Here are two translations of Brahma-Sutra 2.2.25:

And (a permanent soul has to be admitted) because of the fact of remembrance (ie., memory).
(Translated by Swami Gambhirananda here)

And on account of memory (the permanency of the experiencer has to be recognized).
(Translated by Swami Vireshwarananda here)

Commentary by Swami Vireshwarananda:

A further refutation of the momentariness of things is given here. If everything is momentary, the experiencer or enjoyer of something must also be momentary. But that the enjoyer is not momentary and abides longer is realized from the fact that people have the memory of past experiences. Memory is possible only in a person who has previously experienced it, for what is experienced by one man is not remembered by another. So the agent of the experience and the remembrance being the same, he is connected with at least two moments—which refutes the doctrine of momentariness.

Continuity of memory is used as an argument for the evidence of a permanent soul.

My questions:

  1. What happens to a person who loses his memory due to amnesia, dementia or brain injury? Does that mean that he has lost his permanent soul? If not, how can such a condition be justified?

  2. An electronic device such as a smartphone can remember info and keep memory, without having a permanent soul. So, how can this argument be justified in this case? Does proof of memory mean that the smartphone has a permanent soul?

2 Answers 2


You have misinterpreted the verse. This verse is part of topic (or section, or adhikarana) 4. The verses of topic 4, verses 18-27, are a refutation of the doctrine of momentariness of the Bauddha school. I suggest you go back and reread verse 18 commentary in Vireswarananda's translation which is an introduction to the entire topic 4.

The reference to the perceiver in Gambhirananda's commentary in verse 25 should only be read as the individual embodied ego, not the permanent soul or atma. The argument is that if the theory of momentariness was true, you - the individual embodied ego - would have no memory of anything prior, which it does.

The last part of your question with amnesia is not relevant, as, again, the section in question is dealing with a refutation of the theory of momentariness and not the permanent soul or atma. Finally, simply because the popular usage of the same word in English - memory - is used for electronic storage of on and off bits in machines or computers does not equate it to the use of the term memory in reference to biological entities - or permanent soul. Your reference would seem to be a 'straw man' logical fallacy in argumentation.

  • 1
    What about Swami Gambhirananda's use of the term "permanent soul". Is that not a reference to atma?
    – ruben2020
    Jan 27, 2022 at 9:22
  • The use of the English words 'permanent soul' and 'memory' may be not the best choice of words by Gambhirananda in this instance. It is my experience that translators oftentimes try and avoid the same English words in translations as other translators have used. Remember that the section is meant to be a rebuttal of the theory of momentariness (TOM) and not an argument in defense of Advaita. The TOM would imply that the perceiver has a momentary existence also. Other words that could have been used are perceiver. Instead of 'permanent soul' think 'non-momentary existence'. Jan 28, 2022 at 4:46
  • Instead of 'memory' the word 'recognition'. The jest of the section is that the TOM is not logical because of the basic flaw that the perceiver must be also momentary as the perceiver is part of the system; but due to the fact that perceivers (some non-momentary existence) recognize objects perceived the whole theory of TOM falls apart. Jan 28, 2022 at 5:11
  • The section should also be understood in how logical arguments and fallacies are constructed in these texts. For a start read the section titled 'Inference' under the chapter 'Nyaya' here - archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey Jan 28, 2022 at 5:13

To answer your question,
1 - Memory of the brain is lost in Amnesia, but the memory of the soul is still there. Like you don't actively remember your past lives. But your soul does. Thw memory doesn't need body, that's why you can remember your past life if you meditate. The soul carries memory which cannot be erases until nirvana.

Also, all penguins are birds, all birds are not penguins. If you have memory you have soul, if you don't have memory you may or may not have a soul. So the reverse is not true. Here memory does not cause soul so that if memory goes soul doesnt go. Memory is like the symptom or a signal of soul. If the signal is there soul is definitiely there. If the signal system is broken then soul maybe or may not be there.

2 - Yes, there is memory chip. The analogy of soul here is some memory storing enitity in the body. If I take a photo in a phone, I can again see the photo because there is a non changing storage unit. If the storage unit was getting changed i.e if it was momentory then image would be lost. The very fact you can read images from your phone means there is an unchanging memory unit. This is brain in single birth. But to explain rebirth and reincarnation and remembering of past lives brain cannot be used. So something has to be used to carry memory, that thing is called soul.

Buddhists answer to this saying the soul is also momentory only that each successive soul resembles older soul, so even its momentary, due its similarity memory is carried, like a wave producing similar waves, soul of past second creates an identical copy of present soul, so its still momentory. This is Buddhist answer.

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    – Vivikta
    Jan 27, 2022 at 15:00
  • 1
    ...well I didn't downvote. Also, Since you're new here, I'd suggest you not indulge in eliciting explanations for downvotes. People rarely explain here why they're downvoting (including me). In my experience, reasons can be anything from 'low-quality answer according to the downvoter' to them not liking the answer or narrative being portrayed by them. It would do well, to keep churning good questions and answers, as per your capabilities, rather than asking reasons. In this particular answer, I think the lack of any sources in your answer must have elicited a downvote by someone.
    – Vivikta
    Jan 28, 2022 at 6:10

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