acchedyo ‘yam adāhyo ‘yam
akledyo ‘śoṣya eva ca
nityaḥ sarva-gataḥ sthāṇur
acalo ‘yaḿ sanātanaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.24
This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
All these qualifications of the atomic soul definitely prove that the individual soul is eternally the atomic particle of the spirit whole, and he remains the same atom eternally, without change. The theory of monism is very difficult to apply in this case, because the individual soul is never expected to become one homogeneously. After liberation from material contamination, the atomic soul may prefer to remain as a spiritual spark in the effulgent rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the intelligent souls enter into the spiritual planets to associate with the Personality of Godhead.
The word sarva-gata (“all-pervading”) is significant because there is no doubt that living entities are all over God’s creation. They live on the land, in the water, in the air, within the earth and even within fire. The belief that they are sterilized in fire is not acceptable, because it is clearly stated here that the soul cannot be burned by fire. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are living entities also in the sun planet with suitable bodies to live there. If the sun globe is uninhabited, then the word sarva-gata—“living everywhere”—becomes meaningless.Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Please see text 25 for Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s combined commentary to texts 24 and 25.Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.23 – 2.24 Weapons, fire, water and air are incapable of cleaving, burning, wetting and drying the self; for, the nature of the self is to pervade all elements; It is present everywhere; for, It is subtler than all the elements; It is not capable of being pervaded by them; and cleaving, burning, wetting and drying are actions which can take place only by pervading a substance. Therefore the self is eternal. It is stable, immovable and primeval. The meaning is that It is unchanging, unshakable and ancient.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The reasons given as evidence supporting the eternal souls immortal position is that being acchedyah or indestructible it is incapable of being cut. Being adahyah or incombustible it is incapable of being burned. Being akledyah or insoluble it is incapable of being moistened. Being free from moisture it is asosyah or incapable of being dried. This is the idea. Another reason for why the soul is not liable to cutting, burning, moistening or drying is because it is everlasting, all pervading, immutable, never undergoing modification and primordial as it has no beginning.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
By opposition to the indestructibility of the eternal soul the possibility of such destruction in the future could be indicated; but by showing the impossibility of the eternal soul for destruction it is clarified that there is no destruction of the eternal soul in the future as well. How is it incapable of destruction? Understanding that the eternal soul being the essential constitution of all living entities is immortal and all pervading reflecting these qualities from the Supreme Lord. The word sthanuh meaning unchangeable defines the position of the eternal soul confirming permanence and by this all doubts about the eternality of the immortal soul should be dispelled. Similarly by the words nitya meaning everlasting, sanantanah meaning eternally the same and others these doubts are also dispelled verifying the factual position of the eternal soul from all angles of vision. Otherwise these examples would be merely repetitive.
Having previously described the living entities by virtue of their immortal soul as being a reflection of the Supreme Lord, the attributes already spoken but not repeated will not be considered as a defect. That is because the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord, the same in quality but minuscule in quantity is reflected in the form of the eternal soul without any modification.
Statements in the Vedic scriptures such as the Upanisads of rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva in each and every form is His reflection and abhasa eva ca is like a reflection confirm the Supreme Lord being all pervasive and in Brahma Sutra this is also established. So there is not even the slightest contradiction of the individual living entities being fragments of the Supreme Lord because it is perfectly established by His all pervasive presence due to the auspices of the eternal soul which is the eternal connection to the Supreme Lord Krishna bequeathed upon all living entities which are created from the natural interaction of males and females who were both born from the natural interaction of males and females. Being a reflection in the form of being a fragment means being a portion or a part of the whole and simply by being blessed by the presence of an immortal soul we an everlasting part of the whole connected to the Supreme Lord eternally.
Similarly words like sthanu and aikshata are also not contradictory due to the Supreme Lord Krishna being the Supreme Lord of all. Both words are given in the Vedic scriptures and are not because of the effect of illusion but due to the impossibility of being ever able conceptualize the Supreme Lord’s qualities completely various Vedic scriptures supply the qualities and attributes appropriate to the knowledge that is being elucidated at the time. Passages referring to Him as the Supreme Lord and passages referring to Him as the unmanifested brahman not contradictory because He possesses both these attributes which is feasible to understand because He is the primary cause and effect of all manifestations. So on the surface it may appear that various statements in the Vedic scriptures regarding His attributes could be construed as being contradictory but comprehending the over all understanding it can be easily seen that they actually are not.
