I am Not This Body??? Then What AM I?

All-Attractive Viṣṇu, the powerful and carefree master and the true objective of all sacrifice, was pleased by Pṛthu’s ceremonies and appeared before the emperor along with powerful Indra. Glancing towards Indra, Viṣṇu said, “Here is the one who disrupted your hundredth horse-sacrifice. He seeks your forgiveness, so I think he deserves it.”

“Should I really forgive his immoral deeds?” Pṛthu seemed to wonder.

Viṣṇu encouraged him not to by angry. “Oh god of humanity,” he said, “the best humans, good people with good intellect, don’t hold onto malice towards anyone.”

“How is that possible?” the king would surely wonder. “How can they feel no malice towards those who cause them harm?”

Viṣṇu explained, “They know the difference between their true self and its body.”


“People who don’t understand the difference between the self and its body work very hard, and for a very long time, to secure what their bodies desire, but in the end wind up with no profit except their sweat. Such frustrated and irritable people are very easily moved to malice.”

“If the body is not exactly the self, what is it?” Pṛthu would ask.

“The wise know that the body is the tangible result of our self-ignorant desires. This is why the wise are not terribly attached to the pleasures that might be acquired by their body.”

“How does this lack of attachment make them less malicious?” Pṛthu would ask.

“They are not terribly attached to pleasures connected with their bodies,” Viṣṇu reiterated. “So, they are not disturbed and moved to malice if someone or something presents a disruption or obstacle to such things. They are, wisely, not excessively defensive of their household, assets, or lineage.”

“If the body is not the true source of identity,” Pṛthu would ask, “what is?

“The true source of identity is a singular, pure, self-luminous entity; not limited by any characteristic or quality, but sheltering distinct characteristics and qualities. It spreads everywhere, and its all-witnessing sentience cannot be impeded. Beyond the false-self, it is the supreme self of the self.”

“Does the false self have any relation to the true self?” The emperor would want to know. “Does the limited self have some relation to the Supreme Self?”

“Yes!” Viṣṇu affirmed. “The wise know themselves to be situated within that Supreme Self. The unwise determine their identity by looking towards the qualities of their external bodies, but the wise determine their identity by looking inwards toward the Supreme Self who is the ultimate root of all individuals.”

– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of
Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive
A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto
[4.20.1 – 8]
By Vraja Kishor [VrajaKishor.com]
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