Substance & Shadow

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

Hope you had lots of valuable inputs in the last four articles where we had discussed.

1. Can a scientist believe in god?

2. Getting eyes to see the god

3. Vedic wisdom

4. Who am I


In the last session, we got important insights on Who am I. I am not the body but I am the spirit soul which never dies.


So, we clearly understood that the human body is just like clothes. Once it has served its purpose, it has to be changed and a new one has to be worn off. What won’t change is the soul and the subtle body (intelligence) that we carry with us from our previous lives or past incarnations.


The 5th session is about substance and shadow. Let’s define the meaning of substance and shadow.

Substance:- which is real.

Shadow:- which is the reflection of that substance.


We will identify the role of substance and shadow for each of us in each and every aspect of our life though

  • Spiritual & Material world.

  • Body & Soul.

  • Spiritual & Material happiness.

  • Spiritual & Material relationship.


I strongly believe that by investing your time on reading this article, you will have the clarity between substance and shadow.


Spiritual world & material world. The spiritual and material world have been defined by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 5000 years ago, as below.


Spiritual world

न तद्भासयते सूर्यो न शशाङ्को न पावक: | यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ||

Neither the sun nor the moon, nor fire can illumine that supreme abode of mine, having gone there, one doesn’t return to this material world again.


Material world

ऊर्ध्वमूलमध:शाखमश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् | छन्दांसि यस्य पर्णानि यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् ||

The supreme divine personality explained as: they speak of an eternal aśhvatth tree with its roots above and branches below. Its leaves are the vedic hymns, and one who knows the secret of this tree is the knower of the vedas.


To have a deeper understanding, we should have the knowledge about what is the meaning of भगवान.


Let's say, the one who has huge strength (बल), we call them बलवान, the one who acquires huge knowledge, we call them विद्यावान.


Now, भगवान means the one who possesses opulence [भग – opulences]. Now Krishna is possessor of 6 opulence which are,

  • Beauty:- Lord Krishna is the most beautiful in the world. In our scriptures, they describe krishna’s beauty as, कन्दर्प कोटि कमनिय विशेषण शुभम । which means, Krishna is so beautiful that the lord of love also gets attracted to his beauty.

  • Strength:- Lord Krishna is the most powerful in the world. The proof of this is when Lord Krishna was 3 months old, पूतना came to kill him by feeding poisonous milk, but Krishna killed her with his divine strength. When he was just 7 years old, he had held Govardhan Parvata continuously for 7 days and nights on his little finger.

  • Knowledge:- Lord Krishna has the most powerful knowledge in the world. Forget about vedic scripture, just to understand Bhagavad Gita which was the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, it takes years and maybe lifetimes to understand and acquire that knowledge fully?

  • Wealth:- Lord Krishna is having all the wealth of the entire world.

  • Renunciation:- Despite the fact that Lord Krishna possesses the entire wealth of the world, he became the saarthi of arjuna to protect dharma.

  • Fame:- Lord Krishna is the most famous in whatever he does. He is known by many names and some of these are, माखनचोर and रणछोड and many more

Do you know anyone who possesses all these opulence in the material world? There is no one but Lord Krishna who possesses all 6 opulence. This is the basic difference what we can see between material world and spiritual world. To understand this conceptual difference, let’s take the help of a story.


There was a person who was crossing the river. There were many mango trees around the river bank, the shadow of the trees was reflecting in the river water. Watching the reflection of the mangoes in the river, the person jumped into the river to get them. But he did not find any mangoes in the river so he felt that he is on the wrong side of the river, then he thought to try on another side of the river to get mangoes. What do you think, will this person ever get mangoes? No never… so the same thing happens in our material world because it is just the reflection of the spiritual world, it is just like a mirage. Although there is no water in the mirage still it appears that water is there.


Now, let’s understand the essence of the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, every word seems like a song, every walk seems to be a dance, and all living beings are divine and pure. There is no old age, no disease, and no death. This is our real eternal home, where we can get ultimate and unbound happiness. Our sole purpose is to return back to the abode of god. So questions is, if that is our home then,

  • Why soul comes to the material world?

  • What are we doing in the material world?

  • Why is it created?

An answer to these questions is, when we break the law, we get punished in our material world. In the same manner, when we break the universal law, we get punished in the spiritual world too. As part of this punishment, souls are sent back to the material world to get reformed. Material world is like a prison cell where we have been sent for the reformation, retribution, and punishment.


After having clearly understood about the spiritual & material world, we can understand the real purpose of our existence. To understand the subject more deeply, we must be aware of the concepts of body and soul. Let’s understand it with the help of a story.


There was a very beautiful princess who was walking on the road. A person was following her because of her beauty. The princess was very much upset with his behavior but didn’t say anything for some time but when she realized that she must warn him as that behavior was irritating her. So she got an idea to teach him the lesson. She stopped and asked the man, would you like to have coffee at my home next week? The man acknowledged positively. The princess went home and for next seven days, she took some medicines resulting in vomiting every day. Her face became very dull in seven days and hence the beauty of her face faded away. She had collected the vomiting stuff and had kept at one place in a pot. On the seventh day, the man arrived at the door of her house and knocked on the door. When she opened the door, he couldn’t identify that she is the same whom he had met her last week. So he enquired, the princess has called me over a cup of coffee, could you please inform her that I have reached? She replied that I am the princess only. The person did not believe her at all said that it’s not at all possible. So she asked him to follow her and she took that man to the place where the pot was lying. She told to him, is this what he would like to chase? The man got his lesson and realized his mistake.


