Martyrs are immortalised by their sacrifices; great scientists by their inventions and discoveries; actors by their performances; au- thors by their writings; and statesmen by their selfless leader- ship. Normally, when we speak of mortality, we tend to refer to the mortal nature of physical life, as in the human body. It is said that the Atman, soul, is immortal; it transmigrates to another new body once the body it previously inhabited, dies.

Does the soul carry traces of the karmas and knowledge of the now-dead individual, to the new person?

Something like imprints of the past?

That would then seem like the person now dead is immortal in a sense. Wouldn’t that make mortality a subjective concept?

A verse in the Amritabindu Upanishad talks of the oneness of Atman in all beings: ‘Cows are of various colours, milk is one-coloured; The wise man looks upon the soul as milk, Of bodies as cows of different garbs, Knowledge is hidden, as butter in milk.’

This does not, however, answer the question as to whether the soul carries imprints of previous lives. To get liberated from repeated lives and become immortal as when the Atman unites with Paramatman, the mind needs to detach itself from desires and sense-objects, to break free of the birth-death cycle. The argument here is that aiming for liberation is a lofty ideal, unrelated to attachment for sense-objects.

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