means that the sastra is the source of knowledge-about the Supreme Lord. As it is said. one should be sastra-caksuh thesastra should be one's eyes, not these blunt material eyes.
So, to know what is beyond our sense perception, we have to see through the authorized books. Acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet: "By argument one cannot understand what is beyond sense perception."
So many things are beyond our direct experience. Daily we see many planets and stars in the sky. but we have no information about them. Now the scientists are sending men to see the moon planet, but hopelessly they are coming back. Then the scientists dogmatically declare. "There is no life on any planet except Earth." This is false. We have information from the Srimad-Bhagavatam that there are people on the moon who live for ten thousand years. And what is the measurement of their year? Our six months is equal to their twelve hours, so just imagine how long ten thousand of their years is!
Actually, everyone's year is calculated differently. A small ant lives for a hundred "years." but the ant's hundred years and our hundred years are different. Similarly, our hundred years and Brahma's hundred years are different. So time is relative. according to the nature of your body.
Now, let us try to calculate the life span of Brahma by calculating his one day. Krsna says. sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh: "Brahma's day lasts for a thousand yuga cycles." In each cycle there are four yugas. or ages Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali which last a total of 4,320,000 years. So one of Brahma's days (a day is morning to evening) lasts 4,320,000,000 of our years, and Brahma lives one hundred years composed of these days and equally long nights.
These things are to be understood through the sastra. Otherwise, we can have no knowledge of them. You cannot calculate on your own. nor can you go to Brahma and ask him. You cannot even go to the moon planet what to speak of Brahmaloka. It is in the remotest part of this universe. Modern scientists estimate that to go to the topmost planet would require thousands of years if one travels at the speed of light. So by direct perception we cannot understand even this material world, what to speak of the spiritual world.
As Lord Brahma says, panthas tu koti-sata-vatsara-sampragamyo vayor athapi manaso muni-pungavanam. You can go on with your mental speculation for many hundreds and thousands of years, but still it is not possible to know of the soul and God in this way. You have to learn about these subject matters from the sastra: otherwise, it is not possible to understand them.
Therefore here. when Krsna says the soul is nitya, eternal. He also says uktah, "it is said." Krsna is not presenting some dogma, although He can do so. since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But He is teaching us that only when something is said by previous authorities, or acaryas, can you declare it. This is called parampara, the disciplic succession. You can try to understand the subject matter with your intelligence, but you cannot make any addition or alteration. That is not allowed. The science of the Absolute Truth is already settled: you cannot argue.
Now, in the previous verse Krsna said, avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam: "The power of the indestructible soul is spread all over the body." What is that power? Consciousness. This power of the soul you can perceive, but not the soul itself. The soul is so small that it is not even possible to measure it. We have no means to measure it because our material senses are too blunt. We can simply understand the presence of the soul by seeing the presence of consciousness.
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu fainted in the Jagannatha temple. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya examined Him and concluded that there was no consciousness. because His abdomen was not moving. When you have consciousness, you breathe, and thus your abdomen moves. But because Caitanya Mahaprabhu's abdomen was not moving. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya thought. "This sannyasi might have died." But when the Bhattacarya brought a cotton swab and put it before the Lord's nostrils, he saw that the fibers of the swab moved a little, and in this way he saw that Lord Caitanya was living.
So, everything material has a specific measurement, but as far as the soul is concerned. it is aprameyasya. immeasurable. That is why the materialistic scientists say there is no soul. They cannot detect it with their instruments.
But we have proof that there is a soul. What is that proof? The existence of consciousness. This is the proof. And in the sastra the place of the soul is also given: the heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. The soul is in the heart, and Krsna is also in the heart. They remain together.
So, you can perceive the presence of the soul by the presence of consciousness, but if you want to measure the soul. that is not possible. Therefore Krsna says it is aprameya. immeasurable. Now. you may say. "Why should I believe Krsna when He says the soul is immeasurable?" The answer is that He says uktah. "It is already settled by previous authorities." In other words, there is Vedic evidence that the soul is immeasurable. Where is the Vedic evidence? In the Svetasvatara Upanisad (5.9) :
satadha kalpitasya ca
bhago jivah sa vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate
"The measurement of the living entity is one hundredth of one hundredth part of the tip of a hair." In the Srimad-Bhagavatam [11.16.11] there is also evidence: suksmanam apy aham jivah. Krsna Himself says. "Of minute particles. I am the jiva." These are some of the evidences in the Vedic literature that the soul is immeasurable. and we have to accept them.
So, from the Vedic literature we get evidence for the size of the soul. and from our experience of consciousness we can understand the presence of the soul. Therefore how can anyone say there is no soul? This is foolishness. The w hole world is going on under this foolishness. Not only now. but in ancient times also. For example, Carvaka Muni was an atheist; he did not believe in God or the soul. Lord Buddha also said there is no soul. He knew everything because he is an incarnation of God. but he had to teach the people in that way because they were not intelligent enough to understand anything of God or the soul. Why? Because they were killers of animals.
The brains of animal-killers are as dull as stone. Such people cannot understand subtle things. Therefore meat-eating should be stopped. In order to revive the finer tissues of the brain so that one can understand subtle things, one must give up meat-eating. This is the statement of Maharaja Pariksit. He said that God consciousness, Krsna consciousness, cannot be understood by animal-killers (vina pasughnat).
You'll find that those who are animal-killers, even if they claim to be very religious. cannot understand the soul. They are simply fanatics. They cannot understand what is the soul or what is God. They have some theories and they think they are religious, but what is actually sin, what are pious activities these things they cannot understand because they are animal-killers. It is not possible.
Therefore Lord Buddha propagated ahimsa. nonviolence. He saw that the whole human race was going to hell by this animal-killing. He thought. "Let me stop them so that in the future they may become sober." He was compassionate in two ways: First, he was very compassionate toward the poor animals who were being killed. And he was also compassionate toward the people. He thought. The w hole human race is going to hell. So let me do something." He was an incarnation of God, but because the people's brains could not tolerate the existence of the soul. he had to deny it. Thus he did not say anything about the soul or God. He said. "Never mind that animals have no soul. Just stop killing them. When I pinch you. you feel pain. so why should you give pain to others?"
Lord Buddha also denied the authority of the Vedas, because the Vedas sometimes recommend killing animals in sacrifice. Actually, the animals are rejuvenated, given a new body, but still Lord Buddha did not accept animal-killing in sacrifice. Therefore it is said, nindasi yajna-vidher ahaha sruti-jatam: "Lord Buddha criticized the sacrifices described in the Vedas." Why? Sadaya-hrdaya darsita pasughatam: "BecauseHe was so kind and compassionate toward the animals who were being killed." That is Krsna consciousness.
God is very kind. very compassionate. He does not like to see any living entity suffer. But when there is a necessity, He can kill. His killing and our killing are different however, because He is all good. Anyone killed by Krsna immediately gets salvation.
So, here Krsna is encouraging Arjuna to fight on the basis of the eternal existence of the soul. Krsna says, "You cannot measure the soul, but the soul is there, and it is imperishable. On the other hand. the body is perishable. Even if you do not fight you cannot save the bodies of your grandfather and teacher and others. Today or tomorrow they will die. So discharge your duty and fight"
The main point Krsna wants Arjuna to understand is that he must fight that he must discharge his duty as a ksatriya [warrior] and not be overwhelmed by lamentation because of bodily destruction. In summary, Krsna tells Arjuna, "The body is different from the soul. So don't think that the soul will be killed. Just stand up and fight." This is Krsna's instruction.
Thank you very much.