Concepts through Ages


“In religion, idealistic philosophy and psychology soul is a non-material entity that is independent of body”(6).  When did man discover it first during his evolution? Answer is somewhat unsettled due to unfathomable past of human prehistory. However, it is certain that the date is long before fifty thousand years when the aborigines settled in Andaman were marooned soon due to rise of sea level (2). Andamanese have an advanced   concept about soul and rebirth. For them, spirit or soul is like an invisible corm in the ground and the body represents a leafy shoot on the surface. The two together form a single plant. When a green, leafy plant dries up at surface, its life continues in the ground. After death, soul grows and matures underground in the grave till man is reborn. Much elaborate rites and rituals for burial of dead (7) are based on  their belief about a next life, it seems.

European Neanderthal of the Middle Stone Age (120000 – 32000 years before present) lived in the mental frame of Andamanese and buried their dead with elaborate rites (8). They were extinct around 32000 years ago. Human beings of Late Stone Age were psychically very distinct from Neanderthal. They also observed a cult of worship, unknown earlier. During the Perigordian period (32000 –20000 Years ago) they were scratching human figures in rocks and worshiping them as gods. One such carving in Rajasthan dates back to around 24500 years (2, p.143). It depicts a dual deity of Vedic age  --  Dyaus-Prithivi or Dyavaprithivi  (Fig. 1. 5). The godly figurines in the pillars relate to God Heaven and Goddess Earth.  Concept of heaven as an abode for the noble souls emerged around this date among the Vedic people, it seems. It has been followed by other religions of Zero-gold-medal-zone where growth of consciousness and human soul has moved on a relatively accelerated pace (2, fig.1.2).  

Another important facet of human communication about an evolving knowledge related to his soul conveys a model of transmigration of our soul. It dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period and figures as a tell tale picture in the Lascaux Cave, France (Fig.1. 6). In the picture, drawn around 16000 years ago, a hunter has hurt a bull grievously. The latter is charging the hunter in a fury of rage. The man is falling and collapsing. A bird is quietly standing by his side to fly away as he dies. The picture conveys an unmistakable story: the bird will fly away from his body at death and will take over a new body of a baby. This concept is alive till date in the belief of Indians in Gujarat and other part of North India.  ‘Pran Pakheru’ or ‘life (soul) bird’ is a common phrase in many Indian languages, emphasizing a perennial soul perching over an ephemeral body.

Fig. 1. 5 : A Perigordian carving of Rajasthan.  A pair of pillars shows a dual deity Dyavaprithivi, God Heaven and Goddess Earth. A: sun, B: moon.


Fig. 1. 6 : Soul Bird of Lascaux Cave, France. 


After analysis of their experience during Yog and Tantra, enlightened Vedic men conceived the soul bird of consciousness as a bird twin -- indulgent and non-indulgent. An Upanishad says “Friendly bird twins are seated over a tree (human body);one of these eats fruit while the other only looks intently at the other” (9a). Vedic bards also talk of five components in human consciousness: an omniscient self, fathering   other four units – Brahm, name-unit, form-unit and food (9b). This is cited from a Upanishad,  a part of Atharvaved   wherein one of the verses is astronomically dated around 4300 years before present (2, p.108).  Duality Conceptual of soul bird in Mundak Upanishad of Atharvaved possibly dates back to third Millennium BC.

Vedic bards used to memorize Veds and follow a ritualistic life in earlier years. Then, they moved to isolation of forests in old age for assiduous efforts to ascend to higher goals of life. They prayed for living up to ripe old age “I wish to attain, through rituals, reincarnation, longevity and old age” (10). During isolation and penance of old age they discovered a very simple fact of life. Those, who perceive experientially the consciousness self or soul,  the object acting as ‘the eye of eyes and the ear of ears’ become immortal if they acquire death while living physically (11a, 12a).

Vedic men in Immortal State or enjoying Eternal Life not only established the bird twin concept of consciousness but also a duality in our knowledge.  They felt that our learning falls in two steps. The first covers Veds, grammar and arithmetic to support goals of lower consciousness, corresponding to the bird eating fruits of agony and ecstasy. These relate to physical or spiritual goals life.  The second step covered the subject matter of Upanishads, aimed at perception of primary conscious self as a non-eating   bird (9c). The first segment of learning, related to worldly knowledge and rituals, was termed Avidya or Null-education because it could not lift one’s soul to immortality. The young preparing to enter the world were taught to pass through it diligently   and then judge, in forties, if they qualified for the second step.  Study of Upanishads was named as Vidya or Real-education because it leads to the terminal state of consciousness or Eternal Life. Upanishads were taught and practiced during old age after withdrawing from world, when soul ripens to experience immortality.

Vedic society was aware that any amount of reading about Vidya does not induce immortality during early years of life. Like arriving of feelings of sex is only after childhood, perception of immortality could be achieved only after forties when the age of reproduction is over. There is no gain for Eternal Life in the elimination of sex in a householder’s life. Vidya and Avidya were imparted together for proper living in the young age to attain immortality later (13).

Why were people so keen about immortality and considered that life is fulfilled only after it is achieved, else a waste (11b). Bards of Upanishad cult knew that eternal life liberates soul and opens a new state of consciousness, named as Virajapar (12b) or Abhivimanatmanam (14). In this state, meaning literally   ‘beyond-the-ego-free’, a person lives as a Brahm or soul independent of body. He eats consciousness directly from fellow humans, spirits and social consciousness regime (14). A man transcends barriers of his physical food for growth of his soul.  A liberated soul grows much faster when the food of consciousness is ingested directly from its prey through Tantra and Prajna.

Many Upanishads have survived through the tradition of memorizing Veds among Brahmans. However, experiential attainment of Virajapar state reached near extinction when people took to secure, sheltered life of towns and abandoned the tradition of confining to forest in late age, as prescribed in classical manuals of conduct (15). Even the brilliant among the learned Brahmans of city culture could not realize that old age and isolation have a specific contribution in reaching the terminal state of consciousness. They tried to infer the truth of an experiential   Virajapar state of Upanishads by guess and logic. A beginning in this direction was made first by Purans  (Story + Gospel) around 1500 BC and the termination reached after Gita, around first century BC. Then every sinner found an all-forgiving Krisn, in the image of a Biblical God, and soon Virajapar state sank into an abyss of religion.

    A little before the sophisticated   concept of bird twin in Upanishads, men at Catal Hoyuk, Turkey, had sketched their perception   about soul, body and death  (2, p.81). They regard soul and body as two distinct units of a living being. The former is lodged in head.  God of Death is a monster bird that   visits a man at the time of death. It eats his soul.  Departure of soul leaves the body dead  (Fig. 1.7). The concept was in vogue some seven thousand years ago.


 Fig. 1. 7 : Deity of Death at Catal Hoyuk, Turkey.


 At the excavation site of Catal Hoyuk, meaning a cleft mound, people had no written word but their expressions in a sketch about soul are impeccable.   When the written word arrived, soul has been discussed for more than three thousand years by many civilizations between India and Egypt. Concepts about soul figure mostly in stories, beliefs, religions and philosophy. These are considered less relevant in the context of our purely scientific approach on the lines of Upanishads.