Who Am I?’ In his famous paper on Hinduism presented at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, Swami Vivekananda raised this issue thus:
Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’, what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances?
The Vedas declare, ‘No’. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die. . . . [which is absurd].
The Hindu believes that he is a spirit. Him the sword cannot pierce—him the fire cannot burn —him the water cannot melt—him the air cannot dry.
The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is located in the body, and that death means the change of this centre from body to body. Nor is the soul bound by the conditions of matter. In its very essence it is free, unbounded, holy, pure, and perfect.