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Body Is A Dress It Needs To Be Just Kept Clean

There was a king in India (in olden times) named Janaka. Though ruling his kingdom, this king was a true jnani. He realized at all times that he was the Spirit. And he was not in the least attached to this world. He ruled because it was his duty. But otherwise he cared not to possess anything. This king showed in his life at every instance that he was the Spirit and not body and therefore he was called Videha, ‘the bodiless’. And really these jnanis do not care in the least for their body. The realization that they are the Spirit has become so strong that the body is to them what a dress or a coat is to us. They may keep it neat and clean and in good health if they please, but they are not troubled about it.

There is a shloka in Sanskrit which reads, ‘In ditch or in river, in temple or in field, wherever the leaf may fall, what is that to the tree? Like the destruction of a leaf, a flower or a fruit, is the destruction of the body, senses, mind and all. The Atman stays always in the ever-blissful state. He remains like the tree.’

This is said of the jivanmuktas, those who are free even during their lifetime. The jivanmuktas do not identify themselves with the body; to them body is like a shadow that follows them and moves of its own momentum. Such yogis have reached the ocean of nectar. ‘Just as flowing rivers disappear in the ocean, quitting their names and forms, even so the sage, freed from name and form, goes to the shining Purusha, who is greater than the greatest.’ To reach that state requires long and sincere practice.

These are the great souls, the mahatmas, the salt of the earth. Of such it is said, ‘Sometimes naked, sometimes like mad, now as a scholar, again like a fool. Here a rebel, there a saint, thus they appear on the earth, the Paramahamsas.’

Source - Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Atulananda – Prabuddha Bharata February 2004 issue.