We are also like that man who is so attached to the temporary body which is going to degrade day by day and irony is that our whole is centered to take care of that body. We have not realized that soul is permanent and that it is to be taken care of.


We are not the body but the soul. How to take care of soul? What should we do to upgrade at the soul level? Answer of these questions will be discussed below in “spiritual and material happiness”.


Material happiness has 2 characteristics. 1. चपल ( very flickering) 2. भोग-त्याग

let’s understand this with reality of life where we all can relate how material happiness is a mere reflection and not the ultimate one. When student is growing what kind of thought process he carries towards his life. He thinks that:

  • When he will complete 10th standard, then he will be happy.

  • When he finishes his 10th std, he realizes that he needs to study for another two years with focus and then he will be able to enjoy in the college.

  • When he enters into college life, he feels happy for the moment but realizes that now he needs to be serious as his career is starting and if he gets a good job then, his life will be set.

  • He gets the job, he feels that to become happy, he needs to get settled in life, so thinks of marriage and start a family.

  • After marriage, we all know how life plays hide and seek.

Material happiness is just an illusion. we keep on searching happiness in material things but don’t find and that is the real cause of the misery. How can we have real unlimited happiness? Can we really be happy all the times? Is it possible? Yes, it is possible.


Unlimited happiness can be derived from spiritualism. This is the most important thing to understand and practice in our life.


Spiritual happiness:- To understand spiritual happiness, we need to take help of शब्द प्रमाण (vedas & puranas) as it comes from the bonafide authority which knows absolute truth.


पद्मपुराण:- रमन्ते योगिनान्ते सत्यानंद सीद आत्मनि। इति रामा-पदेनासौ परम ब्रह्मभिधियते।।

meaning:- The mystics derive unlimited transcendental pleasures from the absolute truth, and therefore the supreme absolute truth, the personality of godhead, is also known as Rama.


Now here,


राम = आनंद का भंडार, which means that if we really want unlimited permanent happiness then God is the one who can give us this. Say, if we want to change our mood or want to be happy, what we do, we listen to our favorite music. right? But if you see, when music is over, our happiness too diminishes. and secondly, how long one can listen to the same song many times? But if we start chanting mantras or recite God’s name and start feeling his presence with us then we are always in the state of happiness. Iskcon is the live example and how this moment has enriched and enthralled the entire world.


There are millions of people around the globe who are chanting mahamantra,

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे। हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे।।


They are chanting not for once in a week or a year but everyday from the last 40-50 years and they are becoming more and more happy by doing this.


About this, we can get a clear idea from bhagavatam chanto 5 chapter 5 shloka 1.

नायं देहो देहभाजां नृलोके कष्टान कामानर्हते विड़्भुजां ये।

तपो दिव्यं पुत्रका येन सत्त्वं शुध्येधस्माद् ब्रह्मसौख्यमं त्वंनन्तम।।


Lord Rushabhdev told to his sons:-

My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form shouldn’t work hard day and night simply for sense of gratification. one should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. With this, one’s heart is purified, and one attains this position. he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.


so here, we can see that Lord Rushabhadeva has given clear idea to his sons about material happiness and spiritual happiness.


Now, after having clarity about first 3 aspects, we have come to our last aspect which is very very crucial in our life, which is called spiritual relationship and material relationship. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has told to Arjuna that, “dharma of the soul is to love and serve god.” It is the nature of soul to serve god with unconditional love. If we forget him then we will be miserable in all other relationship of this material world. We all have many relationships in our material world, which are temporary and impermanent? They all will fade away with time, be it the relationship with one’s spouse, parent-child relationship, the relationship among the siblings or any other relationship. If in all the above relationships, we build a new perception that these relationships has been given to us by god as an opportunity to learn and grow, then what will be our behavior towards each relationship.


Don’t you think that it will be wonderful?, if care, service, and integrity become the basis of all these relationships, don’t you think we will be more happy and prosperous?


So let’s make the God – our center of life from today onwards and start sharing our love to our children, spouse, friends, colleagues as it is our offering to God. By doing this, we can have harmony in all the relationships, prosperity with peace and contentment in life.


This marks the end of the Session 5. We are grateful to ISKON for enlightening our souls and helping all of us to have clarity about substance and shadow.


Hare Krishna!!!


About Dr. Gazal Goyal Bansal


Dr. Gazal Goyal Bansal, Ph.D

Founder and CEO, Life Coach and Speaker, Dr. Gazal Bansal is a

Doctorate in Political Science, UGC (JRF), a Gold Medalist, Certified ISO 22000 Lead Auditor, a Licensed Practitioner of NLP from The Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (TM) & a Pranic Healer.

​As a spiritual evangelist and a practical thinker, she is a radical enthusiast and a firm believer in the philosophy of conceptual pragmatism, logical reasoning, and the spiritual energy matrix. She is a staunch believer of the fact that before you speak, your energy speaks.

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