I live in the heart, and I go away. Other living entities may remain there.
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted Apr 8, 2007]

Fundamental Unit of Life

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

Srila Prabhupada
Morning walk with disciples, July 14, 1975, Philadelphia

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The Challenge

It's Beyond Kovoor's Power of Observation Hansadutta das

A true scientist would never prematurely declare, "I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit to survive my death." Rather, he would enthusiastically embrace a standard technique accepted by respected and recognized men of spiritual science. Such a scientist and sincere seeker of truth would then, in the interests of science, submit himself to that process and make himself the object of experimentation. Only after he had perfectly applied all the practices and techniques to himself, under the guidance of an authorized professor of spiritual science, would he dare make judgmental remarks about the subject in question. Theory, observation and experimentation are the true methods of science, and they apply equally to spiritual science. more

Cells like parts of a machine

Svarup Damodar: The question that I wrote to Srila Prabhupada, the answer that Srila Prabhupada gave me was that the cells in the body and the jivatma that resides in the heart, they are different living entities. But my understanding was directed to the relationship between the two, the jivatma in the cells and the jivatma in the heart, how they are related, how they...

Prabhupada: They are separate identity.

Svarup Damodar: But it looks like, though, in the material body the one cannot exist without another. They look like interdependent.

Prabhupada: That may be, but still, they are individuals.

Ravindra-svarup: When the jiva in the heart dies, then all the other cells in the body also have to die.

Prabhupada: No.

Ravindra-svarup: No, they don't. But when the body decays, doesn't everything...

Prabhupada: No. Dead body so many germs come out.

Ravindra-svarup: Oh.

Prabhupada: How it comes?

Svarup Damodar: But that is different, though. When a body dies, then there are many germs from outside that...

Prabhupada: Living entities within the body, they come out, hundreds and thousands. They have not died. Suppose in this jungle there are so many living entities. If I die, what has got to do with them?

Svarup Damodar: But science tries to understand what is life and in order to do that they just want to understand what is cell. Because science tries to understand what is life, and in order to do that they just want to study what is the cell, because cells are the smallest living units of life. That is their understanding. So once they understand what a cell is, then they know what life is. That is their aim. So if the cells and the jivatma within the heart, they are different and they are independent, then they cannot conceive of just having a jivatma in the heart.

Prabhupada: That... The particular jivatma who has been given this body, he is living in the heart.

Ravindra-svarup: But according to the scientists, our body is made up of little cells just like a brick wall is made up of so many individual bricks. Each... Like in one piece of skin there is...

Prabhupada: That's all right. That is body. Just like I live in a house. The house is made of so many bricks. But I am not brick.

Ravindra-svarup: But they say that...

Prabhupada: "They say!" They are foolish, we always say. Because I am living in a house consisting of so many bricks, it does not mean that I am brick.

Ravindra-svarup: But is each cell an individual living entity?

Prabhupada: That I do not know. What do you mean by cell? But there are many living entities within this body. That we know.

Svarup Damodar: That is different from the concept of cell. There are many living entities like germs...

Prabhupada: So concept of cell is the cell is just like bricks. Matter and spirit, two things are there. Either it must be matter or must be spirit.

Ravindra-svarup: But it's seen that the scientists, they can take some skin from your body, and by putting in different solutions, can keep that skin itself alive for such a long time. They have taken the heart of a chicken out of the chicken's body and then kept it beating for so many hours even though that heart was away from the main chicken. Or they take some other tissue and keep it alive. So they say that each cell is an individual living being.

Prabhupada: So we have no objection.

Ravindra-svarup: That is all right. So there is a spirit soul in every...

Prabhupada: No, no. All right or not all right I don't say. But if they say like that, we have no objection.

Svarup Damodar: So the understanding to find out what life is is just to study what a cell is. That is their... They say that cells are composed of these molecules.

Prabhupada: What is the position of the cells when the man dies?

Svarup Damodar: The cells are dead. The cells that compose the body, they are dead. There are maybe new living entities coming from different parts, but the cell that composed the human body is dead. They cannot reproduce anymore.

Prabhupada: So what is your proposal? That cell is life?

Svarup Damodar: Yes.

Prabhupada: So can you develop life from the cells? As you said that you take the skin and you keep, so take the cells and develop into life.

Svarup Damodar: That's called culturing of the cells. They can culture it.

Prabhupada: That's all right. Whether you have done it?