The final summation is that in the Supreme Lord alone all contradictions are automatically resolved. In deliverance from the endless cycle of birth and death which only can be bequeathed to that exalted and blessed living entity who by has discovered the presence of the Supreme Lord within themselves as well as in every living entity born from the womb of a female who was also born from the womb of a female is a living entities greatest attainment factually fulfilled and the purpose of human existence is finally achieved. This alone is what is truly meant as moksa or liberation and this is actual deliverance. Because in accordance to the words of the Vedic scriptures it is seen that the variegated pleasures, the ecstatic happiness and the marvellous heavenly spheres gained due to the performance of meritorious actions disappear when that merit is eventually exhausted.
It should be emphasised that moksa or deliverance is only attainable by the grace of the Supreme Lord and no other way. When the Supreme Lord Krishna is worshipped and glorified how could liberation not be achieved ? If the Supreme Lord is pleased whatever could not be possible? So it should be understood that only by receiving the mercy of the Supreme Lord is a living entity able to be delivered from the ocean of birth and death in the material existence. In whom the Supreme Lord has given everlasting compassion is that living entity free from all self-deception of the bodily conception and delusions of illusion regarding the physical body which at death is simply an empty shell fit for consumption by worms and insects. By realising the Supreme Lord within by His grace one will be able to transgress the web of this transitory existence.
If the Supreme Lord is pleased, then verily what is not possible? Even artha which is wealth and kama which are desires are both unnecessary because they grant without a doubt results which are permanent. O ‘ Lord kindly protect us because we are burning in the fire of material existence suffering from the three fold miseries of old age, disease and death. Therefore one should always seek the shelter of serving the Supreme Lord which is the source of real happiness. When the Supreme Lord is finally understood to be the eternal support of all living entities, how can there not be deliverance for all who receive His grace. That grace is only possible for those whose righteous actions are determined by authentic knowledge. This is well known throughout all the universes and this authoritative fact should be realised as a truth. One who factually knows about the Supreme Lord without any delusion is situated in wisdom.
In the Narada Purana it is stated:
Truth is truth and always will be truth. If divided into a hundredth part of a hundred million it is still truth and even if that hundred millionth part of truth is divided into innumerable parts and further innumerable parts are made up again of that part it still remains truth. Thus is the ultimate greatness of the Supreme Lord and due only to Him is the greatness of Sri, Sesa, Brahma and Siva. This is the reason why the greatness of the heavenly denizens is spoken only due to their relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Among all Vedic scriptures the best is Mahabharata and the best part of Mahabharata hidden deep within like a treasure chest is Srimad Bhagavad- Gita. Who else but the Supreme Lord Krishna could have revealed such glorious and transcendental subject matters. There is none equal to the Supreme Lord and there will be none equal to Him in the future and by such statements the effulgent glory and greatness of Mahabharata is established eternally. Everything will be accomplished by faith in and knowledge of this truth. The Supreme Lord, by whose will Brahma manifested with a pleasant face and Rudra manifested with an angry face. There is nothing equal to or superior to the Supreme Lord. This statement has no need to be asserted in normal context as the Supreme Lord’s position is naturally far superior; but it was a reply to a specific query. In other cases this statement has been made in exceptional circumstances in regards to the celestial demigods. In such situations demigods such as Agni the demigod in charge of fire and Indra the king of all the demigods are referred to exemplifying the Supreme Lords omnipotence with praises such as: He is Agni meaning as fire is universal so is He. He is Indra meaning as Indra is supreme among the demigods, so is He. The supreme brahman meaning the transcendental embodiment of the Ultimate Truth. So this is the correct understanding and should be applied to other similar Vedic statements.
The potency of Siva and others have been described and clarified by their relationship with the Supreme Lord in their respective Puranas. In the Skanda Purana it has been stated: The difference which exists between a tiger and a lion, between Mt. Meru and Mt. Vindhya, between the sun and its reflection, the same difference exists between Siva and Indra. The difference which exists between a lion and an elephant in the forest, which exists between the sun and the moon in the sky, that which exists between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the same difference exists between Brahma and Siva. The difference which exists between the waters at the time of dissolution and the tiny drops of water forming mist in the casual ocean, that which exists between the spark and the fire at the time of conflagration, that same difference is between Visnu and Siva. Eternally omnipotent the Supreme Lord is incomparable to all others; but in order to indicate Siva’s power and potency as being connected to the Supreme Lord examples of his praise such as: none is equal or superior to, existing everywhere at every moment and that he alone are adored are given.
