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Monday, 20 May 2013


The earliest idea is that a man, when he dies, is not annihilated. Something lives and goes on living even after the man is dead. Perhaps it would be better to compare the three most ancient nations — the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the ancient Hindus — and take this idea from all of them. With the Egyptians and the Babylonians, we find a sort of soul idea — that of a double. Inside this body, according to them, there is another body which is moving and working here; and when the outer body dies, the double gets out and lives on for a certain length of time; but the life of the double is limited by the preservation of the outer body. If the body which the double has left is injured in any part, the double is sure to be injured in that part. That is why we find among the ancient Egyptians such solicitude to preserve the dead body of a person by embalming, building pyramids, etc. We find both with the Babylonians and the ancient Egyptians that this double cannot live on through eternity; it can, at best, live on for a certain time only, that is, just so long as the body it has left can be preserved.

The next peculiarity is that there is an element of fear connected with this 

double. It is always unhappy and miserable; its state of existence is one of 
extreme pain. It is again and again coming back to those that are living, asking 
for food and drink and enjoyments that it can no more have. It is wanting to 
drink of the waters of the Nile, the fresh waters which it can no more drink. It 
wants to get back those foods it used to enjoy while in this life; and when it 
finds it cannot get them, the double becomes fierce, sometimes threatening the 
living with death and disaster if it is not supplied with such food. 
Coming to Aryan thought, we at once find a very wide departure. There is still 
the double idea there, but it has become a sort of spiritual body; and one great 
difference is that the life of this spiritual body, the soul, or whatever you may 
call it, is not limited by the body it has left. On the contrary, it has obtained 
freedom from this body, and hence the peculiar Aryan custom of burning the 
dead. They want to get rid of the body which the person has left, while the 
Egyptian wants to preserve it by burying, embalming, and building pyramids.


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