The Three Sanskrit Terms Defining The Spirit Soul

[Shri Krishna]“Bhagavad-gita also confirms that when the Lord appears He appears as He is by His internal potency. He is not contaminated by the material energy because He is the Lord of material energy. In the Vedic literature we find that His whole embodiment is spiritual. He has His eternal form called sach-chid-ananda-vigraha.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.15 Purport)

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As a set of literature, the Vedas are unique because they go beyond basic faith. Not just one book, nor one specific person of interest, and neither a single institution, the aim is to connect with the origin of everything. Understand His position, the different ways He manifests, and His energies.

The best Sanskrit equivalent for the English word “God” is Ishvara. This refers to a great controller. Someone who controls over something or someone else. God is Ishvara because the material nature works under His direction; not the other way around.

The definitions and glorifications continue in many directions precisely because an existence as we know it is multi-faceted. From every angle of vision a person can understand Ishvara; no one is shut out from knowing Him in truth.

Three specific Sanskrit terms help to better define Him. Interestingly, the same terms apply to the individual. This means that we are all like Ishvara in a way, though we may not know it.

1. Sach

We are eternal, nitya. The many eternal spiritual beings are supported by the chief eternal.

“The Upanishadic verse runs as follows: nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam. The purport is that amongst all the living entities, both conditioned and liberated, there is one supreme living personality, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who maintains them and gives them all the facility of enjoyment according to different work.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.17 Purport)

How can someone be considered eternal if there is the birth-death dichotomy? If there is a beginning and an end, in what we refer to as a lifetime, where is the question of eternality?

न त्व् एवाहं जातु नासं
न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः
सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्

na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

Ishvara in the transcendental form of Shri Krishna explains. He says that there was never a time when any of us came to be. Go back infinitely into the past. We may not know the precise location. We may not know what kind of material covering was worn, but we certainly did exist.

The same holds true moving forward. Death is merely the final changing of bodies. The eternal spiritual being moves on to a different location. The exact details are determined by a combination of consciousness and results to fruitive activity, karma.

2. Chid

Ishvara is the most knowledgeable. Without much effort He creates the many universes. The image of Vishnu lying down in rest and doing the work of the world while breathing is both accurate and symbolic. Ishvara can take any spiritual form He chooses, including a bluish figure with four hands who is opulently adorned.

[Lord Vishnu]The resting gives us a slight idea of how easy it is for Him to accomplish difficult tasks. He does not require blueprints. No GPS device is necessary to figure out where exactly to create. He can see into the future, as well, knowing precisely when the time for destruction is necessary.

This supreme knowledge extends to the spiritual beings. We may not believe that every person is thus equipped, but evidence is everywhere. A child knows how to suck on the breast of the mother moments after birth. Certain animals can move and gather food right away. Even those abilities earned through training and instruction are predictable beforehand. No one can program a human being with the ability to talk; it is already there since birth.

3. Ananda

The Supreme Lord is bliss personified. He is full of pleasure, all the time. In the personal form of Shri Krishna in the spiritual land of Goloka, Ishvara is always enjoying. He has no responsibilities. No one tells Him what to do. There is no concern over setting a proper example. Every day brings another opportunity to spend time with the people who love Him the most. Playing the flute He enchants everyone.

The living entities have the same bliss inside, though in conditioned life there is a covering. Sort of like putting a shade on a lamp, the intensity gets diminished to varying degrees. Bliss is tied to the loving propensity, and hate is nothing more than love inverted. Thus every activity, every desire, can be traced to ananda.

The key distinction between the sach-chid-ananda in Ishvara and the same in the living entities is that the Supreme Lord never has these properties diminished or masked. Because of these three features existing simultaneously and all the time, He is also known as Bhagavan. This Sanskrit word is superior in describing His attributes.

[Shri Krishna]Meanwhile, the living entities can fall so deep into the trap of illusion that they forget the sach-chid-ananda properties that belong to them. For this reason the spiritual master arrives, sent from above, representing Bhagavan. His association and instruction trigger the much needed reawakening, to where the individual reclaims what is rightfully theirs from the start: connection with Bhagavan, yoga.

In Closing:

Right now difficult to see,

But eternality in me.

Not a time created ever,

And ceasing to be never.

Knowledge from the start already there,

And blissful tendency guiding me where.

All actually from Bhagavan coming,

Through guru aware becoming.

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