In the Padma Purana in the episode relating to Siva regarding Markandeya declining to be blessed with moksa or liberation in the future, it is cited that liberation only from the Supreme Lord is appropriate and commendable. He commented that Siva can grant the pleasures to be enjoyed by the senses; but liberation in the material existence from the cycle of birth and death can only be granted by the Surpreme Lord Krishna.
It should be known that the Vedic scriptures must be interpreted in conjunction with the authentic historical accounts found within the Mahabharata. In this way there will be no contradiction. This is a very crucial point to comprehend and knowledge of the Mahabharata is essential; otherwise doubt will arise about the actual status of Siva, Indra and the rest. The distinctive and extraordinary nature of the Supreme Lord is clearly revealed. Thus the eternal supremacy of the Supreme Lord Krishna is the summation of all the Vedic scriptures.
Even by this universally established fact, the truth about the Supreme Lord’s omnipotence is established there being no possibility in any circumstance to ever usurp this. For facts which are established conclusively there is no necessity for additional evidence. Since diverse qualities are common in various things, perceiving these qualities are possessed by others one should not conclude that they are absent in the Supreme Lord. So in the establishment of a premise if assistance of another premise is required to support it then there is possibility of imperfection by this system.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is confirmed in the Vedic scriptures as the supreme controller without purposeful intent because it is a fact. This is the summation of all the Vedic literatures. All the Vedas speak of the Supreme Lord Krishna or His sastrically authorised expansions and incarnations as the goal of all the Vedas. This is not a contradiction but it is ordained by the Supreme Lord Himself and being eternal it is eternally established like actions and time. Therefore it can be ascertained that the Vedas exist without any secondary purpose solely out of adoration for the Supreme Lord and by this it is conclusively confirmed that devotion to the Supreme Lord is the ultimate goal of existence.
For any conceptions of a formless intangible Supreme Lord, when wisdom arises, it itself is the form and tangibility for this formlessness and is endowed with its own unfathomable, inalienable power of independence as well being definitely not a product of illusion.
From the point of view of action: Austerity in the heart and the physical body is itself learning and action is verily the form itself. Therefore all is not like an illusion. In view of statements in the Vedas referring to the Supreme Lord such as: You are that wealth and other similar expressions denoting attributes it is not correct to categorise them as illusion. By one possessing unlimited wisdom, unlimited attributes and unlimited forms Brahma the manager of the universe was created. He was endowed with science and power from the source of unlimited potencies. Thus the Supreme Lord is known by His potencies as well as the possessors upon whom He has bequeathed his potency.
Now begins the summation.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is stating that just as He is indestructible the eternal soul within the living entities born from the womb of a female that was born from the womb of a female. The eternal soul being sub-atomic meaning even smaller than an atom is under the complete control of the Supreme Lord Krishna being qualitatively the same but quantitatively but an infinitesimal spark. Since the Supreme Lord Krishna is omnipresent He does not move therefore He is the basis of all existence. This existence never ceasing to exist is known as immovable and because He is identified by the primal sound Om He is eternally resonating and perennial.
The Visnu Purana states that the immortal soul is eternally existing under the control of the Supreme Lord Krishna and by being under His control verily makes the living entity immovable as well. Full of the attributes of the inviolable injunctions of the Vedas the eternal soul is know as sanatan or perennial. The eternal soul is stated as indivisible to show that as it can not be divided in any way it also can not be separated from the complete control of the Supreme Lord Krishna in any way. For one whom the eternal soul has been realised it is indescribable because it is inconceivable and one who understands the Supreme Lord Krishna on this platform has all their miseries mitigated. Therefore the Supreme Lord Krishna is saying to Arjuna that he need not lament because He always redeems them.
The Supreme Lord Krishna states earlier in chapter 2 beginning with verse 12 : na tu evaham jatu nasam meaning never was there a time when He did not exist nor did Arjuna not exist confirming the eternal position of both the Supreme Lord and the living entity. By the use of the word dehinah in verse 13 meaning the embodied and dehantara meaning the transference into bodies as well as in verse 18 the word saririnah meaning the embodied souls reveals the inherent qualities of the individual consciousness of the living entities subject to the state of transmigration from body to body. Words in verse 17 such as avinasa imperishable, yena sarvam idam tatam meaning by whom the body is pervaded, verse 18 anasinah meaning indestructible and aprameyasya meaning immeasurable, in verse 20 na mriyate never dies, in verse 21 avinasinam indestructible and avyayam immutable and in verse 25 avyakto yam acintyo yam avikaryo yam ucyate meaning imperceptible, inconceivable, immutable and the like are all the attributes of the Ultimate Consciousness.
