If our consciousness comes from the soul, and not the brain, then why do brain states affect consciousness? For example, why does damage to the speech center of the brain make the person unable to speak?

Consciousness originates from the soul, but manifests through the brain. To understand this, let’s consider three crucial questions.

  1. If the brain produces consciousness, then how? The brain is incredibly sophisticated in its structure, with about ten billion neurons, each of which has about ten thousand connections with other neurons. Still, all these neurons, being made of nonconscious molecules, are themselves nonconscious. Their interactions lead merely to the variation of their electrochemical states, which don’t produce or even refer to consciousness. The claim that matter can produce something – consciousness – that experiences matter is beyond not only experimental demonstration but also theoretical explanation. That’s why Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles stated, “I believe that there is a fundamental mystery in my existence, transcending any biological account of the development of my body (including my brain) . . . .”
  2. If the brain produces consciousness, then how does the consciousness maintain its continuity and integrity despite the continuous death of brain cells? Each day, we lose an average of one thousand neurons in the brain. How could a speaking robot continue to speak if the hard disk containing its speech program were getting continuously deleted? That’s why Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa), a researcher specializing in the history and philosophy of science, eloquently states: “That consciousness and its mental contents can maintain their integrity in the face of such massive random disruptions in the brain circuitry that supposedly creates consciousness requires quite a leap of faith. It is more reasonable to suppose that the unitary consciousness of a living entity is an irreducible feature of reality and that it simply uses the brain as an instrument.”
  3. Could the brain be merely transmitting and not producing consciousness? This view, postulated by the renowned psychologist William James, is illustrated through the way a prism transmits light. When a prism is damaged, the light passed through it gets distorted. Similarly, when the brain gets damaged, the consciousness passed through it gets impeded.

Let’s consider another example, of a businessman using a computer to keep inventory. If the computer gets damaged, he would be impaired in his stock-keeping. Similarly, if the brain is akin to a computerlike instrument for the consciousness, then the consciousness would be impaired in expressing itself. No wonder Noble nominee Dr. Wilder Penfield, after four decades of research, concluded, “The brain is a computer . . . . But it is programmed by something that is outside itself.” That something is the soul, which the Bhagavad-gita (2.17) states “pervades the body with consciousness.”

Is Krishna mythological or historical?

Krishna is neither mythological nor historical, but transcendental. He is the Supreme Person who lives eternally in His transcendental abode, and He descended to this world five thousand years ago to reestablish cosmic order. The activities He performed during His descent can be called historical; but, accurately speaking, they are eternal, manifesting to human vision through history.

That Krishna is historical, not mythological, has been verified by rigorous research conducted over the last several decades in several fields. Let’s consider three of these.

  1. Archaeology: Underwater expeditions off the coast of modern-day Dwarka discovered the submerged remains of the ancient Dwarka city described in the Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Recovered artifacts, such as seals and coins bearing names and insignias connected with Krishna, demonstrate that the scriptural descriptions of Krishna are not mythological but historical.
  2. Archeoastronomy: The Mahabharata describes many unusual astronomical formations, especially the alignment of the sun, the moon, and the six visible planets in one line at the onset of Kali-yuga five thousand years ago. Today we have astronomical software that, when fed particular coordinates and dates, displays approximations of the sky as our remote ancestors saw it. Using such software, scientists have found that the Mahabharata’s astronomical formations did indeed occur approximately five thousand years ago, with the unusual planetary alignment taking place in 3102 BCE.
  3. Literature: Krishna is mentioned not only in the Vedic literature, but also in non-Vedic literature like the Buddhist Sutta Pitaka and Lalitavistara Sutra. The Vedic literature may be charged with trying to “build a Krishna myth,” but not these non-Vedic literatures, for they often describe Krishna negatively. But even while trying to discredit Krishna and His teachings, they never deny His historical existence, thus indirectly yet strongly demonstrating His historicity.

Due to several such evidences, scholars worldwide have now accepted Krishna’s historicity. Here are quotes from just two eminent scholars, one Indian and one Western:

“There is now a general consensus of opinion in favor of the historicity of Krishna.” – R. C. Majumdar in The History and Culture of the Indian People

“That Krishna himself was a historical figure is indeed quite indubitable.” – Rudolf Otto in The Original Gita

In fact, the latest research not only verifies Krishna’s historicity, but also outlines His life’s chronology:

3228 BCE – Appeared in Mathura and went to Vrindavan

3218 – Moved to Mathura

3200 – Moved to Dwarka

3138 – Spoke Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna

3102 – Returned to the spiritual world; Kali-yuga began