Gita Daily Readings

28th January
Chapter
II: 22
Just as a man casts off worn out clothes and puts on new ones, so also the embodied one casts off worn out bodies and enters others which are new.

Commentary

“Reincarnation” is a fact only in relation to the physical body. The self is unborn and undying! Life is continuous, only the dress is replaced by new ones every now and then.

All religions are agreed that the soul is imperishable and survives the body. There seems to be difference of opinion only in regard to its donning a physical body post mortem. It is admitted, too, that the soul on departing from here undergoes various experiences necessary for eventual ascension into the kingdom of God or to become one with him, expressed as you care to put it.

The spirit or the soul cannot act without body, or rather, the instrument by which the soul functions and gathers experiences is called body, and getting into or assuming one of these is known as "incarnation." The soul does not enjoy the pleasures of a heaven or suffer the pains of a hell, except through the medium of a body composed of the five elements, organized to suit the peculiar conditions of its existence at that stage, and so subtle or gross.

There is a great difference between the physiological structure of fish and bird and that of the human being, but basically they are all composed of the five elements. The fish-body is adapted to life in the sea, the bird-body to flight, and the human-body to a different kind of life. Similarly the souls incarnating on other planets might assume or obtain physical bodies adapted to the conditions there.

The soul is really not reborn (in fact it was never born at all), but when it assumes a new body, we say it is born.

This verse takes the sting out of death and removes fear of death from our heart. Who would not like new clothes?

It reminds us that the body is only a garment bound to deteriorate and become useless. We should keep it clean and healthy, but not forget the self that is the enduring reality.

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