In the last blog, we discussed why Adi Shankaracharya has explicitly stated that the soul is greater than intelligence. In the present blog, we will discuss one reason he has subtly cited for the same.
Adi Shankaracharya refers to the soul as Bodhabodhatmakam, the word contains two words “bodhatmakam” and “abodhatmakham“.Bodhatmakam means that which is related to intelligence and knowledge and abodhatmakam means that which is not. The abodhatmakam part of the soul is also called ‘karyatmakam‘, which is related to actions. So the soul works at two levels: the level of intelligence and that of actions. At the level of intelligence, it thinks, understands, decides to instruct and at the level of actions, it acts to instruct. It has various means of instruction available with it and out of these, it chooses any means it likes and uses it. At times it appears in the dream of a person and instructs his intellect. At times it appears before a person in the same physical garb or a different one and instructs him. Both the bodhatmakam and abodhatmakam parts of the functioning are often inseparably linked with each other.
Here I would like to relate an incident from the book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by my guru Paramhansa Yogananda. Mr.Bhagwaticharan Ghosh, the father of my guru, worked as an officer with the Indian railways at Gorakhpur during the period of the Raj. He had a clerk called Avinash Babu working under him. Avinash Babu was a devoted devotee of Lahiri Mahasaya, an eminent yogi from Kashi. Once Avinash Babu demanded a week’s leave from Mr. Ghosh to see Lahiri Mahashaya. Being materialistic-minded, Mr.Ghosh was not interested in saints and so he refused the leave. He lectured Avinash Babu on the futility of going in for saints. After office hours, Mr. Ghosh was being carried home in a palanquin. He suddenly saw Avinash Babu walking along the way. As a reconciliatory measure, he got down from the palanquin and started walking with Avinash Babu. He again lectured Avinash Babu on the futility of going in for saints. Even while listening to the lecture, Avinash Babu kept inwardly praying to Lahiri Mahashaya, “I can not live without seeing you“.All of a sudden in a grassy field on their way, there appeared Lahiri Mahashaya, who said to Mr.Ghosh, “Bhagwati, you are too hard on your employee“. Lahiri Mahashaya disappeared in a moment. Mr.Ghosh was so impressed by this that he decided to go Kashi with Avinash Babu and see Lahiri Mahashaya. After they had reached there, Lahiri Mahashaya uttered the same words on seeing him, “Bhagwati, you are too hard on your employee“. For Mr.Ghosh, it came as a confirmation for the fact that it was the same person and it made him a ‘confirmed’ devotee of Lahiri Mahashaya.
In this case, the soul of Lahiri Mahashaya worked at both the bodhatmakam and abodhatmakam levels and both the levels were inseparably linked with each other. The soul of Lahiri Mahashaya understood the prayer made by the devotee and decided to help him that was the bodhatmakam level of functioning. The soul rushed all the way from Kashi to Gorakhpur, without leaving the body and appeared before the duo-that was the abodhatmakam level of functioning. The soul instructed Mr.Ghosh, which was again the bodhatmakam level of functioning. Thus, both levels often go together.
The soul can thus work at two levels but the intelligence can work at one. The intelligence can know, think, conceive, decide but it can not act. The intelligence can impel to act but it can not act on its own. While the soul is bodhabodhatmakam, intelligence is just bodhatmakam, making it less important than the soul. Adi Shankaracharya subtly suggests this by referring to the soul as bodhabodhatmakam.