In the earlier blog, we discussed why Adi Shankaracharya has subtly suggested that the soul is greater than intelligence. Let’s consider one another reason that he subtly suggests for the same.
In his explanation of the verse, Adi Shankaracharya describes the soul as
‘avyaktat prathamam jatam hairanyagarbham tatvam‘, an element of hiranyagarbham that was first born out of avyakta.
What is avyakta? In the parlance of Vedic philosophy, avyakta is the Supreme Being, out of which the world is born.
What is hiranyagarbham? As the book “God Talks with Arjuna” by my guru Paramhansa Yogananda tells us, hiranyagarbham is a form of the Divine that creates and maintains the astral cosmos.
By telling us that the soul is an element of hiranyagarbham, born out of avyakta, Adi Shankaracharya subtly suggests that, unlike intelligence, the soul is related to the astral cosmos and that is the importance of the soul. Besides, as the same book tells us, we all have a subtle body called the astral body and there is a kind of soul, called Taijas, living in it and looking after it. So the soul is related to the astral cosmos this way also. The intelligence is related to the individual only but the soul is related to both the individual and the astral cosmos. While intelligence can work only at the level of the individual, the soul can work both at the level of the individual and that of the astral cosmos, which makes the soul greater than intelligence.
So the soul is greater than the intelligence for the reasons suggested by Adi Shankaracharya, whether explicitly or subtly.
Before concluding this discussion of the verse, let’s sum up the messages of the verse: the objects are greater than the organs, the mind is greater than the objects, the intelligence is greater than the mind and the soul is greater than the intelligence.
The verse has some implications, which need to be applied to our day-to-day life. The upanishadas are not just a matter of philosophical discussion: their teachings need to be followed in day -to-day life. The mind is greater than the objects implies that we should enjoy the objects but not to the extent that the mind gets obsessed with them. In the hands of a chain- smoker, it is a small cigarette that becomes greater than the mind, when it should be the other way round.
That the intelligence is greater than the mind implies that it is the head that should rule over the heart and not the other way round. No decision should be made in a fit of love, hatred, jealousy,anger or fear – every decision should be taken after due consultation with the intelligence – the sukshma buddhi especially , because it is the sukshma buddhi that is closer to the soul than the sthula buddhi.
That the soul is greater than the intelligence implies that however great one’s intelligence may be, one should not be proud of it- it is the sthula buddhi, after all, and nothing is great about it. Even if the sthula buddhi turns into the sukshma buddhi through spiritual sadhana, one should not be proud of it because the soul is-and will always remain- greater than it. Every intellectual should know that after all, it is the soul that is the soul of the world, not the intelligence.