The living entities do not pervade everywhere, nor are they inconceivable neither are they eternally indestructible or incomprehensible and unmodifiable, nor once born do they cease to be born again in another physical body. Because the Supreme Lord Krishna is one-hundred percent completely spiritual there is no question of any separation or distinction between His internal existence and His external appearance which although seemingly manifests as a product of this material existence is factually transcendental to the material existence in all respects, thus the word avinasi is only applicable to Him.
By whom the demigods are born but whom remains independent from them, to whom all others are subservient to; the Supreme Lord Krishna alone is capable of revealing the eternal goals of all living entities and establishing what is eternal righteousness. Therefore His glorification is a meritorious act. Similarly the word yuddha meaning the battle is an example of this in this instance by following His instructions.
For all living entities in the material existence the physical body has a beginning and an end this is verifiable because the physical body is material subject to the process of birth and death. The living entities physical bodies being incapable of existing independent from the eternal soul are not capable of slaying another eternal soul or having their own eternal soul slain by another. Therefore it is not sagacious to assume that anyone can kill or be killed.
The Supreme Lord Krishna possessing a completely spiritual body, transcendental to the material existence has not the propensity for death to separate His spirtual self from His spiritual body because they are both not of material nature. The Supreme Lord Krishna is never born, He manifests Himself from the spiritual world into the material existence by His own potency according to His own desire. Therefore the Supreme Lord Krishna being exclusively independent is independently the creating and terminating cause of existence for all living entities.
Although the physical bodies of all living entities are destroyed by the medium of time the essential nature of all living entities being the eternal soul is never destroyed. Thus to that extent the eternality of the living entity is insured by the auspices of the eternal soul. Therefore when one knows the essential nature of the eternal soul as being indestructible and the Supreme Lord as being the independent creator of all, how can one think of themselves as slaying or being slain by anyone?
Like clothes which become worn and old in time, even so the physical body becomes worn and old in time. Perceiving oneself dependent in all respects in all circumstances, the living entities realise that they are not independent as is in the case of the omnipotent Supreme Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In this verse Lord Krishna states the reasons why the soul can never be destroyed and these three descriptions are because the soul is incombustible, insoluble and unwitherable. Why is this so? Because the soul is nitya or eternal. Only the transitory physical body can be burned, moistened or withered. The soul is extremely subtle, subatomic in nature and sarva-gatah meaning all pervading. Being all pervasive the soul is extremely supra-subtle, more so than air or even than atoms. Being the subtlest of the subtlest it is sthanuh or unchangeable as it is incapable of being modified in any way. As it is acalah or permanent it is devoid of any nature of change and constant and as it is constant it is sananatah or everlasting and eternally existing.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.24 Since this is so, therefore ayam, It; acchedyah, cannot be cut. Since the other elements which are the causes of destruction of one ano ther are not capable of destroying this Self, therefore It is nityah, eternal. Being eternal, It is sarva-gatah, omnipresent. Being omnipresent, It is sthanuh, stationary, i.e. fixed like a stump. Being fixed, ayam, this Self; is acalah, unmoving. Therefore It is sanatanah, changeless, i.e. It is not produced from any cause, as a new thing. It is not to be argued that ‘these verses are repetive since eternality and changelessness of the Self have been stated in a single verse itself, “Never is this One born, and never does It die,” etc. (20). Whatever has been said there (in verse 19) about the Self does not go beyond the meaning of this verse. Something is repeated with those very words, and something ideologically.’ Since the object, viz the Self, is inscrutable, therefore Lord Vasudeva raises the topic again and again, and explains that very object in other words so that, somehow, the unmanifest Self may come within the comprehension of the intellect of the transmigrating persons and bring about a cessation of their cycles of births and deaths.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.23 See Comment under 2.25
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
acchedyo ‘yam adahyo ‘yam
akledyo ‘sosya eva ca
nityah sarva-gatah sthanur
acalo ‘yam sanatanah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
acchedyaḥ — unbreakable; ayam — this soul; adāhyaḥ — unable to be burned; ayam — this soul; akledyaḥ — insoluble; aśoṣyaḥ — not able to be dried; eva — certainly; ca — and; nityaḥ — everlasting; sarva-gataḥ — all-pervading; sthāṇuḥ — unchangeable; acalaḥ — immovable; ayam — this soul; sanātanaḥ — eternally the same.