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Soul is infinite, omnipresent, i.e, it is present in our body and outside our body.

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda [Volume 2/Jnana-Yoga/The-Atman] :-

It is the Atman, beyond all, the Infinite, beyond the known, beyond the knowable; in and through That we see the universe. It is the only Reality. It is this table; It is the audience before me; It is the wall; It is everything, minus the name and form. Take away the form of the table, take away the name; what remains is It.

People say the seat of soul is in the heart of beings. How is that even possible? By restricting it to a particular location, we are making it finite and soul is infinite.

Astavakra Samhita I.19:

Just as a mirror exists within and without the image reflected in it, so the Supreme Self exists inside and outside this body.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:

aham ātmā guḍākeśa

sarva-bhūtāśaya-sthitaḥ

aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca

bhūtānām anta eva ca (10.20)

Meaning- I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

When people die, we say that their soul has passed, which under any case cannot happen because there is not a place where a soul can go because it exists everywhere. Atman cannot have any "hole" in it, it must exist everywhere at all the times.

When a person dies, soul should still be present in their bodies. So what exactly makes a person die?

  • You may also be interested in my question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/11267/… – Tejaswee May 18 '16 at 5:11
  • The atman embodied in the jiva is what leaves the body. On a cosmic level Brahman pervades everything. As it says in the Gita - All things are in Me but I am not in them; this is My divine mystery. – Swami Vishwananda May 18 '16 at 6:41
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    @SwamiVishwananda But nothing can embody atman, it is ever free from everything. – Chinmay Sarupria May 18 '16 at 6:47
  • I think Atman is not leaving anywhere. Person is just shedding his Annamaya Kosha and remaining layers cover that Atman. So, Atman is still bound to this Prakriti (other layers or Koshas). – The Destroyer May 18 '16 at 11:40
  • @ChinmaySarupria If you have the consciousness of Atman then nothing embodies you. If your consciousness is caught in the meshes of Maya, then your atman apparently is bound and apparently leaves the gross body at death. When you are within the realm of maya you must live and die by the rules of maya. – Swami Vishwananda May 19 '16 at 4:44
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Very first thing is that we know that soul does leave the body at the time of death(Gita 2.13).

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

Now the question is of the soul being infinite or infinitesimal?.

various upanishads state the size of soul(atman) as atomic.

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (5.9):

bālāgra-śata-bhāgasya

śatadhā kalpitasya ca

bhāgo jīvaḥ sa vijñeyaḥ

sa cānantyāya kalpate

Translation:

When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.

Similarly other references(Katha Upanishad and Mundaka Upanishad) to size of soul are given here.

So what is the difference between a dead and alive body?

Definitely presence of soul(Consciousness). The same verse which i have linked above states

That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.

SO this verse talks about consciousness which is indestructible. So even though the soul is very minute; it spreads its influence all over the body in the form of consciousness. Consciousness is the symptom of soul. Dead matter is not conscious. If I pinch a dead body it does not feel pain but alive person does.

From Vaishnav perspective the soul is minute and God is infinite. God pervades this entire universe. manifestation of God in form of Paramatma exists everywhere even in minute subatomic particle. However soul or atman is not present in dead matter.

The verse by Swami Vivekananda that you have quoted above also does not equate the matter and spirit. He says everything minus form and name is Brahman. He is not saying everything is spirit. Because we also know from Bhagvad Geeta that there are 2 separate energies; matter and spirit.

So Vivekananda does identify in above verse that soul is situated in the body.

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In a state of ignorance, we see our Atman as separate from Brahman (although, we get a glimpse of more sometimes). Hence, when a person dies, that imagined separate identity just stops identifying itself with the body. This might give some insights:

What happens after death?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What happens after death is the mind gets freed from the body, the spirit. The mind has memory and intelligence, so these two things become like a balloon. The karma, the deepest impressions form a balloon. It is like in sleep.

Death is nothing but a long sleep. Before going to sleep, see the last thought that you get, and as soon as you wake up, see what is the first thought that comes. Have you noticed? It will variably be the same though.

So the physical body decays and the pranic body with all the impressions forms a balloon and leaves the body and hangs around.

Don’t imagine a balloon hanging around! It is a light; an energy.

I will give you the best example. In a television station, they conduct a program and then they transmit it through the dish and the program remains in the atmosphere – it is the same way.

When you send an email from the computer, you type all the letters and then you press the send button. What happens? It goes into the space. Does your email remain in the space till it is downloaded? Even after several days you can download your email. Even one year later or ten years later you can download an email. There is no expiry date, isn’t that so. It is not like those greeting cards which sometimes people send you that expire in 24 hours.

The messages or letters you send don’t hang as letters in the space, it remains in the space as energy.

Like that every soul is a particular frequency and every thumb is different because a thumb is like a particular cell phone chip.

So after death, every individual energy stays, and the impressions it has taken, accordingly to that it experiences those stages there. But then after sometime that soul comes back...

Taken from: http://www.artofliving.org/what-happens-after-death

  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is saying the same thing that soul goes and comes back, my question is where will the soul go because it is always present everywhere and if soul leaves body, it implies body becomes soulless and thus will make soul finite. – Chinmay Sarupria May 18 '16 at 6:56
  • No, no, the soul here referred to is the Jiva and not the Brahman. So, it floats around in a finite form. – Amit Saxena May 18 '16 at 7:07
  • Atman = Brahman so it cannot be finite. – Chinmay Sarupria May 18 '16 at 7:15
  • Yup, thats Advaita philosophy. In that case, nothing leaves the body, as Jiva doesn't exist, only Brahman does. The body itself doesn't exist. – Amit Saxena May 18 '16 at 7:18
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Chinmay Sarupria May 18 '16 at 9:08
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Soul is like a timer which starts as soon as you are born. Then it starts down counting all the way to zero. Once Zero is reached the timer stops. The body is there but the timer has stopped. The end.

Then after some time based on your karma a new body gets created and a new timer is attached to this body. This cycle repeats till Siva breaks every inch of ego inside you. Then you get an timer which you can control as a gift from Siva. Bheeshma Pitamahan got one of these controllable timers from Siva, so he chose the day when Uttarayana started for his departure.

Relax and Cheers!

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