What does it mean that Krishna’s body is spiritual?
We are not our bodies. But what about God? What is the relationship between Krishna and his body? This is in answer to a question posed by a seeker.
There are two aspects to this question: the first is, what is spiritual? The second, are we different from our bodies?
The dictionary defines spiritual as ‘relating to the spirit or the soul, as opposed to material things.’ There is something about us that differs from our bodies, minds, senses and sense organs, possessions, etc. There is a distinction between ‘me’ and ‘mine,’ which is apparent even to someone who is not a theology professor.
The scriptures describe ‘me’ as the soul, Atma, or spirit. It is impossible to define the soul; it is divine and beyond the realm of words and the intellect.
It is as impossible as describing God, and for the same reason. The soul is a part of God, and thus, because it is impossible to describe the ‘whole’ (God), it is equally impossible to describe the ‘part’ (soul).
So, the saints have tried to explain this in another way - strip away everything that is ‘mine,’ and it will leave you with ‘me.’ Stripping away the external possessions such as property, money, and cars are relatively easy. More problematic is dissociating from dear ones, close family members, children, parents, and spouses. Yet, even that is not very difficult because every one of those, without fail, will disappoint us and cause us grief in our lives. Even in the unlikely event that they spend their entire lives making us happy, there is no escaping the fact that everyone dies eventually, leading to dissociation. However, even after one has detached himself from all possessions and relationships, there is still one more relationship that he holds very dear - his body.
These days we see a tremendous obsession with the body, and ways and means to make the body better, fitter, and more youthful. Talk to most people, and much of your conversation will probably revolve around diets, exercises, beauty-enhancing, and other such topics. This is not bad because you cannot do anything with a diseased body. Even meditation requires a healthy body; one reason for the superb system of asanas and pranayama, designed by sages of the yore, was to enable the seeker to sit long hours in meditation in a perfectly still pose. It is far more challenging to sit still than it is to engage in vigorous exercise. To sit still, one needs a pure and healthy body; hence, the various asanas.