Ravindra-svarup: Well, they have that process called cloning?

Svarup Damodar: No, no, this is the culture. That means take a cell from a living tissue, and you culture it and you supply the sufficient nutrients. Then theoretically they will grow forever. They will divide. They will...

Prabhupada: So they will grow to a human being?

Svarup Damodar: Not a human being, but the cells just divide.

Prabhupada: Then an ant, an ant?

Svarup Damodar: No.

Prabhupada: Then what is this? [laughter]

Svarup Damodar: [laughing] But the cell is still alive.

Prabhupada: But you said that as soon as the man dies, they also die.

Svarup Damodar: That is what my question arose, how these, the relationship between the jivatma in cells and the jivatma in the heart.

Prabhupada: The jivatma... If the cells are living entities, then why do they not remain? Just like other living entities, they remain in the body and they come out. Even the man who has died, he is not there, but the other living entities are there.

Svarup Damodar: So it seems that the cells are not independent. They are somehow controlled by the jivatma or the... Of course, Paramatma is controlling everything. But I know sometimes the cells that compose the body of a living body, it seems that they are not independent; they are dependent.

Prabhupada: That may be. But what about your cultivating living entities from the cells?

Svarup Damodar: Yes, that can be done. That they have already done.

Prabhupada: "That can be done," you say everything. But you've never done.

Ravindra-svarup: They call it... You know that? They call it cloning?

Svarup Damodar: Cloning is a different process, though. Cloning is just they take the life from the genes from different species and put this together and form a new species called hybrids of some living entity.

Ravindra-svarup: The scientists say that the cells reproduce not by mating but by splitting in half...

Prabhupada: That is possible.

Svarup Damodar: But once Srila Prabhupada told us, though, that I am in the heart and...

Prabhupada: I am an individual.

Svarup Damodar: Yes.

Prabhupada: So that is my position. I live in the heart, and I go away. Other living entities may remain there.

Gurudas: When a heart is transplanted does the soul stay in the heart?

Prabhupada: Yes.

Svarup Damodar: I want to clarify another that Prabhupada told us that compared with the cells, I am a little bigger god, but the cells are smaller. Just like we are serving spiritual master, similarly, the cells are serving. They have no choice in the...

Prabhupada: Yes. That is good idea. Yes.

Svarup Damodar: So similarly, we were discussing with Balavanta Prabhu one day about the... He was giving a nice example that in a kingdom where the king stays... Just like Srila Prabhupada's example: living in an apartment. Srila Prabhupada and disciples and many other living entities stay in the same apartment, but a person, an individual, who knows his position, is to serve the order of the head of the apartment. But somebody doesn't follow. He just goes away from the apartment. So Balavanta was asking what is the use of that? So similarly, when the cells... We can take out from one part of the body and can culture it, but what is the use? It produces, but actually it's not really behaving as it should. It has no value.

Prabhupada: Yes. They are just like machine parts. Parts and parcels, they are helping the whole machine work.


Ravindra-svarup: [break] ...the cells because they say that the cells are the fundamental unit of life and if they can understand even a very simple cell, then they think perhaps they can find the principles to understand everything living.

Prabhupada: Well, this "perhaps..."

Ravindra-svarup: But they can't understand the cell.

Prabhupada: Yes. So their "perhaps," "maybe," is going on. And that will continue.

Ravindra-svarup: Why does the living entity wish to speculate in this way?

Prabhupada: He has been given a special advantage to think of God, but instead of thinking God, he is thinking all these rubbish things, which he will never be able to fulfill. Misusing. The thinking power he is misusing.

Ravindra-svarup: So this mental speculation or this "perhaps" and "maybe" is a misuse of his specific power to understand God.

Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Athato brahma jijñasa. The life, human life, is meant for enquiring about God, and God is explaining Himself about God. Instead of studying Bhagavad-gita very scrutinizingly, they are wasting time. "The cells, this, that, atom." That's all, wasting time Just like we are driving this car. So we can utilize it for going from one place to another. So there is no need of studying how the car is moving, how many parts are there.

Ravindra-svarup: But still, people seem to have always a curiosity about these things.

Prabhupada: Yes. That curiosity is explained in the Bhagavad-gita that it is a machine and there are many subtle parts of the machine. So you have been given this machine. You utilize it properly. Why you are busy in studying the different parts? The different parts are there undoubtedly. But you cannot actually understand.

Fundamental Unit of Life/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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