December 7, 2010
These questions come to our mind perhaps
as random thoughts, and then they go away.
The immediate answer that comes to mind would be the name you have been given,
This is because we have learnt this the moment we started recognizing and speaking, in our growing years.
When someone calls out your name, you
respond. And that, over time, becomes your identity. There's nothing
wrong in it. But on probing further, we would discover that the
identity we think we have is only part of the story.
So we use photographs, fingerprints,
date of birth details and the name for correct identification. In
another context, we introduce ourselves in relationship to another
as parent, sibling, spouse, friend or teacher, for instance. All
this might suffice in the external world.
Our external ID is determined by phenomenological factors and relationships and is therefore of a temporary nature; there is a beginning and an end, with birth and death.
Then the question arises,
At Kurukshetra, on the battlefield, Arjuna forgot the eternal nature of the Self and focused only on the (temporary) relationship with Bhisma and Drona.
Arjuna seems to have gotten carried away by his identity in the physical world. Krishna says in the Gita that you continue to exist even after the death of the physical body.
There is no such thing as death.
Our identity with name and form or the physical body, is required only in the external world.
We are more than the sum of our physical
body, mind and desires. Therefore it is important that while we do
our duty in the physical world in keeping with our various
identities and roles, simultaneously, we need to remind ourselves of
our real identity, and live with that consciousness.
As the Gita says: