BG 2.22

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya

navani grihnati naro 'parani

tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany

anyani samyati navani dehi


vasamsi -- garments; jirnani -- old and worn out; yatha -- just as; vihaya -- giving up; navani -- new garments; grihnati -- does accept; narah -- a man; aparani -- others; tatha -- in the same way; sarirani -- bodies; vihaya -- giving up; jirnani -- old and useless; anyani -- different; samyati -- verily accepts; navani -- new sets; dehi -- the embodied.


As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

We are discussing Ch2 of BG where Sri Krishna is responding to Arjuna’s various arguments, so the first argument was about compassion, how can I kill my relatives? Krishna is responding from 2.11 to 2.30 by saying that actually your relatives are souls who are indestructible and their bodies are unavoidably destructible therefore do not give up your duty that is the crux of the argument. And Sri Krishna is essentially using the strategy of Naiti-Naiti, not this not this to explain the soul by negation of the material so that some indication of spiritual will be conveyed.

So now let us look at the process by which soul moves from one body to another body.

So vasamsi jirnani, vasamsi is dress, jirnani when they become old,

yatha vihaya, vihaya is to give up

 So just as a person gives up the old garments

navani grihnati, navani, new grihnati naro 'parani, human beings takes another garment which is new

naro 'parani, similarly there is body, vihaya jirnany, when old is given up

anyani samyati, he is accepted new navani dehi, the occupier of the body the soul.

So here essentially the process of transmigration is described, now generally we use word reincarnation and transmigration interchangeable so are the two exactly the same? Not necessarily, the emphasis is different, in transmigration the focus is on journey for example the birds migrate when the seasons change or when there are natural calamity people migrate from one place to another basically travel so transmigration talks about the travel of the soul from trans, trans means across, so from one body to another body so in transmigration the focus is on the journey aspect, the transmigration of the soul through 8.4 million species whereas in re-incarnation the focus is on coming into flesh as we have discussed earlier that incarnation is to come in flesh, re-incarnation is to come in flesh again, so in reincarnation the focus is into coming in body whereas in transmigration the focus is on going from one body to another body so the essential point is life does not begin with birth and does not end with death so what happens after that is conveyed through an example in this verse.

So this verse conveys how the body is peripheral and superficial to the soul. When we are wearing a dress the dress is important to us but at the same time we don’t have a permanent relationship with the dress, I will wear a dress today and after it is old I will change to another dress, so the essential person is different form the dress similarly if we consider body to be dress we consider body to be different form the soul the real we. And different bodies are like different dresses which serve different purposes so we wear different dresses based on what we are going to do for example going to polar area people wear different dress like then when they go for work or party so according to purpose we serve we choose a different dress but the essential point is we and the dress are different, we remain the same but the dress keeps changing similarly the soul remains the same but the body keeps changing so if the dress becomes old person discard the old dress and takes a new dress similarly in the process of re-incarnation there are three stages, the first stage is (1) soul leaves the body (2) the soul goes to stage where next body is (3) the soul enters into a situation where it will get next body or the soul acquires a next body so for example if a person has done a karma by which again he will born as a human being the (1) first stage would be giving up the old dress so the person gives up the body then (2) under the guidance of Super Soul the soul travels to the next body this is also arranged by various factors (3) and finally the soul acquires a new body. In case of human body it is described in 3rd canto in teachings of Lord Kapila …Karmana Netra Daivena ….under the supervision of Daiva Netra the divine eye, it is referring to arrangement of destiny. Janto Deha Prapatyaye, the living entity gets a Deha Upapatyaye the living entity gets a body and what kinds of body will be how does it get the body Pravistha Estriya Udaram, so the soul enters into the womb of a women how? Pumsaha Reta Kanashrayah  by taking shelter  of particle in semen in a male.

So now the essential point is that when the procreational act happens the soul is in the sperm and through sperm the soul enter in the womb and then then the child is born.

