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Body Worship

The following is an article highlighting the absurdity of our obsession with the body and the distress it causes us to falsely identify with it.

Recently the dead body of a woman was found in England. It was in such a horrible state that the police officer upon finding it, put their hats down in honor of the woman. Despite the general consensus telling us that rendering the above mentioned gesture is a noble and praiseworthy action in a situation like this, the Srimad Bhagavatam clearly says that one who considers the body that consists of three dhatus, namely kapha (mucus), pitta (fire), vayu (air) is nothing but an ass. And indeed, if you look around, the death of the body and the dead body itself is carefully taken out of sight of the public eye so our illusion of bodily identification is not violated by an ugly sight. If you try to see a dead body on the internet you must pass through various pop ups that warn you about graphic content. It is just not a nice thing to do -to show us a dead body, especially if the body is mutilated. It hurts our bodily conception of life. In the illusioned state we indeed think of ourselves us a mere piece of insentient flesh and assign personal characteristic of the soul to it while calling it a person, man, woman, British or Chinese, ugly, beautiful or Joe Biden. Srila Prabhupada often gives this example when we associate with him: When your father dies, why do you lament and cry? You say: My father is gone. My father has passed away. But if your father is the body, the body is still laying on the death bed. He has not passed anywhere. Why don't you go interacting with him? The truth of the matter is that you have never seen your father since your father is not the body, but he is the spirit soul that makes the body valuable. SO long the body is inhabited by the spirit soul, even if we slightly pinch it, immediately the person will object. However when the soul leaves the body, we may even chop it into pieces it will never raise concern.

The body worship is so prominent that being unable to find the remnants of the bodies who lived in the ancient Vedic culture 5000 years ago, the modern archeologists assume that the Vedic scriptures are simply stories without any connection to reality. Since, it is a known fact in the Vedic tradition that the soul at the time of death find it easier to move on to his next destination if the bodily conception is broken by burning the dead body, the Vedic people would burn the bodies of the deceased immediately after death took place. This is a civilized way to deal with death. It is just another change of the body. The soul as it is remains unchanged and undead. It simply changes location. No one laments for the change of one's clothes, similarly a self realized liberated person with spiritual vision is not at all disturbed when his body or bodies of others cease to function. He does not identify his self with the body at any stage. Thus he is not agitated. However, in our present modern society too much emphasis is given to the body and this is the cause of the feeling of emptiness and frustration since the body cannot give any pleasure to the spirit soul. This type of conception is declared by Krishna as knowledge in the mode of passion: "That knowledge by which a different type of living entity is seen to be dwelling in different bodies is knowledge in the mode of passion." (Bg 18.21). Srila Prabhupada comments on this verse as follows: "The concept that the material body is the living entity and that with the destruction of the body the consciousness is also destroyed is called knowledge in the mode of passion. According to that knowledge, bodies differ from one another because of the development of different types of consciousness, otherwise there is no separate soul which manifests consciousness. The body is itself the soul, and there is no separate soul beyond this body. According to such knowledge, consciousness is temporary. Or else there are no individual souls, but there is an all-pervading soul, which is full of knowledge, and this body is a manifestation of temporary ignorance. Or beyond this body there is no special individual or Supreme Soul. All such conceptions are considered products of the mode of passion." Instead of following such misguided conception, we should focus on the life of the spirit soul and invest our tears and lamentation to the real problem, namely lack of spiritual Krishna consciousness and a lack of spiritual practice in our lives. Narottama dasa Thakura, a great devotee and acarya of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sect, sings: "My Lord, I have simply wasted my life. Having obtained the human body, I have neglected to worship Your Lordship, and therefore I have willingly drunk poison." The human body is especially meant for cultivating knowledge of devotional service to the Lord, without which life becomes full of anxieties and miserable conditions. Therefore, one who has spoiled his life without such cultural activities is advised to leave home without knowledge of friends and relatives and, being thus freed from all obligations of family, society, country, etc., give up the body at some unknown destination so that others may not know where and how he has met his death.

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