Verse 18: Is there one Spirit or are there many?

janana-maraṇa-karaṇānāṃ pratiniyamāt-ayugapat-pravṛtteḥ ca |
puruṣa-bahutvaṃ siddhaṃ tri-guṇya-viparyayāt-ca-eva ||

puruṣa – animating principle
bahutva – multitude
tri – three
guṇa – quality of nature
viparyaya – opposing

There is one Knower, but many Spirits.

  1. Is there just one spirit or are there many?
  2. I (my intelligence, identity, body, senses, experiences) am a specific and unique medium (an expression of the three gunas).
  3. At birth spirit connects with the unique medium that I am. Since Spirit is eternal and unchanging, it is not modified at birth. Spirit projects through me and that projection is a unique “dweller within me”.
  4. As Spirit dwells within me it expresses uniquely through this unique medium that I am.
  5. At death Spirit surrenders the body. Spirit itself does not die, it is eternal.
  6. Like water takes on different flavors depending on the medium it inhabits (same rain, different plants), so does a single Knower become a multiplicity of Spirits.
  7. In this way a singular eternal Knower projects as multiple spirits.
  8. This is how individual uniqueness comes to be.
  9. If there was only one Spirit: when one body was born, all would be born. When one body died all would die. If one person was blind, all would be blind.
  10. If there was only one Spirit how is it that some are engaged in virtue and some in vice?
  11. Is it possible that one Spirit is connected with numerous bodies? What would happen to the other bodies when one person died or another was born?
    1. This question assumes that different bodies are like parts of one body. Like the hands and fingers or feet and toes of my body.
    2. What kind of relationship would there be between birth and death and Spirit?
    3. I do not die when you cut off one of my fingers and I am not born when a new hair grows on my body.
    4. If I accept Spirit as a dweller within a medium, then a spirit connected to numerous mediums makes no sense.
  12. There is one Knower (Jna – see vese 2) that dwells in many places. The dwellers (Purusa) present as plural Spirits.

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