Now of these three stages (1) the first is souls leaves the body, how does the soul leave the body? Generally it leaves through one of the nine holes, of course soul has the power to breakthrough and also go but generally soul leaves through one of the nine holes, generally in Upanishad it is said if soul leaves body through lower holes generally that is considered inauspicious departure and the soul is going to lower destinations, lower species, lower planets, if the soul leaves through upper holes it is considered auspicious, e.g. eyes, ears, nose, mouth, realized yogis who attains samadhi they aims that when soul leaves it will burst the skull and go out and if they will go out that way then they will attain liberation that is the understanding now for most of us we don’t have such an awareness of the soul and we don’t have any control on how soul will leave the body so it is not so important for us the most important thing is we remember Krishna in eighth chapter and He has said Naite Stuti Parth Janam Yogi Muhyati Kaschanan Tasmad Serve Su Kalesu Yoga Yukto Bhava Arjuna, so there are many ways in previous verse Krishna has talked about two different wings Devyan and Pitrayan but essentially Krishna said don’t worry about this just practice Yoga and it is already earlier mentioned that best yoga is bhakti yoga, this is mentioned in BG 8.14 BG 6.47. So as devotees we are not bothering from which holes we are living the body we have to bother that how we will be remembering Krishna, so generally the souls leaves the body and goes to next body depending on two factors the Kama and the Karma, kama is the desire and Karma is the destiny what kind of Karmic destiny one has got so we wanted to purchase a new dress we will look at what is my desire and then what is my budget similarly all of us have a Karmic budget and accordingly the soul gets a new body so we are actually dresses for and dresses by our desires which means say if a male is attracted to female and female is attracted to a male then if a male dies thinking of female then male will get a female body in next life and vice versa female will get a male body. So it depends on what we remember at the time of death but what we remember at the time of death is also determined by what we remember throughout our life what I have been desired throughout our life so the important thing in this discussion is the relationship between the body and soul should not be given too much emphasis it is actually peripheral, it is not an eternal relationship, it is a temporary relationship. This is something which many traditions do not understand like earlier we have discussed about the Abrahamic religions, the clear understanding about the soul as an ontological concrete higher dimensional entity is not there and because of that there is some sign of conflation mixing up of the soul and the body and in some of these traditions the idea is that they burry the body because somehow the idea is that at the time of judgment eventually when the people will be taken back to haven they will be taken in the body they have right now so the idea is the body we have right now will be the body we will have in the time to come because there is no clear understanding of the body and soul so some people will have the idea that the body has to be preserved in the coffin when it is buried, but of course even if we will preserve in coffin the body will not stay and all the particles that the body is made of will be destroyed and they will be in different bodies now so it is very simplistic idea that the body and soul are somehow eternal and in the kingdom of God we will have same body as we have right now and of course this body poses serious problems suppose if one is having a crippled, blind or deformed body then that is the body he is having so will it be that the person will have same body throughout all eternity, that will be hell then may be people will say no-no he will be having a healthy body, or if a person dies before growing up or old person dies so will it be that his eternal body will be always a small child or always an old man, and if no is the answer then it counters the argument of burring the body thinking that one day he will need this body again.

So this discussion was based in misunderstanding about body and soul, when people have bodily conception of life then even if there is religion and there is religious belief still that religions belief can also misunderstood there are some atheist who says that religion is extremely dangerous because there are these Jihadis who have some suicide bombers and they are ready to destroy themselves and why they are ready to destroy themselves? Because they will be brainwashed to believe that they will enjoy wit h73 virgins in heavens, Janath for all time to come and that is why what is wrong in dying for once for getting eternal life and eternal enjoyment so atheist argue see how dangerous religions believe is nothing else make a person suicide bomber like this and not in such a large number so religions contaminates human minds to such dangerous imaginations that people are ready to kill others in the hope of some imaginary pleasure in future life so is this the effect of believe in after life? Actually any belief can have any effect depending upon how it is interpreted, so the problem here is not after life the problem here is material conception of life there is important difference between the two, after life means there is some life after this, the problem here is not that all people who believe in after life will become Jihadis there are many people who believe in after life but how many of them has become militants (actually they can become saintly since they will be afraid of committing sins), so actually what makes a person develop this kind of thinking is material conception of life, because of material conception of life people think that enjoyment means sensual enjoyment and now I am not taking sensual enjoyment in future I will take better sensual enjoyment and therefore let me do this, let me become a suicide bomber and in future I will enjoy so the point is the clear understanding between the body and the soul ensures that the person doesn’t continue in the material conception of life and if the person doesn’t continue material conceptions of life he acquires spiritual conceptions of life that actually the real enjoyment is not in sensuality it is in loving services centered around God and connect with all living beings.

So that way any belief can be distorted. That way we can see the world greatest killer in recent times is Mause in China and Staline in Russia such people if we see they are the world greatest killer, they were atheists, Hitler was an atheist and they killed so many millions of people. Religion in general tells that life is sacred and since life is sacred so it is valued where as Atheism thinks that life is a chance product and enjoyment in this life is the goal so what is the point in doing anything which will obstruct that self-enjoyment so morality obstructs the enjoyment so put it aside  and just enjoy so actually it is not reincarnation or after life it is material conception of life that causes problems and here we see the material conception of life is removed it is shattered by BG right in the beginning and describe that we are different from the body we are actually souls.